Plant Panthers (13-0) vs. St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders (11-2)

FHSAA Class 7A State Football Championship
8:00 PM EST Friday at Camping World Stadium, Orlando

Game Details, How To Watch/Listen & Live Updates

Tickets: $12 ($15 at the gate) general admission / $17 ($20 at the gate) reserved seating — can be purchased through Ticketmaster.com. Gates open 90 minutes prior to kickoff. All patrons will enter the stadium from Church Street. Parking is $10.

Live Updates: On Twitter at @FlaHSFootball | Pregame preview, halftime update, and end of game recap on Periscope.

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TV Broadcast: Spectrum Sports Florida (HD 1147 for Charter Subscribers in Central Florida and Tampa Bay)

Radio Broadcast: None

Internet Stream: Watch online at MySpectrumSports.com (there is a fee to watch the games)

The Drive To December

Plant: defeated Winter Haven, 59-6, in regional quarterfinals; defeated Lakeland, 25-21, in regional semifinals; defeated Viera, 35-7, in regional finals; defeated Lee, 27-19, in state semifinals.

St. Thomas Aquinas: defeated Palm Beach Lakes, 35-0, in regional quarterfinals; defeated Dwyer, 37-0, in regional semifinals; defeated Mater Academy, 50-10, in regional finals; defeated Venice, 46-8, in state semifinals.

Rankings

Plant: Ranked No. 2 in 7A by the Associated Press; Ranked No. 3 in 7A by Joe Pinkos.

St. Thomas Aquinas: Ranked No. 1 in 7A by the Associated Press; Ranked No. 1 in 7A by Joe Pinkos; Ranked No. 8 by MaxPreps; Ranked No. 6 by USA Today.

FHSAA State Series History

Plant: 20 state series appearances, three state championships, one runner-up appearance, 44-15 overall playoff record.

St. Thomas Aquinas: 34 state series appearances, nine state championships, seven runner-up appearances, 96-25 overall playoff record.

Head Coaches & Coaching Records

Plant: Robert Weiner, 13th year at Plant (144-26 overall)

St. Thomas Aquinas: Roger Harriott, second year (24-3 at Aquinas, one state championship) 10th year overall (101-18 overall after eight years at University School, one state title there).

Coaching Staffs

Plant: Robert Weiner – Head coach/offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach; Rob Smith – running backs; Sean Love – offensive line; Robert Marve – wide receivers; Jeff Murphy – tight ends; Mike Walsh – assistant offensive line; Neil Gallon – assistant wide receivers; Tyrone Thomas – assistant running backs; Kelly Everhart – assistant wide receivers; Hugh Dehnert – assistant offensive line.

St. Thomas Aquinas: Ryan Schneider – offensive coordinator; Ameer Riley – defensive coordinator; Reginald Harris – special teams coordinator; Steven Scott; Dave Billitier, Rob Biasotti, Adam Bolanos, Kelcey Brooks; Jim Gazzillo, Glenn Holt, Mike Kahn, Lee Martin, Thomas Mygrant, Vincent Panetta, Garin Patrick, Darryl Williams, Willie Wright.

Players To Watch

QB Jake Allen, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sr. – The Florida commitment led St. Thomas Aquinas back to the state championship game after a season where he threw for nearly 2,000 yards, 25 TD’s with only 6 interceptions. Allen will try to end his high school career with three consecutive state titles.

RB Michael Epstein, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sr. – Epstein leads the Raiders balanced offensive attack in rushing with 1,037 yards and 16 TD’s on the ground.

LB Andrew White, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sr. – White led Aquinas with 61 tackles, including 9.5 for loss.  Aquinas defense has allowed only 18 points in four playoff games.

QB Dante Frantzen, Plant, Sr. – Dual-threat QB for Panthers gained over 3,700 total yards and 49 total TD’s, with 30 TD’s and only five INTs through the air.  

LB Thomas Allen, Plant, Sr. – Indiana commit leads Plant defense with 137 total tackles and a whopping 52 tackles for loss, including six sacks.

The Skinny On Plant

The Plant Panthers have been one of the most successful programs in the state of Florida since Robert Weiner became head coach 13 years ago.  Plant won four state titles in six years between 2006-11, but this is the first trip back to Orlando for the Panthers since the 2011 state championship.  Plant allowed only 145 points in 13 games to this point and had some close calls in the playoffs against Lakeland and Lee.  Frantzen has been a dual-threat stalwart all year, and running back Whop Philyor also helps lead the Plant offense.  This game will be a step up in competition for the Panthers, however.

The Skinny On St. Thomas Aquinas

The Raiders come in on an eight-game winning streak and have moved back to #6 nationally according to USA Today.  Aquinas lost their opening game 27-23 at then four-time defending 4A state champion Booker T. Washington and then dropped a three-overtime heartbreaker in a nationally televised game at Bishop Gorman in week five.  But the Raiders come into this state championship game on fire and have outscored their four playoff opponents by a combined 168-18 with two shutouts.  And Aquinas blasted the third-ranked team in 7A, Venice, 46-8 last week in the state semifinals.  Allen and Epstein lead a balanced offensive attack, and White leads the defense along with Lashawn Paulin, who has 12.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks to lead the Aquinas defense.  This team has D-1 talent all over the field, and despite the fact Plant is also an excellent program, the Panthers haven’t seen anything like this St. Thomas Aquinas team.

The Picks

FloridaHSFootball.com: St. Thomas Aquinas 45, Plant 13
Joe Pinkos: St. Thomas Aquinas 8 over Plant