The Raiders, fresh out of a battle with Bloomingdale, will look to get back on track this Friday at Tampa Bay Tech.
The Plant City Raiders have been chasing victory since winning their 2020 season opener, and they’ve certainly gotten close in their last two games.
Last week’s home game against Bloomingdale, a 37-20 loss, saw the Raiders hang in there against the undefeated Bulls. Plant City only trailed by nine points heading into halftime and by 10 heading into the fourth, but Bloomingdale’s defense was able to shut the PCHS offense out in the fourth quarter and its offense added an insurance touchdown that put the win out of the Raiders’ reach.
It looks like the previous week’s bye was helpful for the PCHS offense. This is especially true of quarterback Nick Felice, who bounced back from a three-interception game against Manatee with an efficient stat line: 13 completions on 20 attempts (a jump in single-game completion rate from 45 percent to 65 percent) for 174 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Mario Williams caught both of Felice’s touchdown passes, caught a team-high six balls for 81 yards and chipped in defensively, too, by picking off Bulls quarterback Tre Simmons. Transfer Armani Rhone had his biggest game yet with three catches for 58 yards, good for a team-high 19.3 yards per catch.
Junior running back Reggie Bush, whose parents must have been able to see into the future when they picked his name, is still on fire. Bush has run for 100-plus yards in all three of Plant City’s games this season and just posted a season-high 135 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Bush and fellow junior Romello Jones (who had four carries for 41 yards and one lost fumble against Bloomingdale) have given the Raiders a strong one-two punch in the offensive backfield.
This week has the Raiders traveling to Tampa to play Tampa Bay Tech, which just snapped its own two-game losing streak with a 47-6 win at East Bay last week.
The Titans (2-2) made quick work of the Indians (1-2), scoring 41 of their 47 points in the first half and holding the home team scoreless until the fourth quarter. Tech quarterback David Wright carved the East Bay defense up for 243 passing yards (68.2 percent completion rate) and three touchdowns, plus two of the team’s three rushing touchdowns.
Other than the Titans’ season opener at Steinbrenner, where freshman running back Rod Gainey gained 130 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and sophomore backup quarterback Charles Coney completed seven passes for 106 yards, the TBT offense has depended on Wright to get things done in 2020. The senior has thrown for 792 yards and an average of 20.3 yards per completion, eight touchdowns and just two interceptions. Keeping an eye on Wright will be the PCHS defense’s top priority Friday night, and they’d do especially well to try and get some pressure on him — both of Wright’s fumbles this season were recovered by the defense. Senior Jamari Gassett (15 catches, 448 yards, four touchdowns) has been Wright’s go-to guy this season.
Gainey ran for 35 yards against the Bulls, which was the most a Tech running back (or quarterback) has gained against an opponent since his big night against Steinbrenner. Tech’s 64 total rushing yards were the most the team has gained on an opponent since Steinbrenner by a large margin — the Titans finished with eight rushing yards in their 34-14 loss to Gaither and with 37 in their 25-22 loss to Bloomingdale. Unless Tech has some new tricks up its sleeve ready to go this week, Plant City likely won’t have much to worry about on the ground.
If the Raiders’ defense can keep Tech’s aerial attack in check, there’s a very real chance Plant City can finally get that win it’s been chasing.
Friday’s kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and if you can’t go to the game, you can watch online at NFHSNetwork.com.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
at Bloomingdale, 7:30 p.m.
Last week, the Durant Cougars (2-1) handed Sumner (3-1) its first loss in program history, 34-6. The Cougars looked strong on both sides of the ball and only allowed the Stingrays’ defense to put a touchdown on the board with a fumble recovery. Durant has now scored 61 points and allowed just 19 in its last two games.
This week, they’ll travel to Bloomingdale to take on a 3-0 Bulls team that just out-dueled Plant City on the road. Though the end result — a win — was the same as the previous two weeks, that game was different for this year’s Bulls in that it was the first time they weren’t shut out in the first half. With Bloomingdale on the schedule this week and another road game at Lakeland next week, Durant has officially entered the hardest stretch of its schedule.
Last week, the Strawberry Crest Chargers hosted the Lakeland Dreadnaughts and lost, 44-0, to the 2-0 Polk County powerhouse. Lakeland scored 35 of its 44 points in the first half and became the first Chargers (0-4) opponent to hold the team scoreless in a game this season.
The Chargers now enter their bye week and will prepare for their Oct. 16 game at Plant City.
IN OTHER NEWS
FHSAA regional tournament matchups, which were determined by blind draw, were released Wednesday. Here’s what’s in store for our area teams in November:
Play-in games (Nov. 13)
Leto at Durant
Bloomingdale at Plant City
George Jenkins at Strawberry Crest
QUARTERFINALS (Nov. 20)
Tampa Bay Tech/Bartow winner @ Leto/Durant winner
Bloomingdale/Plant City winner @ East Bay/Pinellas Park winner
George Jenkins/Strawberry Crest winner @ Armwood/Sickles winner