ST. PETERSBURG — All season long, Lakewood has relied on its defense as the Spartans cruised to a 10-0 regular-season record.
That defense wasted no time making an impact during Friday’s Class 4A region semifinal against No. 4 Clewiston. Lakewood recovered a fumble on two first-quarter possessions as the Spartans blasted the Tigers 35-0.
“I know the defense is gonna get stops,” quarterback Greg “Deuce”s Spann said. “We just have to go out there and score. I know they got my back and I got their back.”
Spann connected twice with fellow senior TJ Tampa, once on an 11-yard fade route and again on a slant route that Tampa took 65 yards for a touchdown. The fade route has proven to be an important play for the Spartans this year, as they try to utilize Tampa’s 6-foot-2 height and basketball skills to create a mismatch.
“We work on that every day in practice,” Tampa said. “We work on our timing because we know it’s important.”
Spann said he has a strong connection with the Iowa State commit.
“When he came last year, he was good,” Spann said. “But this year, we worked a lot on offense and we got a lot better.”
Lakewood coach Cory Moore said it’s the team’s practice time that makes the team’s defense so stout.
“Our defense had a lot of energy,” Moore said. “The games are our practice. We have ferocious practices. So when it comes to the game, we feel that we’re prepared as a staff and we feel that the guys are prepared.
“The real battles come on Monday through Thursday. Friday is just the game.”
Lakewood’s running game was also solid on Friday. The Spartans finished with 156 yards on the night, despite Derrel Kelley III sitting out the entire second half with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. Kelley still led the Spartans in rushing with 53 yards.
Spann, who also ran for a score on the team’s first drive, said he sees an opportunity to get better before Lakewood squares off against Tampa Catholic, which beat Delray Beach American Heritage 33-16, next week.
“I can use my running ability more and work more on my passing,” he said.
Former Lakewood standout and current Green Bay wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling was in attendance, with the Packers on a bye. Moore said it was good for the team to hear from the former USF star.
“Tonight was a great win for the community,” Moore said. “We really came together for everyone. It was just our night.”
All games 7:30 p.m. next Friday.
Class 2A, Region 3
• No. 4 Admiral Farragut at No. 3 Seffner Christian
Class 3A, Region 3
• No. 5 Clearwater Central Catholic at No. 2 Fort Myers Bishop Verot
Class 4A, Region 3
• No. 3 Tampa Catholic at No. 1 Lakewood
Class 5A, Region 3
• No. 4 Jesuit at No. 2 Lake Wales
Class 6A, Region 2
• No. 3 Lake Minneola at No. 1 Gaither
Class 7A, Region 2
• No. 2 Lakeland at No. 1 Armwood
Class 8A, Region 2
• No. 4 Steinbrenner at No. 3 Kissimmee Osceola