MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
North Suncoast Super 7
1. Pasco (10-0): The Pirates finished off a third consecutive undefeated regular season. And Janarion Grant scored four touchdowns four different ways for the second time in the four games since his return from injury.
2. Springstead (9-1): This team has already surprised the North Suncoast this fall. Now it’s time to see if Luke McLeod, Tyler Mahla and the rest of the Eagles can shock out-of-area teams, too.
3. Hernando (6-4): Give Tyrail Hawkins and the rest of the Leopards credit for overcoming an 0-3 start and a coaching change to make the playoffs a third consecutive year.
4. Anclote (6-4): It’s hard to justify ranking the playoff-bound Sharks any lower. Remember, Anclote played Springstead tough and put up more points on the Eagles (21) than anyone else so far.
5. Sunlake (8-2): One overlooked stat from Friday night: Kicker Connor Gilboy set a school record with eight extra points in the Seahawks’ win over Gulf.
6. Nature Coast (6-4): The Sharks have based their offense around senior RB Matt Breida the past two years. With Breida graduating, it’ll be interesting to see if NCT passes more with senior quarterbacks and a potential star receiver, Jonathan Thomas.
7. Fivay (6-4): The Falcons’ 49-0 loss to Citrus was only the third time they’ve been shut out in school history. Andrew Meyer had 89 receiving yards — his fifth game of the year with at least that many.
Devon Brockington, Zephyrhills: The junior athlete rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. His 16-yard TD catch from Mike Smith was the go-ahead score in the Bulldogs’ 23-17 win over Wiregrass Ranch.
RJ Perciavalle, Bishop McLaughlin: The junior QB threw finished 11-of-14 passing for three TDs and ran for two more in the Hurricane’ 68-12 win over Central Florida Christian to finish third in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference. The win gave Bishop a 6-5 record — its first winning season under coach Derrick Alexander.
Land O’Lakes: The Gators scored two defensive touchdowns — one on an interception return by Eddie Schiffer, and another on a fumble recovery by Darius Wells. Larenz Scroggins also had a pick to set up a field goal in Land O’Lakes’ 24-13 win over Wesley Chapel.
Rushing the field
Sunlake ATH Eddie Burgos and QB Josh Zifer combined for 316 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 25 carries in a season-ending win over Gulf. Zifer’s five touchdowns set a school record.
Their big nights pushed them both past the 1,000-yard mark for the year and helped the Seahawks set a single-season school record with 2,388 rushing yards.
Four thoughts on the area’s four playoff games
Hernando has the toughest first-round game — by far. Gainesville is 10-0 and loaded. At least seven players have major college offers, including WR Chris Thompson (Florida commit) and RB Tony James, one of the state’s top junior prospects, who holds offers from UF and Florida State. Hernando’s strength is a hard-hitting defense, led by Robert Hill Bronson, Jeremiah Jackson, Troy Hambrick and Missouri commit Darren Hambrick. The Leopards have allowed more than 10 points in only one of their past six games, and they’ll need their best performance of the season to get their first playoff win since 1997.
Anclote’s schedule hasn’t done the Sharks any favors. Scheduling issues moved Anclote’s first playoff game up a day to Thursday. That means the Sharks will have played one must-win game, a tiebreaker, a regular-season finale and a playoff game in a 14-day span. Anclote’s defensive speed will be an asset against Gainesville Eastside and QB Sir Jackson, a dual-threat QB who threw for 200 yards, ran for more than 100 and blocked a field goal to help the Rams beat Citra North Marion for the district title.
Pasco’s best get a test. Citra North Marion doesn’t have the talent it did last fall, and the Colts have lost five regular-season games for the first time since 2004. But North Marion hasn’t lost in the first round since that year and won’t be a pushover. Two possible matchups to watch: Pasco DL Joey Ivie (UF commit) could line up against two-star lineman Zach Panitzke, and Pirates ATH Janarion Grant could square off against Georgia-bound DB/WR Reggie Wilkerson, a four-star recruit.
Springstead is in for a challenge, too. Ocala Vanguard’s 5-5 record is deceiving. Its first loss came to nationally ranked Camden County (Ga.), and two of its other losses came in close games against in-state powers Lake City Columbia and Gainesville. That means the Knights are battle-tested. And coach Bill Vonada and the Eagles should know not to judge a team by its record. Springstead was 5-5 in the regular season two years ago before knocking off Wiregrass Ranch in the playoff opener.
In case you missed it
Gulf’s Avery Welch threw a 12-yard TD pass to Brennan Smiley. Either Welch or Smiley (or both) had a hand in all three of Gulf’s touchdowns this fall.
Wiregrass Ranch junior Elias Galvan’s 98 rushing yards against Zephyrhills were the most by a Bull since a loss to Freedom in Wiregrass’ ninth game last fall.