Defending Florida Class 8A state champion Plant knew defending Louisiana Class 2A state champion John Curtis' veer offense would be a challenge.
But the Panthers had no idea the problems the Patriots defense and special teams would cause in the Panthers' 33-3 loss Friday at the Superdome in New Orleans.
"I had watched all of their games from last year and, you know, they really don't have a lot of teams — and they still don't after our game — that have been competitive with them," Plant coach Robert Weiner said Saturday. "So sometimes it's hard to get a gauge in film since they play a lot of one-sided games.
"I looked at the most recent films from this year and in my mind I'm sure they were wanting to win those games but it looked like they were setting us up," he continued. "It wasn't that they didn't look as fast or as strong. It just looked like they didn't play with the same effort. They were a way different team on the field than they were on film."
By the time Plant (1-1) got its first look at the offense that has earned Curtis coach J.T. Curtis more than 500 career wins, it was from the 3-yard line after a long punt return, and the Panthers didn't get much of a look as Patriots running back Sherman Badie took Curtis' first offensive play into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
It didn't get any better in the Big Easy for the Panthers. Badie single-handedly ripped through a porous Plant defense – adding a 7-yard run in the first quarter and a 40-yard run off a fake punt.
Before Plant could muster any offense, the Patriots (2-0) had a 27-0 lead. The Panthers had their best offensive drive at the end of the first half, but had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by William Few.
Plant's five possessions in the first half started at its 18, 10, 28, 14 and 15. In contrast, Curtis started at the Plant 3, own 27, Plant 41 and Plant 44 and all resulted in touchdowns.
Things went from bad to worse for the Panthers in the second half. After Plant finally kept the Patriots out of the end zone on a possession – Austin Linden missed a 30-yard field goal — the Panthers lost starting quarterback Aaron Banks with 6:45 remaining in the third quarter.
Banks, who finished 9-for-12 for 53 yards, was drilled in the back by Curtis cornerback Brandon Porter and did not return with a neck injury. Banks was sacked three times.
Banks was one of five Panthers who either didn't start or left with injuries. Offensive lineman Richy Klepel (concussion) did not start and running back Wesley Bullock (shin), linebacker/defensive end Mitchell Wright (left shoulder) and defensive back Will Bowles (concussion) left during the game.
Plant's open date is Sept. 21, the week after this Friday's Jefferson game. Klepel and Bowles are not expected to play this week but the other three are day-to-day.
Any chance Plant had to get back in the game was eliminated when senior Reeves Rogers leveled a defenseless Curtis punt returner with 4:57 left in the third. Rogers was ejected, and it seemed to pump up Curtis even more.
Rogers could face additional penalties from the Florida High School Athletic Association this week.