With the football season halfway over, it’s time for a midterm exam. Pick up your No. 2 pencils and follow along with the most important questions about the season’s first five weeks and what might happen the rest of the way.
Who will win Class 6A, District 6?
A) Springstead. The Eagles defense has allowed only 28 points — fourth-lowest in Tampa Bay — and the ground game is powerful enough to get back to the playoffs.
B) Mitchell. A loaded backfield led by Christian Trinidad and Dan Barber will lead the Mustangs to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
C) Nature Coast. The Sharks have two of the district’s top players (DE Rohan Blackwood and RB Matt Breida) and enough playmakers to surprise teams.
D) Sunlake. QB Josh Zifer and the Seahawks are back on track after last week’s demolition of Mitchell.
E) Hernando. The Leopards have the most talent and can overcome a rocky start to earn a second straight district title.
Correct answer: A. Springstead’s defense and discipline make Luke McLeod and the Eagles the team to beat, just ahead of Sunlake, and one of Tampa Bay’s biggest surprises.
Pasco will win Class 5A, District 6 again. Who gets the other playoff spot?
A) Fivay. QB Tyler Degen leads an explosive offense on a team that proved it could win clutch games last year.
B) Anclote. The Sharks’ brutal schedule has prepared Willie Barrett and Anclote to make a late playoff push.
C) Zephyrhills. The Bulldogs are stockpiled with athletes, including breakout talents Willie Williams, Jaylen Pickett and Jordan Roberts.
Correct answer: C. Zephyrhills has too much speed for everyone in the district (except Pasco) and will run away with the runner-up spot.
Who is the top player of the year candidate?
A) Matt Breida, Nature Coast. Tampa Bay’s No. 2 rusher (828 yards, eight touchdowns) carries a Sharks team that could sneak into the playoffs.
B) David Emmanuel, Pasco. His numbers aren’t gaudy (430 yards, seven touchdowns), but the Pirates have been so dominant that he hasn’t needed to play a full game.
C) Joey Ivie, Pasco. The Florida commit has 29 tackles and a safety to lead a defense that’s given up only one touchdown through four games.
D) Eddie Burgos, Sunlake. One of Pasco County’s top athletes has 10 touchdowns and more than 600 all-purpose yards for a playoff contender.
E) Joe Predoehl, Springstead. His stats aren’t eye popping, but the undersized linebacker has made some of the biggest plays of the season for the undefeated Eagles.
Correct answer: B. Emmanuel hasn’t been tested yet, but he’ll show his power and importance in Pasco’s postseason run.
Which player has had the biggest breakout game or season?
A) Elton Grigley, Ridgewood. Almost 300 rushing yards in the past two games
B) Davion Sutton, Fivay. 555 rushing yards and eight TDs on the season
C) Willie Williams, Zephyrhills. 211 rushing yards, three touchdowns against Wesley Chapel
D) George Cordova, River Ridge. Two TD catches, one interception returned for a score against Fivay
E) Darius Wells, Land O’Lakes. One of Pasco County’s leaders with 46 tackles
F) Sammy Sullivan, Bishop McLaughlin. Leads the North Suncoast with 64 tackles while rushing for two TDs and 6.9 yards per carry
Correct answer: B. Sutton replaced 1,000-yard rusher Kyrie Rodriguez to become one of the North Suncoast’s top performers.
When was the last time …
Land O’Lakes started 1-3? The Gators struggled out of the gate in 2004 but still made the playoffs — something they’ll try to repeat this year.
Springstead won its first five games? The Eagles started 5-0 in 2004 and advanced to the Class 4A region semifinals.
A program won the first game of its inaugural varsity season? (As Weeki Wachee did by beating Central.) Nature Coast did it in 2004 with a 14-point win over Shorecrest Prep.
Fill in the blank
The season’s most ridiculous stat is …
Pasco ATH Malik Johns returning a punt for a touchdown in each of the first four games. The Pirates totaled 11 special-teams scores last year, including four each by Trey Dudley-Giles and Janarion Grant.
The best finish to a game was …
Hudson’s 18-point fourth-quarter comeback against Ridgewood. The Cobras needed a big night from RB Noah Siegrist and the defense to go with a winning field goal by Nathan Binder, but Hudson came up with the 27-24 overtime victory.
Progress reports: Checking in on three rebuilding programs
• Central started last season’s winless campaign by losing its first five contests by an average of 44 points each. The Bears have already picked up one win this year (a 28-17 win over Wildwood) and have lost their other four by an average of 28 points each.
• Wiregrass Ranch also finished 0-10 last year and dropped its first four games by a total of 142 points. The Bulls have been closer this fall, losing by a combined 113 points, and have some young talent, including QB Shane Bucenell.
• Gulf finally got on the scoreboard with a field goal last week and has history on its side heading into an Oct. 26 showdown with Hudson. The Cobras haven’t beaten Gulf since 2007.
Matt Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MattHomeTeam.