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Building on a winning record

Lakeland won more football games last fall than any season since 2001. The Cavaliers finished 6-4 overall and with a winning record, 5-4, in the Southeastern District.

The Cavaliers lost some big contributors, but for the most part, head coach Glenwood Ferebee’s team is back another year older and one more year bigger and better. The confidence gained from the Cavs’ improved record a year ago could be the most important part of last year’s experience.

Saturday at the Peanut City Shootout, a 7-on-7 passing game tournament at King’s Fork, Lakeland’s head coach knows the ways a winning season has helped his program already.

With the help of middle school football, now through two full seasons in Suffolk, Ferebee has 20-25 more young players entering his program after one or two seasons playing for John F. Kennedy Middle School or Forest Glen Middle School.

Part of the higher number of newcomers comes from being more competitive against the rest of the district.

“With the winning we displayed last year, there’s a lot more excitement and energy, for returners and young guys coming in,” Ferebee said.

“I’ve actually been getting calls (from newcomers) the last few weeks asking when weight training starts and that’s a difference from before,” Ferebee said.

Now it’s a matter of keeping the results coming on the field.

“Confidence wise, we’re growing, and that’s the biggest thing we have going for us,” Ferebee said.

Ferebee, entering his third season coaching the Cavaliers, has been putting in a spread, largely passing, offense bit by bit. Lakeland’s defense carried the way much of last season, especially in Lakeland’s six wins.

The Cavaliers gave up 9.3 points per game in their victories and 30.8 points per game in their losses.

The major disappointment of last season came in the next-to-last Friday of the schedule. Lakeland lost its chance at a Suffolk sweep with a 7-6 loss to King’s Fork. The Bulldogs came into the game with a 1-7 record, but KF’s defense frustrated the Cavaliers all night.

This season though will be Ferebee’s first one with a returning quarterback as Walter Boykins, a rising junior, comes back after starting every game as a sophomore.

“That’s a big thing. (Boykins) now knows where everyone’s supposed to be. The game’s slowed down for him. Even last year, from the beginning of the year to the end, everything started to slow down for him and you could see the difference,” Ferebee said.

“He’s going to be able to take more and more command of the offense. Last year, he was just playing in it,” Ferebee said.

When Boykins is with coaches in a meeting or watching tape, “he’ll say something about the offense before we say the exact same thing,” says the coach. “He’s been at home studying.”

With an older, more experienced, quarterback, Ferebee plans to open up his offense and be able to put the ball in the air more often.

“We want to throw 30-35 times a game,” Ferebee said.

One major loss from last year’s senior class is running back Cedric Johnson, who’s now at freshman at Hampton University and on the Pirate football team.

Even with all the carries and yards Cedric Johnson accounted for, Ferebee has a returning player ready to step right in.

Rising sophomore Rackwon Johnson, “did really well in a fill-in role last season,” Ferebee said. “So we don’t think we’ll be missing much at that spot.”

Lakeland’s 2010 schedule opens on Friday, Sept. 3 at Wilson. Nine straight district games follow, with Nansemond River at Lakeland on Sept. 10 coming in week two.