Lakeland set to clash with Phoebus for regional championship

Published 9:40 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lakeland High School’s football team is the lone Suffolk representative continuing in the playoffs, and they hope to continue making school history by blanking the Phantoms this Saturday.

No. 3 Lakeland High School (7-5) at No. 1 Phoebus High School (10-2)

Lakeland High School will travel to Hampton Saturday afternoon to take on Phoebus High School at Darling Stadium. The Cavs are coming off of a 42-28 victory over the Tabb Tigers.

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Saturday will be the first regional championship the team has played in. The Cavs have already made school history with hosting back to back home playoff games, and they can continue to write their own legacy with a win over Phoebus.

Though the Cavs won 42-28 last weekend, the game was not all pretty, especially in the first half. At halftime, the two teams were tied at 21, while Lakeland allowed two 50-plus-yard touchdowns through the air. Cavs coach Kevin Knight credited his staff for making the necessary halftime adjustments to allow his team to press through to the regional championship round.

It will be essential for the Cavs to have a fast start Saturday afternoon.

“We have to jump on them early,” Knight said. “Their strength is through their run game. If we can stop the run and get them into passing situations, I think that will work out well for us.”

“We will have to score early and often but keep them out of rhythm,” the Cavs’ Nashun Overton said.

Last week, the Phantoms defeated Norcom High School 34-0. They rushed for 193 yards in their victory while passing for 76 yards with an interception. The Phantoms could also provide opportunities for the Cavs defense with turnovers. To go along with the one interception, Phoebus also fumbled twice last week, though neither resulted in a turnover.

Phoebus has a rich playoff history. They own an all-time playoff record of 52-15 with numerous state championships.

As for the Cavs, they want to enjoy the moment they’ve worked hard to be a part of.

“This game is really big,” Cavaliers senior Garrett Whitley said. “We have a goal in mind, and that’s to ultimately be state champions. We are taking it one game at a time, and the focus now is on Phoebus.”

Offensively, the Cavs have been averaging more than 40 points per contest in the playoffs. It all starts with Conference 25-27 Player of the Year Damontra Milteer. Milteer rushed for 253 yards and three touchdowns against Poquoson High School. He then added 193 yards and three touchdowns against Tabb last weekend. That gives him more than 2,000 rushing yards on the season.

Sophomore quarterback Tyquan Holloman has provided a threat through the air and with his legs. Holloman completed 11 passes for 138 yards while also rushing for 52 yards last week. Overton added 103 all-purpose yards last week as well. Knight liked Holloman’s decision making with the ball and the plan to keep him comfortable.

The Phantoms will have to account for a Lakeland offense that can spread the ball around through the air or rushed the ball. All-purpose players such as Alajuwun Langston will need to be accounted for.

The Lakeland community is behind the Cavs, and they will carry that energy into Darling Stadium Saturday afternoon.

“Everyone has been great,” Knight said. “Our teachers, principals and even people throughout the community such as the barbershop are excited. They all want to come and support. I’ve seen it all on social media. This is great not just for our players but for our school.”

Coaches and players have made it clear that they will definitely enjoy a regional championship if they win, but the goal will always remain to be state champions. The winner of this game will play in the state semifinal on Dec. 3.

“A berth to the state tournament would be one of the best things that happened to our program,” Knight said of the possibility. “It’s something that’s never been done before. We will take it one game at a time.”

Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $8.