St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Dragons ride young leader

Jefferson's sophomore quarterback plays much older in solid win over Plant.

Published October 9, 2004

TAMPA - Jefferson quarterback Steven Garcia may be a youngster when it comes to playing high school football but he knows he has more riding on his shoulders this season than just getting ready for the next two years.

Aside from Garcia, the Dragons are a senior-laden team and those older players are relying on the sophomore's arm and sensibilities to take them far into the postseason. With more performances like Friday night's 37-26 win over Plant, Garcia may be able to do just that.

"I may only be a sophomore but there are a lot of seniors on this team that expect me to play like a senior," Garcia said following his 21-of-28, 320-yard, three touchdown performance.

It was a combination of Garcia's passing and Jefferson's all-around ability to control the ball that led to the victory. Jefferson (4-2) ran 70 plays to Plant's 49. Ten of the Panthers' plays came on their final drive, which ended with a touchdown as time ran out and the game all but decided.

Aside from Walner Leandre's 95-yard kickoff return to open the game and a 64-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Lane, the Panthers (1-4) struggled offensively. Still, they held a lead for the fourth time in five games and stuck close to the Dragons for the first three quarters.

"I'm proud of my kids and I'm proud of what they've accomplished but we're sick of hanging in there," first-year Plant coach Bob Weiner said. "One of these times we have to push one through."

The problem Friday was too much Jefferson through the air and on the ground and not enough Plant holding the Dragons on third down. Jefferson converted 10 of 12 third downs, three for touchdowns.

Still, Jefferson coach Mike Simmonds, who recorded his 60th win Friday in just over six seasons, said his team still has a little ground to make up as district games approach next week.

"I think we're headed in the right direction but we still have to get back in our practice rhythm," Simmonds said.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.