MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Friday's football games
All at 7:30 p.m.
Hudson (3-6) at River Ridge (2-7)
Breakdown: The Cobras have been one of the North Suncoast’s biggest surprises, racking up three wins after back-to-back 0-10 seasons. River Ridge was last year’s success story after the Royal Knights finished with their first winning record since 1999. A Hudson victory would be perhaps its most impressive of the season.
Who’s hot: Hudson senior Owen Derksen, who’s rushed for three touchdowns over the past two games, and LB Steven Phillips, who had 15 tackles in last week’s loss to Anclote. It was his sixth game with at least 10 tackles this fall. …River Ridge RB Justin Haystrand, who rushed for 106 yards in last week’s 15-14 loss to Land O’Lakes. QB Josh Maisel threw for 177 yards — his second-best output of the season.
Matt Baker’s pick: The Cobras will get a boost with the return of QB Joey Caruso, who has been out with an injury. It won’t be quite enough against a Royal Knights team ready to close the season with a much-needed win. River Ridge, 21-14
Derek LaRiviere’s pick: Mark Kantor has been nothing short of spectacular in his first year as Cobras coach. Look for a big game from RB Noah Siegrist as River Ridge continues to struggle.
Wiregrass Ranch (0-9) at Zephyrhills (5-4)
Breakdown: The Bulls need a strong performance to take something positive out of a rough fall. Things haven’t been easy for the Bulldogs, either, who got RB Willie Williams back from eligibility concerns hours before Monday’s tiebreaker loss — then lost him with a tweaked ankle on his first carry of the game.
Who’s hot: Zephyrhills ATH Jaylen Pickett, who has three receiving touchdowns and one rushing TD in the Bulldogs’ past two games. Bulldogs RB Malik Mutcherson has rushed for a score each of the past two weeks. …Wiregrass Ranch WR Ryan Shea, who averaged 25 yards per catch in last week’s loss to Freedom and has both of the Bulls’ TD catches. LB Aaron Silcott recorded a season-high 11 tackles last week and leads Wiregrass with 57 this season.
Baker: Even without all of their skill players, the Bulldogs have too much speed for Wiregrass Ranch. Zephyrhills, 35-7
LaRiviere: While Zephyrhills missed out on the postseason thanks to Monday's tiebreaker, a victory still points to how far the program has come in the past couple seasons under Reggie Roberts. Zephyrhills, 35-28
Land O’Lakes (3-6) at Wesley Chapel (3-6)
Breakdown: Land O’Lakes has experienced a down season by its standards, but the Gators can salvage 2012 with a three-game win streak if they knock off the Wildcats. Wesley Chapel struggled offensively early in the season but has found a rhythm late, averaging 25 points over the past four games.
Who’s hot: Wesley Chapel QB Jordan Primus, who has rushed for two scores and thrown for two more over the past two games. And leading tackler Nalu Fraticelli has racked up at least eight tackles in each of the past four games. …Gators QB James Pensyl, who completed 69 percent of his passes and threw for two touchdowns in last week’s 15-14 win over River Ridge. Kyle Forchion blocked the potential winning field goal last week, and his twin, Justin, had a late sack. Shaheed Salmon added 2.5 sacks.
Baker: Land O’Lakes is building for a future with a young, talented roster. The Gators have enough to get past Wesley Chapel and head into the offseason with momentum. Land O’Lakes, 28-17
LaRiviere: The Wildcats have been up and down, and Land O’Lakes has two straight wins coming in. Pensyl has been tossing the ball well with four touchdowns in the past two games. He should do more damage this week. Land O’Lakes, 28-17
Weeki Wachee (3-6) at Anclote (5-4)
Baker: The Sharks are one of Tampa Bay’s top stories after winning emotional Class 5A, District 6 tiebreaker games against Fivay and Zephyrhills. That boost and one of Pasco County’s fastest rosters will secure Anclote’s first winning season. Anclote, 35-14
LaRiviere: The first-year Hornets just aren’t the same caliber team as Anclote. Willie Barrett should have no issues adding to his already impressive rushing totals. Anclote, 49-0
Delray Beach Village Academy (4-5) at Pasco (9-0)
Baker: Pasco won’t have a letdown from last week’s 56-17 rout of Zephyrhills that clinched the Class 5A, District 6 title. Look for the passing game to continue to improve behind QB Ben Chandler (eight touchdowns, one interception in his last five games). Pasco, 52-7
LaRiviere: Village Academy is headed to the Class 2A state playoffs next week, but not before the Pirates hand it a rude awakening this week. After scoring at least three touchdowns in each of his first three games, how many will Janarion Grant score against Village? Pasco, 63-0
Sunlake (7-2) at Gulf (0-9)
Baker: The Bucs have struggled offensively in back-to-back shutout losses. They won’t get a break in the season finale against Jarrett Stark and a Seahawk defense that hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in a game all season. Sunlake, 45-6
LaRiviere: With good performances, Eddie Burgos, Josh Zifer or both have a chance to surpass 1,000 yards on the ground for Sunlake. Sunlake, 45-0
Citrus (5-4) at Fivay (6-3)
Baker: Though the Falcons will be fired up after a rough loss to Anclote in the district tiebreaker, Citrus is a little too strong. Citrus, 28-24
LaRiviere: After losing to Anclote in the tiebreaker, hosting the Hurricanes is not the way the Falcons want to end their season. Breon Whatley, Al Lamar White and Darius Chapes have formed a dynamic trio in the Citrus backfield, accounting for 42 touchdowns.