Matt Baker eats crow on Sunlake
When I go to Land O’Lakes later this week, I think I’m going to need a bodyguard.
Picking River Ridge to upset the Gators (and then losing 32-0) was bad. Thinking Sunlake would get blown out by Pasco (and then winning 17-6) was worse.
So now’s the time where I eat crow. I was wrong about Sunlake. Land O’Lakes, too, but because I wasn’t there to see what happened, I’ll focus on the Seahawks here.
I thought Sunlake graduated too much – two dozen seniors is a lot to lose. The lines weren’t as big and powerful as they’ve been in the past, from what I saw in spring practice and a so-so showing in the spring jamboree against Wesley Chapel and Wiregrass Ranch. I had questions at quarterback, too, and I thought Pasco’s line was strong enough to give its skill players room to work.
The Seahawks aren’t massive, but they are physical. Their linebackers – especially Jacob Guzman, Ben Wood and Austin Yeloushan – were smart and penetrated Pasco’s offensive line regularly (four sacks and a handful of tackles for a loss). I didn’t expect that.
Pasco beat itself, to an extent, with dropped passes and fumbles. The Pirates had more than 150 more yards than Sunlake did, plus more first downs. But give Bill Browning’s Seahawks credit for taking advantage of those mistakes. For Sunlake to shut out Pasco’s offense – the Pirates’ only score came on a kickoff return, which was initially fumbled, when Sunlake only had 10 players on the field – is remarkable. Period.
Nathan Johnson and Logan Wolfe didn’t dominate on the ground, but they steadily ate up yards and time. That’s a good 1-2 punch in the backfield, and it’s one that improved greatly since I saw the Seahawks in the jamboree.
I’m still not sure how good Pasco is. Even after a rough performance, I still think the Pirates will be playoff contenders, at least. But I do know Sunlake is much, much better than I expected. I just needed the Seahawks’ biggest win in school history to prove it to me.