Cavs prepare for great expectations

Published 10:14 pm Tuesday, July 3, 2012

By Matthew Hatfield
Correspondent

Lakeland High School’s football team may have gotten a glimpse of the future recently as they faced the Oscar Smith Tigers, the defending Group AAA Division 6 state champion in a 7-on-7 passing tournament.

Lakeland, expected to be one of the top football teams in the area this year, fell 16-14 to the Tigers, but finished a respectable 5-1 among the 28 teams participating in the tournament at King’s Fork High School late last month.

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Lakeland’s performance, though, was good enough to earn the Cavaliers a place in the 7 on 7 National Championship to be held July 20-22 in Washington, D.C.

“This really helps with timing for the quarterback. Of course, we like to throw the football a lot, so it gives receivers a chance to find open zones, when to sit down or keep running routes, things of that nature,” Lakeland coach Glenwood Ferebee said.

“Defensively, you’re always going to be at a disadvantage, because you only play a couple of coverages. We just try to come out here to get some work and compete. It’s also good to see what everybody else has and how we match up without the offensive line.”

Fresh off a resurgent season as they improved from 0-10 in 2010 to 7-4 with their first ever playoff berth in Group AAA in 2011, Lakeland marched through the likes of Hertford County (NC), Hayfield and York in pool play at the Peanut City Shootout. The Cavs then beat city rival King’s Fork in the opening round of tournament action and ousted perennial Beach District contender Ocean Lakes in the quarterfinals.

A number of key components from last year’s squad return, headlined by running back Raekwon Johnson, the reigning Southeastern District co-Offensive Player of the Year, who accumulated 2,247 total yards and was responsible for 28 touchdowns. The versatile Johnson could play some wide receiver, while they incorporate Curtis Rouse into the offense at running back.

Also back is Antonio Jefferson after earning First Team All-Southeastern District honors at defensive back and Second Team All-District at wide receiver, where he had 46 receptions and seven touchdowns. Three players whose seasons were cut short due to injury — quarterback Zach Super and receivers Darnell McMillian and Derrick Edghill — will be returning.

“The only person we lost that played a significant part was Anaquan Peterson,” Ferebee said. “Everybody else is back.”

Although the pads won’t go on in a real game that counts until Aug. 30 when Lakeland visits Deep Creek in the 2012 season opener, Coach Ferebee sees a lot of promise in the group, predicated once again on speed.

“I want my offense to be like the Oregon Ducks, fast everywhere,” Ferebee said. “Whether they’re 2-foot-3 and fast or 6-foot-6, my thing is to get the ball in space and make first downs.”

While the potential is there for Lakeland to be faster and even better than last year, how well the Cavs handle expectations will determine how much success they have this coming fall.

“We can’t surprise anybody this year. Last year a lot of people didn’t know we were going to be that fast and that good. Every time we come out, we’re going to have to play our hardest, because now everybody sees Lakeland is not a slouch anymore. Teams are going to come prepared for what we have and what we do,” Ferebee said.

“It’s hard coming from 0-10 to teach the kids to turn it on and keep it on, so our next step is being able to play at a high level every Friday night, not just against someone like Oscar Smith.”