Plant defense answers the call

Published November 18, 2006

TAMPA - Michael Cajigas had to work through several personal issues last summer, including the loss of his grandfather, Jose Garcia.

"Should I play football again, or just quit?" he asked himself.

The Plant senior is glad he chose the former.

Cajigas and his teammates walked away from Dads Stadium with a 46-6 victory against Winter Haven in the Class 4A playoffs. Plant, 12-0, faces Armwood in Friday's regional final.

"Armwood is a championship team, and in order to be the best, you've got to beat the best," Cajigas said.

Plant's defense didn't lack motivation. Cajigas said during practice, he learned Winter Haven had called his unit soft in a Lakeland newspaper.

"We put (the article) up in the locker room and looked forward to the game," Cajigas said. "We played as tough as we could; we should them how soft we were."

Plant's focus on stopping junior quarterback D.C. Jefferson and the Blue Devils' running attack worked well. Jefferson, who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards and was recently visited by the University of Tennessee, was limited to 51 yards on seven rushes and completed only six of 26 passes for 46 yards.

The Blue Devils were stopped on downs at the Plant 34, and Chris Conlon's 31-yard field-goal attempt was wide in the first half. The Panthers scored on their first four series of the second half.

"This year has been incredible," Cajigas said. "But our goal isn't over yet."