ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood's destruction of Countryside was just a few hours old and Bernard Reedy Jr. had already turned his attention forward.
"This win was nice, but the next game is even more important," Reedy said.
Never mind that Reedy had accumulated nearly 300 yards of total offense and scored two touchdowns against the Cougars. Never mind that his performance helped knocked Countryside from the unbeaten ranks. Never mind that he shined in a matchup of the two highest-scoring offenses in the county.
That's because the real test comes tonight.
The Spartans host Jefferson in a Class 3A, District 8 game. And Reedy knows district games carry extra meaning, require extra emphasis and can define seasons.
"We're basically looking at this as our first playoff game," Reedy said. "If we can beat Jefferson, that puts us one step closer to our goal of winning the district title."
Another county team, Boca Ciega, has an important game against Sickles in Class 4A, District 10. A Pirates win all but assures them a playoff spot.
"The coaches have stressed the importance of this game," Boca Ciega running back Latavien Washington said. "And all the players want it, too, because we struggled as a team last year."
For Lakewood (4-1, 1-0), the stakes are high and the challenge is immense against the Dragons (3-1, 1-0), who have a few intimidating weapons on offense and a history of dominating the Spartans.
"Jefferson is a great football program that has a tradition of winning," Lakewood coach Cory Moore said. "We're trying to get to that level."
Jefferson's offense starts with its passing game. Quarterback Quentin Williams has thrown for 1,256 yards and 13 touchdowns, tops in Tampa Bay. His favorite target is Andre Davis, nicknamed "the freak" for his ability to use his 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame to leap over defenders. Davis has a bay-area best 518 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.
"That's a really good duo that Jefferson has," Moore said. "We're going to have our hands full."
Lakewood's task became even tougher this week with 11 players battling the flu, including Reedy.
"I've been trying to rest as much as possible," he said. "But I'll be ready."
Moore plans to combat the size advantage Jefferson has with Davis by assigning his tallest defensive back, Xavius Boyd (6-3, 215), to cover him.
"We're going to let those two go at it and have some fun," Moore said.
The Pirates (2-2, 1-0) face a different problem on defense. They have to stop running back Cary White, who has rushed for 841 yards and six touchdowns for the Gryphons (4-1, 1-0).
"Sickles has a good running back and a good running game," Washington said. "We just have to stop those gains up the middle. If we do that, we'll be looking pretty good."
Bob Putnam can be reached at email@example.com