The Chargers visit the Raiders tomorrow night in the first Plant City-area crosstown rivalry game of the 2020 football season.
Friday night’s showdown at 1 Raider Place will kick off this year’s area rivalry series on the gridiron.
Strawberry Crest will head into the game fresh off of a bye week. The last time the Chargers (0-4) took the field — Oct. 2 — they hosted the Lakeland Dreadnaughts (2-1) and lost, 44-0. Two turnovers on three fumbles did Crest no favors against Lakeland, which held a 21-0 lead after the first quarter and a 35-0 lead after the second. Marcus Springfield led the Chargers on offense with 17 rushing yards on eight touches, recorded a team-high four total tackles on defense and also chipped in on special teams with 77 kickoff return yards.
Plant City is coming off of a 43-42 win at Tampa Bay Tech, a nail-biter that came down to the last play of the game — quarterback Nick Felice’s keeper — and saw several lead changes throughout the evening. The Raiders (2-2), who had lost back-to-back games with a bye in between, busted the slump by heavily favoring their passing game and forcing the Titans’ (2-3) defensive secondary to try and stop their all-county caliber wide receiver group.
The battle between Crest’s secondary and Plant City’s wideouts is worth a look here. Defending the pass has arguably been what the Chargers’ defense has done best in 2020. Not counting the Lakeland game — Bill Castle’s old-school offense is as run-heavy as you can get these days — Crest’s other three games saw the team hold quarterbacks to 25 completions on 51 attempts for 257 yards and four touchdowns against two interceptions. That’s about 85 passing yards on about eight completions per game.
It is important to note, however, that Crest has not faced a passing game as good all around as Plant City’s. Last week’s game at TBT put the Raiders’ potential on full display. Felice completed 30 of 38 pass attempts for 424 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions (one of which came from an unlucky bounce off the receiver’s hands). Mario Williams and Aramoni Rhone each caught seven passes for 85 yards and combined for three touchdowns: two for Rhone, one for Williams. The best receiving performance of the night belonged to slot receiver Reagan Ealy, who caught 12 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
If you can’t make it to any of this week’s games, you’re not out of luck: NFHSNetwork.com live streams every game, every week, and you can watch anywhere with a subscription.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
at Lakeland, 7:30 p.m.
Last week, the Durant Cougars (2-2) started their two-game road trip at Bloomingdale (4-0) and took a 30-0 loss. Offensive stats for the game were not available for either team at press time, but the Cougar defense did record two sacks and Aashton Kirkland forced and recovered a fumble.
This week, Durant will go to Lakeland to take on the Dreadnaughts. Lakeland will look to bounce back from last week’s 41-20 blowout loss to 2019 7A state semifinalist Venice, in which the Indians (5-1) scored 28 second-half points and threw for four touchdowns and 389 yards.