Lakewood's Rodney Adams began his season on the sideline in street clothes. He is ending it running all over the field.
During a preseason physical, Adams was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. Doctors told him there may even be a small hole in his heart. When he returned for a second look, he was told nothing was wrong.
"The monitor was just messed up, it was just a false alarm," Adams said. "It was really scary for a while there."
While waiting to be cleared by doctors, Adams missed most preseason practices and the 35-7 preseason loss to Countryside.
When he returned in the season opener against Seminole, he contributed right away with a 59-yard touchdown reception. His contributions seemed to multiply each week.
He has been used mainly at receiver, but plays have been designed for him to run the ball. And when starting quarterback Tracy Johnson went out with a concussion against district rival Robinson, Adams took over.
In that game, the Spartans' only regular-season loss, Adams had 10 carries for 79 yards and Lakewood's lone touchdown. The following week against Spoto, he rushed for 111 yards as the Wildcat quarterback.
"He never complains about anything," said coach Cory Moore, who has nicknamed Adams "Hello, Goodbye" "Quietest guy we've got. He doesn't care what position you put him at, he'll do it. He just smiles and says, 'Yes sir."'
Johnson will return for tonight's Class 5A region quarterfinal against Orlando Bishop Moore (8-2). Adams will move back to receiver, but Moore hasn't ruled out letting him take some snaps. And he also hinted Adams could be used at safety.
"Quarterback is like second nature to me," said Adams, who at 6-foot-3 also plays on the basketball team. "I'm originally a quarterback. When I got to high school I thought I was too tall to play quarterback. Any time I have the ball in my hand it's a good feeling. Any way to help the team out, I'll do it."
His move to quarterback wasn't all that changed for Adams this season. For the past year he has been orally committed to Florida. But when receivers coach Aubrey Hill resigned in August, Adams reopened his recruiting.
He said UCF, West Virginia, Houston and Vanderbilt have shown the most interest.
"We'll see what happens," he said.
College won't be on Adams' mind tonight. Moore said his team enters the game completely healthy. Aside from Johnson, running back Laterian Latimer is back after being bothered by an ankle sprain.
Adams is hoping to extend his Spartans football career by at least another week.
"Lakewood doesn't have the best playoff record (3-13), and we want to change that," Adams said. "Any way to get the 'W,' I'm there."
Rodney Page can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* * *
Class 5A region quarterfinal
Lakewood (9-1) at Orlando Bishop Moore (8-2)
Scouting report: Bishop Moore lost its first two games to state-ranked and unbeaten teams - Orlando First Academy and Kissimmee Osceola. The running back tandem of JakRamsberger and Marcus Williams combined for 250 yards rushing last week against Orlando Freedom in the season finale. In their eight wins, the Hornets have averaged 38 points.
Last playoff appearance: Lakewood lost 27-20 to Pasco in the first round in 2010; Bishop Moore lost 30-10 to Robinson in the first round last year
Rodney Page's pick: Just a hunch, but the Spartans will have a happy bus ride home. Lakewood 27-21
Bob Putnam's pick: Defense gets it done for the Spartans. Lakewood 21-10