Kathleen Aiming for Win Over Cross-Town Rival Lakeland For 1st Time in 20 Years
Thu. November 08, 2012 at 11:54 p.m. | By Rick Brown
Kathleen High Cheerleaders take turns doing pushups after the Red Devils score another touchdown against cross town rivals the Lakeland Dreadnaughts 2006. (Photo by CINDY SKOP | THE LEDGER)
By RICK BROWN
LAKELAND | The Kathleen Red Devils and Lakeland Dreadnaughts are in different classifications in football. Their seasons have also gone in different directions.
So it would be understandable for the Dreadnaughts to look past tonight's game against the Red Devils to their playoff game against Kissimmee Osceola next week.
But they are not. This is Lakeland and Kathleen.
No matter the circumstances, no matter the records, this is historically a big game.
Tonight will be no different as the two schools, located 5 miles apart, will renew their long-standing rivalry this time at Johnny Johnson Stadium.
"This game is like a civil war," said Kathleen quarterback A'Treyu Farrior. "Everyone talks about it. When I'm in school or out in public, that's all I hear. They talk about this game a lot."
The fact the game will be shown live on statewide television only adds to the hype.
"This game is real important," said Lakeland defensive lineman Devon Denson. "It's a big rivalry to the city. It's a special game that means something to all the alumni from Kathleen and Lakeland. We're just trying to represent in keeping it the way it was."
The way it has been for the last 20 years has been Lakeland leaving the field victorious. The Dreadnaughts have not lost to the Red Devils since 1992.
Although both coaches have tried to downplay the significance of the Dreadnaughts' current dominance of the series, they admit there's pressure on both sides.
Kathleen is 6-3 with its three losses totalling a combined nine points. Having missed the playoffs by a game, coach Irving Strickland is trying to keep his kids focused on what they do.
"As much as you try not to think about (how big the game is), someone is bringing it up," Strickland said. "Their family is taking about it; their friends are talking about it.
"I told them, ‘Guys, if this is your last game, enjoy the moment. If you win, you'll remember this for the rest of your life. If you come out with a loss, you'll remember this for the rest of your life.'
"For me, it's just another game on the schedule. That's the bottom line. We're going to have fun."
Lakeland coach Bill Castle, whose team is 8-1 but is coming off of a tough loss for the district title to Ridge Community wants his players to keep the game in perspective.
"We take it like we take any other game and try to get our kids to realize what we have done in the past doesn't have anything to do with the game coming up," he said. "We approach all games the same, whether it's a playoff game, whether it's Kathleen or whether it's whoever we're playing.
"It should be a fun game," Castle said. "There's a lot of pride at stake. But at the end of the day, it's all about the playoffs and the following week we have to get ready for Kissimmee."
But Lakeland quarterback Isaiah Walker said there's work to be done first.
"It's a pride thing," he said. "It's tradition. This game means a lot. Since I've been born, we've never known Lakeland to lose to Kathleen so it's a must that we win."
Kathleen senior Greg Abrams said the Red Devils can't get caught up in the hype.
"We know it's a big game," he said. "We can do something special that no one has done in years. It's not a regular game. It's a big game. We just have to try to keep a level head and try not to do too much."