Kathleen In Must-Win Against Lake Gibson
Thu. October 25, 2012 at 11:04 p.m. | By Solange Reyner
By SOLANGE REYNER
LAKELAND | Kathleen has its back up against a wall, with tonight's district game against Lake Gibson a must win.
If the Red Devils lose, it could mean another year out of the playoffs. If they win, they could make it a three-way tie to get into the postseason in Class 6A, District 10.
So the pressure is on.
Or is it?
"We've been here before so what are we pressured about?" Kathleen coach Irving Strickland said.
Last year, the scenario was a bit similar.
Kathleen needed to beat Lake Gibson to have a chance to get into the playoffs and the Braves needed the victory to lock up the runner-up spot behind Winter Haven, which had already clinched the No. 1 position.
Kathleen had the lead for most of that game but couldn't hold on, losing 23-22.
"That was very emotional, that game," Kathleen quarterback A'Treyu Farrior said. "That made me feel sick the whole week after it."
It's a feeling he doesn't want to encounter again.
And he could be the key to making sure that doesn't happen.
"It all circles around their quarterback," Lake Gibson coach Keith DeMyer said. "If he's on, we'll be in trouble."
Farrior proved that against Auburndale when the Bloodhounds' defense was keyed in on stopping running backs Rovonta Johnson and Anthony Ware.
Farrior rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown and threw for another 78.
But Strickland isn't squarely putting this game on his senior quarterback's shoulders.
He said he's been preaching aggressiveness and solid tackling all week long, especially in the trenches.
"The key for us to being successful is our lineman," Strickland said.
"Those guys have to be able to control Kennard Swanson and Anthony Green and our offensive lineman have to protect A'Treyu."
DeMyer said his offensive line, which is much improved, also has to hold up if Lake Gibson wants to stay in the driver's seat in the district.
"If we come up and lose it, it's a three way tie and that turns into a whole different deal when you get into that one quarter playoff stuff," DeMyer said.
"We have an opportunity to stay in control here and we want to. I really don't want to have to put the coaches or the kids into a position where we have to do a playoff."
Kathleen will try to spoil the Braves' plan.
"For a lot of us this is our last chance," senior Kathleen defensive tackle Marlon Brown Jr. said. "And it's not time to give in yet."
[ Solange Reyner may be reached at email@example.com or 863-802-7526. ]