Mitchell (2-0) at Zephyrhills (2-0)
Biggest key: Big plays. Zephyrhills thrives on them. The Bulldogs have scored five touchdowns of at least 20 yards, and it’s only Week 3. Jordan Roberts, Jaylen Pickett, Devin Brockington and Malik Mutcherson all have home-run potential, and Mitchell will have to corral them to keep this game close.
Mitchell wins if…: Its passing game remains solid. Zephyrhills has only allowed 105 rushing yards so far, while Mitchell has strayed from its traditional run-heavy offense. QB Alec Lambert ranks 11th in Tampa Bay with 309 passing yards. A big night from Lambert could mean a good night for the Mustangs.
Zephyrhills wins if…: Its athletes avoid mistakes. The Bulldogs were sloppy in a preseason win over Land O’Lakes, bobbling snaps and committing too many turnovers. Zephyrhills has enough talent to beat Wesley Chapel and Gulf on a bad day, but the Mustangs are good enough to capitalize on any mistakes.
Matt Baker’s pick: Both teams are legitimate playoff contenders, but Zephyrhills has too much speed and too many weapons. A big play by Roberts will be the difference. Zephyrhills, 28-21
Derek J. LaRiviere’s pick: The Mustangs struggled in district play last season, but star tailback Christian Trinidad was out for a bulk of that time due to injury after the program started 6-1. With Trinidad ready to go, a win over Zephyrhills could point to big things for Mitchell in District 6A-6. Mitchell, 21-20.
Springstead (1-1) at Nature Coast (0-1)
Story line: Redemption. The Sharks gave Springstead its only regular-season loss last fall — a 14-7 defeat to end the regular season. The Eagles will want revenge. Nature Coast is looking to prove that it remains a North Suncoast force, despite a rough preseason game against Citrus and a Week 1 loss to Crystal River.
Baker: NCT’s DeShawn Smith will likely be the best player on the field, but Springstead has more depth, and the Eagles run their disciplined offense to perfection. A Springstead win shows it’s on track to remain Hernando County’s top team. Springstead, 21-17
LaRiviere: One difference we’ve already seen between new Eagles coach Mike Garofano and former coach Bill Vonada is that Garofano is not afraid to ride his workhorse. After rushing for 223 yards on 30 carries last week, Daniel Wright should be a force against the Sharks stout defense. Springstead, 24-21.
Anclote (0-2) at Sunlake (2-0)
Story line: It’s hard to call the steady Seahawks a surprise, but their domination wasn’t expected. Sunlake’s defense still hasn’t allowed an offensive touchdown, and its offense has adapted to a more straightforward run game. Anclote’s tough opponents through two weeks have led to a rough start, but the Sharks need some momentum — especially with Shymere Carter sidelined by a shoulder injury.
Baker: The Sharks are better than their winless record suggests. Their problem is that Sunlake is every bit as good as its statistics show. Nine sacks and six quarterback hurries is an impressive start for the Seahawks’ impenetrable defense. Sunlake, 28-7
LaRiviere: Just when you thought the Seahawks were down, the most experienced coach on the North Suncoast, Bill Browning, pulled a rabbit out of a hat to show his program is a postseason favorite. Juniors Nathan Johnson and Logan Wolfe (308 combined yards) will be the answer to Anclote star tailback Willie Barrett. Sunlake, 24-10.
River Ridge (0-2) at Wiregrass Ranch (2-0)
Baker: QB Shane Bucenell is one of Pasco County’s top passers so far (316 yards), and he’ll pilot the Bulls to their best start in school history and their first three-game win streak. Wiregrass, 31-13
LaRiviere: After suffering 22 losses in a row over three years, the Bulls have things back on track under new coach Mike Lawrence. Wiregrass, 27-7.
Hernando (0-2) at Citrus (2-0)
Baker: Citrus 35, Hernando 28
LaRiviere: Citrus 42, Hernando 14
Weeki Wachee (1-1) at Hudson (1-1)
Baker: Hudson, 17-14
LaRiviere: Weeki Wachee 27, Hudson 24
Bishop McLaughlin (1-1) at Cambridge Christian (0-2)
Baker: Cambridge Christian 28, Bishop McLaughlin 20
LaRiviere: Cambridge Christian 35, Bishop McLaughlin 24
Central (0-2) at Poinciana (1-1)
Baker: Poinciana 24, Central 13
LaRiviere: Poinciana 31, Central 24
Wesley Chapel (0-2) at Pasco (1-1)
Baker: Pasco 48, Wesley Chapel 6
LaRiviere: Pasco 56, Wesley Chapel 0