Next week is, arguably, the biggest and best week of the high school football season.
Great matchups. Heightened drama. Do or die.
Just don’t tell that to Hernando and Nature Coast Tech.
The biggest and best week of the high school football season is arriving a little early in Brooksville, with the Leopards and Sharks playing this week for their collective postseason lives.
“Two losses in the district is not a place we can afford to be,” said Hernando coach John Palmer, whose Leopards are 1-1 in Class 3A-6 and play 3-0 Leesburg on Friday. “Another loss would just about seal our fate.”
Both Nature Coast and Hernando lost two district games last season, resulting in one of those dreadful Monday three-way tiebreakers. But if they both lose Friday, it would leave Leesburg and Dunnellon unbeaten and all but certain to finish 1-2 in the district.
In Nature Coast’s case, a loss would most definitely seal the Sharks’ fate. They have two losses, falling to Leesburg and Tavares, the team Hernando beat last week 56-0.
Friday the Sharks meet Dunnellon, which is 2-0 in the district, with one of those wins against Hernando. Even If Nature Coast wins, the best it can probably hope for is a three-way tie for second (Hernando losing to Leesburg, then Leesburg beating Dunnellon).
Put simply, both local teams have to win, or their meeting later this season will be for nothing more than county bragging rights.
As far as these two programs have come in recent years, that’s just not enough anymore.
APPETIZERS: There are four teams in Class 3A-7 with five wins: Pasco, Land O’Lakes, Sunlake and Mitchell. None have played each other yet, but starting next week, the teams will begin what amounts to a three-week round-robin tournament for the district title and runnerup spot.
On Oct. 22, 29 and Nov. 5, the teams all play each other once. There’s not a more interesting district setup in the Tampa Bay area, and for Pasco County that’s a great thing since the fall has delivered so many lopsided results.
The four teams involved have won their games by an average of 32 points, and only three of their combined 20 wins have been decided by fewer than 20 points.
TOUCH SCHEDULE: As if rebuilding the program at Zephyrhills wasn’t enough of a challenge for first-year coach Reggie Roberts, how about this:
Take away Wiregrass Ranch’s 3-3 record, and the combined record of the Bulldogs’ foes this season is 21-1. And that doesn’t include 5-0 Sunlake, Friday’s opponent.