The Plant City Raiders will host the undefeated Jesuit Tigers on Friday.
Since a disappointing loss to Tampa Bay Tech in Week 1, the Plant City Raiders have bounced back with two strong wins to move to 2-1.
With a Bye Week in between, Plant City has racked up back-to-back shutouts in a 21-0 victory over Jefferson on Sept. 3 and a 35-0 win over Riverview last Friday, but this week they will face their toughest test of the season as they host the nationally-ranked Jesuit Tigers.
“I think that you have to play good teams to find out where you’re at,” head coach James Booth said. “If you want to go far in the playoffs and make a deep run, you’re eventually going to be playing these types of teams, this caliber of teams. Playing them is a good opportunity for our guys. It’ll be a great atmosphere and they’ve got players. They’ve got some Division 1 players and really just disciplined players, so it makes it tough but the good thing is that our defense is really similar to what they’re running over there so our guys have seen that and they know where we want to attack and where we want to hit. Again, it just goes back to doing what we do. Executing, eliminating pre-snap penalties, missed assignments and mental errors, those things that are going to really dictate how we execute when we get against a good team.”
In Plant City’s two wins they’ve attacked their opponents in very different fashions, largely utilizing the ground game to run through Jefferson while turning around and beating Riverview primarily through the air.
The Raiders totaled 281 rushing yards and just 85 passing yards against Jefferson, against Riverview however they racked up just 96 rushing yards while passing for a dazzling 303 yards and four touchdowns.
Offensively the Raiders have been led by quarterback Clinton Danzey, receiver Sincere Williams and a duo at running back in Reggie Bush Jr. and freshman Sidney Bennett.
Danzey has completed over 50% of his passes this seasons for 345 yards and three passing touchdowns, averaging 15 yards per completion. Most notably to Williams who has hauled in 234 of the team’s 418 total passing yards and two receiving touchdowns on 12 receptions, good for 19.5 yards per catch.
“I think we’re starting to gain some confidence,” Booth said. “Defensively we’ve pitched back-to-back shutouts, that’s one of the few times that we’ve done that, so our defense is starting to gain some confidence. Offensively we still have some guys coming back from injury and we’ll get a couple back this week so now we’re trying to get that to gel again. We had a really big rushing week going against Jefferson, last week we had a really good pass week so we’re starting to put everything together. If they try to take the run away, we can throw it. If they try to take the throw away, we can run it. I think we’re starting to understand a little more, especially on offense where a lot of our inexperience lies.”
Continuing to prove themselves as a premier prep football program, not just in the Tampa Bay area but in the nation, Jesuit has raced out to a 4-0 record that includes a signature 27-24 victory over perennial powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas out of Fort Lauderdale in Week 2. Around that game, the Tigers have routed Hillsborough High School, Bloomingdale and West Port in Ocala, averaging 30 points per game while allowing just 10.5 points against per game.
“Our focus is on us, it’s not necessarily on them,” Booth said. “It’s do what we do, control what we can control and if we can do that, I think that we can put ourselves in position to be successful. Now it’s on our guys to make plays and we have to make it happen. We can’t let them have multiple chances. We talked about it yesterday with the defense, if we have an opportunity for a turnover we have to make it happen, we can’t give them another shot. And the same thing just watching some of the teams that they’ve played, they’ve had big play opportunities that they’ve missed and you only get one chance. So we’re talking about capitalizing on those opportunities that we get. We can’t allow them to have multiple on offense and we can’t give it to them on defense.”