Lakewood quarterback Alphonzo Evans did some strange things Friday night.
He wheeled and handed the ball to a running back on just about every down.
The Spartans playing smashmouth football?
Lakewood, which used to live and die by the pass, was securely grounded as it pounded out 272 rushing yards to beat host Gibbs 40-6.
"We feel like this season we need to try to come out and establish the running game," Spartans coach Cory Moore said. "I figured (Friday night) was as good a time as any to start doing it."
Last season, Lakewood paid periodic lip service to the running game but always leaned on quarterback JaQuez Jenkins when the going got tough.
As a result, the Spartans' offense became one of the county's most predictable, a fact underscored in their first-round playoff loss to Plant.
So Moore wanted to create more balance by emphasizing the run. That also helped reduce the burden on Evans, who took over quarterbacking duties from Jenkins (now at USF).
The chief beneficiary of this keep-it-simple approach was Bernard Reedy Jr., the Spartans' electrifying athlete.
Reedy showed signs of becoming the bread-and-butter back Lakewood needed by rushing for 161 yards and scoring four touchdowns.
"We talked all week about getting the running game going," Reedy said. "And we just kept going to it until they stopped it."
In the second quarter, Reedy scored on runs of 2 and 13 yards to put the Spartans ahead 13-0.
The Gladiators responded with their only touchdown on a 54-yard pass from Josh Rembert to Jarvis West. The extra point failed.
Lakewood added another touchdown on a 3-yard run by Evans to go ahead 20-6 at the half.
In the second half, the Spartans added three scores. Evans threw a 59-yard pass to Javaris Little and Reedy had touchdown runs of 9 and 36 yards.
Lakewood's defense also was impressive, forcing three turnovers and holding Gibbs to 93 yards.