TAMPA — Plant coach Robert Weiner and his starting quarterback, senior James Few, have to see eye to eye on everything. But they disagree on one thing when it comes to Few’s development into one of the bay area’s steadiest signal callers.
After throwing a career-high six touchdowns in a 54-21 romp over Orlando Boone in the Class 8A region quarterfinals, Few will lead the Panthers into arguably their toughest postseason test Friday on their path to a fifth state title game in six years.
Few, son of Plant co-defensive coordinator John Few, is as confident as ever. He credits an offensive line that has given him time and a receiving corps that has been able to offer big plays downfield.
“I feel confident I can do my job and spread the ball around and get the ball where it needs to be,” Few said. “We’re really hitting our stride and starting to jell at the right time of the year. The O-line is playing awesome. We’re getting better every week, and that’s a point of emphasis. Our wideouts are making unbelievable plays across the board every week.”
In Few’s eyes, his growth parallels that of his teammates. Weiner agrees. Where they differ is when Few blossomed into a leader, one capable of leading Plant to another state title.
“I think both were things I had to work on, but I had to work on my play first before I was confident enough in myself,” Few said. “You have to know what you’re doing before you can start delegating and trying to lead.”
“He’s wrong,” said Weiner, also Plant’s quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. “And it’s not surprising that he’s wrong that way because that’s the way James thinks. He thought he had to prove something else to the guys, and he had already proven what he needed to prove.”
Taking the reins of a position that included predecessors like Phillip Ely, Aaron Murray and Robert Marve — all state champion quarterbacks — Few knew early his best route was to be himself.
“I remember when I was younger and Phillip was asked the same questions,” Few said. “I remember the answer he gave. He couldn’t be Aaron Murray. He had to be Phillip Ely. Now, I’ve got to be James Few and not Phillip Ely.”
And being James Few has been instrumental to Plant’s success. Weiner says Few had the leadership qualities before he honed his football skills.
“He has a true love for team above self,” Weiner said. “Our kids really respond to James. There’s an unspoken ultimate trust in him and a trust that he cares and is going to do the right thing on and off the field. He is one who is out in front of the crowd to show them which way to go, but still finds himself amongst them. That’s a pretty amazing trait.”
Weiner said the greatest moment of Plant’s season came in the 35-7 preseason loss to Miami Columbus. Few was competing with junior Aaron Banks for the starting job. After a Banks fumble was returned for a touchdown, it was Few who boosted his competitor’s morale. Banks then went out and led Plant’s only touchdown drive.
“That’s who James is,” Weiner said. “That’s really a big moment. And in the end, that’s the kind of guy people respond to.”
Few is a smart player — his 6.12 weighted grade point average and No. 19 class rank speak to that. On the field, he hasn’t made many mistakes, which has been crucial. He has completed 65.4 percent of his passes, but in Plant’s past five games that’s up to 70.1 percent (including 69.6 percent against Armwood and 75.0 against Robinson). He has thrown 24 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions.
And now, Dr. Phillips presents the most important challenge of the season.
“I feel more confident every week in my own shoes,” Few said. “But with my teammates getting better around me, it takes me to a whole new level of confidence. Just like any playoff game, we know it could be our last week so we play with that edge, especially as seniors. We need to soak everything up and attack everything we do.
“Coach Weiner says when you get to the threshold and you’re at the door, you can’t tiptoe through the door, you have to run right through it.”
Back on the same page.