Preview: Robinson at Plant
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With a 33-7 season-opening loss behind them, the Knights must now shift their focus to preparing for the four-time state champion Plant Panthers. This is a rivalry game that Robinson has not won since 2004, when they defeated Plant 19-10 at Jack Peters Field. Due to bleacher renovations at Jack Peters Field, the Knights will travel to Dad’s Stadium this Friday looking to turn their fortunes around.
REWIND: Last year, the Knights rode into the matchup with Plant having lost their opener against Sickles, just as they do this year. In 2013, Robinson suffered a 28-7 loss at the hands of the Panthers while only amassing forty-one total yards of offense. In contrast, the Plant offense totaled 389 yards of total offense against a Knights defense that did not seem to have an answer for then-senior Alex “Buda” Jackson. Jackson rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown on just fifteen carries, compensating for the lack of a passing game (Plant threw for just 107 passing yards between two quarterbacks).
PLAYERS TO WATCH (Plant):
Kyle Henderson: The senior defensive tackle will surely make his presence felt on Friday night. Henderson, a Georgia Tech commit, racked up sixty-seven tackles and five sacks last season, making him Plant’s leading returning tackler. After a solid performance last week, the Robinson offensive line will need to focus in on the big playmaker if they want to get anything going offensively.
Rex Culpepper: Still one of the biggest question marks for the Panthers is the quarterback. The junior signal-caller has scholarship offers from over ten schools, including Florida, Ohio State, and Clemson. Culpepper has the size and ability to be an impact player, but has yet to reach his full potential in the first two weeks of the season. He has struggled with turnovers and consistency in 2014, but he still has the tools to pick apart opposing defenses. Friday night could be a breakout game for Culpepper as the Panthers look poised to make a run at their fifth state championship.
PLAYERS TO WATCH (Robinson):
Malik Tyson: Tyson took over as the Knights’ starting quarterback last week against Sickles, putting together a pretty solid performance. The junior threw for 206 yards and a touchdown, but also threw an interception in the 33-7 loss. If the rushing attack can improve from last week, some of the pressure should be taken off Tyson, which would put him in a better position to succeed. His dual-threat ability could really help this week against a Plant defense that always seems to have some big-time college prospects.
Iyan Mitchel: Mitchel put together a solid stat line last week, catching eight passes for eighty-four yards. Four of his eight catches were for gains of more than ten yards, so if he can develop into another big-play receiver to pair with Jahrvis Davenport, the Knights offense gains more balance.
Kickoff for the annual South Tampa rivalry game is slated for 7:30 this Friday night at Plant High School (2415 S Himes Ave, Tampa, FL 33629). Robinson will be pre-selling tickets at lunches this week for the usual five dollars.