Around the county in 30 days
A daily spring preview of every football program in the county.
Coach: Jason Strunk (first season)
Last season: 6-5 (lost to Kissimmee Osceola 34-17 in region quarterfinals)
District: 5A-7 (Brandon, East Bay, Newsome, Bloomingdale)
Key losses: OT Mark Popek, RB Keith Dawson, RB Sirchauncey Holloway (transfer), WR Adrian Sykes, S Michael Sykes, LB Chase Thompson,
DT Arsenio Durant, LB Brent Butler, DB/K John Dupree, WR Zack Jones
Who's back: QB Clint Stearns, TB/LB/S Duran Lowe, DE/OLB/TE/RB Denzel Drone, WR Cortez Hargett, WR Justin Lewis, CB Brian Goodman,
OL Eddie Rosenbaum, OT Jordan Prestwood
What's new: Strunk, a born-and-raised Pennsylvanian new to Florida, hopes to take the program to the next level after Kevin Kelley took the Raiders to the playoffs the past two seasons. He loses his top two ballcarriers in Holloway and Dawson, so the Raiders must replace more than 1,700 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. But look for Plant City to move to a more pass-oriented offense, putting the ball in the hands of Stearns. Hargett will play a prominent role at receiver, and Strunk likes Lowe's hard-nosed running style that reminds him of his coal-region roots. Strunk will make the defensive calls and hopes to create a ball-hawking 3-4 defense. "It's a defense I think the kids will enjoy playing where they're reacting more than thinking."
Audible: "The idea of spring football is new to me. In Pennsylvania, you can't put pads on until Aug. 1. So there was no sense of urgency. We didn't run too many plays because I didn't want to confuse the kids. I got to see who can do what, so I'm excited about what we were able to accomplish." — Strunk
Did you know?: Plant City offensive coordinator Wayne Ward, a former standout running back for the Raiders, is immortalized on YouTube. Look up his name on the site for his bone-rattling block that broke Andre Davis' 76-yard punt touchdown return in Virginia Tech's 2000 game against West Virginia.
Eduardo A. Encina, Times staff writer
Aug. 29 vs. Tampa Bay Tech
Sept. 5 at Durant
Sept. 12 at Blake
Sept. 19 vs. Riverview
Sept. 26 at Bloomingdale
Oct. 3 vs.
Oct. 10 vs.
Oct. 16 at
Oct. 24 vs. Newsome
Nov. 7 at
Nov. 14 vs.