TAMPA, Fla. -- ESPN 300 offensive lineman Richy Klepal and his defending state champion teammates at Tampa's Plant High School returned to the field Friday night and won a preseason game against Boyd Anderson in front of their home fans.
In near total control throughout the game, Plant was its own worst enemy. But Klepal said that's all part of the process when it has been so long since returning to game action under the lights.
"The win as a team was great," said the four-star offensive lineman of the preseason contest. "Personally, I don't think we did everything that we needed to do, but at the end of the day, we got the job done and that's really all we could ask for. We had a little trouble snapping the ball early in the game, but we were able to get it together and took care of business.
"I haven't played an actual game since the state championship because of the spring game getting rained out. It was definitely a good feeling and it will catapult us into next week."
The Florida State commitment hasn't scheduled his official visit to Florida State just yet. Without knowing his schedule, combined with the Seminoles home weekends, Klepal will have to check before settling on a date.
It turns out, though, that a birthday present appears to be in order. When Klepal turns a year older, Florida State will come to his hometown of Tampa to take on South Florida at Raymond James Stadium.
"I am not 100 percent sure," Klepal said of his official visit plans. "I am probably going to go up there on my off week, which I am not exactly sure when it is off the top of my head. That's probably when I will be able to come up. Either that, or right after I am done with the season.
"I am also, of course, going to watch them when they come down to play USF which is actually on my birthday. I am really excited about that. That should be a good game."
As a battle-tested leader who has been to the state finals more than once, Klepal is one of the Panthers' true vocal leaders. During warmups, the 6-foot-4, 285-pound prospect can be heard urging on his team asking them to dig a little deeper.
That's part of the process. That's part of him maturing and stepping up.
And it is something Klepal wants to take full responsibility of.
"Being a leader this year is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, maybe twice when I am in my senior year at Florida State," he said. "Really just being able to rally my guys is a unique experience that I am enjoying.
"Besides that, the No. 1 goal for all of us is to win another state championship. We are taking it one game at a time. I want to help unify and lead as much as I can."
Klepal and Plant will play local rival Jesuit next Saturday in their regular-season opener.