Class 6A-10: Kathleen Is Hungry for Success After Disappointing 2011
Thu. August 23, 2012 at 12:18 a.m. | By Solange Reyner
A DEEP-DOWN HUNGER: Kathleen’s Greg Abrams, left, Joe Dixon, A’Treyu Farrior, Corinthian Abrams and Rovonta Johnson are hoping to taste a district title. (Photo by RICK RUNION | THE LEDGER)
By SOLANGE REYNER
LAKELAND | Greg Abrams remembers his first playoff experience.
He was a sophomore and thrown into a game because another player went down with an injury. On his first play, Abrams, now a senior cornerback at Kathleen, gave up a touchdown.
He eventually buckled down and helped Kathleen advance to the regional semifinals. That's where the team bumped into Lake Gibson, the pesky team that nabbed the district title that year, 2010, and the runner-up spot last season, leaving Kathleen at home during the playoffs.
Kathleen lost, leaving Abrams and many of his teammates hungry for more of that big-time atmosphere.
"I never really experienced it the way I wanted to," said Abrams. "I want to get back there."
Kathleen feels like it has the tools to do that, even in the toughest district in Polk County. The Red Devils, who finished 5-5 last year, will have to get past Winter Haven, Lake Gibson, Bartow and Sebring to get there.
The challenge seems daunting. Winter Haven and Lake Gibson, postseason teams last year, have a solid group of returning starters coming back, and upstart Bartow complements a quick defense with a rising star at quarterback.
"We have to be disciplined, that's the key," Kathleen Head Coach Irving Strickland said. "We can't have 25 penalties like we did against Winter Haven last season or all the missed opportunities like we did against Lake Gibson. Every team in our district is going to be tough, but if we give a great effort for four quarters, we will have the chance to win every game."
Most of the pressure lies on quarterback A'Treyu Farrior, a senior who threw for 1,635 yards and 16 touchdowns last season and rushed for 424 yards. He'll have a solid core of receivers, including Ja'Von Harrison, a junior who has already committed to play football for Virginia Tech.
"I already told A'Treyu to saddle up," Strickland said.
Some things on offense have been tinkered with to exploit Farrior's strengths. Strickland is using a no-huddle approach more this season, a move that he thinks bodes well for Farrior.
"When I gave him the play before and he took it back to the huddle, he was nervous. Now I signal it to him and he's fine," Strickland said.
A postseason showing is on Kathleen's to-do list, but so is a district title and beating Lakeland, feats the team hasn't accomplished in a while. Kathleen won a district title in 2007. The last time the Red Devils beat Lakeland was in 1992.
Kathleen At a Glance
Head Coach: Irving Strickland (6th season, 30-25 overall).
Coaching Staff: Anthony Troutman DC, LeDarius Haggins WR, Reid Pomeroy & Clint Slappey ST, Harvey Simmons OL, Malcolm Andrews DL, James Lovett Jr. QB, Chuck Duffey Jr. DB.
2011 Record: 5-5.
Last Time in Playoffs: 2010, lost to Lake Gibson, 21-3, in second round.
Home Field: Johnny Johnson Stadium, Lakeland.
(All games begin at 7 p.m.)
Aug. 24 -- at L. Wales (Preseason)
Aug. 31 -- vs. Lake Region
Sept. 7 -- vs. George Jenkins
Sept. 14 -- at Ridge Community
Sept. 21 -- at Winter Haven
Sept. 28 -- at Haines City
Oct. 5 -- vs. Bartow
Oct. 12 -- at Auburndale
Oct. 26 -- at Lake Gibson
Nov. 2 -- vs. Sebring
Nov. 9 -- vs. Lakeland