Friday, May 25, 2018
Sports

For Plant, 45-6 loss in Class 7A football final can't dim joy of the journey

ORLANDO — As the final seconds mercifully ticked off the Camping World Stadium clock Friday night, Plant players and coaches shed a few tears and exchanged bear hugs. A perfect 13-0 season came to a crashing halt in a 45-6 loss to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class 7A state final.

The only other time Plant lost a state final in five other appearances was in 2010 … to St. Thomas Aquinas.

Those facts weren't going to ruin an otherwise notable season. It started in Mobile, Ala., with a 51-21 win over Bryant, included a 29-27 win over rival Armwood and was kept alive by a blocked punt against Lakeland in the final minute that led to the winning touchdown in the region semifinals.

Unlike some other Plant championship teams, there was no true superstar. Senior quarterback Dane Frantzen turned in a tremendous season, accounting for more than 3,000 yards of offense. And seniors Whop Philyor, Thomas Allen, Juwan Burgess, Kyle Trina, Aaron King, Jamil Thomas and Drew Miller were instrumental to the winning streak.

"It's been an amazing season," Allen said. "No one thought that we could even get here. It's been so much fun. I wouldn't change anything for the world."

Coach Robert Weiner, who is in his 12th season at Plant, has coached four state championship teams since 2006. He realized it would take a near perfect effort to make it five.

"I'm incredibly proud of my guys for the season they had," Weiner said. "It's one of the greatest groups of young men I've ever been around in my entire life. I couldn't be happier to call a group Plant Panthers.

"(Friday) was a joy to be with them. There were many, many times of celebration of who they are and where they've been. It was an undefeated season heading into this game and nobody thought they would make it to the state championship game. I love these guys and I love them just as much now as I did before the game."

Weiner will be back next season to make another run. There is still plenty of talent returning in 2017, including tight end Judge Culpepper, linebacker Micah McFadden and running back Ty Thompson.

But next year wasn't on the minds of the graduating players.

"I wish we could go back and redo it," Frantzen said. "But you can't do that. I've just got to move on to the next chapter. It's hard for me to think that it's the 15th week and it's over. I never wanted it to end."

Staff writer Bob Putnam contributed to this story.

     
Comments
Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

The Rays made a major trade Friday afternoon, sending All-Star closer Alex Colome and OF Denard Span to the Mariners.The return is two minor-leaguers, RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Tommy Romero. The Rays also sent cash to the Mariners.Span, a Tampa produc...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Stand down on anthem, NFL

Stand down on anthem, NFL

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Updated: 1 hour ago
For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

By JOEY JOHNSTONTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For openers, the Rays will use RHP Sergio Romo, the 35-year-old career reliever, as tonight's starter against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.Romo is making his third career "sta...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs’ Gerald McCoy welcomes Vita Vea to his rookie school

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy welcomes Vita Vea to his rookie school

TAMPA — Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has always been generous with his time, staying after practice to work with younger players. That should be a real added benefit for first-round pick Vita Vea.RELATED: More Bucs coverage"That's my M.O.'' Mc...
Updated: 5 hours ago
The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Stanley Cup final begins Monday in the unlikeliest of places, in a city brand-new to major pro sports and suddenly the center of the hockey world: Las Vegas, whose Golden Knights could become the first expansion team to win a championship.And whi...
Updated: 6 hours ago
The Bucs’ Mike Evans is among the NFL’s best receivers, except when it came to this

The Bucs’ Mike Evans is among the NFL’s best receivers, except when it came to this

TAMPA — Only three players in NFL history have posted 1,000-yard receiving seasons in each of his first four years seasons: Randy Moss, A.J. Green and the Bucs' Mike Evans.RELATED: More Bucs coverageBut by Evans' standards, 2017 was "proba...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Now let it sink in: 60 straight baseball wins quite the feat

Now let it sink in: 60 straight baseball wins quite the feat

FORT MYERS — It had been more than two years since Greg Olsen had to give one of those talks; the kind in which silver linings abound, while across the field, a different team celebrates winning gold.Olsen's Calvary Christian baseball team gath...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Why interceptions are up at One Buc Place

Why interceptions are up at One Buc Place

TAMPA — If the first few days of OTAs are any indication, the Bucs secondary could be much improved.Completions may be down, interceptions should be up.RELATED: More Bucs coverage"A lot of interceptions,'' coach Dirk Koetter said Thursday' afte...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Baseball: Pinellas-Hillsborough all-star game this weekend

Baseball: Pinellas-Hillsborough all-star game this weekend

The Pinellas vs. Hillsborough senior all-star game will be played on Sunday at 7 at Tropicana Field. Here are the rosters for each team:PinellasNathan Campbell (Boca Ciega); Derek Gray (Dunedin), Lucas Smith (Northeast), Michael Regan (CCC), Tanner B...
Updated: 7 hours ago