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5 reasons why the Plant Panthers (FL) could make a deep playoff run in Class 4M this fall

The Panthers continue to take steps in the right direction and we give you five reasons why they’ll take another one this fall

TAMPA, FLORIDA- Remember those days down in Soho when the Plant Panthers were reaching state semifinals and hosting them at Dad’s Stadium?

Many like to call that period of time when the Panthers won four state championships the ‘Bob Weiner era’, with the former Plant coach now coaching the quarterbacks at Toledo. 

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Hank Brown is now the head coach at Plant and he’s brought a lot of optimism back to a program that for a couple of years looked to be rudderless when it came to the team’s direction. Brown is 15-7 in two seasons and led the club to a playoff appearance last year, winning a postseason game and exiting in the region semifinals. 

We believe Plant could be in store for another good season and more this fall and we give you five reasons why the Panthers’ trajectory has them on the continued upswing. 

5. Special teams matter 

It’s greatly understated how much special teams still matters in high school football and Plant takes this phase of the game very seriously. The Panthers dedicate a lot of time into making sure everything is set from extra points to kickoff, which made a difference last season. Seniors Maddox Cowart (40-of-45 PATs, 36.1 yards per punt in 2022) and Camilo Nanfra (4-of-8 field goals in 2022) are back, with the former also handling the punting duties for the team. 

4. Play under center will be good either way

Plant played more of a two-platoon system at the quarterback position last fall and looks more like that will be the approach the team will have in 2022, which can be a benefit on any given Friday night. Senior Trey O’Malley has as more of the primary signal caller for the team last year, throwing for 1,678 yards and 16 touchdowns and junior JC Mirasola had 615 and eight scores. Having two capable starting quarterbacks available for Brown makes for a good problem to have during the season and making a deep run into the playoffs all the more feasible. 

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3. Sound defensive unit sets the tone

The offense in 2022 scored points at a premium throughout the season, but it will be the defense that must set the tone for this Plant team. Losing some explosive players like Jacquez Kindell and AJ Durham puts a little bit more of the pressure back onto the offense and that’s where the defense will need to help set the tone. Players like linebackers Chase Jarrett, Brayden Sullivan and defensive lineman Ty Conze all are sound assignment players within a defense that could be tough to score against this fall. 

2. Coaching staff is second to none

If you’ve ever been to a morning or afternoon practice over at Plant, you see the attention to detail the coaching staff puts into every drill they have for the players. To the minute stations and then an air horn to signal going to water break or switching it up to another drill. This Panthers’ coaching staff makes sure they are able to maximize getting the most out of their players Monday through Thursday so on Friday’s, the games are just a rehearsal of everything they’ve done all week long. There’s some good coaching going on and it’s no mistake that Brown has led this team to back-to-back solid seasons. 

1. Plant will go as Waltez Clark goes 

It’s no secret that the Plant Panthers have a pretty good player in the backfield by the name of Waltez Clark. The 4-star rated running back, according to 247Sports, is coming off a breakout 2022 campaign and is being courted by plenty of schools around the country. Clark will see time on both sides of the ball for the Panthers, making him that much more important to Plant’a success, but the preparation put into taking on that role comes with the off-season. In 2022, Clark rushed for 863 yards, 18 touchdowns and made 23 tackles on defense. To say he means a lot to Plant is a major understatement. The Panthers will travel as Clark can take them and we think that could be pretty far. 

Andy Villamarzo can be reached at and follow him on Twitter @Andy_Villamarzo.