Saturday, March 17, 2018

Hillsborough: Sunday morning quarterback

By the numbers

1 Playoff victories in Newsome's first nine seasons of existence.

2 Playoff victories for Newsome this season.

14 Yards, the longest run for Tampa Catholic in its 10-7 loss to Clearwater Central Catholic. By comparison, CCC had seven runs longer than 14 yards.

40 Playoff victories (including those later forfeited) for Armwood in the Sean Callahan era. Callahan made a point to tell reporters that defensive coordinator Matt Thompson has been on his coaching staff for all 40.

1,027 Yards rushing, unofficially, Robinson RB Martin Ruiz has for the season after his 152-yard effort in a 22-19 win over Lakewood.

5,576 Career yards rushing, unofficially, for Carrollwood Day's Robert Davis after he totaled 101 yards in a 56-28 loss to Naples First Baptist. Davis broke Hillsborough County's career rushing mark last week, a record once held by Riverview's Avious Steadman.

Did you know?

Newsome senior QB/MLB/P Will Worth has had two games this year in which he has amassed at least 100 rushing and passing yards. Both were against Durant.


"They're playing beyond the expectations of us." — Matt Thompson, Armwood defensive coordinator, on his unit, which had already lost CB Aaron Covington (broken arm) and lost MLB Marcus Jacobs (ankle) early in Friday's 9-7 win at Hillsborough

"The first loss against CCC was a tough pill to swallow. We felt if we scored three touchdowns this time we could win. We were able to hold them on defense. We just couldn't finish drives." — Bob Henriquez, Tampa Catholic coach, after the Crusaders' 10-7 loss to Clearwater Central Catholic

"They spied two players on our quarterback, which is smart. They did a nice coaching job, they really did." — Earl Garcia, Hillsborough coach, on Armwood's defensive scheme against Terriers QB Dwayne Lawson

On those days of practice when Plant's defense would get the better of the offense, players rushed to claim ownership of a bricklike trophy topped by an upright mallet.

The slab served as a mocking testament to their dominance of coach Robert Weiner's vaunted offense.

"RIP Weiner Ball, 2004-2012," read a banner across the front of the trophy last week. "Here lies the (remnants) of Robert Weiner's offense buried by the Plant defense."

Orlando Dr. Phillips' defense took its turn Friday against the visiting Panthers.

In their earliest playoff exit since 2005, the Panthers were held scoreless on offense and limited to 91 yards — their worst performance in at least a half-dozen years — in a 24-7 loss in the regional semifinals.

"We couldn't find anything that worked," Weiner said after the game. "We tried every scheme that we had, but they were a little more physical than we were and a little faster."

Plant's offensive futility was never more evident than during a particularly ugly stretch in the second half, when Dr. Phillips held a 14-0 lead.

Plant failed to pick up a first down on four straight possessions, three of them ending with sacks of quarterback Aaron Banks. The third takedown led to a fumble recovered by Dr. Phillips.

By the time the Panthers finally moved the chains, there was little more than a minute left in the game and Dr. Phillips had inserted a number of reserves.

"That was the greatest defensive effort I've seen in 20 years at Dr. Phillips," said coach Rodney Wells, an alum and former Syracuse linebacker who took over the program two years ago after being an assistant there for many years.

While nothing pointed to this sort of end for Plant, there had been signs of slippage in Weiner's offense this year.

The Panthers averaged 29.2 points, their lowest since scoring 24.2 per game in 2005, Weiner's second year at Plant and the junior year of then-quarterback Robert Marve. Perhaps not so coincidentally, that was also the last time Plant was knocked out before the region finals.

This was also the first year the Panthers didn't have a three-star college recruit at one of the skill positions. Quarterback Aaron Banks, running back Wesley Bullock and receiver Tristan Cooper are all expected to continue their playing careers in college but none brought in recruiters like Marve, Aaron Murray or James Wilder Jr.

Additionally, the Panthers lost top lineman Richy Klepal, a four-star prospect and FSU commitment, to a career-ending head injury after the second week.

So just a year after averaging 36.9 points — a touchdown more than this fall's team — en route to the 8A title, Plant was ill-equipped to handle a relentless and talented foe it had beaten 49-13 the previous season.

"They've been through a lot of adversity," Weiner said. "We had a lot of guys who got injured and couldn't play, but our kids kept fighting up until the last minute."

No, the Dr. Phillips Panthers won't get a mallet-topped trophy to prove its dominance of Plant. Instead, and most important, they get to play another game for the really big trophy Plant denied them in 2011.

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