Florida Excessive College Soccer Preview: Lakeland Dreadnaughtsaught

As we near the football season, Inside The Knights will be previewing several top Florida High School football programs that UCF Football is sure to recruit and giving a clear rundown of that program’s list for the 2021 season. Today it’s the Lakeland Dreadnaughts.

Lakeland is not your typical high school program. The Dreadnaughts have been ranked nationally several times, winning the Florida State titles in 1986, 1996, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2018. Led by Bill Castle, one of Florida’s greatest high school head coaches, his honor roll is so long, here is a link to see it all.

Coach Castle will lead this team again and Lakeland’s forecast will be very high again. That’s because the Dreadnaughts have players on both sides of the game who can play games. In addition, the Lakeland team with talent in position wins, like many Florida high school football programs, but the Dreadnaughts also own two of the best defensive linemen in the state of Florida.

Top defensive player

Any discussion of Lakeland’s chances of winning the 8th state title begins with Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy and Keahnist Thompson, both defensive endings that wreak havoc on the opposing offensive fronts. Each player has unique attributes.

Starting with Brownlow-Dindy, he’s as strong a defensive ending as can be found in the country. His powerful hands strike offensive tackles and tight ends and he will move a player back with his hand quickly shooting the offensive player’s chest.

Make no mistake, Brownlow-Dindy is one of the most powerful young defensive linemen in the nation. More importantly, Brownlow-Dindy not only shocked his opponents with those heavy hands, but also harnessed a quickness that is rare for a defensive end weighing around 275 pounds. Brownlow-Dindy is also just under 6’4 inches tall and has a long wingspan and doesn’t just rely on natural talents.

He’s good at staying low, shooting gaps, and using pass-rushing moves like dip and rip, stab and grab and pull to defeat blocks. By comparison, Brownlow-Dindy is a slightly larger version of former NFL star and Hall of Fame member John Randle. The former Minnesota Viking had a similar setup and played similarly to Brownlow-Dindy now.

While Brownlow-Dindy is certainly nowhere near ready for professional football, he could be Florida’s top high school player. Thompson would line up on the same line of defense. His game is styled differently, but with the same physical presence and attitude you’d expect from a top defensive end.

Thompson relies on quickness to move inside or outside a blocker, and he has excellent hands for thwarting an offensive tackle’s hands that stay on his body. He has been well trained when it comes to slimming and quick take off of the football and his penchant for splitting offensive linemen to reach the offensive backcourt is excellent.

A 6’4 ”, 240 pound, Thompson, like Brownlow-Dindy, could play a strong side-end in college, and he could move inward and play three techniques on passing. Thompson will officially visit UCF this coming weekend.

It’s incredibly rare to have an elite defensive end, and Lakeland has two. Both players are nationally recruited and deserve the attention they get.

During their time against Venice High School, another Florida state, Lakeland showed that they have a talented defensive front and, overall, are an aggressive defensive team. This is where the secondary comes into play.

Nasir Bowers is not the tallest player at 5’8 ”but his sturdy body is muscular and can handle 170 pounds. Most of all, he’s a nervous cornerback. Any throw that is wrong could go the other way. He changes direction and breaks back on football as well as almost every defensive in the state of Florida. Bowers is committed to Toledo but will likely make official visits. Lakelands Secondary is fully loaded and each of the defensive backs can make moves.

Emari Carter is a tall athlete to watch and has offers too. There are at least four other defensive backs from underclassmen who will be juniors, and all of them have college potential. Robert Riley, Dontay Joyner, Twan Wilson, and Kmaurry McKinley help round out one of the most talented secondaries in Florida.

In the middle of the defense Larry Jones is a downhill linebacker who can also reach the perimeter and do a tackle during a jet sweep or screen. He fills his body by already 6’2 “and 220 pounds. Combines the talent of overall defense with Brownlow-Dindy and Thompson and it’s easy to see why Lakeland will be a force again. On the offensive, Lakeland is massively ahead.

Top offensive player

Most of the Lakeland front line will weigh more than 300 pounds. The headliner is UCF’s commitment Miguel Maldonado placeholder image. He’s a powerfully built player who fits into the shape of an inside-mouth at college level. He and his brothers help pave the way for a power run game along the offensive line that includes quarterback runs and a short passing game. Maldonado is a future Guardian of the Knights, and he’s already college-sized at 6’4 ” 325 pounds.

The quarterback most likely to start would be Mason Martin, and he can also run football. The passing game will depend heavily on the junior wide receiver Daidren zipper, another tall and lean athlete who can really run. He was the definitive focal point when Lakeland played at the Jamboree in Venice. Zipperer’s older brother, Keon ZippererHe plays tight end for the Florida Gators.

If Lakeland wants to take on another state title, the offense must develop the passing game beyond Zipperer, not only to keep the defense from him, but also to open the roaring attack.

The running game sees many aggressive defensive fronts because the defense knows the Dreadnaughts want to play power football. Junior running back Don’Ares Johnson leaves after a second season rushing over 340 yards, but now he’s going to see more carries and more opportunities to make big games. Much like Bowers built at 5’10 and 170 pounds, Johnson is really fast and isn’t afraid to run between tackles.

Assuming Lakeland’s passing game can keep the defense honest, Johnson is likely to have a jump into the 1,000-yard break this fall. He’s really good at dodging the first tackler and finishes runs with physicality.

Overall, there is no question that Lakeland will again be one of the 7A powers in Florida. The prediction for the Dreadnaughts will be that they will continue to produce top players and pile the wins for Coach Castle.

You can find me on Twitter @fbscout_florida and @UCF_FanNation

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