Lakewood running back and linebacker Divon Woods has started his senior season with a bang.
The Gator has rushed for 170 yards in a season-opening loss to Sumter before ripping off another 160 yards and a score on Friday against Fox Creek. He added eight tackles on defense as Lakewood pitched a 30-0. His strong showing on both sides of the ball was enough to earn Hines Furniture Athlete of the Week honors.
"It's a big compliment for me early in the season," Woods said of the honor. "We're just trying to have a good season, so the award is big for me, personally."
Lakewood head coach Larry Cornelius said Woods' success has been powered by his two greatest assets: his mind and his vision.
"His study prep is what makes him a good running back," Cornelius said. "He understands the schemes, he understands the blocking schemes and knows when to peek back or make a jump cut to get extra yards.
"Divon and I joke around that he's not the fastest guy in the world, but since he's been a freshman, he's come to the top of our running backs because of his vision, because of his understanding of the blocking scheme and anticipating holes opening up. He's a hard runner, too."
Woods has developed excellent chemistry with his offensive line early in the season. He credits the big guys in the trenches for opening some great running lanes.
"This whole offseason, it was a priority to bond with my O-line," Woods said. "In the game, we have that connection. They block for me, we get the yards and give them praise. We just get the job done. Our O-line has been blocking pretty good this year. They just open the lanes for me, and I'm hitting them."
Lakewood struggled with penalties throughout the evening. The 30-0 deficit could've been wider had the Gators been able to avoid some laundry.
The biggest play Woods had in the win was one of those plays. He broke free from over 70 yards out for a long touchdown, but it was called back for a penalty. He went to the sideline to get a breather, and Dwayne Wilson came back in and nearly replicated his homerun play.
"We hit a triple-option the play before for like 18 yards, and that one got called back," Woods recalled. "We went right back to it, I hit the dive, cut to the outside, hit a couple moves and got to the end zone.
"I looked back and saw flags. In my heart, I was kinda devastated, but I made a good play."
Cornelius was proud of the way Woods responded to the penalty erasing his long score.
"When stuff like that happens, he doesn't get frustrated," Cornelius said. "Something we've preached to these guys since they were young pups is we've got to look forward. We're always going to face adversity in any game, just like in life, and you just have to keep moving on."
Despite the penalties, Lakewood dominated on the ground. The Gators only ran 32 offensive plays that weren't called back on flags. Woods did the heavy lifting, carrying the ball 19 times on the night. Cornelius said he could've done even more damage, but he wanted to get other players involved.
"We could've run power and counter all night and not thrown the ball and tried other things," Cornelius said. "But when we look at a non-region game, it's time to prepare for region. We wanted to see some other things and see how it looks on film. We could've fed it to our running backs all night long, and we would've amassed a lot more yardage."
Woods also stood out on the defensive side of the ball, but he had to do it without his partner in crime.
Jayden "Scooby" Jones was out with a concussion on Friday, so Seneca Moore had to make the move from outside linebacker to middle. Woods was proud of Moore for stepping up with the move.
"It was a familiar face, but it wasn't Scooby," Woods said of Moore playing alongside him. "Me and Scooby have a different connection on the field because we knew each other before this even started. It's like a different connection, but Seneca picked it up pretty well. It wasn't a huge difference with skill level, and Seneca picked it up pretty fast."
That trust in the middle of the defense helped the Gators keep Fox Creek off the scoreboard.
"We all trust each other; that's a big part of it," Woods said. "We trust each other to make plays, and we're where we're supposed to be."
The Gators are now 1-1 heading into a matchup with Dreher on Friday. Woods hopes the 30-0 win will help spark a successful season.
"It's a big boost, especially coming off a loss (to Sumter the week before)," Woods said. "We can't really dwell on it too much because we had a lot of mistakes. We just have to get better from week to week and try to clean up things."
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