Part Two: The Plant City Narrative and Its Revolving Community Support

Plant City, February 14, 2019- A high school coach in many cases can make or break your relationship with the sport you fell in love with as a kid, but I can assure you the Raider’s coaching staff in the 813 will solely aide you in forming a tighter bond for your passion of football. Here’s the sequel to this two-part special for your Valentine’s Day, emphasizing the open arms Plant City welcomes players of their dear program with and the cast that keeps this everlasting football city’s world turning. P.S.- I’ll leave most of the explaining to the guy that knows the ins and outs of his team best!

“The culture we try to set here in the game of football is value- we are coaching every kid the same way. Whether it be Under Armour All-America or a 3rd string guy, EVERYONE brings value; caring about them as a person and not just a player leads to the buy-in from these kids’ hearts. It’s just trial and error from what we’ve seen- these expectations make our program unique, and it’s the genuine care for the kids; I feel we have the best coaching staff in the area.” 

“For a player we have certain schemes we run that are proven to work, so these coaches are great teachers and that helps them pick up things much quicker than people expected. Our senior middle linebacker, Ashton Mincey and senior captain linebacker, James Gordon have played for five defensive coordinators in their careers, so when we poured and invested in these young men fully, they were all in. From a coaching aspect, we felt we had the right kids and game plan along with our staff to build that mold,” Head Coach and offensive coordinator, James Booth says compassionately.

Plant City senior LB, James Gordon

As far as the team’s offensive records go, under coach James Booth, he holds first and second place in completions single-season record with 164 and 184 completions and in passing attempts single-season record with 311 and 312 attempts. He also holds the top two spots in passing TDs (2.4 18’ season, 2.1 17’ season) per game, passing yards per game (2,602 18’ season, 2,417 17’ season) and completions per game (236.5 18’ season, 241.7 17’ season) in a single season. 

The former record-breaking MidAmerica Nazarene University All-American receiver continues, “A lot of the transfer process happened before I arrived, but if a kid feels better in a situation somewhere else so be it, because you’re not going to be of value here if your heart and mind aren’t here. I think that when these guys leave, sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t- they come back because of this community; never heard of a coach that gets mad when they transfer in, just out. If they don’t want to be a part of this, I wish them the best, but most want to stay or return and stick it out through these coaching changes because of what this city and program has to offer. If we create that environment, our 8th graders will have no other choice but to want to come here and stay to play football for us- that’s the type of atmosphere I want to build here.”

“When I first got here, Anthony Rozier was here and he’s one of the best wide receiver coaches in state of Florida; he helped produced three D1 receivers at Manatee. Incredible athletes to begin with, but he does an amazing job and you can see it statistically over the past 5 years too. Will Blankenbaker, our great running back and special teams coordinator was the only guy that knew everybody, so I leaned on him for a lot of things when I started- he’s a staple here. Jim Peaden is our offensive line guy who came from Strawberry Crest as head coach, Dylan Clark is our inside linebacker coach and defensive coordinator, he had one of the top defenses of 4-4 cover three match, which we have now.” Head coach Booth finishes zealously, “Coach Andy Knotts is another huge factor for us, working with our corners and defensive backs; he played here and is the brother in law of the principal. Tavares Chase works with our linebackers and safeties, he’s done a tremendous job with our local kids- we brought him on staff as a great fit in spring and coach L.C. Sims coaches up our defensive line, he’s been all around Hillsborough county for multiple years and has seen a lot of things.”

“The mixture of younger and older staff is great, but the main thing is that all these guys are very knowledgeable and it transcends to how much they care about this group. Tommy Warnock is our character development leader, he feeds the kids on Thursday nights and teaches them on things outside of football. These kids see the other side of us, knowing that we care more than just x’s and o’s. This staff has done a great job developing kids and the post season accolades speak for itself as well. We’ve got some big talent coming through these parts and the high level of play is here to stay at Plant City.”

Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor