WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL ONLINE HOME OF THE FIGHTING BRAVES
7007 N. Socrum Loop Rd.
Lakeland, FL 33809
REUBEN JONES COMMITS TO WOLVERINES
LAKELAND | A picture may be worth a 1,000 words but apparently a cardboard cutout is worth two very important ones — Reuben Jones' signature.
The Lake Gibson senior defensive end Saturday became Jim Harbaugh's first recruit at the University of Michigan, giving his verbal commitment to the Wolverines' new head coach and staff during a dinner at Michigan Stadium.
“It was the feeling and the atmosphere there,” Jones said. “All that tradition and then you get to go out and play in front of 115,000 fans. That aspect helped me pick. I was talking to players and coaches, and they just believe in each other.”
Jones, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound, two-time PolkPreps.com All-County first-team selection, said he made his decision — which is grabbing CBSSports.com national headlines — when he walked into a room during his official visit Saturday and saw a life-size cardboard cutout of 1991 Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard.
“I saw that No. 21 (Howard) cutout striking the Heisman Trophy pose, and he won it and then I kept seeing it. When I'm done, I want people to say that is Reuben Jones' cutout. At Michigan, when a player puts his mind to it, he does it,” Jones said.
“I want to be the best defensive player that ever stepped on the Michigan field. I told the coaches I will outwork everybody in the weight room. Lakeland players play with a chip on their shoulders, and I told the defensive coordinator, Coach (D.J.) Durkin, I play with a big chip.”
Jones, who de-committed from Nebraska on Tuesday, said he announced his final decision Saturday night at Michigan Stadium before the Wisconsin-Michigan basketball game.
“Coach Harbaugh sat down with me at dinner and I felt like I was a high priority to him and we just talked. Then jokingly, Coach Durkin said, 'We can make you a great player, unless you're scared.' Then I just said, 'I commit to the University of Michigan.'
“Coach Harbaugh went up to the microphone and told everyone I was the first commit, and everyone was freaking and clapping, and then he made me speak and I was freaking.”
Lake Gibson head coach Keith DeMyer said Harbaugh visited Lake Gibson on Tuesday to meet Jones and he was pretty sure — after sitting in on the meeting — that his star recruit would choose Michigan, but he didn't want to influence any decision.
“They will utilize what Reuben does best, which is being quick off the ball and getting to the quarterback,” DeMyer said. “Reuben has a 3.0 core GPA with a 3.2 overall. He has been an honors and AP student, so he is up for the challenge.”
Jones also racked up 64 tackles — 29 solo — this past season and said the Michigan fight song, “Hail to the Victors,” sent chills up his spine.
“It does, and now I'm trying to learn all the lyrics.
After Jones committed, Zach Gentry, a four-star quarterback from New Mexico, who was verbally committed to Texas, flipped his decision to Michigan as well.
“When you see something that is going to be good, you want to be on the front end of it. They have tradition, academics and the biggest stadium,” Jones said.
- THE LEDGER
BRAVES ROUT RIDGE, CLOSE REG. SEASON 9-1
LAKELAND | Lake Gibson accumulated 455 yards of offense with 404 of them coming on the ground in a 57-0 rout of Ridge on Senior Night.
Lake Gibson starting running back Thomas Boles rushed for 118 yards on 10 carries and scored three touchdowns.
Boles dominated the first half for the Braves. Fellow running back Entebbe Bates took over in the second to finish with 151 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
Lake Gibson scored each time it had the ball and even its defense got in on the act when Keyshon Camp sacked Ridge's quarterback in the end zone.
The offense also went 100-percent, 5-for-5, through the air.
Starting quarterback Casey Whitaker finished with 25 yards passing and three completions. His backup Dalton Jenner, also threw for 25 yards and had two completions.
The quarterbacks didn't just pass with efficiency but when they ran read-option plays they managed to gain big yards. Whitaker rushed for 75 yards on four carries and had one touchdown.
Ridge struggled in every facet of the game. The Bolts weren't able to get any sort of ground attack, rushing for just 20 yards — mostly because of sacks — and only attempted five passes, two for short completions.
The longest play the Bolts' had all night was an 8-yard rush. Lake Gibson on the other hand, had 17 plays go for double-digit yardage.
After the Braves jumped out to a 44-0 lead at the half the game moved to a running clock for the entire second half.
- THE LEDGER
DEFENSE LEADS WAY TO PLAYOFF BERTH
LAKELAND | Lake Gibson clinched a berth in the Class 6A playoffs with a 28-6 victory over Sebring in the District 11 finale on Friday night at Virgil Ramage Stadium.
The Braves (8-1, 2-1) advanced to the regional quarterfinals in two weeks after closing the regular season at home against Ridge Community Friday night in a non-district game.
Lake Gibson is the district runner-up and will open the playoffs on the road.
Against Sebring (3-5, 0-3) Lake Gibson scored two defensive touchdowns in a 20-second span in the second quarter to effectively put the game away with a 22-0 lead.
Defensive tackle Keyshon Camp rumbled into the end zone from Sebring's 23 after a bad pitch on an attempted reverse play.
Then linebacker A.J. Deshazor picked off Sebring quarterback Brian Lane two plays later and dashed up the sideline for a 32-yard pick-six.
With the two touchdowns from the defense, the Braves jumped out to the 22-0 lead after a bad snap on the extra point turned into a pass from holder Chris Clarke to wide receiver Donald Parham for the two-point conversion.
The game, which started at 8 p.m. to give Sebring time to make the trip, took 2:25 with 25 incompletions between Lane and Lake Gibson quarterback Casey Whitaker.
Lake Gibson scored first after Dariaze Kirkland returned the opening kickoff 39 yards to the 50, on a 1-yard run by Thomas Boles, Polk's leading rusher. He ran for 75 yards and a touchdown.
- THE LEDGER
4th QUARTER TDs LIFT BRAVES OVER LARGO
LARGO | Casey Whitaker and Thomas Boles scored fourth-quarter touchdowns as Lake Gibson edged Largo 24-20 in a non-district game Friday night.
The Braves (7-1) will face Sebring next Friday with the winner advancing to the Class 6A playoffs to face South Fort Myers.
After giving up a touchdown on the opening drive of the drive, Lake Gibson controlled much of the clock behind the running efforts of Boles and Chris Clarke.
The duo combined for 184 yards and were the key behind a 15-play drive that took up nine minutes off the clock. Whitaker scored the touchdown on an 18-yard read option keeper that gave the Braves a 17-7 lead with 11 minutes left in the game.
"We knew they had a lot of athletes so the plan was to eat up as much clock as we could," Lake Gibson coach Keith DeMyer said. "I thought Boles and Clarke did a great job and Casey really made some plays at the quarterback position when we needed them."
Largo scored to trim the lead to 17-14 when quarterback Donavan Hale threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Crawford with 6:15 left on the clock.
Lake Gibson went three-and-out on its next possession but the Braves' defense, led by junior lineman Keyshon Camp and sophomore linebacker A.J. DeShazor, came up big when it mattered.
DeShazor sniffed out a fake punt attempt by Largo and tackled punter Isaiah Thomas for a 14-yard loss. On the next play Boles scored on a 14-yard touchdown run to put the Braves up 24-14.
On Largo's next series Camp produced a sack on a 3rd-and-10 that forced Largo to punt. Camp had six tackles for loss and two sacks in the game.
"Keyshon has the ability to do that whenever he wants," DeMyer said. "We just want him to do it a lot more because he's very tough to block. We can't block him in practice."
Whitaker connected with Donald Parham on a 7-yard touchdown with one second remaining in the first half to give the Braves a 10-7 halftime lead.
Lake Gibson hosts Sebring (3-4) in a district contest next week.
- THE LEDGER
EXPLOSIVE OFFENSE LEADS WAY FOR LG
LAKELAND | Lake Gibson gained 492 yards, had 23 first downs and scored its highest point total of the season to defeat Lake Region, 40-3, in a Class 6A, District 11 game Friday night at Virgil Ramage Stadium.
Senior running back Thomas Boles ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Casey Whitaker completed 10 of 15 passes for 217 yards and two scores for the Braves, who improve to 6-1 overall and 1-1 in district play. Lake Region falls to 2-4 overall and 1-1 in the district.
Chris Clarke put the Braves on the board on a 10-yard run in the first quarter, capping a seven play, 65-yard opening drive. Clarke accounted for 38 yards and Boles had the other 27.
Lake Region's only score of the night came early in the second, driving to the Braves' 5-yard line where Charles Nelson booted a 24-yard field goal.
The rest of the night was controlled by Lake Gibson. Whitaker capped a 60-yard drive with a quarter back sneak with 46 seconds left in the half. Then cornerback Mardarius Adams intercepted a Lake Region pass with three seconds left, and a Thunder holding penalty moved the ball to the Lake Region 49 where Whitaker hit Sammie Jackson for a touchdown on the final play of the half that ended with the Braves leading, 21-3.
Boles had third-quarter touchdown runs of 6 and 1 yards and Whitaker finished the night with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Donald Parham in the fourth.
Lake Gibson travels to Largo (4-3) next week.
- THE LEDGER
OFFENSIVE LINE PAVES PATH TO VICTORY
LAKELAND | Virgil Ramage Stadium stood in nervous silence.
Clinging to a 21-19 lead with 27 seconds left in the game, Lake Gibson watched as Auburndale’s Sean Horrigan lined up a 40-yard field goal to give the Bloodhounds a one-point lead. The senior’s kick had enough leg, but as it drifted wide left the homecoming crowd of around 2,500 fans exploded into a relieved cheer.
It wasn’t the Braves’ best performance, but they survived.
“That was big,” Lake Gibson head coach Keith DeMyer said. “We had some opportunities. We (were) moving the ball all night long and really we’re kind of put in the position where our defense was on the field so long … we’ve just got to put it together.”
As Lake Gibson senior Chris Clarke scored twice in the final three minutes of the first quarter, it looked like the Braves were on their way to a convincing win. But Auburndale answered with a persistent, pounding running game.The Bloodhounds rushed for 191 yards and were led by junior Artavis Pierce, who rushed 24 times for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
“I don’t have any comment about them leaving anything open,” Auburndale head coach Kenneth Grantham said. “I think what happened was you saw the Auburndale Bloodhounds fight to the point to where they gave themselves a chance to win.”
Turnovers and penalties plagued Lake Gibson, which struggled to finish drives in the second half.The Braves fumbled twice and misplayed a punt while piling up 12 penalties for 85 yards. Clarke finished the game with six receptions for 94 yards and two rushes for 25 yards in the victory.
The Bloodhounds had two 60-plus-yard touchdown runs — one by Jessie Britt and one by Pierce — called back due to holding penalties in the second half, but they continued to ride Pierce and his backfield mates Britt and Wilbur Cooper.
“We don’t care who we’re playing, we don’t care where we’re playing,” Grantham said. “We don’t look at the scoreboard, we just just fight until it’s over.”
After penalties forced a Lake Gibson punt with 4:02 remaining, Auburndale methodically made its way up the field to set up the long field goal try.Wilkerson nearly found Pierce for a gain that would have given Horrigan a shorter kick, but the pass was dropped on third down.
The Braves (5-1) host district rival Lake Region (2-3) next Friday.
- THE LEDGER
TURNOVERS COSTLY IN DISTRICT LOSS
WINTER HAVEN | Clinging to a six-point lead thanks in part to a bend-but-don't-break defense and a penalty-prone Lake Gibson, Winter Haven got the ball first to start the second half.
Two plays changed the nature of the game.
A 69-yard touchdown pass to Darius Philon and a fumble by Thomas Boles on the next play helped Winter Haven open up the game with a 21-point lead, and the Blue Devils went on to a 28-7 victory over Lake Gibson on Friday night at Denison Stadium before an estimated 1,500 fans.
The victory now makes Winter Haven (5-1, 1-0) the heavy favorite in Class 6A, District 11.
"I was proud of our boys," head coach Charlie Tate said. "The guys did a great job tonight."
The Blue Devils were outplayed for most of the first half as Lake Gibson outgained Winter Haven 218 yards to 95 yards. Even taking into account that 60 of it came on a screen on the last play of the half, the Braves (4-1, 0-1) still had a 168-95 advantage.
Boles rushed for 85 of his team-high 102 yards in the half.
The Braves took the opening drive down from their 20 to the Winter Haven 28 in three plays, but three penalties pushed them back to midfield. Lake Gibson was penalized 10 times in the first half and 15 times for 109 yards for the game.
"That really hurt us," Lake Gibson coach Keith DeMyer said. "Offensively, that hurt us and it took some gas out of the kids."
Winter Haven's offense sputtered for most of the first half, but a short punt and a good return gave the Blue Devils the ball at the Lake Gibson 47. Keeping the ball mostly on the ground, the Blue Devils scored in nine plays on Brandon Bivens' 1-yard run with 36 seconds left in the half.
Two plays into the second half, William Tate found Philon for the 69-yard touchdown pass. After Boles fumbled, Tate connected with Philon for a 12-yard gain to start a five-play, 35-yard drive. Bivens' 2-yard run was followed by a two-point conversion to make it 21-0 with 8:35 to play in the third quarter.
"Early in the game, I wasn't sure where we were," Tate said. "In the middle of the second quarter, I thought we found our legs, got a good drive on a short field. I thought we played a very good second half."
Winter Haven used a 41-yard pass to Darius James to set up Tate's 1-yard run with 3:05 to play in the third quarter.
Lake Gibson receiver Chris Clarke played quarterback in the wildcat and led the Braves to their only score. He ran the ball four times for 58 yards on a 70-yard scoring drive, and Boles scored from the 3 early in the fourth quarter.
By the end of the game, the two teams were nearly even in yards — Lake Gibson ended with a 378-367 edge — but the Braves had two turnovers to go with their penalties.
— THE LEDGER
BRAVES STRONG IN RAIN; LG CLIPS PALMETTO 32-6
LAKELAND | The Lake Gibson defense held Miami Palmetto to just one score in a 32-6 victory on a wet, dreary and long Friday night in front of 1000 fans at Virgil Ramage Stadium.
Leading 20-6 at halftime, the Braves allowed the Panthers just 50 yards of total offense in the second half, denying them any chance of mounting a comeback.
Braves quarterback Casey Whitaker and running back Chris Clarke accounted for four total touchdowns — two apiece.
Both of Clarke's scores came on runs of 7 yards in the first half. Whitaker's were both on 1-yard quarterback sneaks.
With its 14-point lead to start the second half, Lake Gibson scored on its first drive with the help of Thomas Boles' strong running.
Boles took the team's first offensive play of the second half 64 yards deep into Palmetto territory. Although the play was called back because of a holding call, the Braves still went on to score.
Whitaker's second touchdown, on the same drive, put the game out of reach in favor of the Braves. But it didn't come without a bit of drama. On first and goal from the 6, Boles ran into the end zone, but it was negated because of holding. After a 13-yard pass, Whitaker scored from 1-yard out.
The Braves were flagged eight times in the second half, but four were negated because of offsetting penalties. Palmetto was penalized three times for 35 yards.
Boles put the final points on the board after a 30-yard read option play by Whitaker had the defense keying in on the quarterback the next time the play was called.
"This wasn't our best game," Boles said. "We have to handle our assignments (next game) and not play at the level of our competition. We have to play at a higher level that we know we can play at."
Lake Gibson (4-0) takes on Winter Haven (4-1) next week on the road in a district matchup.
- THE LEDGER
BRAVES DEFENSE HAMMERS KATHLEEN, 7-5
LAKELAND | A year ago, Kathleen and Lake Gibson combined for 89 points in a five-overtime classic.
Friday night, they scored a combined 12, as the Braves beat the Red Devils 7-5 in a defensive battle before a crowd of 5,000 at Lake Gibson's Virgil Ramage Stadium.
It was Keith DeMyer's 100th win as Lake Gibson's head coach. DeMyer is in his 12th season as the Braves' head coach.
"I didn't even know it, to be honest with you. I don't keep count," DeMyer said. "To win 100 is something special, but the thing that's more special is the kids you coach and the coaches you coach with over those 100."
On Friday night, DeMyer's Braves (3-0), who lost to Kathleen 45-44 in five overtimes last year, won with a defense that came up with two fourth-quarter turnovers and limited Kathleen to 162 yards. Xavier Christian and Keyshon Camp combined for six quarterback sacks.
"We knew it was going to be a hard-fought contest; two great defenses, two offenses that are coming around," said Kathleen coach Irving Strickland.
For their part, Kathleen's defense was solid as well, allowing only the one scoring drive while intercepting two passes and blocking a punt.
"Defensively, they (Kathleen) are as good as I've seen them," said DeMyer. "We're not too bad on the offensive side of the ball, but it was a struggle tonight."
The biggest play of the night was a Kathleen fumble at the Lake Gibson 30, recovered by Braves sophomore linebacker Noah Johnson with 4:22 left in the game.
Kathleen (2-1) was well within range of kicker Gildarto Mata, who had booted a 40-yarder earlier in the fourth quarter.
"I'm so proud of my kids. We're so young, we only have 12 seniors, but at the end of the day, we still had a chance to win the game," Strickland said. "We were milking the clock, getting in position. That's how much confidence I have in (Mata)."
Trailing 2-0 at the half, Lake Gibson put together its lone scoring drive late in the third quarter after a 22-yard punt return by Sammie Jackson to the Kathleen 48. D.J. Brown ran it in from the 6 giving Lake Gibson a 7-2 lead.
"We did the same things we were doing in the first half, but we just happened to pop a few things."
In a game between two strong defenses, that was enough.
Lake Gibson will host Miami Palmetto in two weeks.
- THE LEDGER
BOLES, O-LINE BURY YELLOW JACKETS 37-17
BARTOW | Casey Whitaker's passing gave Lake Gibson the lead in the first half and Thomas Boles' running in the second half put the game away.
Together, the duo led the Braves to 423 yards of total offense as Lake Gibson defeated Bartow 37-17 on Friday night at Bartow Memorial Stadium.
Whitaker finished the day 12-for-18 passing for 220 yards and two touchdowns, including 146 yards in the first half.
"It was big that we were able to play throw and catch early," Lake Gibson coach Keith DeMyer said. "We have some good wide receivers, and Casey does a good job reading what he's supposed to read and getting the ball where he should."
Whitaker's 69-yard pass to Donald Parham gave Lake Gibson an early 7-0 lead and set the tone for the first half. Parham made a nice grab on the ball that briefly appeared to be overthrown.
Boles was held to just 24 yards rushing in the first half but wore down the Yellow Jackets in the second half to finish with 180 yards on 30 carries.
Trailing 16-3 at halftime, Bartow (0-2) got back in the game on the second play of the second half when Tyreese Cruz scampered 61 yards to make it a 16-10 game. Cruz finished with 129 yards on 17 carries.
Lake Gibson (2-0) answered on its next possession, driving 65 yards on nine plays to again go up by two scores.
The Braves will host cross-town rival and Class 7A District 5 champion Kathleen (2-0) next Friday.
- THE LEDGER
BRAVES BULLY JENKINS ON GROUND, 34-0
LAKELAND | The Lake Gibson Braves used the strong running of senior Thomas Boles and a pair of touchdown catches from Sammie Jackson to post a 34-0 victory over cross-town rival George Jenkins in the season opener for both teams at George Jenkins High School.
The game was called three plays into the third quarter due to inclement weather.
Boles carried the ball 16 times for 178 yards and scored two touchdowns. Boles also had two long runs called back due to holding penalties, and his back up Entebbe Bates took his first carry for 64 yards down the far sideline to set up the Braves' last touchdown of the night to give them a 34-0 lead at halftime.
"He (Boles) ran the ball strong tonight," Lake Gibson coach Keith DeMyer said. "He knows where he wants to go when he gets the ball."
Lake Gibson scored the only touchdown it needed late in the first quarter, on its first possession of the game.
Quarterback Casey Whitaker hit receiver Sammie Jackson with a 15-yard pass in the back of the end zone to finish off a 16-play, 92-yard drive, which also included two conversions on fourth down.
Whitaker and Jackson connected again on the next drive, this time from 40 yards out. Lake Gibson finished with 255 yards rushing.
The Braves' defense only allowed 15 yards of offense with one first down.
"The defense did two things tonight that they did not do last week which was tackle better and had all 11 guys go to the football." DeMyer added.
Lake Gibson will remain on the road at Class 7A Bartow (0-1) next week.
THREE MORE BRAVES SIGN WITH COLLEGES
(photo: Shaquan Perkins, Michael Gonzalez and Michael Toseland)
Lake Gibson High School had three more football players ink college scholarships on May 1, 2014. Defensive linemen Michael Toseland and Michael Gonzalez and wide receiver Shaquan Perkins signed their letters of intent in the Lake Gibson Auditorium on Thursday.
Gonzalez, a defensive end, closed his senior year with 72 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks and signed with Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania. A defensive tackle, Toseland had 56 tackles and 10 TFLs signed with Hiram College in Ohio. Perkins had 25 catches and 3 touchdowns from his wide receiver position and signed to play at Maryville College in Tennessee.
QB CONGDON AND OL SEBENY MAKE COLLEGE CHOICES
Lake Gibson quarterback Trey Congdon and center Michael Sebeny have spent a lot of time together the past two seasons. On Wednesday, the pair spent signing day together, with Congdon inking with Northeast Oklahoma A&M and Sebeny signing to play at Webber University.
Congdon was a four-year starter who threw for 6,807 yards and 65 touchdowns while leading the Braves to 34 wins in his career. He ran for nearly 300 yards as a senior and had 17 rushing touchdowns during his tenure.
Sebeny was a two-year starter at center for the Braves and is the second offensive lineman to sign this season. Fedrice Binot signed with Marshall University earlier this month.
TRENT TAYLOR SIGNS LOI WITH IOWA STATE
AMES, Iowa – Trent Taylor, a four-star recruit out of high school, who played last season at Butler Community College, has signed a national letter of intent to play football at Iowa State, head coach Paul Rhoads announced today.
Taylor, a 6-2, 250-pound defensive lineman from Lakeland, Fla., will be a junior next season for the Cyclones. He signed with Tennessee out of high school, competing in one game for the Volunteers in 2012. He spent the 2013 season at Butler C.C. (Kan.).
Taylor was an honorable mention All-Jayhawk Conference selection last year at Butler, recording 32 tackles, 3.0 sacks and 10.0 tackles for loss in 10 games.
Out of high school (Lake Gibson), Taylor was one of the top defensive linemen in the nation, earning four stars by Scout.com. An Associated Press First-Team Class 6A Florida selection in 2011, Taylor was rated as the 19th-best defensive end in the class of 2011 by Rivals.com.
Taylor racked up 66 tackles and 14 sacks en route to Lakeland Ledger Player of the Year honors as a senior. He was teammates in high school with current Cyclone running back Tyler Brown.
BINOT AND GANT SIGN LOIs WITH MARSHALL
Lake Gibson seniors Kendall Gant and Fedrice Binot both signed National Letters of Intent to continue their football careers at Marshall University.
Gant, a 6-3, 195-pound safety, was a two-time all-state selection and was the 2013 Polk County Defensive Player of the Year. He led the Braves with 5 INTs this season and was a three-time All-Polk County selection. He also player wide receiver and totaled 247 yards and 4 touchdowns.
A three-year starter at left tackle, Binot (6-4, 270) anchored the offensive line and was the best lineman in Polk County in 2013. He is a two-time all-state selection and three-time All-Polk County selection.
"ONCE A BRAVE, ALWAYS A BRAVE"
Welcome to the official online home of the Lake Gibson Braves, one of the most successful football programs in the state of Florida this century.
This site willl update often with the latest Lake Gibson Football news, scores, stats and more.
We will be adding new features throughout the season so check back daily!
2012 CLASS 6ADISTRICT 10 CHAMPIONS 2010 & 2009CLASS 4A DISTRICT 8 CHAMPIONS
Located in one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in all of college football, Lake Gibson High School in Lakeland, Florida boasts a powerful tradition that includes eight regional finals appearances, two trips to the state championship game and back-to-back district titles in 2009 and 2010.
"ONCE A BRAVE, ALWAYS A BRAVE"
L I N K S
7007 N. Socrum Loop Rd.
Lakeland, FL 33809