Ridge Captures District Title With Upset of Lakeland, 7-0
Fri. November 02, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. | By Rick Brown
RIDGE COMMUNITY'S SHYKEEM PITTS pulls in an interception just before getting hit by Lakeland's Xavier Spann during Friday night's game. Pitts' late interception for a touchdown was the only score in the Bolts' upset win.
By RICK BROWN
DAVENPORT | Polk County has had a long, storied history of football players whose high school performances last the test of time.
Players like Auburndale's Terrence Barber, Frostproof's Travis Henry and Lake Wales' Lorenzo Hampton will forever be remembered for their Friday night exploits in Polk County.
On Friday, Ridge Community's Shykeem Pitts forever etched his name in Polk County's football lore.
Pitts, a two-way star for the Bolts, grabbed an interception with one hand, sprinted down the right sidelines before cutting past one diving Lakeland defender on his way to a 58-yard return for a touchdown with 2:14 left in the game. His score not only gave Ridge Community a 7-0 victory over Lakeland but also gave the Bolts the Class 7A, District 5 championship.
"District champs," Pitts said shaking his head following the game. "It means a lot to me.
"I knew they were coming my way," he said of the pick. "He had underthrown it before so I timed it, was able to get it with my right hand and I took it to the house."
When junior fullback Inglesson Sanon saw Pitts cruise into the end zone, he knew the game was over.
"We weren't going to fold under pressure," Sanon said. "When he scored I said, ‘we just won the district championship.'"
Ridge will get to enjoy this as it has a bye next week.
For the Dreadnaughts (8-1), it was an unfamiliar feeling. Lakeland had not lost a regular-season game on the field since falling to Osceola in 2007. It was Lakeland's first loss to a Polk County team in the regular season since losing to George Jenkins in 2003.
Lakeland plays at Kathleen next week before having to travel to take on Osceola in the first round of the playoffs.
"It was two defensive teams," Lakeland coach Bill Castle said. "They have a lot of speed on defense, we knew that. Their defense is tough but ours is too. It came down to mistakes right there. I'll take the blame for that. It just wasn't a good call. ... It's a tear-jerker, no doubt about it."
Even after Pitts' return sent the home crowd into a frenzy, the Dreadnaughts had one final chance. Lakeland was able to get to midfield but a fumble recovered by Jacob Harwell ended Lakeland's threat.
Following two kneel downs, the Ridge players, coaches and fans celebrated.
"I just feel wonderful," Ridge coach Richard Tate said. "It's a great feeling for our school and our community. It's just great, tremendous.
"Anytime you beat the big dog in the county, a program that has such great tradition and reputation, to get that win is phenomenal for our program."
Both teams entered the game undefeated in the district and the two teams played like it.
The teams combined for just 13 first downs in the game, three apiece in the second half.
"Our mind-set was to keep playing hard, never give up and get this W," Ridge's Codaryl Pandolfo said. "We got it. We got the win. This feels real good."
No team could get closer than its opponent's 33-yard line in the first half and both teams could only put together a longer drive than four plays once in the scoreless opening half.
In the third quarter, the Bolts were in position to score after getting the ball at Lakeland's 42-yard line following a punt. But the drive stalled at the 21 and Ridge came up empty when a 39-yard field-goal attempt went wide.
Lakeland got a drive going late in the fourth quarter and was facing a third-and-5 on Ridge's 43-yard line when Pitts made perhaps the biggest play in the school's eight-year history.
"I played my hardest tonight and I helped my team win the district championship. And we beat Lakeland. We beat Lakeland. We beat Lakeland!"
Lakeland 0 0 0 0 — 0
Ridge Community 0 0 0 7 — 7
R — Shykeem Pitts 58 INT return, 2:14.
First Downs 8 5
Rushes/yards 36/109 29/31
Passing yards 35 61
Passing 9-14-1 5-11-0
Total offense 144 92
Fumbles/Lost 1/1 2/0
Punts/avg 6/32.0 6/27.8
Penalties/yds 4/20 2/10
Records 8-1 7-2
Rushing: LHS — Robert Smith 17-49; RC — Codaryl Pandolfo 1-17
Passing: LHS — Isaiah Walker 9-13-1, 35 yards; RC — Shykeem Pitts 5-11-0 61 yards.
Receiving: LHS — Sherard Saddlers 3-21; RC — Codaryl Pandolfo 4-47.