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Plant City Observer Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018 3 weeks ago

What’s on Kline’s Mind? Checking that crystal ball

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How will our teams do in 2018? We can’t see the future, but we can at least make predictions.
by: Justin Kline Sports/Associate Editor

Every year, I try to answer the first question that comes to any football fan’s mind: “How will my team do this year?”

DURANT

This is a much trickier time for the Cougars, who have lost a great deal of 2017’s top contributors to graduation and have since lost more players in transfers. The offense is going to look completely different this year, even from the team’s spring jamboree game. The defense will return some players from 2017, but there will be a learning curve.

I think this is a rebuilding year for Durant, a project for head coach Mike Gottman to build up for the future. With the area’s most consistent coaching staff on board, the Cougars could pick up a handful of wins in their tough schedule, but nothing will come easy.

 

PLANT CITY

The Raiders are fortunate to have quarterback Braxton Plunk and wideout Mario Williams back on offense and have plenty of talent returning on defense. The team finally has consistency with Booth sticking around, something no one’s been able to say for many years. I consider this to be the most skilled roster in the area, even with lead running back Eric Wilson having left for Armwood in July. The Raiders do not have an easy schedule, which is true of all three Plant City-area teams, but I believe they’re in line to finish with the most wins of any of our teams.

Are they playoff material under the new system? I’m not going to touch that one just yet but, given the caliber of the Raiders’ 2018 opponents, the potential to rack up the points with some big wins is there.

 

STRAWBERRY CREST

This year will bring the same opponents as 2017, but in different locations. Spoto and King will have new coaches. The Chargers have lost key players, but they’ve gotten bigger on the offensive line and get back defensive stalwarts like Cody Newman and Tyson Rosania, who has moved to a more natural-fitting linebacker position. 

My guess is 2018 will be another step in the right direction for the program, but there’s still a long way to go before Crest threatens anyone for a playoff spot. 

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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