Lakeland Kicker Found by O-Line Coach

When you think of Lakeland football and its history, fans will be quick to remember players like Wayne Peace, Duke Pearson, Johnnie Mack, Johnnie Jones, Deaubrey Devine, Chris Rainey, the Pouncey twins, A.J. Davis, etc. Not to be overlooked, however, are the kickers. The Dreadnaughts boast a rich history of top place-kickers, players like Charlie Pierce, Brendt Talcott, Robbie Wright, Matt Roddenberry and Zach Feddeler. Most recently, the Dreadnaughts had Jesse Williams in 2016 and 2017 and Jace Hohenthaner last year

Hohenthaner was one of 33 seniors Lakeland had to replace, so finding a kicker for the 2019 season was one of the priorities in the offseason. Coming out of the spring, kicking still was up in the air.

Lakeland found a kicker in Matthew Werd, who said the opening game against Manatee was just his second game as a place-kicker, and can thank offensive line coach Caleb Pickrell, who found Werd.

“He was at Harrison and he looked like an athlete and he had long limbs,” Pickrell said. “I just said, do you think you can kick, and he said, yeah, I believe I probably can, so we gave him a shot. He was pretty natural at it.”

Werd played baseball growing up, so he indeed was an athlete.

Against Manatee, Werd was perfect on all seven extra-point attempts. He made his only field-goal attempt from 22 yards and averaged 40.0 yards on two punts.

Werd said that in practice last week, he made three consecutive field goals from 50 yards.

Counting down the day

Lakeland starting quarterback Chayil Garnett was on the sideline against Manatee with his hand still in a cast, but said the cast is scheduled to come off Thursday. and he then can begin throwing again. In his absence, sophomore quarterback Mason Martin looked poised as he completed 7 of 10 passes for 98 yards and one touchdown.


Moving on up

Senior running back Demarkcus Bowman rushed for 175 yards and one touchdown against Manatee and now has 3,688 and needs 24 yards to pass Steeard Butler on Lakeland’s career rushing list. Butler is fourth all time with 3,711 yards. Bowman now has 47 career touchdowns and is fourth. Jamar Taylor is fourth with 50.

More rankings

Lakeland shows up in a couple of national rankings. In the USA Today poll, Lakeland is No. 18. Rival St. Thomas Aquinas is ranked No. 1. With Miami Central dropping out, there are now three Florida teams in the top 25. IMG is No. 7.

In the MaxPreps Xcellent25 rankings, Lakeland is No. 11, two spots behind St. Thomas Aquinas. Mater Dei (Calif.) is No. 1. Lakeland was No. 16 in the previous rankings.

Grass is greener

Lake Region and Bartow each went winless last year and both programs had coaching changes. Geoffrey Bangley took over at Lake Region, Richard Tate took over at Bartow. Jason Stokes left Lake Region and went to Pasco. Of the three coaches, only Stokes got a win in week one as his club defeated Land O’Lakes, 35-14…. Former Haines City coach Mike Bonneville went winless at Warner Christian last year, but he also got a win last week as Warner Christian defeated Merritt Island Christian, 18-0.

Roy Fuoco can be reached at or at 863-802-7526. Follow him on Twitter: @RoyFuoco.