Plant City, February 13, 2019– The Raiders closed out the eventful 2018 season at 9-2 and 6-0 (1st of 7 teams in district, 12 of 87 in all of Class 7A) in their 7A district 9 efforts, good for a 50th sunshine state rank. Everyone knows greatness doesn’t come easy, but with the right mindset and mentorship, an optimistic foundation will fall into place. Let’s take an in-depth dive into this thriving squad (courtesy of Head Coach James Booth) that flipped the switch after a negative 4-6 record just a year ago and get some insight on the program’s 2020 soon-to-be senior leader balling out on the defensive side for the teal and orange.
“We have a unique community that backs the area and school unconditionally; has a small town feel even though it’s one of the fastest growing because of the support. The biggest draw for me when I came was knowing Plant City and its tradition- there have always been great players surrounding the program, I played against them, and coached against them at Bloomingdale so I knew the caliber and was excited when the job opened. For the past 30-34 years this school’s been up and running, Plant city has been in its own classification for how it operates,” Head Coach James Booth states passionately.
“The turnover hit a lot of people, many come back to see the games, watch and get to know the players; I’m going on my third year now and trying to bring back stability. This all goes back to great-grandparents- when they see us do good things it reminds them of their time spent here; the alumni are still around, helping with fundraising, coming to games and anything we need as a program, they’re there for the betterment of our kids.”
“People come up to me about how they played and what it means to them like I said, so I relay that to our kids that it’s bigger than them and that the team holds a lot of weight to a lot of people in this city. One of our guys was buying gas wearing his Plant City shirt and someone approached him, so they got to talking and they ended up buying him gas and he was excited to tell me; I think that was his teller for the kind of love the community has for this team.”
Dissecting Antron’s six-and-a-half-minute human highlight reel, it’s easily observed he’s got his eyes glued to football- disrupting offensive backfields all night with his tremendous tackling ability, no matter where he lurks within the Raider’s defense. He can read a variety of offensive schemes like the back of his hand and makes big-time stops on special teams (contributes his athleticism in all THREE aspects of the game), wearing the ultimate belt of versatility. Robinson packs a serious punch at his main cornerback and strong safety responsibilities, regardless of his listed 5’9” 155-pound frame, he’s undoubtedly aggressive and you can count on him to put on a show in his home stomping grounds for the sea of orange, always dominantly present in the stands.
“Antron is a great player on top of being a great character kid, he’s the most consistent guy- he doesn’t run his mouth and does what’s asked of him; he’s the type of kid you build your program around. He’s our key component on defense, never makes excuses and does a great job setting the edge at linebacker as well; we had a corner necessity due to injuries and he filled that seamlessly, also needed him at free safety for some series. Antron’s ability to play multiple positions is one of the many reasons we love to have him as part of the program, along with not missing any reps and practice, being our best tackler by far and you just wish you had twenty-two of him.”
“He’s been a three-year starter for us, what he did over spring and going into summer his freshmen year, we knew we had to bring him up as a starter- he’s that constant. Running track, growing in the weight room, being part of four by four’s, he’s developed the stamina to play the whole game, even when kids are tapping to come out of games. I believe he’ll have a huge spring when he takes hold of this defense, so from a defensive standpoint, he’s going keep up the standard for us as a leader and I’m excited for him to assume that role.”
In 11 games played according to MaxPreps, Robinson shattered national averages as a true wrap-up machine, tallying 63 solo and 76 total with 6.9 TPG and 6TFLs, recovered 2 fumbles, blocked a field goal and defended at least 4 passes that came in his domain in his junior varsity debut! One of his primetime moments came in a 24-7 away W over Eastbay, where he was awarded Defensive Plant City Player of the Game after posting 10 total tackles- 8 of those collected on his own.
Coach Booth closes enthusiastically, “We’re looking for those leaders to come up on both sides; this is the time to do it in the offseason. Antron is a kid that leads by example, everything that’s expected is done and then some, setting the bar for the young guys. He’s certainly doing all the things to be a captain of this team and he’s definitely not in trouble at school, so he checks all the boxes, handles his business and does anything necessary for this program.”
“We try to let our kids know most about accountability; if they’re not meeting the team standard, or they’ve carried bad habits from years past, it needs to be addressed. We have several young guys learning this process, so guys like Antron are of those dogs that buy into what we as coaches are preaching; it helps expedite the whole process of building that culture and keeping the tradition alive to pass on those qualities to the new guys.”
“He’s so capable of doing multiple things, he’s a huge asset for us- he can perform at strong safety and transition to corner, not skipping a beat. It allows us to be creative with what we want to do with personnel; makes him a tough player to handle and he creates miss matches on the defensive side that we can take advantage of. Obtained a new defensive coordinator in coach Dylan Clark this year, so now [Antron] is going into year two with him and getting back into the flow will be so much smoother and I’m looking forward to seeing him in action this senior year.”
Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor