Lakewood Ranch prepares to take on Southeast in prep football

Ranch's young backfield flashed brilliance in opener

adell@bradenton.comSeptember 7, 2012 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- On the football field, youth can be alluring. Young players are not old enough to know what they can't do. They believe anything is possible.

That was evident for Lakewood Ranch on Aug. 31 in its 21-7 victory over archrival Braden River.

Freshman A'Shawn Angell, sophomore Chad Rex and junior Chris Pearcey did things that would make for a good Hollywood movie. Except producers likely would say their deeds are impossible to believe.

On the third carry of his high school career, Angell broke loose for a 50-yard touchdown to break a 7-7 deadlock in the second half. Rex scored in the fourth quarter on a 53-yard touchdown. Leading up to those outbursts, Pearcey softened the belly of the Braden River defense with tough inside running.

Too young to know better?

Angell laughs. The 15 year-old, 5-foot, 5-inch speedster

reminds folks of a young version of Maurice Jones-Drew, the NFL's leading rusher last season.

"I went through a hole, cut back and then there was just an open field," Angell said. "I surprised myself, but I know what I can do. I am not too young. I was nervous at first, and there was an intensity in the game that I had never experienced."

Pearcey pounded Braden River with his hard running. He carried the ball eight times on the Mustangs' opening drive, which went for a touchdown. At one time, he had six straight carries, all through the heart of the Pirates' defense.

"Our offensive line played a tough game. They are a tough bunch and are not going to quit on you. They have a great push," Pearcey said. "I like going in between the tackles and using my blockers. I wasn't tired on that opening drive. My adrenaline was pumping. We pounded the ball and then Angel got in and took care of business."

Rex, who doesn't turn 16 years old until April, loves to be surrounded by all this youth and the surprises they hatch.

"I like playing with younger guys because I get to play with them throughout my career and we can build something," Rex said. "There is a big advantage being young. Last week people doubted us and we didn't even think about it when we got in the game. Chris is the heart and soul of this offense with our center (senior Matt Farhat), and Angell brings quickness and agility. The offensive line was crazy. I never saw an O-line play the way they did last week."

Pearcey, Rex and Angell have one thing in common. Each of their fathers played football. Tony Pearcey was a receiver for Bayshore and Vanderbilt, Wayne Rex played high school ball in Ohio and was a guard at Wittenberg College, and Demetrius Angell was a receiver at Southeast and played on the 1995 title team.

The Mustangs will be going against a tradition-rich Southeast team that lost a heartbreaker last week on a two-point conversion after time expired. The Noles lost their two last two games of the 2011 season and are hungry but banged up.

"We have not had our starting 11 on defense play a full game in five straight games going back to last season," Southeast defensive coordinator Brian McKnight said. "We will be pretty amazing when we get all of them healthy. We've also been a little inconsistent. We are old as far as agewise and maturity with a lot of seniors, but some people are starting in positions they haven't played before."

For the second straight game, the Noles will be without veteran safety and punter Jordan Grabski. Linebacker Rod Salter is not expected to play; defensive back Eric Thompson and linebacker Rakeem Williams are questionable.

Southeast blew a big lead in its preseason game against Fort Myers, but McKnight said he lost five defensive starters in the second half. He expects a tough game from Lakewood Ranch, which upset the Noles three years ago.

"They are a disciplined football team and have some skilled athletes," McKnight said. "We've been getting good play on defense from Terrence Houston (DE/DT) and Jason Collymore (DE), but need more consistency from everyone."

The difference in the game could be Southeast's passing. Myles Braxton-Johnson is an experienced quarterback who has a talented array of receivers at his disposal, led by Antonio Ray and Jacob Sannon. Braden River could not test the Ranch secondary with its passing game.

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