Dreadnaughts Expect First Tough Test From Flanagan
Wed. September 12, 2012 at 10:39 p.m. | By Solange Reyner
LAKELAND HIGH SCHOOL Senior Isiah Walker practices during warmups before a 7-on-7 football scrimmage Tuesday at Bryant Stadium in Lakeland. (Photo by Pierre DuCharme | The Ledger)
By SOLANGE REYNER
LAKELAND | Lakeland's football squad will get its first real test Friday night when Flanagan, a team averaging 45 points its first two games, comes into town. It's the same team that gave Lakeland a run for its money last year early when Flanagan, which is 2-0 this season, took a 14-0 lead early.
"We haven't been pushed around much this year and they're a good looking team," Lakeland coach Bill Castle said. "We're hoping we can put more pressure on them up front defensively and not have to leave guys in man coverage."
Flanagan likes to pass the ball, Castle said, and its quarterback is averaging about 27 attempts a game. The Falcons run a spread offense, meaning Lakeland will have to throw an extra defensive back in on nickel and dime packages.
That role will go to D.C. Campbell, a 5-foot-6, 130-pound sophomore.
D.J. Alexander, Tre Dempsey, Brian Mitchell and De'Mon Peeples will man the rest of the coverage in the secondary.
But if Lakeland's front four is as good as advertised then the Dreadnaughts shouldn't have to worry too much about pass coverage.
Lakeland won its first three games, including the Kickoff Classic, with ease, blanking St. Cloud and Tenoroc to start the season 2-0 by suffocating those teams on defense. In total, St. Cloud and Tenoroc mustered 94 yards of total offense. The Dreadnaughts also registered six sacks in those contests — and that number is higher when you include the Lake Gibson preseason classic. Lakeland also held Lake Gibson scoreless.
Devon Denson leads the team in sacks with three and Sherby Saimplice and Jalen Stevenson each have two.
Castle is more worried with how his offense will fare Friday night. Robert Smith, the team's starting running back, could sit if his ankle isn't healed, Castle said. Smith, who rushed for 223 yards against St. Cloud two weeks ago, tweaked his left ankle against Tenoroc last week. Ra'Don Dwight, Gabe Walker and Braxton Huggins will get time in at that spot if Smith doesn't go.
Things are steadier at the quarterback spot, where Isaiah Walker will start, but Castle said if he notices he's not playing well he won't think twice to put Aaaron Johnson, a sophomore, in.
"Their defense is a headache, so we have our work cut out for us," Castle said.
If the outcome is anything like last year, Lakeland is in good hands. The team scored 21 unanswered points to win it, and Lakeland continued with its perfect record throughout the regular season.
[ Solange Reyner may be reached at 863-802-7526 or email@example.com ]