Tough end, good experience

Published 9:43 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Head coach Glenwood Ferebee was clear about the number one goal for Lakeland’s football team at the first scrimmage for the Cavaliers in mid-August.

Making the playoffs was the main objective for the Cavaliers two seasons after nearly getting there with a 6-4 record but just one year after going through an 0-10 season.

No matter to what degree Coach Ferebee believed in the bar he was setting for his team, the most important and impressive fact from Lakeland’s first-ever campaign into the postseason this fall is how completely Ferebee and his coaches got every Cavalier player to believe in the goal, despite last fall’s record, despite Lakeland’s football past, and despite what anyone outside the team might have thought of it Ferebee’s goal at the time. But in the memorable words of Jim Mora, the Cavaliers put their work and beliefs into action on the first Friday night of the season.

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Lakeland started 4-0, with three of the four wins being total routs. The rest of the season had its highs and lows.

There was a hard-fought loss to perennial state contender Oscar Smith that, with a break or two, could have turned Lakeland’s way.

The Cavs entered the playoffs, the first for any Suffolk school in Group AAA, after a loss to city rival Nansemond River.

The Cavaliers could have been satisfied with just getting to Saturday’s playoff game at Norcom. They could have decided to be satisfied with their historic season once they saw that Norcom was ahead 33-0 two plays into the second half.

Lakeland kept playing, though, in the end coming as close as 39-28 and moving the ball into Norcom territory with a few minutes to go. But then Norcom began to pull away again, increasing the gap between the teams and finally winning the game, 46-28.

It seemed as though a critical part of stepping up to the big stage of “playoff football” was realizing the game was still just “football.”

Even for the Cavs who will be graduating and won’t play football again, we can hope that what they learned from Saturday night’s game will continue to be valuable to them in or out of football and sports.

The Cavaliers proved they can get to the playoffs. Once there, even with a disappointing final score, they showed it’s never too late to step up to a challenge and prove oneself.

Andrew Giermak is sports editor for the Suffolk News-Herald. He can be reached at 757.934.9614 or at