ORLANDO, Fla. - Tampa (Fla.) Plant earned the 2011 Class 8A State Championship in Florida by defeating Miramar (Fla.) 31-20 on Saturday evening.
Plant senior wide receiver Austin Aikens was limited in the game due to an injury, but was a big reason why his team reached that point. On the season, he had 41 receptions for 767 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
"It feels great," Aikens said of winning a championship. "I have been here three times counting this time and the first two times I got silver and the third time was the charm, I got gold. I feel like we really earned it."
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Aikens and Plant fell in their preseason exhibition when they lost to Miami (Fla.) Columbus. They also stumbled against Seffner (Fla.) Armwood in late October. The team learned from those defeats and it helped them to grow into the team that was able to knock off an undefeated Miramar squad on Saturday evening.
"It doesn't matter how you start," Aikens said. "It just matters how you finish. Sometimes you might have a bad start but in the end if you finish out on top, that is all that matters."
The 6-foot, 180-pound wideout is now going to turn his attention to finding a home for his college career.
"I have a top five right now," Aikens said. "It is Western Kentucky, Missouri, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, and Iowa.
"I am going to take my official visits during January and probably make my decision on Signing Day," Aikens added.
Heading into those visits, Aikens says that no one school has an advantage.
"Not really," Aikens said. "They all have something different and unique that they offer. So it is going to be really tough. I just want to take my official visits and really get a feel for the school. My parents will also be involved in helping me to make my decision."
The three-star wide receiver has yet to schedule any official visit dates.