Florida commitments Maurkice and Michael Pouncey are keeping a weekly diary for Gator Country for the remainder of the season as the Lakeland Dreadnaughts try to win their third straight state championship and their second straight USAToday national championship. Lakeland has won 38 straight games. Next up, Osceola Friday night in Kissimmee.
MICHAEL: We’re getting a lot of calls still from people that don’t believe we’re going to be Gators. I keep telling them we’re happy we’re going to be Gators but they act like they don’t even hear and keep on calling us. We’re Gators. Nothing’s going to change that so they better get used to it.
The funny part is that nobody is calling us and telling us how good they’re going to be. They’re always talking down the Gators. Just the same old negative stuff all the time and maybe they think it works but it doesn’t.
We talked to Coach Meyer about it and he was really encouraging. He says just keep focused and tells us lots of stuff about the team. The most important thing he keeps telling us that that we’ve got a chance to come in here and compete. He lets us know that it’s up to us and nobody else. If we work harder and we learn the things we have to learn, we can compete for a chance to play. We’ve already seen that he’s not afraid to play freshmen. We don’t get promises from him except that if we work hard and compete and if we’re better than the other guys we’ll have our chance. That’s all you can ask for is a chance.
We’re really excited that we’re going to be Gators. This is our school. This is where we’re going to play college football.
But before we’re Gators, we have to keep focused on our job and that’s winning another championship. We’re taking it one practice at a time, one game at a time. We’ve already seen what happened to Hoover (AL) and Byrnes (SC) when they maybe got a little bit of the big head because they were ranked number one in the country. They lost games they should have won. That could happen to us if we start thinking too much ahead.
We have one game to think about now. That’s the game Friday night (Kissimmee Osceola). They lost big to Lake Gibson a couple of weeks ago but that doesn’t mean anything. Anybody can beat you if you don’t have your head on straight and you think you’re too good.
That’s one of the things I like about Coach Castle. He won’t let us think past the next game. He’s kept at us like that for so long that it’s like that with the whole team. He always lets us know that once you get out there on the field, there’s no turning back and if you don’t play your best, you can lose. One of the things I like best about Coach Castle is that he’s always trying to get everybody to do the best they can. He believes that if everybody does their best, winning takes care of itself so that’s what he gets us focused on doing.
We stayed at home all weekend and we watched a lot of football. When that last pass went up in the air at FSU I thought the FSU guy was going to catch it but he didn’t and they lost. We watched Clemson win. That C.J. Spiller is really good and dang, he’s fast. Those all purple uniforms Clemson was wearing are really cool. Maybe Coach Meyer will let the Gators go all orange for some games when we’re Gators. When we’ve got a big game at Lakeland we go all-orange. That’s our favorite uniform.
MAURKICE: All of us got together as a team and went over to Kathleen to do some scouting Friday night. We play them in two weeks and they’re our big rival. They have a good team and we know we have to be ready to play. We go to Kissimmee this week.
I won’t be playing again this week [second game of a two-game suspension]. This is the last game of my suspension. It’s been really tough on me not being able to play and then practicing all last week knowing that I won’t play the next game. There’s a lot running through my mind right now because I can’t get out there on Friday night and help my team. I never missed a game or a practice before all of this stuff, so it makes me appreciate being able to play a lot more.
Coach Meyer has been really great because he’s been telling me to hang in there and just keep on doing my best every day in practice. He’s really an understanding coach. He let me know that we all have to go through tough times sometimes. One of the reasons we can’t wait to get up to Florida is because he’s such a good guy. He’s a coach but he’s also a friend that cares about you. That’s important to my brother and me.
We play in Kissimmee this week and Coach Castle will be telling us all week about how good they are and how they can beat us. It’s good for us to have a coach like that. He doesn’t ever let us get the big head. We take it one game at a time. When we won state last year, it was the second straight time but the next day he was making sure we forgot about it and started getting ready for this year. It was like, that goal is done with, now you’ve got to think about the next goal.
You know, we’re going to leave Lakeland High School in just a few more weeks and we’ll be going to the University of Florida but there is a lot we’re going to remember about Coach Castle and all our coaches here. I guess it’s going to feel like a divorce at first because we’ll be separated from the coaches that we’ve worked with the last four years. We’ll always come back to see all our coaches and our friends, but I can tell you it’s going to be tough.
When we first got here in the ninth grade Coach Castle saw something in us that he liked. He felt we could be really good so he worked with us and he really pushed us to get better. One of the things I like about Coach Castle is if you have a little bit of talent, he’ll bring out more than you think you have. If you have a lot of talent, he’ll make you play up to your potential.
A lot of our friends are asking us why we’re going to leave here in January and why we aren’t going to stay the rest of our senior year. It’s tough to leave but the answer is really easy. We have a chance to go far and we’re trying to get a head start by enrolling early at Florida so we can have an extra spring practice. We have a lot of goals for the future and getting an early start is going to help us get there.
The FSU people were calling this week. They talked to my brother mostly and it was pretty negative. They call but it won’t change our minds. We’re going to Florida. Nothing is going to change that. We’re Florida Gators all the way.