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 35 straight games including a 49-7 win over Miami’s Dr. Krop this past Friday.

Next up for the Dreadnaughts is a district game at Lakeland’s Lake Gibson on Friday night.

MICHAEL: We have a district game with Lake Gibson on Friday night so that’s really important. They’ve been talking a lot and saying they can’t wait to get a piece of us. Well, you want a piece of the Dreadnaughts? We’ll be there Friday.

It’s really a big game for us since it’s two Lakeland teams going at it. There’s a lot of pride at stake so we have to work really hard this week. They have a good team and we know what we have to do to beat them. We have to stay focused all week and work harder than we’ve worked all season.

We beat Dr. Krop pretty bad and we stood around on the sidelines the whole second half again. It’s pretty boring in the second half of our games most of the time but I like blowouts better than those close games like we had with St. X a week ago. It’s a lot more fun having a big lead and watching all the guys who practice with you get a chance to play than it is worrying in the fourth quarter about winning a game. It’s a tradeoff. Close games we play the whole game or blowouts we stand around and watch the second string guys play. I’ll take the blowouts.

The hard part of this season is not having Jordan Hammond on the field with us. When he got hurt I just asked God “Why Jordan? Why him?” He’s such a good person and he’s a great football player, too. He started since he was in the ninth grade and he was such a big part of everything that we’ve done the last three years. Now when we’re playing he’s keeping defensive stats and it’s tough because I know it’s killing him that he’s not out there playing with us.

All of us have been really good friends since we were playing little league together. His dad coached him. Our dad coached us. He’s got a great attitude. While we’re practicing every day, he’s in the weight room working out. He’s already running, too. LSU is going to get a great player and his attitude is he’ll be stronger after this injury and so it’s a blessing in disguise. He’ll go to LSU and have a great career because he got stronger doing his rehab.

We really missed being at The Swamp this week, too. We had our Homecoming Dance so everybody wanted to be there for it since we’re all seniors but the whole game we kept looking at each other, asking does anybody know the score? If Florida had lost we would have felt guilty since we weren’t there. We won’t miss the next one. The Swamp’s going to be rocking for Alabama.

I need to talk about my parents a little bit. We really are blessed with great parents. They’ve always been there for us and we’re a really close family. You could say that if one of us gets in trouble, all of us are in trouble. We’re that close. What affects one of us affects all of us.

My mom and dad always made us study first. They wouldn’t let us play football if we didn’t have our grades. There are a lot of guys who didn’t have parents like that and now they’re in high school and wondering if they can go to college. We’ll be in college and we know we can succeed because that’s the way they raised us.

My dad was our first coach and he taught us how to play football. He made us tougher, too. I appreciate that he would take us out of the game if we didn’t play well. A lot of kids who have a dad for a coach, they stay in the game even when they’re the worst player on the team. My dad said if you don’t get the job done, put somebody in that will. He taught us a lot of lessons like that. My mom was always on us to read. I think it’s easy for my brother and me to study because we don’t mind doing the reading. We learned that when we were young.

I think football has been a big help in our life just like our parents. The biggest thing I’ve learned from football is that you have to have discipline. It doesn’t matter if it’s about football or something else. You can achieve anything if you’re disciplined.

MAURKICE: We’ve dedicated this season to Jordan. He can’t play because he’s hurt but when we see him over there on the sideline helping the coaches and coaching up guys when they come off the field, we go a little bit harder for him. He’s really an inspiration to everybody. If you knew him, you’d really say he’s a great guy, too. Jordan was a big part of the defense last year and our guys have to work a lot harder out there without him.

We won Friday night against Dr. Krop and it was fun. They had plenty of big players but they weren’t well coached. We were better coached and everybody on our team did their part again so that’s why we won big. They had a lot of good guys on their team. We talked a lot on the field and we all had fun. We were a better team and that’s why we won the game, but I think everybody had fun.

Saturday night was our Homecoming Dance. All of us Gators hung out together and we all went out to eat after the dance at Denny’s but to be honest, we missed being at The Swamp. We got up first thing this morning and watched the game on Sunshine. I’m really glad the Gators won. We’ll definitely be there Saturday when we play Alabama. That’s going to be a great game.

When I was watching the Gators, I saw that they had one of those games when they won and they did a lot of stuff right, but you could tell they could have played better. It was like our game with St. X. We were in the red zone three times and didn’t score. Sometimes you have games like that but you get the win, and you put the bad game behind you and you work hard next week to get better.

We’re playing Lake Gibson Friday night and it’s a district game so it’s really important. This week all the seniors are going to have to be real team leaders. We have to talk to the team a lot and make sure everybody is focused and knows what to do. You can’t win the state championship if you can’t get out of your own district. There’s also a lot of pride here since they’re from Lakeland, too. You don’t want to lose a game to the guys in your same home town.

I really believe in our team. I really believe in the guys on our team. We have all gone through so much together. I think we have a lot of heart and we really care about each other. We’re more like brothers than we are friends. I don’t think a lot of teams can say that. I think that has a lot to do with why we win so much.

Football has taught me about being part of a team and that you never give up. You never give up. Like the Colts today, they were down and they scored three straight touchdowns and got the win. When you’re down you can’t give up. I think that’s true in life, too. Things don’t always go your way. Sometimes you have to keep going. You just don’t ever give up.

You know, I’m glad I’ve got parents that don’t give up on us, too. Talk about never giving up, that’s our parents. So many kids don’t have parents who care. Our parents are always there for us and they always will be. They’ve always made us stand up for the right things. It’s paid off for us too. We could never thank them enough.

Our goal is that we’re going to be successful so that they don’t have to work anymore. We want to go far enough in life so that they can stop what they’re doing and just enjoy life. They deserve it because of the way they’ve stuck with us all the time. There is no way my brother and I could have gotten where we are without parents like we’ve got.

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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.