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Lakewood shows no rust in first playoff win this season

Everything clicks per usual for the unbeaten Spartans, who were coming off a bye week and will face Tampa Catholic next.
High school football teams around Tampa Bay competed in the second round of the playoffs Friday night. [Times]
Published Nov. 16

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.”

Region finals

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


  1. Tampa Prep's Grace Langston (50), left, works to disrupt a shot attempt by Wesley Chapel's Mia Nicholson (12) during the game on Friday. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes
    The Wildcats lead early, then hang on to improve to 5-0 on the season.
  2. Cambridge Christian coach Bob Dare and wife Beth at the 2015 state championship in Orlando. BOB DARE  |  Special to the Times
    The longtime Lancers coach, who led the program to the state title game in 2015, will no longer be a coach or teacher at the school.
  3. River Ridge senior Brandi Willard is among the area leaders in points per game so far this season. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Our offensive and defensive leaders for Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties.
  4. Academy of the Holy Names senior Madison Kurtz, right, gets congratulated by sophomore Nicole Sakre after scoring a goal in a 4-0- victory over Steinbrenner early this season. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Jaguars, who came up short at state a year ago, expect to remain energized and focused all the way to a title.
  5. Jalen Cooper is among a group of seniors on the Anclote roster who have been playing together since middle school. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    A three-point loss in last season’s playoffs spark the Sharks to strive for more.
  6. Seffner Christian doesn't shy away from tough competition, taking on a team that reached state last season in its season opener. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    The defending state finalist Crusaders rally from a 20-point deficit only to watch host Lakewood Ranch sink a free throw as time expires.
  7. Kanesha Hall, the first 1,000-point scorer in school history, on the court during Monday's practice at Northeast. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    The senior recently broke the 1,000-point barrier to become the school’s all-time leading scorer in girls basketball.
  8. Marcellus Crutchfield of Tampa Catholic runs down the court  during the Class 5A state semifinals last season in Lakeland. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    With a brutal schedule this season, will Tampa Catholic’s reign at the top last long?
  9. Carrollwood Day, an annual state contender, remains one of the top teams in Tampa Gay. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Eight teams in our top 10 are undefeated.
  10. Lakewood's Artez Hooker (8) consoles Cornelius Mckenzie (10) after the Spartans fall 9-7 in the Class 4A state semifinals to Miami Booker T. Washington. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    One thing is certain: South Florida remains a hurdle for teams all over the state to clear.