Spectrum Sports Top 20: No. 3 Plant Panthers

By Katherine Smith, Spectrum Sports
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 15, 2017, 12:43 PM EDT

No. 3 Plant Panthers

2016: 13-1, lost to St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class 7A State Championship Game (45-6)

Head Coach: Robert Weiner, 14th season as the Panthers head coach

Key Returners: DE/TE Judge Culpepper, LB Micah McFadden, OL Will Putnam, RB/DB Ty Thompson, WR/CB Derrick Powell, S Clay Hancher, DB/WR Romello Walters, DE/LB Bryce Love

The Scoop: The first thing you’ll notice with Plant this season, their speed. In every facet of the game, the Panthers are so much faster.

You’ll also notice a new quarterback under center. Jordan McCloud transferred from Sickles and takes over the signal calling. He’s got a lot of support around him, but also a lot to live up to.

He's losing a big weapon in Thompson. The senior running back suffered a season-ending knee injury during the Panthers scrimmage on Aug. 12. That's a big blow to Plant's offense.

Coach Weiner is big on motto’s and messages. Plant’s motto this year – Transcend.

As in retooling to get back to the state championship game again, but this time finish the job. But also transcending the little things and hurdles that can get in the way of greatness.

Quotable: “We always want to strive to be bigger, to be more, to be something at a higher level, to transcend, to go beyond.” Weiner

Schedule:

8/25 at Hillsborough *Spectrum Sports feature game

9/1 vs. Robinson

9/8 at Armwood

9/22 vs. Gaither

9/28 vs. Sickles

10/6 at Wharton

10/13 at Leto

10/20 vs. Freedom

10/27 at Wiregrass Ranch

11/3 vs. Newsome

Story:

Plant High School, the home of state champions, has been title-less the past couple of seasons.

The Panthers haven’t won a championship since 2011. They were close last year, losing just one game, the 7A title game to St. Thomas Aquinas.

They’re putting in the hard work to prepare for another championship game run.

The Panthers are all in when it comes to high expectations and the expectations don’t get any higher than at the quarterback position where Sickles transfer Jordan McCloud takes over.

“He’s really, really, really super, super smart,” head coach Robert Weiner said. “I could tell based upon his film that he was smart and he had a good grasp of his offense and things like that. But his instincts of picking things up, he picks things up so quickly. So, my weary was with a guy of his talent, what we normally do with quarterbacks in two or three years, was to condense that in three or four months.

“Jordan has just been so pliable in terms of being here and just so instinctually intelligent in terms of picking up what we do.”

He’s also doing a great job of handling the pressure that comes with his new position. The Plant quarterback position comes with a lot of responsibility.

“It’s been great coming over here to one of the best quarterback coaches in the country,” McCloud said. “He’s teaching me a lot about the game, mostly just a lot of mental stuff, like reading defenses.

“And he’s been working on my arm a lot. It’s gotten a lot better since I came over.”