The St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders look to make history when they face the Plant Panthers on Friday night in the Class 7A state championship at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Both schools have fielded top-notch football programs for over a decade.
St. Thomas Aquinas(11-2) looks to become the second Florida high school to win double-digit championships and the first Broward County to win three straight state titles. STA has captured six state championships on the same field in the last nine seasons which includes the last two FHSAA Class 7A titles in 2014 and 2015. The Raiders, who have not lost a state title game since 2006 versus Lakeland, had blowout victories at home against Palm Beach Lakes 35-0 in a regional quarterfinal and Dwyer 37-0 in a regional semifinal. They went to Miami and pounded Mater Academy 50-10 in the regional final then returned home last week and blasted Venice 46-8 in the state semifinal.
Raiders quarterback Jake Allen calls the signals and will guide the team on offense. He has a slew of wide receivers to pass the ball to which includes Michael Harley, Jordan Merrell, Joshua Palmer and Jonathan Moore. Running backs Michael Epstein and Kyshaun Bryan will split the carries between them from the backfield.
Plant(13-0) enters the game undefeated and moved down in classification from 8A to 7A in 2015. The Panthers have not won a state title since they captured the Class 8A crown in 2011. They have been the home game in every round of the playoffs this year. Plant routed Winter Haven 59-6 in a regional quarterfinal, edged Lakeland 25-21 in a regional semifinal, topped 2015 state finalist Viera 35-7 in a regional final and defeated Robert E. Lee 27-19 in the state semifinal last week.
Quarterback Dane Frantzen looks to implement the offense for the Panthers. Their rushing attempts will be done by running backs Ty Thompson, Kyle Trina and Tobin Snead. Wide receivers Whop Philyor, Christian Watson, Juwan Burgess, David Scroggins and Trina can make receptions from Frantzen.