IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) learned a valuable lesson in the downside of the bull’s-eye that is the No. 1 ranking in USA Today’s preseason Super 25.
Good thing for the Ascenders, said lesson came in a preseason scrimmage against Columbia (Lake City, Fla.) in the Kickoff Classic.
The teams reset the scoreboard at the end of each half, but the Ascenders came up short in the combined score, 33-30, according to the Lake City Reporter.
Starters for both teams played the entire first half and the first series of the third quarter.
IMG trailed 33-13 at halftime.
The biggest adjustments that IMG will have to make before its opener at Pine-Richland (Pa.). on Aug. 24 will be in its approach out of the gate and in its pass defense.
Tigers quarterback Jordan Smith threw for more than 200 yards and five touchdowns in the first half, according to Columbia linebacker Jaylen Brown.
A headscratcher for a defense that features five-star defensive end Nolan Smith, a Georgia commit, four-star linebacker Jaleel McCrae, a Florida State commit, and linebacker Charles Thomas, a Michigan commit.
“I feel like they felt like they were just gonna run over us,” Brown said. “We’re a small town school and they had never heard of us, but we came out hungry. That five-star stuff doesn’t mean anything on the field. Looks like we need to be five-stars too.”
Brown said his advice for the Ascenders going forward would be not to assume teams are intimidated by their reputation.
“They’re a good team, but I’d just tell them not to come into the game thinking you already won,” Brown said. “There’s always a team out there working harder than you. Tonight that team was us.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY