November 24, 2023

Lake Minneola Hawks Ready for Redemption in Regional Final Rematch Against Lakeland

1.6 min read| Published On: November 24th, 2023|

By Kyle Coppola

Lake Minneola Hawks Ready for Redemption in Regional Final Rematch Against Lakeland

1.6 min read| Published On: November 24th, 2023|

In a high-stakes regional final rematch, the Lake Minneola Hawks are gearing up to face off against the formidable Lakeland Dreadnaughts, with redemption on their minds.

Last year, Lake Minneola’s promising 10-2 season came to an abrupt end when they suffered a resounding 41-6 defeat at the hands of the Lakeland Dreadnaughts in the regional finals. However, this year’s Hawks are not the same team that faced adversity in the previous season.

A significant transformation has taken place, particularly in Lake Minneola’s offensive strategy. While the 2022 season saw reliance on the ground game led by John Celestin, this year, quarterback Jackson Hughes has emerged as a potent force, amassing an impressive 2,811 passing yards with 28 touchdowns. Hughes boasts an  average of 16 yards per throw and benefits from a stellar receiving corps, featuring senior Braylon Knauth, who is on the verge of breaking the 1,000-yard mark.

The running back position has also flourished, with junior Dane Thompkins accumulating 1,490 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns, aided by an offensive line allowing an average of 7.2 yards per carry. While not the same running back as John Celestin was, Thompkins has thrived in a pass heavy offense. He has been having a trumendous season and that needs to continue on Friday night to give Lake Minneola a chance.

Defensively, the Hawks are anchored by senior Andrew Bowles and cornerback Quentin Taylor, a committed Iowa State Cyclone. The challenge, however, lies in containing Lakeland’s swift offensive strikes.

Lakeland enters the contest with a 9-3 record, fresh off a 28-6 victory against Bartow. Quarterback Zander Smith has been a solid performer with 1,367 passing yards and 17 touchdowns, supported by a diverse offensive arsenal, including running backs Markel Johnson and Jadarius Dobie.

While Lakeland’s receiving options may not match previous years’ standards, Jamar Taylor remains a potent threat with five touchdowns. The lack of defensive statistics from Lakeland adds an element of mystery to the matchup, but rumors suggest a formidable linebacker corps and some great defensive backs.

This clash presents Lake Minneola with a prime opportunity to secure a spot in the state semi-finals, and the Hawks are determined to execute a more effective game plan than their previous encounter with Lakeland. Can they pull off a stunning upset? The answer will unfold in what promises to be an exhilarating matchup.

Photo Credit – Lake Minneola Facebook

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About the Author: Kyle Coppola

Kyle Coppola was born in Newton, Massachusetts and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications from Curry College in 2016. After traveling to Florida on a family vacation, he decided he could not get enough of the warm weather and made the move from snowy Massachusetts to central Florida 8 years ago.

For the last decade Kyle has gained valuable experience in social media content creation, marketing and sales, writing, video production, sports announcing and even broadcasting for local radio stations, such as FM 102.9 in The Villages and FM 91.5 in Massachusetts. Every year he volunteers at The Villages Charter High School as a play-by-play sports announcer for the football games as well as a public address announcer for the basketball games, including the annual Battle at The Villages Tournament.

Outside the office Kyle is a husband and father to two beautiful girls along with their cat. In his spare time he likes to spend time with his family, travel, play golf and swim. He is also a huge sports junkie and even bigger motorsports fan and loves to attend racing events when he can.

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