By Matt Mauney | Associate Editor
Friday’s game between Plant City and Durant is significant in more ways than one. There is a lot at stake for both programs — Class 7A District 8 standings, playoff implications, a cherished rivalry trophy and last — but certainly not least — bragging rights.
“You want the bragging rights,” said Plant City senior wide receiver Landon Galloway. “You want to be the No. 1 team, especially with it being a district game. It means everything to win it.”
Although this rivalry is not as old as others across the state, it has grown into one of the better ones in recent years.
This year’s meeting is no different.
The James L. Redman Memorial Cup
Any rivalry game carries more weight than just a notch in the win-loss statistics.
And in the Plant City-Durant rivalry, the addition of James L. Redman Memorial Cup five years ago added a little extra to the line.
Redman was a longstanding state representative and a Plant City native. He was also a lawyer for many years and active in the Plant City community.
The road named after Redman is also one of the connecting routes of the two high schools, which are separated by just 10 miles.
Two of his grandchildren played for the schools, with Chip Bowden as Durant’s quarterback and Aaron Sullivan as the center at Plant City High. The two are only a few months apart in age, and both graduated in 2006 to go on and play in college — Bowden at West Point and Sullivan at Campbell University (N.C.).
Their mothers, Redman’s daughters, are local principals — Pam Bowden at Durant and Susan Sullivan at Tomlin Middle.
Shortly after Redman died, it was suggested by his wife that a rivalry trophy be named in his honor. The Plant City-Durant game featuring two of his grandsons was the last football game Redman attended.
“He was a big supporter of athletics for young people and supported both programs,” said Jeanne Knotts, one of Redman’s three daughters, who also is involved with education as a guidance counselor at Plant City High. “Though very sick, he made the effort to attend the game and see the boys play each other.”
The trophy was introduced in 2007, and Plant City won 14-13. Despite Durant having more success lately, Plant City has been dominant in the rivalry, taking six of the last eight meetings, including a 4-1 advantage since the cup was introduced.
This year will mark a first in the history of the cup. All three of Redman’s daughters, his wife and his nine grandchildren all will be back to present the trophy to the winning school.
All bets are off
History has shown that records mean nothing in the rivalry between the Cougars and Raiders.
Last year, for example, Plant City entered the game unbeaten and came away with a dominating 43-12 win. Durant would have the last laugh, however, as the Cougars went on to win the district and advance to the state playoffs. The Raiders went 7-0 before losing their final three games of the season, missing the playoffs.
“Throw the records out the door,” says Plant City head coach Wayne Ward. “A lot of these kids know each other. They’ve grown up together. In a lot of ways, this is like a Florida-Florida State but within a city, and we’re fortunate to have two pretty good programs within miles of each other.”
Although his team advanced to the postseason, Durant’s loss to Plant City last year left a bitter taste in the mouth of head coach Mike Gottman.
“We haven’t won enough games in this rivalry,” he said. “We need to get some more wins and even up the series.”
The 2012 edition
There have been big meetings between these two schools in the past, but perhaps no bigger than what faces the Raiders and Cougars this year.
Durant comes in at 4-0, its best start in more than a decade. Plant City comes in at 3-1 and on a three-game winning streak after a season-opening loss at Strawberry Crest. Both teams are 1-0 in Class 7A District 8 play entering what could end up being the most crucial district match of the year.
The two teams are very different this year. Plant City comes in without several of the big-time performers that led to the big win a year ago. Gone are quarterback Bennie Coney, receiver Lamarlin Wiggins and running back Daz’mond Patterson. The Raiders also will be without defensive back Antwan Armstrong, who had three interceptions in last year’s game.
Galloway and defensive lineman and Michigan State commit Devyn Salmon are two of the key players that do return.
“It’s going to come down to execution and discipline,” Galloway said of the Raiders’ chances. “If we play fundamentally sound football, we’ll win this game.”
Galloway comes in with 176 receiving yards, but he could see his role increased with freshman running back Ervin Micheal out with a knee injury.
Durant is led by their running back tandem of Jamarlon Hamilton and Cris Atkins. The duo has nearly 700 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns combined. The Cougars have lived by their running game, averaging 174 rushing yards per game this year compared to just 38 passing per contest.
The Durant defense has been the other key for success. Until the second quarter in last week’s game against Wharton, the Cougars had only allowed seven points all season. Durant came away with a 13-12 win over the Wildcats last week, bringing their season total of points allowed to just 4.75 per game.
Durant senior offensive lineman Alex Wood put Friday’s matchup into perspective.
“It’s not really about records anymore as it is about competition between local rivals,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s a personal game.”
Contact Matt Mauney at email@example.com.
“It’s going to come down to execution and discipline. If we play fundamentally sound football, we’ll win this game.”
— Landon Galloway, Plant City senior WR
“I played backyard football with a couple of these kids. It’s going to be a good competition and come down to who plays the hardest and makes the plays.”
— Jamarlon Hamilton, Durant senior RB
“It comes down to who’s on top and being able to say that we beat you and being able to celebrate that win.”
— Hassan Bailey, Plant City junior LB
“Looking at the outcomes of the games in the past years, I think, for (the seniors), that’s a big deal. We just want to beat them good one time.”
— Alex Wood, Durant senior OL
Plant City has won six of the last eight meetings with Durant, including the last three.
2004 — PCHS, 38-24
2005 — PCHS, 45-32
2006 — DHS, 17-13
2007 — PCHS, 14-13
2008 — DHS, 25-6
2009 — PCHS, 27-24
2010 — PCHS, 27-21
2011 — PCHS, 43-12keylogger keylogger