Only four days removed from an overtime victory over Deerfield Beach that clinched the District 11-8A title and with a playoff rematch against Miramar on tap for next week, South Plantation had every excuse to come into Friday night’s regular-season finale against rival Plantation and flop.
The Paladins didn’t let coach Doug Gatewood down.
Despite losing star running back Alex Collins to a stinger in the first half, South Plantation put up just enough points on offense and relied on its defense do the rest, holding on for a 10-0 victory over the Colonels (7-3) to win the Mayor’s Cup for the first time since 2009.
“You always want to go [into the playoffs] with momentum and I think with this win we’ve got a little momentum booster going into week,” said Paladins quarterback John Franklin, who scored on a 3-yard run with 9:53 left in the first half to cap a 12-play, 70-yard drive aided by four penalties (three 15-yarders).
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“I personally hadn’t won this game [against Plantation] since my freshman year. It was a big thing to finish off my senior year.”
The Colonels, who are also headed to the playoffs and will face Hialeah American next week in a Region 4-7A quarterfinal, hadn’t been shutout all season and came in averaging 40 points a game. South Plantation’s defense came through with several big stops on its side of the field. It also forced two turnovers and allowed just 187 yards of total offense while sacking Plantation quarterback Chris Lammons a handful of times.
Linebacker Keon Knight had a sack and a forced fumble. Cornerback Taj Thomas had an interception and linebacker Henry Momprevil was all over the field producing tackles. The shutout was the third this season by South Plantation, which is giving up an average of 9.6 points this season.
“When we looked at this team before the season with John Franklin, Alex [Collins], we looked at our offense as the strength,” said Gatewood, whose 9-1 regular-season finish is the best in his career. “But if you really go through our season, the defense has been really holding us in the right position a lot of times. There’s not a big name over there. I don’t have any nicknames for them or some cool name like some other schools. They just go out and play hard. That’s all I can tell you.”
Collins, who finished with just 10 yards rushing on five carries and one catch for 8 yards, said he “felt pain at the moment” in his shoulder when he took a hit in the second quarter. But he expects to play next week against Miramar, which beat the Paladins 38-0 in the first round of the playoffs last year.
“I was having fun, encouraging my teammates in a really big game,” said Collins, who remained on the sideline to be with the team. "Coach said if we really need you we’ll put you back in. But the game took its course and they didn’t need me.”
Said Plantation coach Steve Davis: “South Plantation basically wanted it a lot more than our kids did for some reason. It’s a rivalry game. You hope we would be up for it. We just never got into any type of sync or rhythm.”