As Braden River High School’s offense marched toward its first score of Friday’s Class 7A-Region 3 quarterfinal in quick fashion, there was just one question that needed answering.
And it wasn’t whether host Naples Gulf Coast could stop the Pirates’ buzzsaw attack. It was how the Pirates would handle the Gulf Coast band, which played on and on and on during each Braden River offensive possession near one of the end zones.
“We’ve never experienced anything like that,” Braden River head coach Curt Bradley said.
Braden River handled both the loud noise and the turf field and set itself up with a rematch at Venice, which polished off South Fort Myers, next week after a 37-21 victory over the Sharks.
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The Pirates (9-1) started with a 27-point first quarter en route to triggering a running clock by the middle of the third quarter.
Quarterback Louis Colosimo didn’t miss much, connecting on 10 of 13 passes in the first half; five targets benefitted from his pinpoint accuracy. He finished with 253 passing yards and four touchdowns, completing 14 of 17 passes.
“We were feeling really good, we had a good week of practice and a lot of excitement (and) a lot of juice ready to go,” Colosimo said.
Aiding Colosimo’s game was an offensive line that has continued improving throughout the year. Colosimo credited the starters — Leo Pita, Luke Andrews, Roger Whobrey, Brodey Neal and Brendan Bengtsson —for giving him time to find open receivers throughout the game.
One of those touchdowns came on a straight-go route from defensive back Tyrone Collins, who was lined up as a wide receiver on some offensive packages. Collins darted past his defender for a 51-yard touchdown catch on Colosimo’s third attempt.
“Louis found the holes in the passing game,” Bradley said. “Credit to coach (Eric) Sanders and his offensive game plan.”
Last year’s hallmark of the Pirates’ state semifinal run was an opportunistic defense, and that unit generated two turnovers.
Nose tackle Deqwunn McCobb recovered a fumble from a poor snap exchange to set up Raymond Thomas’ 15-yard touchdown run that opened Braden River’s lead to two scores early in the first quarter.
“I just went into my gap and I saw the ball on the ground, so my first instinct was to fall and get on top of it,” McCobb said.
Later, Thomas gave fans a glimpse into the past when he looked like former Southeast High School and Florida State legend Peter Warrick on a 40-yard touchdown catch-and-run from a screen pass that saw him reverse fields and juke defenders en route to paydirt.
“Ray’s so shifty like that,” Colosimo said. “I know that’s a play he can make. It didn’t surprise me much.”
Braden River’s first-unit defense held Gulf Coast to 83 total yards in the first half. The Sharks (7-4) scored 21 unanswered points to close the game out off two onside kick recoveries against the Pirates’ backup defenders.
Braden River 37,
Naples Gulf Coast 21
BR— Deshaun Fenwick 15 pass from Louis Colosimo (Kick failed), 10:38
BR— Raymond Thomas 15 run (Tyler McCauley kick), 6:52
BR— Tyrone Collins 51 pass from Colosimo (McCauley kick), 4:04
BR— Thomas 40 pass from Colosimo (McCauley kick), 0:00
BR— McCauley 43 field goal, 2:11
BR— Craivon Koonce 8 pass from Colosimo (McCauley kick), 8:31
GC— Carson Genal 12 pass from Kaden Frost (Nathan Elgin kick), 6:20
GC— Brandon Hannon 29 pass from Frost (Elgin kick), 3:02
GC— Hannon 46 pass from Frost (Elgin kick), 0:43.4
Rushing: Braden River 21-73: Thomas 10-64, Fenwick 7-20, Colosimo 1-(-9), Cam White 2-4, Jake Hepler 1-(-6). Naples Gulf Coast 20-51: Lounceny Keita 12-39, Frost 4-(-2), Team 1-(-3), Tanner Tennant 3-17.
Passing: Braden River 14-17-0, 253: Colosimo 14-17-0, 253. Naples Gulf Coast 18-30-1, 196: Frost 18-30-1, 196.
Receiving: Braden River 14-253: Fenwick 5-55, Collins 1-51, Thomas 1-40, Travis Toby 1-12, Taj Speight 4-83, Koonce 2-12. Naples Gulf Coast 18-196: Genal 5-54, Ryan Carroll 2-14, Hannon 3-83, Alex Guillen 4-19, Maddux Kintz 1-4, Keita 1-4, George Takacs 2-18.
Braden River 37
Gulf Coast 21
Dr. Phillips 39
Cardinal Mooney 34
Melbourne CC 54