ST. PETERSBURG –The final weeks of football season are exciting times for fans all across the globe. Former teammates are rooting for and against teams they’ve played on, players who have formed bonds are cheering and fans that have no affiliation with a team other than a favorite player are jubilant during this time of the year.
Then there is Coach Cory Moore, Lakewood High School and the families of Fowler, Reedy, Jones and Adams. How often does a coach, school or community have the opportunity to have a guaranteed interest in a game as large as the Super Bowl?
By now, we all know the participants in Super Bowl LII will be the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. Although the Minnesota Vikings and the Jacksonville Jaguars lost, the Lakewood High community still won. Oh, there is still the agony of defeat blended in with the thrill of victory, but what a weekend for Coach Moore.
In the final four teams of the mighty National Football League, three of Moore’s former Lakewood charges were on the field: Bernard Reedy of the New England Patriots, Rodney Adams, wide receiver with the Minnesota Vikings and Dante Fowler, Jr. with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Also on the Patriot’s practice roster is David Jones, who played at St. Petersburg High School, which makes the Green Devil nation very proud. All of them represent Pinellas County Schools.
“It is an honor to be a part of these young men’s lives,” Coach Moore gushed. “To see their ascension to the NFL is very humbling.”
The common thread in these young men is their desire and motivation to be the best. Coach Moore feels that individually they are good men who are developing into great men and contributors to their community. He said all three have tremendous families and family support.
“They work hard and play hard to show their coaches that they belong.”
Of the three NFL Spartans, Reedy is the senior. He starred at Lakewood as an all-purpose threat with the ability to score from anywhere on the field. He then went on to Toledo University where he did much of the same.
Reedy originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Atlanta Falcons out of Toledo. He spent his rookie season on the Atlanta practice squad and was released at the end of training camp.
He signed with Tampa Bay before being released prior to the start of the regular season. He then signed with the Bucs practice squad and was added to the 53-man roster. He was inactive for the final two games of the regular season that year prior to his travels to Foxborough, Mass. Reedy was added to the Patriots active playoff roster after stints of being signed, released and practice squad acquisition.
“I’m so proud of all the Lakewood guys. It’s a great feeling for all,” stated his Bernard Reedy, Sr.
Following Reedy’s stardom at Lakewood, Dante Fowler, Jr. dominated the Spartan’s football field. He was an all-everything defensive force that was disruptive to opposing offenses. He attended the University of Florida where he became a First-Team All-Southeast Conference defensive player.
Fowler, Jr. is a 2015 first round draft, number three selection of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He had two sacks in the game against New England and made life for the Patriots very uncomfortable.
When Fowler, Jr. headed to college, he left the helm of the Spartans to Rodney Adams, who was a tremendous wide receiver that had big play written all over him. Like Reedy, Adams could score from anywhere on the field.
He initially went to Toledo, Ohio, before transferring to the University of South Florida following a family tragedy. He ranks 2nd all-time in USF Bulls history in career receiving TDs (16), receiving yards (1,967) and receptions (135). Adams is the first of two wide receivers drafted by the Vikings in 2017.
“I understand that Lakewood is not my team and these are not my players,” said Coach Moore, with an emphasis on “my.” “God has blessed us and everything and everyone belongs to Him. It’s His team, His job and His players. I have to make sure that I stay in line and properly take care of what belongs to Him.”
So, while the average fan watching the NFL playoffs and subsequent Super Bowl LII with excitement, most will lock in and support their favorite team with not much invested aside from a friendly bet. For Coach Cory Moore, Lakewood High and the community, the perspective is a little different. When any of your former players are on the field, it’s personal. It’s a coach’s dream!