Hey there, Anclote.
Welcome to the playoffs, to the club.
You’re the 17th member of the North Suncoast Postseason Fraternity, which includes Pasco and Hernando counties.
It’s nice to have some fresh blood. I mean, there’s only so many ways one can write “Pasco is awesome.”
Well, yes, I know, there’s like 6,000 languages, but it just doesn’t translate the same in Azerbaijani. Trust me, I’ve tried.
Anyway, welcome aboard! Here’s your starter kit — new pompoms for the cheerleaders, a coupon for Golden Corral for your pregame meal and $143 in gas money.
You’re welcome. Now remember, things are probably going to get a little rough. Getting into the club is easy. But actually being one of the successful club members?
Teams in the club making their first playoff appearance are, um, 1-16.
Come again? Pasco?
Yes, even Pasco. In the Pirates’ first playoff game back in 1977, they lost to Bartow 39-8. And they didn’t get back to the playoffs for six more seasons after that.
But focus on the positive, boys. The only team to win its first playoff game was Sunlake, which beat Ocala Vanguard last year.
So you have a chance to make it a streak. Change history. Set a new standard.
I’m telling you, it’s tough, this postseason. But funny you brought up Pasco, because that’s pretty much who you want to be.
Who you need to be, really.
You see, the Pirates are the exception to the club rule. They do well in the playoffs.
Just look at them, over in the corner of the clubhouse, all tall and strapping and good looking. Could those girls standing next to them be any more obvious?
Guess that’s the prize for being club president since 1983. They run things on the North Suncoast.
I even heard they have a six-pack of abs. I’m not about to ask them to lift their shirts up, but I’m betting it’s true.
What’s that? Oh, that ring Pasco is showing off to the girls?
Yeah, that’s the only one of its kind. Personally, I don’t know why they don’t display it behind some glass or something. Guess it’s easier to show off when it’s on your finger.
It’s like 20 years old, but man, that thing still shines. They got it for winning the state championship in 1992. I got to touch it once. It gave me chills.
But they didn’t get to be named club president just for that.
The Pirates have won 16 postseason games, way more than everyone else in the club combined.
They have made it past the second round four times, which only Land O’Lakes (twice) and Hudson can say.
Teams on the North Suncoast not named Pasco are 12-70 in the playoffs.
You see what I’m saying?
Yes, I know, of course you want a ring. Stop staring, you’re embarrassing me.
That kind of jewelry takes time and luck, though, and you just got here, young whippersnapper. Sigh, your youthful enthusiasm and big dreams remind me so much of those plucky Seahawks last year.
This club can be cruel, Sharks. Kind of like being part of the Night’s Watch holding the Wall in Game of Thrones. Except the weather is better.
I remember one time, in 2001, Wesley Chapel went 10-0 and outscored the local opposition 450-58. It even beat Pasco that year 71-6.
Hold on a sec. That might be a typo.
It was 71-6.
Anyway, Wesley Chapel was totally in the club that season. Went 8-2 the next year, then 10-0 again.
But every year, it lost its first-round playoff game. None of the games were close, and two of the teams it lost to got blown out in the next round, so you can’t even chalk the losses up to a bad draw.
In three years, the Wildcats went 30-2 in the regular season, and 0-3 in the playoffs.
That’s the club for ya.
I hear things might be changing though. Some new furniture, a new jukebox for the Friday dances, a fresh coat of paint. After all, last year, Sunlake won a playoff game. Hernando almost — should have! — beat Gainesville. And Pasco’s “easy” schedule didn’t stop the Pirates from whipping three teams in the playoffs — including Jesuit — before losing in the state semifinals in overtime.
Yes! That’s exactly what I am saying, Sharks. There is hope.
You are young and hungry and athletic and just starting out. I can see you and Sunlake running for vice president one day soon, unless Land O’Lakes decides to run for re-election. Those dang Gators have clung to that seat since 1997.
My point is this, Anclote: The playoffs are hard work. Harder work, actually.
Have fun. Absorb the moment. Take lots of pictures.
Lose, and it’s not the end of the world.
Win, and enjoy the greatest two-hour bus ride ever.
Oh, and if you go to the Golden Corral for your pregame meal, stay away from the macaroni and cheese.
Trust me on that.
John C. Cotey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JohnnyHomeTeam.