TAMPA — Cludner Lacount knew he had arrived after his sophomore year. But he didn’t anticipate that his career would need a senior year revival.
The Tampa Bay Tech senior started his 2009 campaign doing something no player had done the past four years: score two touchdowns in the same quarter against Plant en route to carrying his team to victory.
Trailing 24-8 going into the fourth quarter, Lacount, who complemented current Miami Hurricane Maurice Hagens in the backfield, scored on a 4-yard run then added a 30-yard touchdown reception to tie the game. Two years later, Lacount and coach Jayson Roberts point to that as a breakout performance.
“He really was the key guy for us when we went over to Plant and upset them,” Roberts said of Lacount, who averaged almost 8 yards per carry that year. “He scored the two late touchdowns out of the backfield.”
Lacount and his coaches had high expectations heading into last year. A torn left hamstring, though, limited him to 12 carries and 57 yards. He led the team in receiving yards but went into the offseason with lingering doubts he used for incitement.
“Last season everybody was expecting me to have a big season, but it didn’t happen,” Lacount said. “I got down on myself a little, but I just came back this summer and worked hard.”
The hard work has paid off, as Lacount is the county’s eighth-leading rusher with 945 yards. And those receiving skills he perfected last year have come in handy, too, as he once again leads his team with 32 receptions, good for 442 yards.
Against Plant City last week, Lacount (who wears the same socks he trained in all summer as a good luck charm) carried the ball 32 times for 194 yards. On the winning final drive he ran the ball 11 times, including a do-or-die fourth-and-3, which he converted from the Raiders’ 15-yard line.
“He does subtle things that a good running back does,” Plant City coach Wayne Ward said after the game. “He’s got pretty good vision, excellent burst on the edge and great balance.”
And he’s not afraid to take his 5-foot-9, 175-pound frame straight through the middle of his offensive line.
“He runs between the tackles like a 225-pounder, doesn’t shy away from contact,” Roberts said. “Whenever we need a big play, he’s the guy.”
Lacount hopes to be “the guy” for a college program next year, too. Tuskegee, Wofford, Ohio and Middle Tennessee State have expressed interest, Roberts said. More immediately, though, Lacount and his pink cleats (an addition to the good luck socks after a productive October) hope to run through the Brandon defense in Friday’s playoff opener.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve got the upper hand,” Lacount said with a smile, “but I think we’re going to come out of there with a ‘W.’ ”