Lakeland beats state champions in spring football; 3 observations from each team

Lakeland's Zach Pleuss attempts a pass against Venice in a spring contest.  Pleuss threw for three touchdowns and his team won 31-24.

Despite a host of injuries and a host of recent changes, the Class 7A Lakeland Dreadnaughts proved to be a better team than the 2021 Class 8A State Football Champions.

Lakeland won 31-24 over Venice in a spring football contest Thursday at Bryant Stadium, and the win was led by Lakeland quarterback and Ridge Community transfer Zach Pleuss’ 14-for-21 for 244 yards and three touchdowns. At the other end was Daidren Zipperer, who caught the ball four times for 130 yards and two points.

Venice played the entire game to catch up after Pleuss threw a 59-yard touchdown pass at 7:33 left to Zipperer in the first quarter and Lakeland running back Don’Ares Johnson hit a 33-yard touchdown at 3:15 in the second quarter scored But the door slammed when Pleuss threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Williams to make it 21-0 with 20 seconds left in the first half.

Lakeland running back Don'Ares Johnson slides forward against Venice.  Johnson ran for a 33-yard touchdown in the spring contest.

Lakeland head coach Bill Castle, who topped a 9-2 team last year before being knocked out in the regional quarterfinals, said he would eventually feel good after the game.

“We have a good feeling about it. But it just showed us what we need to work on this summer,” Castle said. “Obviously we need to clean up any penalties we got tonight and just try to build that game and have a good summer of (of) work.”

Leave a Comment