MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
All at games at 7:30 p.m. Friday unless noted
Land O’Lakes (1-0) at Pasco (0-0)
Breakdown: Two of Pasco County’s top teams collide in one of the North Suncoast’s top rivalries. The Pirates must recover from a tough preseason defeat against Hernando, but they’ll get an enormous boost with the expected return of Division I prospect Janarion Grant from an ankle injury. Land O’Lakes is confident after overcoming a two-score deficit to knock off Zephyrhills, 38-27, in its opener.
Who’s hot: Pasco RB David Emmanuel rushed for 80 yards against a stout Hernando defense in a 21-7 preseason loss. UF commit Joey Ivie led a defense that allowed only two offensive touchdowns against the Leopards. …Gators senior Bobby Austin continued a strong fall with an interception and a fumble recovery to lead the defense, and two-way standout Kyle Forchion had a sack and a touchdown catch.
Matt Baker’s pick: The Gators will keep it closer than last year’s 33-point loss, but the Pirates will pull away late. Pasco, 35-24
Derek J. LaRiviere's pick:Grant will show his impact on the offense . Land O'Lakes is a tough team, but Pasco is on a different level when clicking on all cylinders. Pasco, 35-21
Fivay (1-0) at Springstead (1-0)
Breakdown: Fivay’s offense showed grit and firepower in a 35-28, back-and-forth comeback win over River Ridge. QB Tyler Degen was impressive (211 yards, three touchdowns), and he got help from RB Davion Sutton (114 rushing yards) and TE Kevin Faulkner (six catches, 80 yards). But the Falcons face a big test in Springstead’s defense, led by LB Luke McLeod and DB Nick Bailey. The Eagles forced four turnovers in a 48-0 win over Ridgewood last week and shut out Hudson in the preseason game a week earlier.
Who’s hot: Springstead QB Tyler Mahla, who finished 8-of-11 passing for three touchdowns — including two to senior Shane Scorza. …Fivay senior Willis Reeves had a 40-yard touchdown catch and changed momentum with 103 return yards. Alec Molnar added two sacks on defense.
Baker: Springstead has looked good so far, but it hasn’t faced a team as talented or high-powered as the Falcons yet. Fivay, 35-20
LaRiviere:Springstead has improved its team to the point where it can compete with anyone, and Fivay is just as good if not better than last season's playoff team. The final score will come down to turnover differential. Fivay 21-17
Tampa Catholic (1-0) at Zephyrhills (0-1)
Breakdown: The Bulldogs stunned Land O’Lakes with an early 14-point lead but couldn’t match the Gators down the stretch. Zephyrhills faces another tough challenge in Tampa Catholic. The Crusaders have a veteran coach, Bob Henriquez, and D-I prospects on the line (Corey Martinez) and outside (DB T.J. Harrell). Zephyrhills lost last year’s game 39-13 but has improved greatly since then.
Who’s hot: Zephyrhills QB Mike Smith threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another to lead his team’s offense. WR Jaylen Pickett (118 receiving yards, 1 TD) and WR/LB Jarret Kelly (two interceptions, one TD catch) also had breakout games. …Tampa Catholic’s defense starred in Week 1, recovering three fumbles and recording five sacks in a 31-6 win over Bayshore Christian.
Baker: The Bulldogs are on the right track but can’t knock off TC yet. Tampa Catholic, 28-14
LaRiviere:After last week's loss in the opener, the Bulldogs suffered another tough blow when LB/RB Jordan Mutcherson announced his transfer. It will be difficult for Zephyrhills to stop TC's athleticism.Tampa Catholic 35-13
Ridgewood (0-1) at River Ridge (0-1)
Baker: George Cordova and the rest of the Royal Knights will bounce back after a tough loss to Fivay. River Ridge, 35-13
LaRiviere:Much like Springstead did to the Rams last week, the Royal Knights should have no difficult stuffing the ball up the middle and stopping a still developing offense on the other side of the ball. River Ridge 49-0
Central (0-1) at Wildwood (0-1), 7
Baker: The Bears will have trouble ending their losing streak against a Wildwood squad that made the playoffs last fall. Wildwood, 28-14
LaRiviere:Central's offense looked much better with Cole Teater at the helm, taking over for starter Cody Brooks. The Bears should be able to hang if Teater plays well.Wildwood 24-21
Wiregrass Ranch (0-1) at Sunlake (1-0)
Baker: The Seahawks have too many weapons on offense and defense for the rebuilding Bulls. Sunlake, 42-14
LaRiviere:All insiders know Sunlake standout Eddie Burgos has speed, but this may be the game where the tailback turns in one of those eye-opening statistical performances.Sunlake 52-6
Lecanto (0-1) at Weeki Wachee (1-0)
Baker: The Hornets earned a huge win last week, but Lecanto is too much for a rookie varsity program. Lecanto, 24-21
LaRiviere: A run-heavy Panther attack will test Weeki Wachee in its second varsity game and likely serve as a wakeup call after the new program forced four turnovers in its opening win.Lecanto 31-13
Hernando (0-1) at South Lake (1-0)
Baker: Tyrail Hawkins, Jesse Gaudin and the Leopards will bounce back from a rough Week 1 loss. Hernando, 28-17
LaRiviere:South Lake seems to have taken a step back since last season's victory over the Leopards, and Hernando should be extra motivated after a tough loss at home to open the season against East Ridge.Hernando 27-24
Seffner Christian (1-0) at Bishop McLaughlin (0-1)
Baker: The Crusaders have too much offense for Diego Heinzerling and the rest of the Bishop defense. Seffner Christian, 35-20
LaRiviere:Unless the Hurricanes can get into a solid rhythm right from the kickoff, it is going to be difficult for Bishop Mac to keep up with one of the more potent teams on its schedule.Seffner Christian 42-28
Orlando First Academy (1-0) at Wesley Chapel (1-0)
Baker: The Wildcats wanted to beef up their non-district schedule. A loss to the Royals will help later in the season. First Academy, 28-14
LaRiviere: One week after First Academy avenged its four-touchdown loss to Bishop Moore from by handing the same team a four-touchdown loss of its own, it looks like the Royals are on their way to another playoff berth. First Academy 24-21
Mitchell (1-0) at Gulf (0-1)
Baker: The Mustangs have found a quick-strike passing game. That’s bad news for the rest of the county. Mitchell, 31-20
LaRiviere:Unless Gulf can limit the Mustangs' running attack, this one may get out of hand early.Mitchell 49-0 (Key: Defense)
Nature Coast (0-1) at Fleming Island (1-0)
Baker: The Golden Eagles’ defense poses too many problems for an improved Sharks team. Fleming Island, 31-21
LaRiviere:Fleming Island is a notoriously difficult team on the defensive side of the ball, but despite that, the Sharks were in the game last season until the final quarter. This will be a good test for NCT before district play.Fleming Island 28-10