Florida High School Football Preview Magazine Ranks Lakeland #7 in State

The third annual Friday Night Football preview magazine was recently released, and I finally purchased my copy this week.

I always looked forward to this magazine when I was at The Ledger, not only to see how Polk County schools were viewed across the state but also to give me good background info on teams from outside the county. It’s a very well-put-together magazine with lots of details about each team, interesting rankings and good recruiting info.

I’m going to break down the relevant parts for Polk County football fans into multiple posts, but for this first one I wanted to highlight the magazine’s overall team rankings. FNF doesn’t break its rankings down by class, rather listing its top 25 schools in the state across all classifications (and remember, they’ve been renumbered to go up to 8A now).

The Lakeland Dreadnaughts are the only Polk team to crack the top 25, coming in at No. 7 overall. They are also the third-ranked Class 7A team on the list, behind Bradenton Manatee and St. Thomas Aquinas (the usual suspects from the past few years). Here’s the blurb that the writers included with Lakeland’s ranking:

Some things never change for a team that has won 96 percent of its games over the past decade. Athletes and well-coached football players line the roster.

Nothing really earth-shattering there, but it’s true. Even with the losses of Steward Butler, Javares McRoy, Tim Evans, Devin Goodman, Teddy Wright, Kareem Givens and others, Lakeland returns another talented squad. It certainly helped getting transfer QB Jadrian Clark in from Jenkins, and there are some stubs back on defense in T.J. Simmons and D.J. Alexander.

Lakeland should also enjoy its new district, which no longer includes Kissimmee Osceola and reduces the margin for error as the district now has five schools (Lakeland, Jenkins, Haines City, Ridge Community, Lake Region) instead of just three (Lakeland, Jenkins, Osceola).

Again, I’ll highlight some other things from the magazine soon. For now, he’s the complete Top 25 in Florida according to FNF:

  1. Armwood (6A)
  2. Cocoa (4A)
  3. Bradenton Manatee (7A)
  4. Miami Norland (5A)
  5. St. Thomas Aquinas (7A)
  6. Miami Columbus (8A)
  7. Lakeland (7A)
  8. Miami Central (6A)
  9. P.B. Gardens Dwyer (7A)
  10. St. Augustine (6A)
  11. North Marion (5A)
  12. Tallahassee Lincoln (7A)
  13. Ocala Trinity Catholic (3A)
  14. Jacksonville First Coast (7A)
  15. Apopka (8A)
  16. Miami Booker T. Washington (4A)
  17. Cape Coral Island Coast (6A)
  18. Davie University (3A)
  19. Pensacola (6A)
  20. Jacksonville Bolles (4A)
  21. Glades Central (5A)
  22. Miami Northwestern (6A)
  23. Bradenton Southeast (5A)
  24. Tampa Plant (8A)
  25. Miramar (8A)
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11 Responses to Florida High School Football Preview Magazine Ranks Lakeland #7 in State

  1. Charles Hall says:

    Brandt, where the heck did you find a copy of this magazine? I have been all over Lakeland and haven’t been able to find it anywhere.

    • bwmerritt says:

      Charles, I found mine at Target in south Lakeland, and they had a couple more copies left. In the past I’ve gotten them at Publix, and I would think that Books a Million would carry them, too. I’m not sure when the mag was released, but if it just came out some of the stores may have sold out and are waiting on another shipment.

  2. The best part about getting Clark is that Lakeland has two very good WRs in Eric Andre and Ricquian Southward. What is even better, is that those two guys are not 5’9″ but around the 6’0″ mark.

    I think the DB unit got stronger with the losses because Raheem Dumas grew to about 6’0″ to 6’0.5″. He played tremendous during the stint replacing Givens I believe. During that short time, he actually showed he was one of the best CBs we had last season. Add Chandler Brunson into the mix and Logan Cochran at LB and this is going to be an exciting year.

  3. Charles Hall says:

    Don’t forget 6’3″ 230 Daryl Clark at DE and Jacobe Stafford at DB as well as in the backfield. He will likely have to contribute in the running game with Taylor Placides tearing his ACL at a camp on Monday.

  4. Duane Clark says:

    Duane Clark says: Sir i thought that there was an investigation going on concerning the transfers from gj to lhs. Has anyone heard anything about that.

  5. Charles Hall says:

    Yup. A whole lot of trash talk, rumors, and speculation. People are saying that “no one is living at the addresses”. I know that to be false for at least two of the kids in question. Nothing new from LHS, PCSB, or the FHSAA. I can tell you this much. Castle will not play any of them if there is any question as to their eligibility. It should all get sorted out in the next two or three weeks. I have a strong feeling that most of the rumors and accusations are coming out of the GJ camp and most, if not all five, will be ready to play on Sept. 2. One school hiring PI’s to follow families around 24/7 is a bit much in my opinion. Especially when GJ’s leading rusher is a transfer from Kathleen, as are many of their best softball and soccer players. They need to clean up their yard before they worry about their neighbors’. Castle and Talbot have been and will remain squeaky clean.

    • bwmerritt says:

      Thanks for your input, Charles. A lot of what you’re saying I touched on a few months ago when this whole Jenkins-Lakeland transfer thing broke. Here’s what I wrote: https://polkperspectives.com/2011/02/24/does-recruiting-take-place-in-polk-county-prep-sports/. Duane, as to your original question, Charles seems to know about as much as I do. All the officials concerned with the matter (both schools, PCSB, FHSAA) have said that they will monitor the situation, and I do know that someone hired a private investigator to look into it. At this point, there haven’t been any rulings that I’m aware of. From all that I’ve heard, Jadrian Clark at QB should not have any issues, and that’s the name that most people are focused on. And I agree with Charles on one final point, that Castle and Talbot will not suit a player up if they think eligibility is in question. They’re as concerned about making sure their athletes are cleared to play and legal as anyone else is.

  6. Charles Hall says:

    Since everyone in Polk County is so concerned about transfers, let’s not single Lakeland out. Let’s dive neck deep into every program and see what we find. Bartow softball and basketball, Jenkins soccer, and every football program in the state. Why aren’t the papers and news outlets in an uproar about obvious FHSAA violations at Plant, Armwood, Mainland, and Dwyer, among many, many others? Let’s not even mention the all out recruiting wars between private schools like St. Thomas, Bolles, and University. This whole thing is rediculous. Everyone loses their mind when a kid transfers to Lakeland but it’s ok when a kid transfers FROM Lakeland. No one seems to mind when their school benefits. What about when a kid transfers for legitimate academic reasons like the GJ running back who transferred from Kathleen? Every time a kid does that it negatively effects the school he left. FCAT scores, avgerage GPA, and graduation rates suffer thus cutting much needed state and federal funding. What is worse? Losing a few football players or eroding the academic credibility of another school? We either must adopt school choice or decide that no one can transfer for ANY reason whatsoever. Since the latter is unconstitutional, we need to take a hard look at allowing families to make the decision for themselves as to where their child goes to school. It seems to work in Manatee and many other counties. We already allow parents to make that decision here in Polk County. We just force them to pay for it and send their kid to a private school. One could argue that all parents, regardless of their income, should have the final word in where their child goes to school. Just food for thought.

  7. Robert Rahn says:

    wow serioulsy first coast doesnt deserve to be in the top 25 if fleming island isnt in it …… if it wasnt for lakeland in the regional finals the past 2 years we would be at state and we stomped all over first coast in the semis both years they cant beat us and they never will no matter who they have playing for them were just too good and this year the road is a whole lot easier to state now that lakeland moves to the other side of the bracket and south travels north in the playoffs so can you say home field advantage throughout.

  8. Charles Hall says:

    Robert: Fleming Island is a very good team but there are two small problems with what you said. 27-25 is hardly stomping all over First Coast. Agreed, they are not as talented this year as they were last year and FI will likely make the regional finals again. The other problem is that while FI wouldn’t have to worry about Lakeland until the Semi’s, now you would likely have to contend with Lincoln in the regional finals. This Lincoln team may be the best in all of 7A so they are certainly no downgrade from Lakeland.

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