So I know I said I wouldn’t do much breaking news, but this will kind of fall into that category and I just couldn’t ignore it.
All indications are the Lakeland Dreadnaughts have a new quarterback, and the move is sure to ruffle a few feathers around town.
Jadrian Clark, who threw for 290 yards and three scores in the Eagles’ near upset of Lakeland last season, has transferred to Lakeland. I first saw the news in the comments section of PolkPreps, but knowing how off-base some things can be on there I wanted to double check.
I didn’t have to look hard, as Clark has officially changed his school on Facebook from Jenkins to Lakeland. He also has plenty of discussion on there about making the decision and even working out with Lakeland since his transfer this week.
I haven’t confirmed this with either coach Bill Castle at Lakeland or coach Matt Thompson at Jenkins, but this is a done deal. Bright House also reported the news this week and got confirmation from county A.D. Don Bridges on Friday.
“The school district did not approve him to go to Lakeland,” Bridges told Bright House. “We denied their transfer request last week. The families then all moved into Lakeland’s zone. We now will make sure they are at that new residence 100% of the time.”
Two other Jenkins players transferred, as well, but I don’t know their names.
As a junior last season, Clark threw for 1,685 yards and 22 TDs and was an ideal fit for Thompson’s spread offense in the coach’s first year at the school, and it looked like they had a chance to lead Jenkins to a possible playoff berth with the district changes next year. Lakeland and Jenkins are still in the same district, but Kissimmee Osceola is no longer there and the teams’ Class 7A district now includes Ridge Community, Haines City and Lake Region.
Lakeland was going to have a new starting QB next season with this year’s starter Tim Evans graduating. His backup, Raheeme Dumas, was a only a junior but saw lots of time on defense as Lakeland battled a banged-up secondary all season.
Castle has not traditionally run a wide-open offense, which again is the style that would seem to fit Clark’s strengths. But Castle has always had a strong offensive line and running backs to lean on, and it remains to be seen whether that will be the case next season. If those areas aren’t quite as strong, it’s possible Lakeland could throw the ball more. So while it’s doubtful Clark will put up the same numbers he did at Jenkins, he can expect to win more and still get noticed by scouts.
And I really don’t want to speculate on why he would decide to leave. Coach Thompson can be intense at Jenkins and I know he had high expectations for Clark, but Castle won’t be any different so I can’t imagine this just being a personality conflict.
At any rate, this is big news and is sure to pour jet fuel on the rivalry that really heated up last year. Both sides accused the other of poor sportsmanship after Lakeland’s 43-41 win last season, so it will be interesting to follow this one.