LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Linebacker Jimiah Albritton was in the eighth grade the last time Braden River defeated Lakewood Ranch in football.
Pirates quarterback Jacob Huesman was a seventh-grader.
They have no reference point for what it's like to defeat their archrival, which is about a five-minute drive away.
What they do know is that this game draws the biggest crowd of the season for both schools and emotions run high.
Braden River will meet Lakewood Ranch on Friday night at Lakewood Ranch for the eighth time, and there is a lot more than neighborhood bragging rights at stake.
It's the district opener (7A-10) for both schools and gives undefeated Braden River a chance to start the season 4-0.
The Mustangs defeated the host Pirates last year 41-32 in a game that drew an estimated 7,000 fans and has owned this series in recent years.
Lakewood Ranch has defeated Braden River in four straight meetings. The Pirates last won in 2009, when they beat the Mustangs 43-14.
"This game means everything to me," Albritton said. "If we beat them, it will be the first time for me. There is a lot of emotion. Last year, we were ahead and they came back. We weren't able to handle adversity. This time we have to do it."
Both teams are having good seasons. Lakewood Ranch is 2-1 with its only loss coming in double overtime.
To fans in East Manatee, this is the area's biggest rivalry.
Braden River and Lakewood Ranch are strong on both sides of the ball, but their offenses revolve around their quarterbacks, Huesman, a junior, and Mustangs senior Chad Rex.
Both teams have good depth, but if there is an X factor it would have to be Rex. He nearly single-handedly won last year's game, taking over the game in the second half. With the Mustangs trailing 31-28 in the third quarter, he threw a 67-yard TD pass and later put the game away with a 30-yard touchdown run. He finished with 118 yards rushing and 201 passing.
"They have a lot of good players, but their offense runs through Rex," said Curt Bradley, who is in his third year as the Pirates' head coach. "Every time on film you see plays that shouldn't be made and he makes them. You know the offense runs through him, and that has to be the number one place our defense has to start."
Rex said Braden River will have the hunger factor on its side, but he and his teammates are not lacking motivation.
"It's our first district game, and we want to make the playoffs. That's what we practice for every day," Rex said. "They are going to be hungry, losing four years in a row. I would be also, but we want to win. I am still hungry, and it's a district game, and it's your rival. It would be nice to graduate and say we never lost to them. They have a good defense, better than last year."
While Rex can hurt you with his legs and his arm, Huesman is more of a pure pocket passer and has one of the area's best receiving corps, led by Justin Ross and Travis Williams.
Huesman was in for only one play last year against Ranch.
"He (Huesman) does a good job of running the offense from a read standpoint and does an excellent job of throwing, especially the deep ball," Lakewood Ranch head coach Mick Koczersut said. "He has a lot of weapons. Their receivers do a great job. I haven't seen Ross drop a ball all season."
Huesman, a junior, will be back next season, but wants to send the seniors out on a high note.
"This game is big to the team and the school in general, and then we haven't beaten Lakewood Ranch in a long time," Huesman said. "I played on the freshman team, and we lost then to them. We all enjoy this game. The fans love it, and there is a lot of history to it. The whole week leading up to the game, you just get the jitters. There is a lot of emotion. Everybody will be there, the whole student body."
Last year, Braden River scored first, lost the lead and fell behind 24-10 at halftime. They retook the lead in the third quarter, but seemed to run out of gas in the final period as Rex took over.
The Mustangs also forced some big turnovers last year with a fumble caused by Wanley Desir and a Craig Bain interception.