TAMPA — After suffering a back injury Friday, Plant senior quarterback Phillip Ely's status for this week's Class 5A state semifinal against Lakeland remains uncertain.
Panthers coach Robert Weiner said more will be known Monday, when Ely, who left Friday's 21-13 win over Countryside in the first quarter with back spasms, sees the team doctor and the results of an MRI exam performed Saturday are read.
"I know that a lot of the pain has subsided," Weiner said. "I would say it's a day-to-day thing right now."
The Panthers (11-2) are two wins away from their third straight state title and fourth in five years.
If Ely is unable to play, senior backup Nick Sanders, who made his only start of the season in Week 2 against Hillsborough, would start against the Dreadnaughts.
Ely has dealt with his share of injuries just this year. He suffered a right leg muscle strain in a preseason game against Bradenton Manatee, causing him to miss some of Plant's season opener vs. Tampa Bay Tech and the entirety of a win against Hillsborough.
Weiner said Ely, an Alabama commitment, wouldn't necessarily have to practice this week for him to play this Friday.
"It's not like Phillip needs to practice to have a command of the offense," Weiner said. "We've been through this before earlier in the year where we prepared both Phillip and Nick to play. Those have been good trial runs for us."
Weiner said the latest injury is similar to the one that kept Ely, who is 28-2 as a starter, out of the first three games — one preseason and two regular-season contests — of 2009.
"In some cases, it's a condition that doesn't go away, but he hasn't been dealing with a pain factor with it until now," Weiner said.