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North Suncoast pigskin picks: Week 1

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Thu. August 30, 2012 | Matt Baker | Email

North Suncoast pigskin picks: Week 1

All games 7:30 p.m. Friday unless noted.

Fivay  at River Ridge  
Breakdown: The Falcons and Royal Knights were the North Suncoast’s top breakout teams last fall. Fivay advanced to the playoffs in its first all-varsity season, while River Ridge secured its first winning season since 1999.
Who’s hot: River Ridge WR George Cordova, who caught four passes from QB Josh Maisel and totaled 123 yards and two touchdowns in a 67-13 preseason win over Gulf. … Fivay RBs Davion Sutton and Bryan Poinsette, who racked up 171 yards in a 23-7 loss to Sunlake and will have to make up for the injury to starting quarterback Eric Vitale (broken hand).
Matt Baker’s pick: The Royal Knights’ size will be the difference. River Ridge, 28-17

Zephyrhills at Land O’Lakes
Breakdown: Zephyrhills narrowly missed its first playoff appearance since 2006 last fall but is eager to prove it’s a program on the rise. Land O’Lakes wants to show it’s not on the decline after having its 14-year playoff streak snapped last fall and squeaking by Anclote 14-3 in last week’s preseason game.
Who’s hot: Zephyrhills QB Mike Smith, who rushed for a touchdown and threw for another in a classic 40-7 win over Central. …Gators S Bobby Austin, who had 2.5 sacks and an interception to lead a strong defensive effort for Land O’Lakes.
Baker’s pick: The Bulldogs are fast and are building a solid program, but the Gators are polished and ready to bounce back. Land O’Lakes, 28-24

Wesley Chapel at Wiregrass Ranch  
Breakdown: It’s the latest chapter in a budding Pasco County rivalry. Wiregrass Ranch has been close but hasn’t beaten its older brother, Wesley Chapel, yet. Both teams figure to be rebuilding this fall. The Wildcats must find depth after graduating a solid senior class, while the Bulls must find playmakers and consistency on both sides of the ball.
Who’s hot: Wiregrass Ranch’s defense, which allowed only two scores against Mitchell’s varsity offense in last week’s 27-0 preseason loss. …Wildcats QB Ty Tanner rushed for his team’s only score in a 31-7 loss to power South Sumter.
Baker’s pick: The Bulls get a much needed win, and a much needed victory over their rival. Wiregrass Ranch, 20-17

Anclote at Mitchell  
Breakdown: Teams hovering around .500 are looking for a solid start to the season. Anclote has a stingy defense, led by linebackers Terrell Martin and Willie Barrett, and allowed more than 24 points only twice last season. Mitchell’s powerful ground game has great potential this fall with the return of a healthy Dan Barber.
Who’s hot: Both defenses and special teams. Anclote held Land O’Lakes to 14 points in the preseason game and got its only score on a field goal by CJ Peppe. …Mitchell shut out Wiregrass Ranch, and Christian Trinidad recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. Trinidad also rushed for a score.
Baker’s pick: Anclote is a program on the rise, but Mitchell is a step ahead this early in the season. Mitchell, 21-17

King’s Academy at Gulf, 7
The Bucs have improved, even if the results might not show until district play. King’s Academy, 35-20

Crystal River at Nature Coast
The Sharks didn’t have a preseason game, so they could start rusty — but finish strong. Nature Coast, 24-14

Weeki Wachee at Central
This new Hernando County rivalry could go either way, but look for the Bears’ experience to be the difference. Central, 28-27

East Ridge at Hernando  
The Leopards face a tough defense in the Class 7A region finalists, but Hernando’s D isn’t too shabby, either. Hernando, 20-13

Springstead at Ridgewood
The rebuilding Rams don’t have the weapons to hang with Luke McLeod and the rest of the Eagles. Springstead, 35-21

Sunlake at Hudson
Eddie Burgos and the Seahawks will spoil Mark Kantor’s regular-season debut as Hudson’s head coach. Sunlake, 49-14

Cambridge Christian at Bishop McLaughlin
The Hurricanes’ new offense helps them avenge last year’s 29-point loss. Bishop McLaughlin, 35-31

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