In the biggest game of his life, Plant ATH Kyle Trina never expected to be the force that drove Plant to their sixth title game appearance since Robert Weiner has been the head coach. Thanks to Trina’s clutch performances in the receiving game on Friday night, the Panthers have done just that, as they move to Orlando to play a rematch of the 2010 championship game against St. Thomas Aquinas.
Dad’s Stadium was rocking with a near-capacity crowds and media everywhere as kickoff commenced. Robert E. Lee High brought their fan base from Jacksonville, but would have a very late drive home as the game took nearly three and a half hours to take place.
The first drive for the Generals wasn’t a good one, when Derrick Jones threw and interception into the hands of Aaron King early in the first quarter to put the Panthers in General territory for their first drive. They immediately jumped on the opportunity when they powered down the field to take a 7-0 lead when Dane Frantzen hit Whop Philyor over the top for the passing touchdown.
On the next drive, Plant’s Thomas Allen proved he came to play through a great individual performance against Jones after he not only sacked him, but constantly chased him around the pocket. The Panthers would get the ball back at their 47, and six plays later, Frantzen passed for his second touchdown, this time to Trina.
Trina had nine receptions for 84 yards and the touchdown in the first quarter, something you certainly wouldn’t expect out of a backup quarterback.
Lee wouldn’t go down without a fight, as Jones found Donnie Weatherspoon in the back of the end zone to put the Generals on the board thanks to the four-yard strike.
The Panthers would take the 14-7 lead into halftime.
Frantzen would show why he’s a dynamic rusher when he found a hole in the defense for a 21-yard rushing touchdown, after not being able to have much success on the ground to that point. Frantzen finished with 79 rushing yards on 18 carries with two rushing touchdowns.
But again, Lee kept fighting, trimming the lead to 21-13 when Jones darted one across the middle to a wide open catch and an easy run in for a 30-yard score. Plant answered right back when Frantzen powered in for his second run of the day, immediately after he threw a bomb to Philyor for 42-yards. Frantzen was 19-for-27 with 189 passing yards on the evening.
From there, things got a little interesting at Dad’s. With 25 seconds to go in the third quarter, there was about a five minute pause in the action that was highlighted by Lee coaches meeting with officials and then a huddle of officials at midfield. The end of the third quarter was signaled while Plant hadn’t snapped the ball to run down those last 25.
Plant took their 27-13 lead into the fourth, but then a little bit later, the scoreboard clock wasn’t running. The official time was being kept by an iPhone held by a referee. With that being said, it would take seven minutes before Lee could find themselves back in the game, when Jones found Caldwell again, this time on a 69-yard bomb.
Lee’s defense made their biggest stop making Plant go 3-and-out with roughly two minutes to go, it was then their ball at their 20. Jones found Tyrique Thomas for a 25-yard catch. Then Jones’ next pass was ruled incomplete along a sideline catch. Jones went back to pass on second down, the ball slipped through his receiver’s hands and then into the arms of Plant UTL Juwan Burgess, who won Plant the game, and punched their ticket to the 7A finals.
Quotes from around the Plant locker room:
“This weekend has been crazy, it’s been nuts, but God’s amazing, he knew this was coming all along, and we’re so blessed, it’s been a fun one, and now it’s just time to finish.” – LB Thomas Allen, who’s father was promoted to the head coach at the University of Indiana this past week.
“It was just one of a kind. Honestly, I told myself that I had to make the tackle, but the ball ended up going right through his arms and into mine, and at that moment I knew that we really did it, that we’re on our way to states.” – UTL Juwan Burgess on his game-clinching interception.
“It’s really just a special feeling and having brothers around me on the field just exemplifies it 100-percent to be able to make plays for them and to make plays for this team. I was testing out so many different positions at the beginning of the season after Dane got the QB spot, I had no idea where I would end up, but it is what it is, and it’s awesome.” – WR Kyle Trina, on his unexpected performance Friday night.
“This just means so much to me, you know, a lot of people were doubting me on my size and a lot of people doubted our team because we’re ‘small.’ I feel like we’ve been doubted all season, but put any team in front of us, we’re undefeated. We’re going to put it all out there when we play St. Thomas Aquinas next week. I can’t even tell you the amount of hours that Coach Weiner and I have put in, working on my footwork, working on mechanics, everything, all the hours coming to this, I would never give any of it up.” – QB Dane Frantzen on his transition from RB to QB.
“It was just guts, it was a gutsy performance, we had a great performance, a lot of great plays, a lot of adversity, just battle through it, I’m so proud of how they’ve gotten through it. Kyle Trina is a gamer. He’s probably one of the most unselfish players we’ve ever had. With that being said, when you come up in the biggest moments, that man is going to make some plays.” – Plant HC Robert Weiner.