FORT LAUDERDALE — The Lake Wales High School football team capped off a perfect season with a 32-30 win over Mainland (Daytona Beach) in the Class 3S State Championship on Friday.
The Highlanders trailed 10-8 at the half, but scored 24 points in 2nd half to hold on for the win and the title.
QB Trent Grotjan threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns, plus ran for two scores, including a 2-yard TD run in the 4th quarter that gave his team a 32-23 lead with five minutes left in the 4th quarter.
For Lake Wales (15-0), it’s the first football championship in school history.
Both teams fought hard ’til the final whistle but in the end, it was the Highlanders who took home the state title for the first time in school history.
An emotional moment for a team whose, players, told Spectrum Sports 360’s Katya Guillaume, they were counted out and when. Their hard work paid off.
A very emotional Lake Wales Head Coach, Tavaris Johnson said in his opening statement. “It’s been an emotional ride…I’m proud of this team. To God be the glory. I’m so thankful for the fight these young men have put up. They’ve been working hard, they believed from day 1.”
Lake Wales had a slow start in this matchup but never let up, finding the endzone only once in the first half and trailing by 2, but they found the endzone first in the third quarter and took their first lead of the game.
“It was rough, we were on our toes the entire game, the entire game. They get first down after first down but my defense had my back. I know my defense has had my back the entire season,” senior quarterback Trent Grotjan said.
It showed in this title game, but the team will credit a strong opposing team for this tough matchup, a team searching for its second title in 19 years.
“Obviously we weren’t able to finish in these kinds of games but we fought and gave ourselves a chance,” Mainland head coach Travis Roland said.
The Buccaneers had the lead with 9 minutes to go but a field goal a few plays later by Lake Wales and the Highlanders took the lead and never looked back.
Roland said he couldn’t be more proud of the way his team played.
“They’re hurting, I’m hurting, my little guy’s hurting,” he said. “The audio you’re probably hearing from him crying but the sun’s gonna come up tomorrow, God willing we will all be healthy and we gotta get these kids ready to go to college.”
In the end, it was who had the most points on the board who took home the hardware.
“This has always been the largest purpose. They believed it, they bought in…to God be the glory,” said Johnson.
A moment forever etched in history. The seniors say what a way to close out this chapter.
For a recap of the game, click the video link.