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Football: Lakewood 38, Braden River 20

The Spartans jump out to a quick lead against their Bradenton nemesis and make it stick.
High school football teams around Tampa Bay were in action Friday night. [Times]
Published Sep. 21

ST. PETERSBURG — Before taking the field Friday, Lakewood coach Cory Moore had a question for his players: “How many of you guys beat Braden River?”

No hands went up.

“They beat us in the spring game, they beat us the spring before …,” Moore said.

Well, consider that streak broken, and with authority. With speed and savvy on offense, and size and aggressiveness on defense, the host Spartans rolled to a 38-20 victory to remain unbeaten on the year.

“We just try to get everyone better,” senior running back Derrel Kelley said. “As a team, we want to jell together.”

Even though Lakewood (5-0) got nicked for its first points allowed this year, Braden River (2-3) never could rebound from a 17-0 first-quarter deficit.

The weapons for the Spartans were numerous:

Making smart, split-second decisions pay off with amazing mobility, quarterback Deuce Spann got the attack going with a brilliant 75-yard touchdown run, finishing with 157 rushing yards on 14 carries while hitting on 7 of 15 passes for 130 more yards and another TD.

Senior T.J. Tampa paired up with Spann for a lightning-quick two-play scoring “drive,” finishing it with a dazzling, ankle-breaking 75-yard dash to the house.

After registering a 40-yard scoring dash in the first quarter, Kelley took over the third quarter with TD runs of 1 and 56 yards, finishing with 135 yards on only 12 carries that typically started with his waiting for a hole then exploding through it.

“That patience comes from my dad; he taught me everything I know,” Kelley said. “If a hole isn’t there, keep on looking because it will be in another spot. I just use my vision, my O-line gets me a hole and I hit it. I’ve been doing it since I was a toddler.”

All the while, Lakewood's defensive interior, led by mammoth but mobile tackles Andarius Wilson and Trey Scruggs, owned the trenches, forcing Braden River to work the edges with limited success.

“(Andarius) doesn’t get a lot of attention, but he’s super important for us,” Moore said. “'Tank' has a defensive lineman’s body but thinks he’s a skill player. He has a good nose for the ball and is tough as nails.”

Marques Alexander registered a sack and fumble recovery while Cortez McKenzie and Aumhryaun Brown added a sack apiece. Samari Smith wrapped up the impressive effort with a fourth-quarter interception in his own end zone.

“Every game, we play like it’s for the state championship so that when we get there, it’s going to be like nothing,” Kelley said. “That’s what we do, it’s where we want to go. We’ll play like that every game, play like that until we get there.”


  1. Tampa Prep's Grace Langston (50), left, works to disrupt a shot attempt by Wesley Chapel's Mia Nicholson (12) during the game on Friday. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes
    The Wildcats lead early, then hang on to improve to 5-0 on the season.
  2. Cambridge Christian coach Bob Dare and wife Beth at the 2015 state championship in Orlando. BOB DARE  |  Special to the Times
    The longtime Lancers coach, who led the program to the state title game in 2015, will no longer be a coach or teacher at the school.
  3. River Ridge senior Brandi Willard is among the area leaders in points per game so far this season. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Our offensive and defensive leaders for Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties.
  4. Academy of the Holy Names senior Madison Kurtz, right, gets congratulated by sophomore Nicole Sakre after scoring a goal in a 4-0- victory over Steinbrenner early this season. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Jaguars, who came up short at state a year ago, expect to remain energized and focused all the way to a title.
  5. Jalen Cooper is among a group of seniors on the Anclote roster who have been playing together since middle school. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    A three-point loss in last season’s playoffs spark the Sharks to strive for more.
  6. Seffner Christian doesn't shy away from tough competition, taking on a team that reached state last season in its season opener. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    The defending state finalist Crusaders rally from a 20-point deficit only to watch host Lakewood Ranch sink a free throw as time expires.
  7. Kanesha Hall, the first 1,000-point scorer in school history, on the court during Monday's practice at Northeast. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    The senior recently broke the 1,000-point barrier to become the school’s all-time leading scorer in girls basketball.
  8. Marcellus Crutchfield of Tampa Catholic runs down the court  during the Class 5A state semifinals last season in Lakeland. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    With a brutal schedule this season, will Tampa Catholic’s reign at the top last long?
  9. Carrollwood Day, an annual state contender, remains one of the top teams in Tampa Gay. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Eight teams in our top 10 are undefeated.
  10. Lakewood's Artez Hooker (8) consoles Cornelius Mckenzie (10) after the Spartans fall 9-7 in the Class 4A state semifinals to Miami Booker T. Washington. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    One thing is certain: South Florida remains a hurdle for teams all over the state to clear.