State of the Program: Plant City Raiders

2018: 9-2 2019: 5-5 2020: 5-5 2021: 6-5

Plant City has made the playoffs twice in the past four years. In 2018, they lost in the first round to a strong Braden River team in a dogfight, 28-23. This past season, they had the unfortunate fate of drawing the eventual state champion, Venice, in the opening round.

Right now the Raiders have two big-time college players with high expectations for the 2022 season. Mario Williams broke out in Oklahoma in the fall but then jumped to Los Angeles where he will now suit up for USC. James Gordon spent the last three years at Minnesota before hitting the transfer portal and finding his way home to USF. Gordon should fill a hole on the USF defense really well and make a name for himself in the AAC. Plant City produces talented prospects who produce at the next level. Head Coach James Booth resigned in February.

The head coaching vacancy lasted just over a month as the Plant City High School administration announced the hiring of NFL veteran Michael Clayton at the end of March. Clayton played his college ball at LSU where he was a prolific receiver for the Tigers. He helped LSU win a national championship in 2003. Then, Clayton was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 15th overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft. Eventually, he would win a Super Bowl with the New York Giants in 2012. It should be quite clear that Clayton knows how successful football teams operate.

In his inaugural spring, Plant City won their scrimmage against Strawberry Crest by a score of 8-7. Spring football provided a look at what will be a very young team with only 5 seniors led by players like 2023 DB Eden Williams and 2023 LB Cole Highsmith.

The FHSAA’s new classifications placed Plant City in 4M District 7 with Alonso, Plant, and Strawberry Crest. Regardless of their youth, this is a district that the Raiders can compete for immediately. Here are the names of a handful of underclassmen who will help put them in that position. 2024 ATH Jaylen Smith, 2024 WR Zykee Joyce, and 2024 DB Chase Dexter are all players who made names for themselves this spring. Another key will be the arrival of super-talented 2026 QB Dereon Coleman. Plant City is a program on the rise.