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Tribune top 10 countdown: No. 1 Plant eyes national title

Published:   |   Updated: August 24, 2013 at 11:52 AM

To preview the 2013 high school football season, The Tampa Tribune is counting down the top 10 teams in Hillsborough County. These preseason rankings were voted on by Tribune writers Nick Williams and Scott Purks, high school sports editor Doug Jacobs and correspondents Mike Camunas and Jarrett Guthrie.

TAMPA — Plant looks like it is not only good enough to win its fifth state title in eight years, but if the stars align and everything across the country falls into place, it also could win a national title.

“It's not something we're thinking about every moment, but it is out there,” Plant coach Bob Weiner said. “Right now, we're focusing on the tasks at hand.”

The first priority is Saturday's Kickoff Classic at 3 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium against Tallahassee Godby, the defending Class 5A state champion. Normally, a preseason game doesn't matter much — unless you're looking for a mythical national title.

The next order of business is winning five days later in the regular-season opener in Tyrone, Ga., against Sandy Creek, the nation's fifth-ranked team, according to MaxPreps.

If the Panthers, ranked around 60th in a few national polls, can pull off those first two victories, then they should jump into the top 15 or even top 10 of the national rankings. From there, Plant would have to win the rest of its games to have a chance at the nation's top spot.

If another team ahead of the Panthers goes undefeated, then there is nothing Plant can do.

A great deal of Plant's optimism begins with its offensive line, which has the potential for greatness. Leading the way is senior tackle Ray Raulerson (committed to Tennessee), senior center Richard Bush and junior tackle Jake Fruhmorgen (recruited by several major colleges).

Defensively, the Panthers are anchored by linebacker Andrew Beck, who has committed to Texas, and cornerback Mazzi Wilkins, who this week announced his commitment to South Florida.

KICKOFF CLASSIC: Saturday, Aug. 24 vs. Tallahassee Godby at Raymond James Stadium, 3 p.m., $10 (includes admission to the Fan Zone that will open at 1 p.m.)

SEASON OPENER: Aug. 29 at Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek


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