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Kings of Tampa Bay??


WindsorCT
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Tampa Bay Area has a couple contenders this season….TBT and Jesuit should be favored to at least get to Semis. The two wild cards are Armwood and Wharton. Armwood has got a nice transfer from Pasco county (go figure) and one from from Tampa Catholic. Wharton could very well contend for a state title. They recruited better than Jimbo at A&M….3 QB’s, a 3*DE, a 3*DB, and the biggest fish in Stacey Gage from IMG. #2 RB IN 2024. Thoughts on Hillsborough side of things anyone?? Oh and I believe TBT, Armwood, and Wharton are in the same district….

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44 minutes ago, WindsorCT said:

Tampa Bay Area has a couple contenders this season….TBT and Jesuit should be favored to at least get to Semis. The two wild cards are Armwood and Wharton. Armwood has got a nice transfer from Pasco county (go figure) and one from from Tampa Catholic. Wharton could very well contend for a state title. They recruited better than Jimbo at A&M….3 QB’s, a 3*DE, a 3*DB, and the biggest fish in Stacey Gage from IMG. #2 RB IN 2024. Thoughts on Hillsborough side of things anyone?? Oh and I believe TBT, Armwood, and Wharton are in the same district….

Here's what I have as a Tampa Bay area top 20 heading into the season (I did also include Polk County) 

 

 

Tampa Bay Top 20

 

1. Lakeland

2. Tampa Jesuit

3. Tampa Bay Tech

4. Lakewood

5. Berkeley Prep

6. Lakeland Christian

7. Clearwater Central Catholic

8. Tampa Gaither

9. Wharton

10. Armwood

11. Lake Gibson

12. Plant City

13. Lake Wales

14. Bartow

15. Clearwater

16. Tampa Catholic

17. Palmetto

18. Mitchell

19. Braden River

20. Manatee

 

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I know I am living in the past but what happened to Plant, how did they collapse so fast? I know they had 2 bad years, but they are coming off a decent 6-4 season. I mean they won against teams they should and got beat by better teams.

It just feels weird that a team that had such a long tenure of success isn't even in the conversation anymore.

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37 minutes ago, gatorman-uf said:

I know I am living in the past but what happened to Plant, how did they collapse so fast? I know they had 2 bad years, but they are coming off a decent 6-4 season. I mean they won against teams they should and got beat by better teams.

It just feels weird that a team that had such a long tenure of success isn't even in the conversation anymore.

I know their long-time coach went to coach at U. Toledo so that probably hurts them a great deal.  

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41 minutes ago, gatorman-uf said:

I know I am living in the past but what happened to Plant, how did they collapse so fast? I know they had 2 bad years, but they are coming off a decent 6-4 season. I mean they won against teams they should and got beat by better teams.

It just feels weird that a team that had such a long tenure of success isn't even in the conversation anymore.

Looking at their region I could see them getting back to the playoffs this year as a wild card but Plant hasn't been the same program since their coach left

 

Basically a Manatee now, a once great power turned average program 

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1 hour ago, gatorman-uf said:

I know I am living in the past but what happened to Plant, how did they collapse so fast? I know they had 2 bad years, but they are coming off a decent 6-4 season. I mean they won against teams they should and got beat by better teams.

It just feels weird that a team that had such a long tenure of success isn't even in the conversation anymore.

Two things happened. 

1. There long time coach went to Toledo as someone else said. 
2. Jesuit took advantage of the coaching change and starting plucking some kids away. Jesuit is only 10 minutes down the road from Plant

I do see Plant coming back slowly if they can keep the coaching stability. They are a public school but run things like a private school. Plant donors dump a ton of money into the school and facility’s. They’ve got a lot of sophomore and junior talent right mow

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56 minutes ago, ColumbiaHighFan2017class said:

Looking at their region I could see them getting back to the playoffs this year as a wild card but Plant hasn't been the same program since their coach left

 

Basically a Manatee now, a once great power turned average program 

That’s actually a great comparison with Manatee. Almost identical situations 

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30 minutes ago, WindsorCT said:

Two things happened. 

1. There long time coach went to Toledo as someone else said. 
2. Jesuit took advantage of the coaching change and starting plucking some kids away. Jesuit is only 10 minutes down the road from Plant

I do see Plant coming back slowly if they can keep the coaching stability. They are a public school but run things like a private school. Plant donors dump a ton of money into the school and facility’s. They’ve got a lot of sophomore and junior talent right mow

Doesn't Jesuit only accept underclassmen transfers? (Freshman and sophomores)

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33 minutes ago, ColumbiaHighFan2017class said:

Doesn't Jesuit only accept underclassmen transfers? (Freshman and sophomores)

Historically, that's the way they have operated.   But a couple of years ago, they accepted an incoming senior . . . who happened to be a really good QB who had a brother (incoming freshman) who was a really good DE.   Just a coincidence, I suspect.  B)

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33 minutes ago, Perspective said:

Historically, that's the way they have operated.   But a couple of years ago, they accepted an incoming senior . . . who happened to be a really good QB who had a brother (incoming freshman) who was a really good DE.   Just a coincidence, I suspect.  B)

But they are still far from being a "private school recruiting powerhouse who only wins off transfers?"

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24 minutes ago, ColumbiaHighFan2017class said:

But they are still far from being a "private school recruiting powerhouse who only wins off transfers?"

They’ve always been a top tier Hillsborough team, could never finish the job though. Always lost to South Florida team in semis so never considered in Plant and Armwood status…until last season of course 

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4 minutes ago, WindsorCT said:

They’ve always been a top tier Hillsborough team, could never finish the job though. Always lost to South Florida team in semis so never considered in Plant and Armwood status…until last season of course 

Armwood and plant lost just as many times to a SFL powerhouse

 

I only remember plant and armwood getting one win each during their recent heyday in the finals, the biggest difference is plant and armwood were always in the north so they would face SFL in the finals while Jesuit usually was region 3 and would lose to SFL in semifinals

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5 minutes ago, ColumbiaHighFan2017class said:

Armwood and plant lost just as many times to a SFL powerhouse

 

I only remember plant and armwood getting one win each during their recent heyday in the finals, the biggest difference is plant and armwood were always in the north so they would face SFL in the finals while Jesuit usually was region 3 and would lose to SFL in semifinals

Your correct on Jesuit….just bad luck of the draw. 2000’s to current Armwood has some success against SF teams. Off the top of my head I believe Armwood beat Booker T twice in semis and lost once to them. Went 1-1 against Dwyer in semis. Beat Central in the 2011 final. Other than that, they haven’t competed too much against Central and NW in the state finals. Some of those Central teams they faced were at another level. Plant hasn’t had much success against STA. They’ve been blown out in the finals they played them. 

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Just now, WindsorCT said:

Your correct on Jesuit….just bad luck of the draw. 2000’s to current Armwood has some success against SF teams. Off the top of my head I believe Armwood beat Booker T twice in semis and lost once to them. Went 1-1 against Dwyer in semis. Beat Central in the 2011 final. Other than that, they haven’t competed too much against Central and NW in the state finals. Some of those Central teams they faced were at another level. Plant hasn’t had much success against STA. They’ve been blown out in the finals they played them. 

Armwoods best team they ever had in 2011 got lucky and caught Dalvin Cook as a sophomore. The next two state finals Central made Armwood look silly. 

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1 minute ago, WindsorCT said:

Armwoods best team they ever had in 2011 got lucky and caught Dalvin Cook as a sophomore. The next two state finals Central made Armwood look silly. 

Also yearby was on that team and while he never got to the heights after high school of dalvin, he was a great complementary back in high school

 

Plus in 2012 armwood lost in regional finals to Gainesville

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6 minutes ago, WindsorCT said:

Your correct on Jesuit….just bad luck of the draw. 2000’s to current Armwood has some success against SF teams. Off the top of my head I believe Armwood beat Booker T twice in semis and lost once to them. Went 1-1 against Dwyer in semis. Beat Central in the 2011 final. Other than that, they haven’t competed too much against Central and NW in the state finals. Some of those Central teams they faced were at another level. Plant hasn’t had much success against STA. They’ve been blown out in the finals they played them. 

Who did Plant actually beat to win their title (I like to say it was 2008 or 2009 I believe?) 

 

I thought they only won it once but I can't remember who they actually beat to win that title 

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3 hours ago, gatorman-uf said:

I know I am living in the past but what happened to Plant, how did they collapse so fast? I know they had 2 bad years, but they are coming off a decent 6-4 season. I mean they won against teams they should and got beat by better teams.

It just feels weird that a team that had such a long tenure of success isn't even in the conversation anymore.

*** Long Post Warning ***

I could probably write a dissertation on this if I wanted to, but I'll give you the Reader's Digest condensed version:

Robert Weiner coached his first season at Plant in 2004.  The team went 3-7 (3-2 in a 6-team district).  From 2005 to 2018, Plant won four state championships and 58 straight district games, compiling an overall record of 165-26-1. 

2019 was a strange season in many respects.  Plant finished 4-6 in what would turn out to be Weiner's final season.  They lost their first six games, but won their final four to finish second in the district.   In any of the previous 15 years, they would have made the playoffs (as district runner-up), but the system changed and they missed out by something like .001 points.  They would not have won a fifth state title, but they likely would have made some noise in the playoffs.

The six losses were against Armwood (who finished 12-2 with a 4th round playoff loss), Gaither (12-2 with a 3rd round loss), Tampa Bay Tech (8-4 with a 2nd round loss), Bloomingdale (9-3 with a 2nd round loss), Gonzaga, Md (8-3 with a playoff loss) and Steinbrenner (12-2 with a 4th round loss).  If you take the out-of-state games out of the equation, and losses to each other, Plant's first six opponents had a grand total of two regular season losses heading into the playoffs.  One of those two losses was a final regular season game when Chamberlain upset Steinbrenner (who had nothing to play for and reportedly rested several starters much of the game).  This loss moved someone up or down a category, which knocked Plant out of the playoffs.  

Coach Weiner also missed three of those first six games, serving a suspension (that was later overturned on appeal) for asking his director of operations to see if she could help find a place to spend the night for a kid who had been kicked out of his home (considered to be an impermissible benefit).   In any event, his absence/presence as head coach, offensive coordinator and play-caller was evident.  In their final four games, Plant outscored their opponents 164-20.  I dare say they were the only team in the state that didn't win a state title, but who nevertheless won their final four games on the field.

Not long after the 2019 season ended, Coach Weiner accepted a coaching job at the University of Toledo, where he remains.

In hindsight, the Plant administration waited way too long to start the new hire process and took way too long.  Not knowing what was going to happen and when it would happen, coaches, players and parents got in the ears of several of the Plant players/families.  Ultimately, Plant lost eight starters - four of whom already had D1 offers.  The departing players also included the top two (and only returning) QB's. 

Eventually, Plant hired a guy who had college coaching experience and who has coached Plant's JV team a few years prior.  In hindsight, the timing for this guy could not have been worse.  Just when he thought he'd be able to devote less time to the family business, his father-in-law passed away unexpectedly, requiring him to spend more time with work.   And then there was the whole Covid thing, when nothing was normal (and spring season was cancelled). 

With the new coach and the loss of players, the 2020 season was a bust.  Plant finished 2-6.  Ironically, they did make the playoffs  . . . but only because every team in the state made the playoffs.  :P  The head coach ultimately resigned after one season.  Hank Brown, who had been an assistant under Weiner, took over the reigns and led Plant to a winning season in his first year.  The Panthers went 6-4 in 2021, in large part based on the way that Hillsborough County does their football scheduling (basically, all teams are put into "tiers" based on their previous year's record and then, for the most part, and other than district games and long-standing rivalries, the teams are scheduled to play other teams in the same tier). 

Plant likely will struggle at the beginning of this season.  The play Wharton in the Kickoff Classic, then open with Tampa Bay Tech, followed by Berkeley on the road.  After that, they've got a chance to win seven, if not all, of their remaining eight games.  I would expect another 6-4, perhaps a 7-3 season.  8-2 is not out of the question, as Plant does have more talent this year than last. 

So, with all that said, Weiner's departure and the uncertainty that followed are, in my opinion, the largest contributors to Plant's drop.  And, yes, once that all started happening, and in addition to the kids who jumped ship, there is no doubt that Plant lost young players that live in the Plant district to both Jesuit and Berkeley. 

But, there is another factor that plays a huge roll in explaining both why Plant dropped off and why they will struggle to regain prominence:  as many of you have heard me say, Plant is an "A" rated school and it it at capacity.   Therefore, unless you live in the Plant district, you can't attend Plant, notwithstanding "school choice."  So, when kids/families in Hillsborough County are trying to decide where they want to go to high school to play football, Plant simply is not an option unless they live in the Plant district. 

As always, just my perspective on the matter. 

 

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36 minutes ago, ColumbiaHighFan2017class said:

Who did Plant actually beat to win their title (I like to say it was 2008 or 2009 I believe?) 

 

I thought they only won it once but I can't remember who they actually beat to win that title 

Plant's last state championship was in 2011.  That was the first year of 8A and Plant beat Miramar in the championship game. 

They beat Manatee in 2009, Lincoln in 2008 and Nease in 2006. 

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35 minutes ago, WindsorCT said:

Your correct on Jesuit….just bad luck of the draw. 2000’s to current Armwood has some success against SF teams. Off the top of my head I believe Armwood beat Booker T twice in semis and lost once to them. Went 1-1 against Dwyer in semis. Beat Central in the 2011 final. Other than that, they haven’t competed too much against Central and NW in the state finals. Some of those Central teams they faced were at another level. Plant hasn’t had much success against STA. They’ve been blown out in the finals they played them. 

Yes, STA seems to have had Plant's number, beating them in the finals in 2010 (James Wilder's senior year) and again in 2016. 

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1 hour ago, ColumbiaHighFan2017class said:

But they are still far from being a "private school recruiting powerhouse who only wins off transfers?"

As I have said before, Jesuit does its work before the kids start high school.   In other words, they get the future studs to "transfer" into Jesuit when they are entering the 9th grade. 

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5 minutes ago, Perspective said:

Yes, STA seems to have had Plant's number, beating them in the finals in 2010 (James Wilder's senior year) and again in 2016. 

From what I remember, I thought that 2010 team had a shot against STA. Plant had some terrible turnovers that game and they were forced to throw the ball late basically taking Wilder out of the offense. The 2016 team I think everyone knew STA was going to roll them over. All said, from basically 2000-2019, Plant and Armwood ran the county. They had some fun matchups too.

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