We conclude our four-part football series — something old, something new, something borrowed — with something blue. The regular season kicks off with three big matchups in our coverage area — and all three just happen to boast at least one team that’ll be clad in blue.
Plant at Jesuit
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
The line: (according to Joe Pinkos’ Power Ratings) Plant by 3. Pinkos’ ratings are compiled statewide, calculated by a formula considering, among other things, strength of opposition and margin of victory
The history: The teams, located 5.45 miles apart on Himes Avenue, resurrected their rivalry last year. Plant’s 34-20 triumph at Dads Stadium in 2011 was the first meeting in 17 years. It is believed the schools want to make the game an annual occurrence.
X factor: Inclement weather washed out Jesuit’s spring game and last week’s preseason classic, meaning new Tigers QB Leland Saile makes his starting debut against (insert gulp) the nation’s 12th-ranked team.
Key matchup: Panthers coach Robert Weiner points to the trenches, where both teams are seasoned and solid on both sides. USF commits Robby “Bronco” Garcia and Cameron Ruff likely will go both ways for Jesuit, which Weiner hopes plays into Plant’s hands on what is sure to be a humid night. Weiner says his program (including JV) currently includes nine offensive linemen with Division-I promise.
Jesuit’s pick to click: WR/DB Reggie Brown has proven he can shine on the biggest stages (see 2011 Tampa Catholic game). We see the FAU commit jumping a route or two, taking a handoff on an end-around and perhaps catching a few short throws out in space.
Plant’s pick to click: Because we fully expect the Tigers to try and establish the run, OLB Mitchell Wright — another USF commit — will be in position to make a ton of tackles and harass Saile when Jesuit tries the play-action pass.
Fun factoid: This game will mark the first time Weiner, a 1983 Jesuit graduate who spent 15 years as a Tigers assistant, has ever coached a game on the opposing sideline at Corral Memorial Stadium.