The Raiders hope to win their second consecutive preseason game against Spoto.
There have been some departures from the Plant City High football team on the field and on the sidelines. Key players graduated or transferred and the coaching staff isn’t quite the same. The latter is going to be in the spotlight this Friday as the Raiders host the Spoto Spartans.
Melvin Jenkins, who was Booth’s defensive coordinator in 2017, is now Spoto’s head coach and is tasked with turning around a program that won four games — none in their district — in 2017. Booth said he’s excited to see what Jenkins can do with the program now that he, like Booth last year, finally got his chance to become a head coach.
This is the first time in several years that the two men aren’t on the same coaching staff. With no regular-season stakes, Friday’s game will be a friendly competition much like another scrimmage between Booth’s offenses and Jenkins’ defenses.
Now that the returning Raiders are comfortable in Booth’s offense, the unit could be in for a good year even with the transfer of lead running back Eric Wilson. Junior Zamir’ Knighten is taking over the reins as the team’s feature back. With Braxton Plunk, Demario Williams, Knighten and Chris Wilson returning on offense, the unit should be productive.
Plant City’s group of linebackers have two points of interest that could be put to the test against Spoto. First, Ashton Mincey is coming back to the game after recovering from an ACL tear ahead of schedule. Second, the team moved Kobe Panier from defensive back to a full-time position at linebacker. Mincey, Panier and D.J. Gordon IV most likely won’t play long in the preseason game to preserve their health, but fans could get a preview at what may be one of the strongest linebacker cores in the county.
Though the Raiders hit a few bumps in the road in 2017, that preseason’s game against the Spartans was not one of them. Plant City picked up a 21-0 win that should have been a 35-0 score, but penalties wiped Tyreke Harrison’s two trips to the end zone on punt returns. Since Harrison is returning to the Raiders and hasn’t gotten slower, Spoto will probably try to keep the ball as far away from him as possible.
OTHER AREA ACTION
at Blake, 7 p.m., 1701 North Blvd., Tampa
The Yellow Jackets were no match for the Cougars in last year’s preseason game at the Ron Frost Athletic Complex, losing 44-6. Most of the Cougars’ offensive heavy hitters from that game and the rest of last season have graduated or, in Agiye Hall’s case, transferred.
One player to watch is running back David Haynes, who’s picked up some buzz on the offseason circuit and could keep up Durant’s tradition of producing highly capable running backs behind a fundamentally sound offensive line.
at Seminole, 8401 131st St. N., Seminole
This year’s Crest roster looks fairly different from 2017’s, but the players will tell you the hope stemming from last season has carried over. They’re now looking to start on a high note once again with another preseason game against the Warhawks, this time in Seminole.
This game will be the Gonzalez brothers’ high school debut. Jose and Juan, who respectively stand at 6-foot-9, 320 pounds and 6-foot-7, 235 pounds, made headlines in the offseason coming to Florida from the Dominican Republic and switching sports after playing baseball their entire lives. Jose Gonzalez’s size has already netted him several high-profile college football scholarship offers, though Hawn said Juan Gonzalez could turn some heads playing at tight end and defensive end this year.