Critics will no longer be able to finger an easy schedule for Pasco’s success under the new districts released Friday by the Florida High School Athletic Association.
The Pirates will spend the next two seasons in a much tougher Class 5A, District 6. Two of Hernando County’s top programs, Hernando and Nature Coast, have joined that district along with perennial power Bushnell South Sumter. The Raiders spent most of last season ranked No. 1 in Class 4A and have 19 playoff victories since 1999. Pasco has played traditional rival Hernando in recent preseason games.
Zephyrhills, Central and Weeki Wachee round out the seven-team district.
The FHSAA added a new Class 5A district for the North Suncoast. Anclote, Gulf, Hudson, Ridgewood, Wesley Chapel and River Ridge will compete in District 7 after the Royal Knights dropped one classification.
Class 6A, District 6 shrunk to five teams. Four of them remain the same – Land O’Lakes, Mitchell, Springstead and Sunlake – but Fivay joined the group. The Falcons were runners-up in Class 5A, District 6 two seasons ago and made the playoff tiebreaker in that district last fall.
Wiregrass Ranch stays in a tough, Class 7A district as the North Suncoast’s largest school. The Bulls will participate in Hillsborough County-heavy Class 7A, District 7 against Freedom, Gaither, Steinbrenner, Sickles and Tampa Bay Tech.
Bishop McLaughlin has ended its run as an independent school and a member of the Sunshine State Athletic Conference. The Hurricanes join Class 3A, District 4 alongside Berkeley Prep, Fort Meade, Frostproof, Lakeland Christian and Tampa Catholic.