Perhaps no area team has higher expectations, both internally and externally, than Lakewood. Not only did the Spartans win 10 games last season and advance to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs, but they return several players at key positions.
Throw in an influx of quality transfers — including quarterback Ryan Davis, receiver Donterio Fowler, defensive back Chris Jackson and receiver/defensive back James Swain from Northeast; safeties Patric Jones and Albert Laskett from Gibbs and running back Courtney Burge from Osceola — and it’s easy to see why many expect big things from Lakewood.
“On one hand it’s good, but on the other hand it’s just a bigger bull’s eye,’’ coach Cory Moore said. “It’s going to be through the roof. That’s my biggest thing this year, to keep the pressure off the guys. They are going to be worried about making mistakes, stuff like that. But I’m just going to tell them to play football. I’m not going to put pressure on them. But I’ll put pressure on the coaches. They’re adults, they can take it.
“I don’t have any doubt we’ll be successful this year.’’
Moore said there are about 85 players dressed for practice. That number swells to 103 when the junior varsity is included.
The biggest addition for Lakewood is Davis, who is zoned for Lakewood but spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at Northeast. He will replace the graduated Tracy Johnson and give Joc Ellison, who was getting looks at quarterback, a chance to focus on running back.
“I’m getting the hang of it over here,’’ Davis said. “I played little league football with a lot of these guys (at St. Pete Lil Devils). We just made the decision that was best for us. It was a family decision and this is what we decided to do.
“And no more moves for me. This is it.’’
Lakewood loses its fall classic: Miramar officials called Moore on Friday and told him they would not be making the trip to St. Petersburg for the Aug. 24 preseason game due to financial issues.
Moore said he is trying to find a team in Tampa willing to allow Lakewood to play a jamboree, but right now that date is open. He said it is not possible for Lakewood to travel to Miramar, which is near Fort Lauderdale, because the school used its budget to travel to Miami Booker T. Washington for its spring game.
“It stinks,’’ Moore said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to find a game."