TIME FOR A FRIDAY NIGHT SHOWDOWN
Lakeland certainly likes it's high school football. The Lakeland High Dreadnaughts, currently ranked number one in Florida and in three national prep polls, will take on Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas for the 5A state championship Friday evening at Miami's Dolphin Stadium. It would be the 'Naughts third consecutive title and sixth in 20 years, and the third straight year these two teams have met for the championship.
The Miami Herald featured the Dreadnaughts in an article which ran Tuesday, but it also included some material at least one well known player may regret saying.
From the article:
'People come up to you like, `Hey, great game on Friday,' or, 'Great catch,' '' said senior Paul Wilson, a wide receiver who also will play for UF next year. ``You don't know who they are, but they know who you are.''
Then there are the rewards that come with recognition. [Star running back Chris] Rainey said a local clothing vendor recently gave him a bag full of sports jerseys and jewelry in exchange for his autograph. Another time, an elderly woman approached him at a restaurant, gave him a hug and handed him a wad of cash.
''I didn't even count it,'' Rainey said. "When I walk around, people are buying me food, giving me money. I'm like, damn, I'm glad I'm Chris Rainey. It's real nice to be me.''
That last comment might come back to bite Rainey on his backside. The Florida High School Activities Association, which oversees prep sports across the state, is investigating. It could threaten his eligibility to play college football at the University of Florida, to which he has verbally committed with several teammates.
As for the vendor, Rainey described an apparant street vendor off of Memorial Boulevard. An excerpt from the Herald interview (link is to a .pdf file):
QUESTION: What's the coolest thing someone has given you?
RAINEY: Clothes. It's the man out there in the field on Saturdays, selling jerseys and all that kind of stuff. And my cousin, because it's right next to my grandma's house, my cousin came in like, 'Hey, this man wants to meet you. He wants you to sign his ball and he'll give you free clothes'. I'm like, 'What?' So I signed the ball and he gave me all kinds of free --- watch, necklace, shoes, clothes
QUESTION: This was all Lakeland gear?
RAINEY: Just regular clothes. It could be anything.
QUESTION: This guy sells clothes at the games?
RAINEY: On Saturday, he sells clothes off Memorial [Boulevard]. You can't miss it. It's on the right. You see jerseys everywhere and stuff like that.
You have to wonder if that guy will be at his usual spot this weekend...