BRADENTON, Fla. — With postseason baseball underway, it’s almost fitting IMG Academy football pitched its first shutout of the season.
The Ascenders (6-0) dismantled visiting Southern Lab 42-0 Friday night, reassuring everyone why they are ranked No. 10 in the nation by USA Today.
“The shutout wasn’t as important to me as it was for guys to get into the game and get reps on both sides of the ball,” IMG coach Kevin Wright said. “It was really fun to watch our second and third group get in the game and compete.”
Shea Patterson picked apart the Kittens secondary, finishing with 270 yards and three touchdowns — all coming in the first half.
“Our game plan all week was to make plays on their cover one and cover three defense,” Patterson said. “I looked for the best matchup and took advantage of it.”
Patterson connected with wideout and Purdue commitment Jack Wegher, who did his best Odell Beckham Jr. impression by snagging the football out of midair one-handed taking it 69-yards to the house giving the Ascenders a 28-0 lead in the second quarter.
Wegher finished with 71 yards on two catches, while Isaac Nauta caught three passes for 64 yards and a touchdown.
“We freestyle,” Wegher said. “It’s what we do best. Shea and I talked about it before the game, and I was able to make a play on a pass that was a little high. It’s exciting, because we are getting better week by week, doing what it takes to get the win.”
The Kittens (4-2), ranked No. 2 in Louisiana’s Class 1A, couldn’t get anything going on either side of the football, finding themselves attempting trick plays in the first quarter just to muster some offense.
“They had some guys make big plays early, and we knew coming into the game they were capable of making big plays,” Southern Lab coach Marcus Randall said. “They got an early pick six to go along with a couple go routes that turned into touchdowns, and we just couldn’t recover.”
Southern Lab was held to just 148 yards of total offense and 3.3 yards per play, while the Ascenders tallied 376 yards on 9.9 yards per play.
“We have to learn from this,” Randall said. “All of our goals are still the same, and that’s to win the district and state championships.”