tampabay.com

No time to savor victory

Plant goes straight from toppling Armwood to prepping for the next foe.

By SCOTT PURKS
Published November 26, 2006


TAMPA - The game tape was punched into the VCR and the viewing began not five minutes after Plant had sealed its 38-20 Class 4A region final victory over Armwood.

Minutes after Plant coach Bob Weiner finished his victory speech, he walked to the back of the field house and started dissecting what his team did right, wrong or otherwise. Weiner watched the tapes until 3 a.m.

At 6 a.m. Plant assistant coach Matt Johnson drove a copy of the tape to Naples, where he met a coach from Miami Booker T. Washington, Plant's opponent next week in a Class 4A state semifinal.

Until the 7:30 kickoff Friday night a tape will be running - "For all intents and purposes," Weiner said - constantly until Thursday evening.

It will be the same tapes Plant started watching Saturday afternoon and the same ones the coaches will have watched throughout Sunday. And hopefully for the Panthers, it will lead to the proper preparation for Booker T. Washington 10-3.

If the previous 13 Friday nights are any indication, Plant (13-0) will be plenty prepared.

Case in point: On third and 9 less than four minutes into Friday's game, Armwood quarterback Justin Hickman threw a quick slant, Plant defensive back Chris Kuzdale got the interception and 64 yards later, celebrated the game's first touchdown.

"That happened for three reasons," Weiner said. "Yes, we had prepared for that and Chris was in position to make a big play. The second was because (Kuzdale) had visualized pulling off such a play over and over again.

"The third, well, is because Chris Kuzdale is a big-time player."

Weiner said Kuzdale told him later in the locker room he was so on the play that he and Hickman made eye contact as the play was happening.

Then, after tucking the interception in his right arm, it was off to the races.

"Just churn'em, just move those arms, run full speed," Kuzdale said. "I didn't know who was behind me, but I didn't even care."

Later he returned another pick 80 yards for a touchdown, a result, Kuzdale said, of the same thing: being in the right place at the right time, prepared to make a big play.

That said, Booker T. Washington is much less predictable than Armwood, as in Booker T.'s offensive scheme, and defensive scheme for that matter, often turns into more of a sandlot scheme .

"Which can be a good thing or a bad thing," Weiner said. "We kind of like the idea of knowing where people are at in certain situations. Still, that said, every team has something you can take advantage of.

"This week (after watching hours and hours of tape) hopefully we'll find some of those things we can use to our advantage."

Scott Purks can be reached at purks@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3353.