Times’ super 7
1. Springstead (7-1, 3-0): The Eagles held Mitchell to two field goals to stay perfect in Class 6A, District 6. Springstead can win its second straight district title with a win over Land O’Lakes.
2. Zephyrhills (7-1, 4-1): The 9-Mile War between the Bulldogs and Pasco will determine the final playoff spot in Class 5A, District 6. Zephyrhills never let up against Hernando on Friday, keeping the Leopards scoreless in the first half.
3. Sunlake (7-1, 2-1): The Seahawks will return from a bye week to face Fivay. A loss could cost Sunlake a playoff spot.
4. Land O’Lakes (7-1, 2-1): The Gators dominated the field against Fivay and scored their second-most points of the season. A win against Springstead would shake up Class 6A, District 6.
5. Pasco (5-3, 3-2): The Pirates face rival Zephyrhills after an easy win against Central. The winner of the 9-Mile War will clinch a spot in the playoffs as the runnerup.
6. Hudson (6-2, 4-0): The Cobras remain undefeated in district play with a win against River Ridge. Noah Siegrist ran for 173 yards on 27 carries and scored two of Hudson’s three touchdowns.
7. Anclote (5-3, 4-0): The Sharks face Hudson for the district title in 5A-7. The outcome of their game will contribute to the unpredictable narrative of their district going into postseason play.
Tweet of the night
Hudson OL Alex Munson â€@amunson62: “Few of us stayed through the 0-10 seasons, and it just took a lot of hard work to get where we wanted. What a blessing.”
Anclote and Hudson have both clinched playoff appearances; their meeting this week will decide the Class 5A, District 7 champion. The winner gets a home playoff game and will complete a major transformation.
Four years ago, Anclote went winless and was outscored 417-65. Now Matt Wicks’ Sharks are coming off a playoff appearance and can clinch the first district title in school history.
Hudson snapped a 24-game losing streak last fall and was near the bottom in all of Tampa Bay. Now coach Mark Kantor has the Cobras playing for their first district crown since 2005.
Both teams have improved behind strong run games. Anclote’s Willie Barrett and Trent Crawford are a complementary 1-2 punch, and Hudson’s Noah Siegrist topped the 1,000-yard mark on Friday night. Expect run defense to decide one of the biggest games in both programs’ history.
A quick breakdown of the North Suncoast’s three main district battles
Class 6A, District 6: If Springstead beats Land O’Lakes, the Eagles are district champions and Sunlake finishes second, win or lose. If Land O'Lakes beats Springstead and Sunlake wins, the Gators, Seahawks and Eagles will finish in a three-way tie for first. If Land O'Lakes wins and Sunlake loses, LOL would win the district and Springstead would finish second.
Class 5A, District 6: South Sumter has clinched the district title. The winner of this week’s 9-Mile War between Pasco and Zephyrhills earns the other playoff spot.
By the numbers: Pasco-Zephyrhills preview
A numerical breakdown of the biggest 9-Mile War in years
9.8 Miles between W.F. Edwards Stadium and Bulldog Stadium (per Google Maps)
2006 The last time this matchup was this big. Zephyrhills won 23-14, en route to the Class 3A, District 8 championship, their last playoff berth
1941 The year of the first meeting between the teams
6 Consecutive victories in the series for Pasco. That’s the most wins in a row for one team since the Pirates won the first 11 meetings
34.2 Average margin of victory for the Pirates since 2007
39 Pirate victories in the series, according to Times archives
16 Bulldog wins over Pasco
4-0 Record as a player for current Zephyrhills coach Reggie Roberts against the Pirates
2 Interceptions by Pasco’s then-freshman Nate Craig in last season’s game
117 Receiving yards (on four catches) by Zephyrhills’ Jaylen Pickett in the last meeting
39.2 Scoring average for the Bulldogs in district play
Performances worth another mention
Ridgewood RB Glass Wilson: The standout sophomore had one of the area’s best performances of the season: 309 rushing yards and four TDs, including the winner, in a 62-54 win over Gulf.
Weeki Wachee ATH Tyler Wiley: The converted basketball star returned not one, but two kickoffs for touchdowns (89 and 90 yards). The rare feat is even more impressive because it came against mighty South Sumter.
Land O’Lakes WR/RB Javin Tandy: The senior finished with 52 rushing yards and a TD on five carries and snagged a 93-yard TD catch in a 44-12 win over Fivay.
"Sometimes the ball bounces your way. Our kids battled back and played hard. This is one of those games that you had to see to believe." Ocala Forest coach Skip Austin after winning 21-20 against Nature Coast
"Three years ago, a lot of people didn't want me to lead their program. This place is special, with special people. This is awesome.” Hudson coach Mark Kantor, after his team clinched a spot in the playoffs
Times correspondents Richard Burton and Darek Sharp contributed to this report