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Plant City Observer Thursday, Sep. 13, 2018 1 week ago

Game of the Week: Lennard at Plant City

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The Raiders are looking to keep their impressive season start going.
by: Justin Kline Sports/Associate Editor

What a time to be a Plant City Raider.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Raiders were winless heading into September and looked every bit like a team trying to find its identity with a new head coach. But that was 2017 — one year of learning has made a world of difference for PCHS, which now sports a 3-0 record entering this week’s 7A-District 9 opener.

The Raiders are checking many of the right boxes these days. Last year’s late-game struggles against Jefferson and Hillsborough became lessons learned for this year’s first two wins, both coming on the road. Plant City showed against both teams that it can overcome its mistakes — 22 penalties against Jefferson and a shaky first half against Hillsborough were wiped out by strong second-half performances.

Wharton didn’t pose much of a threat to Plant City last week, then coming off of a 2-0 loss to Blake and leaving 1 Raider Place with a 44-7 loss to the Raiders. Braxton Plunk threw for 258 yards and four touchdowns on 10 completions and Zamir’ Knighten led the charge on the ground with 72 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Though the Wildcats were able to pick off two of Plunk’s pass attempts, the PCHS defense smothered them with three forced fumbles, seven quarterback hurries and 17 tackles for loss.

With a deep roster, a burning competitive fire and a cleaner bill of health than in 2017, Plant City looks like a team with the right pieces for a playoff run.

Next up for the Raiders is Friday’s game against the Lennard Longhorns. Plant City will have its hands full with the Longhorns’ rushing attack, bolstered by Tino Hunt (who put up 164 yards against the Cowboys) and a stout offensive line, but Lennard is coming off of a 35-12 loss at Gaither last week. Though Lennard held a 12-0 lead on the Cowboys in the first half, Gaither answered with 14 of their own before halftime and kept on rolling. Lennard lost three fumbles (including one that was returned for a touchdown) and threw two interceptions.

Justin Kline is the Sports/Associate Editor at the Plant City Times & Observer. He has been covering all things sports-related in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World since 2013, and hosts the weekly Gridiron Report podcast during high school football season.

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