Sarasota High School quarterback Bryan Gagg has transferred to Braden River.
Gagg, a rising junior, is one of the area’s top quarterbacks and is one of several Sailors who have left the program in the last two years. Gagg said via a text message that he has been enrolled at Braden River for five weeks.
“It wasn’t tough at all, because I have a lot of friends who go here,” Gagg said. “I became friends with a lot of people in different areas, because of travel baseball. So other than getting used to new classes and rules from the school, it’s been an easy transition.”
The Pirates are getting their third new quarterback in three seasons, following Jacob Huesman and Louis Colosimo’s departures from the program the previous two seasons.
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Huesman was a multi-year starter and is playing collegiately at Appalachian State. Colosimo transferred to Braden River from IMG Academy in 2016, played in the spring and became an efficient signal-caller in offensive coordinator Eric Sanders’ system. Colosimo signed with Bryant University in February after a senior season that ended in the region semifinals to Venice High.
Gagg, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 193 pounds, is the latest quarterback to play for Sanders and head coach Curt Bradley.
“Everything that you have probably heard about (Sanders) is true, plus a lot more,” Gagg said. “He is a great quarterback coach and offensive coordinator. I feel very lucky to be able to learn under coach Sanders. This program, it’s all about team. I love it. I feel like part of something special.”
Gagg said he’ll play baseball at Braden River in addition to football, and his goal is to play both sports in college.
The Pirates reached the playoffs for the third straight season last fall, but recently took a hit on defense when star cornerback Tyrone Collins suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the offseason.
“It makes you more confident going into the season for sure,” said Gagg about playing for a program that’s reached the playoffs consistently. “But you still have to put in the work in the offseason, if you want to beat a team like Venice and win a district championship.”
The Indians captured the Class 7A-District 11 championship in 2016, with the Pirates finishing second. The teams were flip-flopped in the standings in 2015.
“I have a lot of experience with 23 games as a varsity starter,” Gagg said. “I have learned how to deal with tough situations. I am now another year stronger and more mature. Braden River is getting a much better player than what anyone saw at Sarasota. I really feel like I can compete with the best in the country. And at (Braden River), I will have so much talent around me.”
Some of that offensive talent includes running back Deshaun Fenwick, who has several Division I offers, and a more experienced offensive line anchored by center Brendan Bengtsson.
Gagg’s departure from Sarasota comes a year after the program lost Josh Booker to Manatee, Jeremy Trebbles to Venice and Talik Keaton, Deron Davis and Isaac Edwards to Sarasota Booker.
“I did not leave Sarasota, because I wasn’t happy there,” Gagg said. “I will miss the coaches and players, but I’m really focused on this team now. I think we have the talent and coaching to go a long way the next two years.”
Sarasota coach Brian Ryals declined comment, while Braden River coach Curt Bradley did not immediately return calls or messages.
Spring football practices begin April 24, with spring games set for May.
Football key dates
April 24: First spring practice date
July 31: First practice date (non contact)
Aug. 5: First practice date (contact)
Aug. 17-19: Preaseason Classics
Aug. 25: Regular season begins
Nov. 10: Playoffs begin