Fletcher Barnes and Plant were overshadowed Saturday afternoon by Tallahassee Godby. LUKE JOHNSON/STAFF
BY NICK WILLIAMS Tribune staff
Published: August 24, 2013
Updated: August 24, 2013 at 11:14 PM
TAMPA — For a program used to winning state titles, last season’s early exit in the second round of the playoffs was unfamiliar territory for Plant High.
Entering the 2013 season, Plant head football coach Robert Weiner knew that in order to win a fifth state title, his Panthers would have to play at a championship level throughout.
A week before the start of the regular season, Plant discovered what that level is to be.
Tallahassee Godby, the defending Class 5A state champion, defeated Plant 35-16 on Saturday in the inaugural Fox Sports Florida Kickoff Classic at Raymond James Stadium.
Godby, which has won four state titles, stifled Plant’s offense early, forcing three turnovers and preventing the Panthers from crossing midfield until late in the second quarter.
The Cougars led 21-0 at the half and 35-0 minutes into the fourth quarter to force an automatic running clock.
“You got to get it from the beginning of the game,” Weiner said. “They came out, obviously, more focused and more to play. I thought we were focused when we came out but you can’t get down 21-0 there early on. We couldn’t turn field possession in the first quarter and that was a big problem, and we had three turnovers five minutes into the second quarter.”
Godby senior quarterback J.T. Bradwell had 122 passing yards and two touchdowns to go with 65 rushing yards, while Kenny Young rushed for 61 yards and two touchdowns.
Plant senior quarterback back Colby Brown led Plant with 346 passing yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw four interceptions.
Brown led two scoring drives in the fourth quarter that ended in touchdown passes to senior receiver Cameron Winter.
“In the first half, our defense just did such a magnificent job keeping field position,” Godby coach Ronnie Cottrell said. “They really stayed in their half of the field most of the time and we had some really awesome kicking game plays in the first half that kept them backed up.
“But you saw in the second half how explosive they are. We would have never dreamed that would happen, so we’re really pleased to get out of here with a win.”
Plant opens the regular season Thursday in Tyrone, Ga., against Sandy Creek, the fifth-ranked team in the nation.
“Regardless of what happens in the end, I do think scheduling these two games makes us better down the road,” Weiner said. “This is the marking point of where you’ve got to go.”