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 43 straight games. Next up for Lakeland is Daytona Beach Mainland in the State 5A semifinals Friday night.
MICHAEL POUNCEY: We went to Tallahassee for the Florida-FSU game and we didn’t like it. We already knew that nothing was going to change our minds but we wanted to see the game and so we went up there. It was a total waste of our time.
The experience in Gainesville is a lot different. In Gainesville, they know how to do it. At FSU they have the recruits sitting in the nosebleed section and you can’t see half the time because it’s right behind the student section and they stand up the whole game. In Gainesville we sit right there by the field and we feel like we’re part of the game and part of the crowd. It’s a totally different experience. It really made us appreciate that we’re Gators.
We got up there just as the game started. We planned everything out so we didn’t have to go up there and listen to them trying to recruit us. We’ve told them we’re solid for Florida but they don’t listen. We spent a lot of time at the game talking to Gator fans. There were a lot of them there. They made about as much noise as the FSU people, too. The loudest the FSU fans got can’t compare to the way it is in The Swamp. It’s like a funeral at FSU. It’s all hell breaks loose at Florida. At Florida the guy next to you can be talking and all you see are his lips moving. Florida is our school.
Anyway, we got there just as Florida got its first possession and we left after Dallas Baker caught the touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. We knew once he scored that the Gators were going to win. It was a good game for Gators. Chris Leak was really balling and we knew that if he threw to Dallas Baker the Touchdown Maker the Gators were going to win. As soon as Dallas caught the pass we said, okay, we saw all we need to see so time to go. Overall, I would say we didn’t like anything about the trip except that the Gators won.
We drove straight to Gainesville. We talked on the phone while we were driving to Gainesville and we talked to Coach Meyer. We told him he doesn’t ever have anything to worry about. There’s no way we’d go to FSU. We’re Gators. He told us Percy Harvin was okay and that was a relief. We were really worried about him.
When we got to Gainesville, we stopped to eat at The New Century Buffet. They better get used to seeing us. Once we get to Gainesville we’ll go back there a lot. Buffets are our kind of restaurants.
Something really weird happened last week and it happened again today. Last week we got a call from area code 904. This guy says he’s from the Gainesville newspaper and asked us about if we’re going to visit Tallahassee. Then he called me back later on that day and asked for John Brown’s number and I gave it to him. Today that same number, that same area code calls. It’s the same guy and this time he says he’s from Warchant.com calling to ask about the game. Can you believe that? I said, why did you say you were with the Gainesville newspaper last week? Why didn’t you say you were with Warchant.com last week? Man, those people are crazy. Maybe they haven’t heard that we’re not going to Florida State. We aren’t interested in Florida State. That’s the way it is.
I want to say something about Thanksgiving. My brother and me have it lucky. We play for a great team and we’ve got great teammates that are like our brothers. We’ve got parents who love us and two great sisters. We have a home that we can go home to. When we were going home from practice last week we saw homeless people who don’t have a place to stay or anything to eat. It made us realize just how lucky we are.
MAURKICE POUNCEY: We beat Lake Gibson 24-3 but it wasn’t like the game was even close. We drove the ball for seven minutes in the last quarter, just getting first downs and moving the chains. We weren’t trying to run up the score. We were just getting the game over so we can move on to next week.
We’ve got Mainland coming in Friday night in the semifinals. We won’t be looking past them. I think that happened to them when we were sophomores. We beat them and they had Avery Atkins, Tony Wilson and that quarterback, Jon Garner. I think they had something like eight Division I scholarship guys on that team. They won the state championship when they were juniors and they may have been too cocky when they played us. John Brown put their quarterback out of the game when he sacked him and they didn’t do anything after that. I know their coaches will remember that and they’ll be telling their guys that they need to give us some payback. We have to be focused. We’re the team with all the Division I prospects this year so I’m sure they will try to use that to motivate their team. We just have to be focused and ready.
If we’ve got a secret, it’s that Coach Castle always gets us ready for a game. We practice hard. We don’t take anybody for granted. We get focused in on winning. We don’t look past the game we’re playing even if it is a team that’s not very good.
It’s hard to believe that if we win this game against Mainland, we’ll have only one more game to play for Coach Castle. He’s been a great coach for us and he’s a good friend, too. My brother and I like him because he is always preaching to the whole team that we have to get ready now to be successful in life. He’s all about getting you ready for life after football.
Coach grew up the hard way. He didn’t have any money. He grew up poor and he had to work hard for everything so he appreciates everything more. He wants us to be successful. He wants us to appreciate what we’ve got. He wants us to never be afraid of some hard work. With him you always know he wants the best for us.
I like the atmosphere around our football team. If you’ve got a problem you can talk to any one of our coaches and they’ll listen. Coach Castle always has his door open. When we were younger and first coming into high school, my brother and I messed up. We had a conference with him and with our parents. He really cared about us and he wanted us to go in the right direction. You look back and you see that he made good things happen out of a bad situation. I admire him for that because he stuck with us and worked with us. A lot of coaches might have said no way but not Coach Castle.
We have a lot to be thankful for at Lakeland. Coach Castle and all our coaches push us hard. You go to our summer workouts and they are really tough. You may not like them and all they make you go through but you know they’re doing it for our good. In the end we all cry together and we all laugh together.
The atmosphere on our team is pretty cool, too. We don’t see any color just orange and black uniforms. If you’re a Dreadnaught, you’re family. You’re one of our brothers. That’s all we ever see. It’s all about respect. Our coaches teach everybody that you respect each other and that’s the way it is. It was the way we were brought up by our parents, too.
I like the way Coach Castle comes up to my brother and me every game. During the game he always asks us what we think about the plays we run, like what’s working and what’s not doing so good. If we say we like this one and we can beat the guy across from us, he’ll run it and run it and run it until they show they can stop us.
All I have to say about Tallahassee is they put us in the worst seats in the house and Powerade sucks. You pay $4 for a bottle and it’s nothing like Gatorade. We drink Gatorade and we’re Gators. You don’t have to worry about us. We’re Gators. Oh, and our fans at The Swamp are 100 percent louder than they are. It’s not even close.
One of their coaches called my brother yesterday when we were on our way home from Tallahassee. My uncle was with us. He told him we got our school and it’s Florida. He said you’re wasting your time bothering us.
We stopped to eat at this Chinese buffet in Gainesville. I think they lost money on my brother and me. It was all you can eat and I think they were happy when we had all we could eat. I think they were glad to see us go. They’ll see us again. When we come to Gainesville to start school in January, we’ll be there a lot.