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Still a triumph of tradition

By DEMORRIS A. LEE, Times Staff Writer
Published October 30, 2007


LARGO

Their bodies were painted blue and gold. - Others huddled in small groups, talking about the subjects that matter most to high schoolers: boys, girls and the expected fun at the dance the following night. - Earlier in the day, there had been an afternoon pep rally during the school's final period. Then a pregame parade with members of the court in formal gowns and suits. - Now there was a football game. And not just any ordinary football game. It was Largo High School's homecoming.

While Brynn Harvey ran for two touchdowns to give the Largo Packers a 34-14 victory over Lakewood High School, there was just as much action in the raised concrete stands as there was on the field.

The Packers remained undefeated - 6-0 - at the end of the Oct. 12 game. Largo has a solid football program, having won 10 games the past two seasons. Greg Zornes, Largo's athletics director, said about 1,300 people attended the homecoming game, which he called a good showing.

"Kids will remember this stuff for the rest of their lives," Zornes said. "They may not have any association with the football team other than coming to games, but they will always remember how well the football team did."

The scene that night was familiar to anyone who has ever attended a high school football game. The freshman boys clowning. The girls batting their eyes and tossing their hair. The band doing the hokey pokey. The cheerleaders joining in. Teenagers being teenagers on a warm October night.

Brandy Davies, 16, was high up in the stands, cheering and hanging out with the school's "preps," the students at Largo High who claim to have the most school spirit.

"It's so much fun," said Davies, a sophomore who was bubbling with energy. "We get to see a lot of our friends and it's just fun."

Kayla Stewart, 15, who was also sitting with the preps, agreed.

"If you don't go to football games," she said, "you're nobody."

While the football teams rested during halftime, senior cheerleader Jaclyne Ogden strolled along the 50-yard-line to accept her crown. Before a cheering crowd, the 18-year-old was anointed homecoming queen 2007.

"I was so shocked," she said, her eyes sparkling in the stadium lights. "Oh, my gosh, it was, like, mind-blowing to hear them call my name. I was speechless."

Jeffrey Sincich, 17, was crowned homecoming king after making T-shirts to pump up his campaign for the throne. He had a choice word for the feeling of being crowned.

"It was dank," the senior said. "It means it was really cool."

For a group of boys on the school's junior varsity basketball team, location is key to soaking in the entire experience.

"We stand here by the fence, said Cody Weaver, 15. "We can turn and watch the game, then we can turn and watch the honeys."

Akwete Osoka, 15, gave Weaver a fist-bump in agreement.

"Yep, we've got it covered," Osoka said with a laugh.

As the night ended, freshman Lorna Gudykunst and senior Brittany Huddleson found themselves with a problem. The girls painted themselves blue and gold and Huddleson's mother would not let them in the car. She was afraid the paint would get on her light gray seats.

So, the two stood on the sideline of the football field with a water hose. Standing beneath the lights, they scrubbed until the physical evidence of their school spirit trickled down the drain.

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at 727 445-4174 or dalee@sptimes.com.