ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood coach Cory Moore came into Friday's game against Largo knowing his defense needed to come out strong to stop the Packers and help secure playoff positioning for the Spartans.
He quickly got his answer.
Armani Adams blew up a Largo running play on the first defensive series of the game and the Spartans (7-1) carried that aggression the rest of the game.
Lakewood held Largo (7-2) to fewer than 100 yards of total offense, bottling the Packers up at every turn en route to a 21-7 victory.
"Our defense came out strong," Moore said. "Our young guys stepped up"
One of those young guys was junior defensive back Willie Smith, who intercepted a first-quarter pass and dragged three Packers defenders 10 yards to set up a touchdown drive.
Offensively, the Spartans were led by senior do-it-all Troy'von Johnson. Johnson took a bubble screen 80 yards during the first quarter, outracing three Largo defenders for the longest score of his career.
"As soon as I caught the ball, I saw one of my receivers had a key block and I bounced it outside," he said. "Nobody's caught me this year."
Largo quarterback Kyle Wisniewski was unable to get anything going before being pulled for backup James Green.
Moore said his team came in with something to prove.
"They said they have the best defense and our guys met the challenge. Honestly to me, it helped us out to be the underdogs because they came in with a chip on their shoulder.
Lakewood, a district champ, will host a first-round playoff game next week. Pairings will be released Sunday.
Johnson said hosting those early games was the goal all season.
"First thing we say is state on 3 — 1-2-3," Johnson said. "That's our goal all year."
Moore likes where his team is heading into the playoffs.
"The guys are playing well together," he said. "The good thing is nobody is injured, nobody is banged up."