Lee senior linebacker Keirston Johnson told me earlier this week that the Generals are “full of dogs who go out and compete like no other team.”
Johnson and company will have to be at their best when they visit Plant (12-0) on Friday night in a Class 7A state semifinal. The winner plays either St. Thomas Aquinas or Venice in the state title game next Friday in Orlando.
Lee (10-1) has been red hot on offense averaging just over 43 points per game. In fact, the Generals have scored 40 or more points in all but three games this season. The other weeks saw 39, 28 and 28 points on the scoreboard.
The home team, Plant owns a 36-1 record at home since 2011. That season marked the school’s last state championship and most recent loss at Dad’s Stadium.
The Panthers are in the state playoffs for the first time in three years while Lee is back in the tourney for the first time in 20 years.
How they got here:
Plant beat Viera 35-7. Lee came back to beat Bartram Trail 61-59.
Playing at Dad’s Stadium is a magical experience. Heck just watching a game there is.
Allen called their home field “absolutely amazing” while Parker said he doubts Lee has every played at a stadium like Plant’s.
“You only dream about being able to play in this type of game at home,” Allen said. “I think as a team we feed off of the energy our fans and band create. We are looking forward to putting on a show for them. Friday night at Dad’s Stadium is going to be a special one.”
Parker had similar things to say and you can truly feel the passion these players have performing on their home turf.
“Home field advantage this entire playoff has helped us, Parker said. “We have the best student section and crowd in Florida. The band really helps us out on defense which causes false starts and illegal movements from the linemen because they can’t hear their quarterback. They know we love them and appreciate them.”
As for Lee, the visitors want to pull off the upset and get into the state title game.
Johnson says his group is very confident and loves to compete.
“I’m expecting a battle to the end both teams have a lot of talent,” he said. We are going to work hard this week in practice fundamentally and mentally.”
Johnson holds 22 offers currently and has been a force for the Generals defense with 101 tackles and an interception.
Lee’s offense compares to Plant’s when you look directly at the quarterback position.
Junior quarterback Derrick Jones has accounted for 3,054 total yards and 40 touchdowns on the season. Last week against Bartram Trail, he compiled a ludicrous 658 yards and nine touchdowns (4 passing, 5 rushing).
For Plant, senior Dane Frantzen has been basically the entire offense with 3,432 total yards and 46 touchdowns this season. He has nine scores in the playoffs.
Allen talked about how hard his group has worked to get to this point. The linebacker and Indiana commit has played huge with 123 tackles and three sacks this season.
“Now we just have to get it,” he said. “The goal is finally in sight and now we have to prepare to reach it. We are very blessed to be able to play in this type of game. It’s going to be a fun one.”
Johnson talked about going out and doing what his team has done all season long here on the road.
“All the success we have had this year is because we have come together as a team and we all want it,” he said. “We have been preaching states since before the season started and have put in the work to get there.”
Plant is well aware of Lee’s talent. Parker said the Generals have very good athletes so this game will be interesting.
“Lee has a really good running game which will fall into what we do and that’s stopping the run and make them a passing team,” Parker said.
Senior running back Cameron Wakefield has been the key counterpart to Jones with 16 touchdowns for Lee.
Plant has some stellar pieces in senior De’Angelo Philyor (19 touchdowns) and junior Ty Thompson (9 touchdowns). Both players can contribute as receivers or backs.
Giving it their all is what Plant’s coaches are preaching this week. Allen called the mindset of his team in practice “amazing.”
“12-0 doesn’t mean anything expect that we have another week to be able to play,” he said. “However, I believe it gives us momentum to move forward in the right direction. It gives us confidence to play to the best of our abilities.”
Allen talked about how this one will be fun. Parker talked strategy. Johnson discussed what his group needs to do to pull off the upset.
Those are just three of the many top-notch playmakers that will take the field on Friday night at Plant.
The Panthers have been so tough all season long with Frantzen, Philyor and Thompson doing it all behind a solid offensive line. Plant’s defense has been steady to say the least, allowing only 10.5 points per game in the regular season and 11.3 in three playoff games.
Lee has the talent to hang around in this game with Jones, Wakefield and the rest of the offense. Johnson will keep his defense in check in a loud environment. The Generals have given up an average of 16.2 points per game this season.
This should be a back and forth game much like Plant’s playoff matchups this year. Lee is a serious threat. Expect a close matchup.
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.