Monday, June 18, 2018
Sports

No missteps for Spartans defense

Early in Lakewood's season, when the offense was trying to find a rhythm, the Spartans' defense was steady. In the middle of the season, when the offense was scoring in bunches, the defense stayed consistent. • In last week's region semifinal against Tarpon Springs, with the offense sputtering early, the defense held the Spongers to six first-half points. • Through all of the offense's inconsistencies, Lakewood's defense has not wavered. • The Spartans have given up only 12 points per game heading into Friday's Class 5A region final against South Sumter. • "The offense is catching up with the defense," coach Cory Moore said. "The offense is all about timing and coming together. The defense, they hit people. They hold us together. They've put us in good situations this season. • "You're not going to score too many points on those guys. Our defense is unbelievable."

The most points Lakewood has given up this season was 23 in a Nov. 1 loss to Jacksonville Raines. The Spartans have two shutouts and held a very good Palmetto team to 13 points.

"Every game we have a chip on our shoulders," safety Brujoun Bonner said. "The offense gets a lot of attention but our defense is pretty good."

Part of the reason for the defensive success is depth. Lakewood does not have players who play on both sides of the ball. Fatigue becomes less of a factor.

"We don't have any two-way guys — not one," Moore said. "We can have an offensive practice, and the entire defense is in watching film. And then we switch."

There is also a load of talent on defense.

Bonner has been a shutdown safety when facing opponents' best receivers.

"I've only been caught on once this year," said Bonner, who has eight interceptions. "Dunedin caught one, but that wasn't even my fault. It was a busted coverage. Teams may throw it my way but it gets picked off."

Patric Jones transferred from Gibbs and has settled in at linebacker. Oshario Mitchell has also been solid at linebacker. The secondary, with Bonner, Tyrell Hubbard-Smith, Chris Jackson, Aaron Graham and James Swain, has frustrated quarterbacks all season.

"We all have a lot of trust in each other," Jones said. "We know we have the players in place to make plays."

On the defensive line, 420-pounder Nyquel Alexander was moved from the offensive line early in the season. And junior lineman Jordan Edwards has been just about unstoppable, with 24 sacks in 12 games.

"I just follow what the coaches tell me," said the soft-spoken Edwards. "I just watch the ball and (play) disciplined."

That discipline will be tested against South Sumter. The Raiders run a fast-paced, no-huddle offense that emphasizes the run. They average nearly 45 points per game, more than any team the Spartans have faced.

No problem, according to Moore.

"I don't think South Sumter is better than Jacksonville Raines," Moore said. "I don't think they're better than Booker T. (Washington). Or Palmetto. And St. Petersburg was a good running team. Tarpon Springs had a darn good running back (Michael Ford). We faced these running teams all year long. We're right where we want to be."

Rodney Page can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @RodneyHomeTeam.

Comments
Ex-Bucs WR Lawrence Dawsey worked with team during OTAs

Ex-Bucs WR Lawrence Dawsey worked with team during OTAs

The Bucs had four extra coaches during organized team activities last month as part of the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship, including former Tampa Bay receiver Lawrence Dawsey.Dawsey, 50, played for the Bucs from 1991-95, finishing his time ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
As USF-Yuengling bond grows, is SEC’s alcohol stance slowly shifting?

As USF-Yuengling bond grows, is SEC’s alcohol stance slowly shifting?

USF's expanded partnership with Yuengling — including naming rights to the Sun Dome — is only the latest part in an evolving relationship between college sports and alcohol, as my colleague, Joey Knight, wrote on the front page ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning re-signs goaltender Eddie Pasquale to two-way deal

Lightning re-signs goaltender Eddie Pasquale to two-way deal

The Lightning re-signed goaltender Eddie Pasquale to a one-year, two-way contract general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.Pasquale, 27, split this past season between the Syracuse Crunch and Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League. He...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays drop three of four in New York

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays drop three of four in New York

The Rays lose three of four games in New York as Rick Stroud says they fail to figure out the Yankees' pitching. With Christian Arroyo injured, they activate Adeiny Hechavarria — one of the stars of Sunday's win — from the disabled list a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
A sports story that we all can love

A sports story that we all can love

When we think of sports — hard-nosed, competitive sports — what words immediately come to mind? Tenacity. Grit. Guts. Perseverance. Courage. Intensity. Determination. You get the idea. Sports are usually cutthroat, give no quarter, sho...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays journal: Adeiny Hechavarria returns and plays short, but now what?

Rays journal: Adeiny Hechavarria returns and plays short, but now what?

NEW YORK — The Adeiny Hechavarria situation is going to be interesting for the Rays. The veteran seemed destined to be traded or even released as he completed his recovery from a hamstring strain rather than play again for the Rays after last ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Yankees game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Yankees game

The Rays remain committed to using an "opener" three times in five game stretches, but that seems to tax the bullpen too much. Wilmer Font showed Sunday that he should be able to handle starting, at least until Chris Archer returns.It was only one wi...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Sports on TV/radio for Monday, June 18

TODAYBaseballYankees at Nationals7 p.m.MLBRays at Astros8 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMMarlins at Giants10 p.m.FSFDiamondbacks at Angels10 p.m.ESPNCollege baseball, World SeriesOregon State vs. Washington2 p.m.ESPNNorth Carolina vs. Mississippi State7 p.m.ESPN...
Published: 06/17/18
Rays journal: Adeiny Hechavarria returns and plays short, but now what?

Rays journal: Adeiny Hechavarria returns and plays short, but now what?

NEW YORK — The Adeiny Hechavarria situation is going to be interesting for the Rays.The veteran seemed destined to be traded or even released as he completed his recovery from a hamstring strain rather than play again for the Rays after last week’s p...
Published: 06/17/18

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Yankees game

The Rays remain committed to using an "opener" three times in five game stretches, but that seems to tax the bullpen too much. Wilmer Font showed Sunday that he should be able to handle starting, at least until Chris Archer returns.e_SClBIt was only ...
Published: 06/17/18