LAKEWOOD RANCH — The Lakewood Ranch High football team has been here before.
The situation is all too clear.
The Mustangs knew what was at stake well before they walked onto the field for their homecoming game versus Largo Oct. 26.
With Lakewood and Largo both sitting atop the Class 6A-District 7 standings with identical 3-0 records, the winner would undoubtedly clinch the district title, while the loser would have to wait another week to determine its postseason fate.
Two plays into the game, the Packers broke free for a 56-yard touchdown run. It would be the first of several big plays for Largo’s high-powered offense, as the Packers spoiled the Mustangs’ homecoming with a 38-0 victory.
“We can’t give up big plays,” coach Shawn Trent says. “That was the start of the whole thing. You give up big plays on defense to athletes like that — they are going to score. There is no way around it.”
However, the Mustangs season is by no means over. Similar to last season, Lakewood can qualify for a playoff berth as the district runner-up with a win Friday night versus Seminole Osceola.
Last year, the Mustangs (5-3, 3-1 in 6A-7) walked away with a 35-28 victory over the Warriors.
“We told the kids it is down to the last two weeks, essentially, and they just have to decide whether they want to go to the playoffs or not,” Trent says. “We’re good enough to win. We just have to put it all together.”
Largo (9-0, 4-0 in 6A-7) took control of the game early on, scoring three touchdowns in the first quarter on a 56-yard run, a 31-yard completion and a 50-yard interception return.
“Offensively, we’re not good enough to just take control of a game,” Trent says. “Defensively, if we give up big plays, it affects everything.”
The Packers added another touchdown with 3:11 remaining in the second quarter to take a 28-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Mustangs had a couple of opportunities to reach the end zone, including early in the second quarter, when Lakewood drove down to the Packers’ 2-yard line. The Mustangs were unable to convert on fourth-and-goal and turned the ball over on downs.
Lakewood rallied in the third quarter, reaching the Packers’ 17-yard line before an interception derailed the Mustangs’ drive.
“We had a couple plays where I thought we could have scored one or two, but didn’t get some stuff to go our way,” Trent says. “We’ve got to finish those drives, especially against a good team.”
Lakewood returns to action in its final district game of the season Nov. 2 versus Seminole Osceola. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.