Anclote coach Matt Wicks has played both teams in Friday’s Class 5A region semifinal matchup in Dade City. Wicks’ Sharks lost to Pasco 34-0 in their fourth game of the regular season and fell to Gainesville Eastside 37-0 in last week’s playoff opener. Here are Wicks’ thoughts on the keys for both programs — and how to stop them:
First impressions: “I think they both run similar offenses. The makeup of their teams is similar. They have a lot of athletes at key positions. I think Pasco’s defense is a lot stronger than Eastside, but they still have the speed. I think Eastside’s quarterback is probably better than Pasco’s. In that regard, having (Janarion) Grant and (David) Emmanuel and all those guys trumps a lot of things. …Pasco has a lot more of a supporting cast than Eastside does.”
What makes Pasco good: “They believe in each other. They have that swagger about them. They expect to be there. They have that winning mentality, which is what you want your team to develop and what we’re trying to build at Anclote.”
How to stop Pasco: “I’d key 29 (Grant) all night. …They’ve got to stop him, try to get him inside and not outside. When he gets outside, he’s shifty and hard to tackle.”
What makes Eastside good: “They’re solid up front. Their offensive line played well. Their quarterback (Sir Jackson), he’s deceptive when he runs that read. He’s good at that. When you get pressure on him, I don’t think he’s a great passer, but he’s smart enough to make smart decisions.”
How to stop Eastside: “Pasco’s got so many athletes, they can match up. If I was Tom (McHugh), I’d say, we’re going to shut down your quarterback. I would force Eastside to run the ball with 21 (RB Dantez Willis). I don’t think they pass the ball too effectively. They’ll probably be in the right position to make some picks.”
Bottom line: “The game will come down to whether Eastside can block (Joey) Ivie. If Eastside can’t block Ivie, they’re going to have some problems.”
Compiled by staff writer Matt Baker.