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Lakeland vs Vero Beach Old School Video

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As always, credit to our friend for posting this great game on youtube. This regular season game in 1986, Lakeland's homecoming, featured two of 5A's best(5A was the largest class then)  ...so much for Lakeland historically dodging good competition during the regular season:rolleyes:.  How many teams schedule the #2 ranked team in the state for their homecoming?  Vero returned to Lakeland later in the season and played the Naughts for the region title(Lakeland won that game 37-6).   Imagine the rivalry we could have today if these two teams had kept playing over the years.

This was Lakeland's first state title team.  The Naughts made it to the state semis in 79, 82, and 84, and each time were knocked out by a team from Pensacola.  State champion Pensacola Woodham(school closed in 2007) came to Lakeland in 82 and 84 and took it to the home team.  The 80's were glory years for the Panhandle teams.

Fort Walton Beach was ranked #1 in 5A at the time and did not even make the playoffs that year.  And some folks today complain about their teams getting left out of the playoffs!  LOL   Manatee was a powerhouse in the 80's, but eventual state finalist Dunedin knocked them out in the first round.  Dunedin shocked the world that year, going down to Miami and beating Carol City in the state semis to make the finals, where they lost a heartbreaker to Lakeland 14-10.  (FYI Carol City met Dunedin in the 5A semis in 87 and the Falcons won that one, too!)

At the time, Northwestern, Carol City, Southridge and Columbus were all playing in 5A(only Southridge was ranked at the time of this game).  Needless to say, the 5A class back then was brutal.

Bartow was the #1 ranked 3A team at the time and was playing down the road this same night against highly-ranked 4A Auburndale.  My how times have changed!



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Lakeland lost starting RB Cameron McCalpin in this game for the season with a broken foot. The running game didn't miss a beat as Earl Mothersill took over and proved himself as a power back.

Polk county had some good teams back then with Lakeland, Bartow & Auburndale. Auburndale would be Lakeland's only loss that season as the Bloodhounds beat the Naughts 24-20 in OT.

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