Plant City (8-2) and Sickles (9-1) meet in the first round of the Class 7 playoffs. The winner moves on to play the winner of the Gaither-East Bay contest.
WHEN: Tonight, 7:30
WHERE: Gryphons Stadium, Sickles High School, Tampa
WHAT: Class 7A-Region 2 quarterfinal
PLANT CITY’S DEFENSE VS. SICKLES’ OFFENSE
Plant City knows it can’t just focus on Sickles running back Ray Ray McCloud III (1,941 rushing yards, 22 touchdowns), because quarterback Issac Holder (1,426 passing yards, 465 rushing yards) and receivers Chett Levay (43 catches, 608 yards) and Jaaron Barrett (32 catches, 597 yards) are also standouts. Plant City counters with a consistent, swarming defense that has given up an average of 13.1 points a game. Plant City’s leading tackler is Sawyer Dawson (7.6 a game), but the Raiders are known for multiple players swarming for almost every stop.
IN THE TRENCHES
It looks like battles galore up front. A few names in the mix include Plant City offensive lineman Montel McBride (Alabama commit) vs. Sickles defensive lineman Josh Black (18 sacks) and Deven Santana (12.5 sacks); and Plant City defensive end John Broome (15 sacks) vs. Sickles offensive linemen Deandre Mclean and Zach Hudson (Missouri commit). Plant City’s defensive line was a little dinged up midway through the season, but the Raiders appear to be pretty healthy at this point. Look for Sickles leading tackler Wes Harris (9.1 tackles a game) to have some collisions with Plant City’s bruising stable of backs, who have combined for more than 1,600 rushing yards.
GIVEAWAYS VS. TAKEAWAYS
Beyond stopping McCloud and all of Sickles’ weapons, Plant City coach Wayne Ward said the Raiders need to focus on not stopping themselves with turnovers. “Every time we’ve had turnovers we’ve lost the game (two losses),” Ward said. “We could be undefeated if not for turnovers.” Perhaps most notably were three turnovers in a 19-13 overtime district loss to East Bay. Sickles, meantime, has been pretty good at winning the turnover ratio throughout the season. McCloud rarely fumbles, and Holder has thrown only two picks this season.