Here we look ahead to the biggest games of the 2021 season for Plant City, Durant and Strawberry Crest
Aug. 27: Plant City @ Tampa Bay Tech
Plant City will kick off their season with a tough matchup against Tampa Bay Tech, a game between two teams who both see themselves as very real playoff contenders heading into 2021.
The Titans and Raiders will be facing similar challenges in Week 1, with both teams rolling out new starters at quarterback and across multiple offensive skill positions. Tampa Bay Tech is fresh off of a deep playoff run in 2020, falling just one game short of a State Final Four berth with a 36-33 loss against Bloomingdale in the Regional Finals.
Sep. 17: Durant @ Newsome (Alafia River Rivalry)
If you look off in the distance on a Friday night in the fall, over the trees that line the pasture behind Durant High School’s practice field, you can see the bright lights shining from Newsome High School.
Any time you get a matchup between cross-town rivals it’s always a great time, but this one packs a punch. Not only did the two schools meet to kick off the 2020 season, a game that ultimately ended in a 13-10 overtime victory for Newsome, but the connection between the two schools runs deeper than the natural geographical rivalry for Durant’s new head coach Claybo Varnum.
Joe E. Newsome, the namesake for Newsome High School, was Varnum’s grandfather.
Sep. 24: Plant City vs. Jesuit
Jesuit regularly proves themselves as one of the better football programs in Hillsborough County and 2021 holds the same lofty expectations for the Tigers. Jesuit finished 2020 with a 14-1 record before falling to American Heritage, the eventual state champs, by a score of 16-13 in the 5A State Semifinals.
To be the best you’ve got to beat the best and Jesuit will be among Plant City’s toughest tests this season.
Sep. 24: Strawberry Crest vs. Freedom
Strawberry Crest struggled in 2020, finishing just 1-8 despite dropping two narrow contests against King and George Jenkins to start and end the year.
The Chargers’ lone win came against Freedom in a high-scoring affair, besting the Patriots 36-33, and you can likely look forward another exciting contest when Freedom heads to Strawberry Crest in 2021.
Oct. 1: Strawberry Crest vs. Wiregrass Ranch
One week after their battle with Freedom, Strawberry Crest will play host to Wiregrass Ranch in a district matchup.
Both teams are looking to gain some traction following their 2020 seasons and bounce back with strong years that they can build off of in 2021. This will be a solid mid-season measuring stick game for Crest and a test for Wiregrass if they’re truly ready to return to the level of success that they’ve had over the past five years, including seven or more wins in four of the past five seasons.
Oct. 8: Plant City vs. Bloomingdale
Bloomingdale will head to Plant City in early October after the two teams met twice in 2020, with the Bulls taking both contests.
Plant City played host to Bloomingdale in the regular season, falling 37-20, before traveling to Bloomingdale for a play-in game ahead of the 2020 Class 7A Playoffs. Bloomingdale once again came out victorious in the rematch, winning 35-21 en route to a State Final Four appearance, and Plant City is surely looking for revenge this year.
Oct. 15: Durant vs Plant City (Redman Cup)
The premier matchup in Plant City is the Redman Cup between Durant and Plant City.
With a new head coach leading the Cougars in Claybo Varnum and both teams carrying talented rosters and high expectations into 2021 after matching 5-5 records last season, this game needs no big introduction.
Oct. 29: Plant City vs. Newsome
Plant City will face Newsome late in the season, another local matchup for Raiders’ fans.
Just a few miles down State Road 39 and up Lithia Pinecrest Rd. lies Newsome High School. The Wolves finished strong with an 8-3 record last season and a run to the Regional Finals. A win over Newsome would be a statement Class 8A win for Plant City as their season nears an end.
Nov. 5: Strawberry Crest @ Leto
Head coach Phillip Prior, now in his third year with Strawberry Crest, has high hopes for the improvements that the Chargers can make in 2021.
This game will be a culmination of those improvements with a chance to wrap up the regular season with a big win over the Falcons.