Florida commitments Maurkice/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 44 straight games. Next up for Lakeland is St. Thomas Aquinas in the 5A championship game Friday night in Miami.
MAURKICE POUNCEY: It’s hard to think about it but our high school football careers end Friday night. It’s our last game and we play Aquinas again. It’s the third straight year we’ve played them for the state championship. I know they’ll be thinking third time’s a charm, but it’s the same for us. We started this season with a goal to win a third straight state championship and win our second national championship. We need one more win and we’ve made history. Not many teams ever win 45 games in a row and repeat three straight years.
We’re very focused this week. You don’t have to worry about us getting the big head just because we beat them the last two years. We will do what we always do. We will prepare this week for one more game.
Football is a real physical game and there are a lot of teams we face that are just as big as us and maybe as fast as us. The difference has always been mental. I think we’re better prepared and more focused and that’s why I think we win so much. You can’t let another team be more prepared than you are. You have to go into every game more focused because the team that is more ready mentally is going to win almost every time. If everything is equal, the team with the most focus will win almost every time.
Last Friday was our last game at Bryant Stadium. That was pretty emotional. I can remember the first time we played here. Man, we couldn’t wait. We were going to suit up for the Dreadnaughts. I thought about that. There’s a lot of great memories on that field.
This is our last high school game and we want to go out with a bang. That’s what we’re thinking about this week. All us seniors have been together so long. We’re all close and we’ve known each other since we started playing football together in little league. Now it’s almost all over. The time went by so fast. Sometimes I think it happened too fast but you know, life goes on. One part of life ends and the next part begins.
High school football ends this Friday night. High school ends in two more weeks. A month from now we’ll be in Gainesville starting our college careers. We don’t want to leave Lakeland as losers. We want to go out like winners with three state championships in a row.
There are a lot of young guys that are going to follow us as Dreadnaughts. I try to tell them that they should work hard every day no matter what they’re doing. If it’s school work or football practice, whatever you do, make sure you work harder than anybody else. Work hard at your school work so you’ll be eligible to play football. Be determined that you are going to succeed. Be the best at what you do no matter that it is you’re doing. It’s all about being determined. That’s the way I want people to remember me and that’s what I hope the young guys will do.
We watched the Gators over at Paul Wilson’s house. All us Gators were there. Man we were jumping around and happy. They got a championship and now they’re going to play for the national championship. Wouldn’t it be cool if we win the national championship and the Gators win the national championship, too? That’s what we’re coming to Gainesville for. We want to win championships. We want to keep on winning and Florida’s where it’s at for that.
MICHAEL POUNCEY: I wish I could have been in the locker room Saturday night with the Gators. I bet Coach Meyer was really going crazy. We’ve been in the locker room after big wins and it’s really great what goes on in there. I bet it was really crunk in there. Now the Gators have a chance to win the national championship. Man, this is a great time to be a Gator. SEC champions. Playing to win the national championship. I’m really ready.
This week I’m going about business the same way I do every week. I go to practice, I work hard and I get ready for the game on Friday night. That’s the way I’ve done it for three years. That’s the way our team does it every week. This is a really big game but we don’t treat it like it’s any bigger than the first game of the season. We played the first game like it was the state playoffs. We try to play like that every week. Just because this is the state championship game we don’t want to think it’s any different than any other week. We just want to get ready to play and then get out there and play as hard as we can to win one more game.
We beat Mainland last week and Chris Rainey set some records. Watching Percy Harvin play Saturday reminded me of Rainey. It’s like watching the same player. They do the same moves and when they get in the secondary nobody catches them.
I guess it will be different after this game is over Friday night. There won’t be another high school game for us. If we win another state championship we’ll walk away thinking that it’s mission accomplished and time to move on to the next mission.
We’re playing Aquinas again and we pretty much know what to expect. They’re always big and they always have a lot of talented players and they have a great coach. They beat Manatee in overtime to get to the championship game. We beat Manatee pretty bad and Rainey wasn’t playing that game but we can’t worry about all that. We just have to expect their A game so we have to do the things we always do. Coach Castle makes sure we focus on what we are doing. We treat every team like they’re a good team. That way they don’t catch you by surprise.
After this game, we finish high school, we’ll play in the All-American game they are playing in Orlando and then we’ll be going to Gainesville to start a new chapter in life as Gators. There is a lot of stuff to accomplish. Every day is a new day with lots of new stuff.
Even when I’m up there in Gainesville, I’ll think about my friends back in Lakeland. We grew up with all these guys so we’re more like brothers than anything else. We’ve gone through a lot of good times and some tough times too so there are a lot of memories. I know I’ll miss Coach Castle and all of our coaches. They always wanted what’s best for us and they pushed us to get better every day in practice. We will make new memories in Gainesville but I’ll always have great memories of Lakeland. Someday I hope that we can look back on these years we had here in Lakeland and have people say “you guys were the best.” Maybe someday we can say we were the best ever. But if we’re going to say that then we better beat Aquinas Friday night.