Lake Wales Highlander Football games with Southeast in the past have been competitive. Finishes have often come down to the final minutes of the game or have been determined in overtime, even double-overtime. Coach Rod Shafer says that he has been long-time close friends with Southeast Head Coach Paul Mecklee. Both men have been coaching over 30 years. Whenever they meet, Shafer says, “It’s like two old war horses coming together.”
Shafer was excited over Friday evening’s win. After the game, the locker room could only be described as buzzing with excitement. The kids had reason to be grateful as Friday night’s win was the first of a five-game season leading toward a state championship. A win each week means another Friday of game-play and brings them one step closer to the ultimate goal — a state championship.
The Highlanders will take the field at home against Palmetto this Friday at Legion Field. Palmetto had sizeable win over Auburndale this past Friday evening in their first Regional playoff game, winning on the road 27-7. Shafer said that Palmetto “throws the ball like crazy and they have a bunch of talent.” He went on to say that Palmetto has two great wide-receivers and a good running back.
Additionally, two weeks ago they were ranked #1 in the state. However, Southeast upset them. Shafer gives the following thoughts on what they will face with Palmetto next week. “They have two defensive tackles and a linebacker that controlled Auburndale. They are a big play offense and you have to keep them from making good plays. Their quarterback is awesome.”
And about some of that locker room excitement, Shafer had a friendly race against one of his players after the game on Friday evening. Highlander offensive-lineman Charlie Gates bet his coach a steak dinner at a local Lake Wales restaurant that he could beat him in the 40-yard dash. Charlie stayed after his coach for a couple of weeks. With Charlie insisting that they race, Shafer finally gave in. Shafer was obviously feeling good after a big win and wanted to add some fun and excitement to the already celebratory atmosphere going on in basketball court that served as the Highlanders’ locker room during the game. Shafer outran his young player and won the race. He said that this was his second big win for him that evening. “Two victories in one night!” Shafer said.