Stephen Reaves was Plant's senior quarterback in 2002 and Darlee Nelson was the coach. The Panthers went 4-6 that year. After graduation, Reaves went on to play at Michigan State before transferring to Southern Mississippi in spring 2005. This week Reaves, a junior, is focused on helping the Golden Eagles (8-4) beat Houston (9-3) in Friday's Conference USA Championship (ESPN2, 8 p.m.). He's also keeping an eye on 13-0 Plant, which plays in a Class 4A state semifinal Friday night. Times staff writer Scott Purks caught up with Reaves on Monday for a chat via cell phone as he drove his Toyota 4Runner through a car wash in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Can you believe Plant is undefeated and playing in a state semifinal (against Miami Booker T. Washington)?
It's exciting and I hear all of South Tampa is really fired up. I talk to friends living down there and they tell me how excited everybody is. I wish I could go to Friday's game, but I'm kind of busy.
Have you followed Plant's progress through the years?
I have and I'll tell you what, I could tell a few years ago that (coach) Bob Weiner was pointing things in the right direction. I was back in town in Weiner's first year (three years ago) and I dropped by during an offseason workout to see what was up. Right away I saw the kids were disciplined and together.
Have you seen quarterback Robert Marve play?
I haven't, but I've heard plenty about him. My friends down there have seem him and they say he slings it around better than I did. They love to give me a hard time comparing us.
Has your dad (former Florida Gator and NFL quarterback) John Reaves caught any of Plant's games?
You know, he's been too busy flying everywhere trying to catch my games. He's had to travel a little bit to catch our games.
How about (former Plant teammate, wide receiver) Mike Williams (now playing with the Detroit Lions)? What do you think about him catching just his first pass of the season last week?
The last time I talked to Mike was about five months ago and we really didn't talk that much. ... I do think he'll be okay. He's a tremendous athlete and a hard worker. I know Detroit has had some offensive problems and that hasn't worked in his favor.
How about you? How would you assess what's happened the past few years?
I feel great. Making the move from Michigan State was definitely a good thing for me. I haven't started this season, but I've played in just about every game and made some good contributions. (Reaves has completed 37-of-72 for 488 yards, two touchdowns, one interception).
There's nothing like playing in a championship game, whether it's in college or high school, is there?
It's a once-in-a-lifetime type thing. I mean the whole school gets fired up. Our school is fired up for our game and I'm sure Plant is really fired up. It's just the greatest experience you could imagine.