Northeast Florida Sports Jacksonville

No. 3: Lee magical run ends in state semifinal loss to Plant

TAMPA-The Lee Generals came just 50 yards and 8 points short of sending the Class 7A state semifinal game into overtime at Dad’s Stadium in Tampa.

Their incredible season came to an end when Derrick Jones pass ricocheted off the hands of Cameron Wakefield and was intercepted by Juwan Burgess of Plant, ending the last minute drive and the season for the back yard gang.

Fittingly the game would end in the hands of Plant’s Quarterback #16 Dane Frantzen. He would take two knees with under a minute to play as Lee had no timeouts to stop the clock, and the game was over with Plant winning 27-19.

Frantzen scored four touchdowns in the game literally carrying his team to the victory. Several players congratulated him after the contest, one quoted as saying “Thank you for taking us to the championship”. Well Frantzen did more than take, he carried them.

The 5’10 200 pound quarterback led the Panthers in total yards with 3,432 while scoring 46 touchdowns. He would finish the night with 50 total touchdowns on the season as he added four in this game. His first was to David Scroggins putting Plant up 7-0. After Plant’s defense stopped Lee Frantzen would hook up with Kyle Trina for his second touchdown of the half. Dane had Lee down early in the 2nd quarter 14-0.

But just as the Generals have done all season, they would mount a fast and furious offensive attack. Derrick Jones hooked up with Donnie Weatherspoon to close the lead to 14-7. The play capped off an impressive drive in which the Generals weathered the crowd noise and pressure of being down early on the road to make a great play in the end zone.

The General defense would settle down and stop Plant on every first half drive after their touchdown. In particular defensive back Eugene Bowman IV played exceptional in the game locking down Plant’s big play receiver Scroggins for the remainder of the game.

Frantzen attempted to go to Scroggins several times in the second half on deep balls but Bowman was step for step with him. His effort ensured that the General offense had a shot to tie the game going into halftime but the clock ran with Plant leading 14-7 to the dismay of the Lee coaching staff.

In the second half the General defense started off strong forcing Plant to punt, but a muff by Wakefield allowed Plant to pounce on the football deep into General territory. It took just a couple of plays before Dane Frantzen ran his third touchdown in the end zone to make the score 21-7 in the third quarter.

Derrick Jones responded with a quick touchdown drive of his own as both quarterbacks engaged in a game of “anything you can do, I can do better”. He blasted a 40 yard scramble up the middle which was increased by 15 yards for a personal foul penalty by Plant.

Then Jones found Juriel Caldwell for a 30 yard wide open pitch and catch down the middle as Lee was alive and well once again. They would miss the extra point as the score remained 21-13.

Frantzen responded with a drive that resulted in big plays down the field. the biggest was a deep pass to wide receiver Whop Philyor that set the Panthers up at the 3 yard line. Frantzen would run his second touchdown in of the day and put his team up 27-13.

Lee found themselves down 27-13 in the fourth quarter after several clock issues stopped play. An almost 10 minute stoppage in play resulted in the score board clock being shut off and time being kept by the referees. Down by two touchdowns with four minutes to play Jones decided to go deep and found Caldwell in stride for his second touchdown of the game, closing the lead to 27-19 after the missed two point conversion.

Suddenly Plant’s offense was stuck in neutral as Lee began to tee off on the Panther ball carriers. There was one collision of note where quarterback Dane Frantzen met linebacker Keirston Johnson in the hole and it sounded like two freight trains running together. But both athletes popped up quickly and jogged back to their huddles displaying leadership and sportsmanship toward the other.

It may have been the picture perfect symbolism for the game. Though the collision was a stalemate, Frantzen was able to secure the first down. So too was the Lee General ‘s effort against Plant. They played hard and matched the 12-0 Panthers blow for blow , but in the end Plant was the one to advance to the championship game.

Lee’s final drive began promising as Jones connected on a beautiful throw and an even more impressive catch by Tyrique Thomas for 40 yards. Lee seemed to be in business at midfield. Jones would again drop back and drop a perfect pass in the arms of Donnie Weatherspoon, the receiver who scored the first touchdown of the game for Lee, but the ball went right through the arms of the talented receiver.

Weatherspoon had several steps on his defender and may have raced for a touchdown had he caught the ball in stride. Instead it set up another down where Jone’s pass would drift behind Wakefield and bounce into the arms of Plant’s defender ending the title hopes for Lee.

It was a great season for Lee (10-2) advancing to the state semifinal for the first time in over 20 years is a magnificent accomplishment. Yet they came up just short of their final goal. As for Plant, they move on to face St. Thomas Aquinas in the championship game. The last time they played St. Thomas, the Raiders defeated them in the championship game.

Said Plant Head Coach Robert Weiner ” I’m proud of Coach Smalls and the job he has done with his team, they were an incredibly tough team”.

Coach Smalls after the loss reflected on his accomplishments; ” This is tough because they worked so hard, but it’s about progress and we have shown year to year that we are building something positive at Lee”.