Knowledge McDaniel mistimed the over-the-shoulder catch just a hair. The next time he had the chance, the Braden River High School wide receiver/running back secured the ball tight for a receiving touchdown.
Later, he added a rushing touchdown.
Teammate Deshaun Fenwick contributed two rushing scores, and Braden River battled through an 80-minute weather delay to defeat St. Petersburg Lakewood, 42-13, in Friday’s spring game.
“We don’t have rain for six weeks and then all of a sudden we get a downpour and thunder and lightning before the game,” Braden River head football coach Curt Bradley said. “Our kids did as any kids did: they lost a little bit of focus, but they came out and kind of wear them out as the game went on.”
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McDaniel, who spent the offseason playing for the local Air5 7-on-7 team and in the weight room to generate several college offers, hauled in a 13-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Bryan Gagg with 5:06 remaining in the first quarter.
“I just knew I had to come back and handle business the next play,” McDaniel said.
Lakewood trimmed it to one point when freshman quarterback Gregory Spann found Armani Adams for a 26-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.
Inexplicably, against a no-rush rule for special teams plays in the spring game, Lakewood missed the extra point.
The Pirates, though, turned that one-point lead into a blowout when they scored the next 35 points.
The surge started with Fenwick’s 4-yard touchdown run to close out the first half. A South Carolina commit, Fenwick dazzled with a Gamecocks recruiter in attendance.
“There’s a reason they have all the Division I opportunities that they have,” said Bradley of Fenwick and McDaniel. “They’re great kids, great performers. They can pretty much do everything.”
Gagg, who transferred from Sarasota High, took the snaps after winning the quarterback battle against Jake Hepler for the time being, Bradley said.
“He’s a competitor,” Bradley said. “He does not shy away. He stood in the pocket, took a couple hits and made a couple big-time throws. I think you’ll see as the summer goes on and as he gets more acclimated with receivers and those things, those things will continue to improve.”
On defense, Chase Knopf shined for Braden River with multiple sacks. The Pirates also recovered two fumbles and forced three turnovers on downs.
But Friday’s game showcased the offense’s powerful potential that could be pretty electric come the fall.
“Offense is going to be real good,” McDaniel said. “Because last year was real good, we’ve got a lot returning, lot of young guys that’s handling business and Coach (Eric) Sanders, he’s got a good game plan. Him and Coach Bradley, they’re good coaches.”
Bayshore 8, Dunedin 0, susp.
Braden River 42, St. Petersburg Lakewood 13
Lakeland Lake Gibson 23, Manatee 21
Cardinal Mooney 35, Avon Park 12
Fort Myers Evangelical Christian 28, Out-of-Door Academy 10
IMG Academy 49, Clermont East Ridge 20
Sarasota Booker 19, Lakewood Ranch 14
Southeast 40, North Port 35
Palmetto 42, St. Petersburg Northeast 0
Note: Bradenton Christian is not playing a spring game this year.