North Suncoast: Sunday morning quarterback



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Sat. October 12, 2013 | Matt Baker and Mary Kenney

North Suncoast: Sunday morning quarterback

Times’ super 7 

1. Springstead (6-1, 2-0): The Eagles’ pattern of high scoring and tough defensive continued against  Central. Springstead has a bye before key matchups against Mitchell and Land O’Lakes. 

2. Land O’Lakes (6-0, 1-0): The Gators allowed Hudson only seven first downs, showing off a defense that could stop the Springstead rushing attack and Eagles quarterback Tyler Mahla in three weeks. 

3. Zephyrhills (5-1, 2-1): The Bulldogs scored early and often against a Nature Coast team that couldn’t regroup until the fourth quarter. Zephyrhills is tied for second with Hernando in the Class 5A, District 6 rankings and could overtake the Leopards in two weeks.

4. Sunlake (6-1, 1-1): Coming off a decisive 30-0 victory against Wesley Chapel, the Seahawks will vie for the No. 2 spot in 6A-6 when they play Land O’Lakes at home next week. 

5. Hernando (2-4, 2-1): A fumble recovery and two touchdowns in the second quarter weren’t enough to save the Leopards from powerhouse South Sumter. Whether Hernando can mount a challenge against Zephyrhills in two weeks will outline its postseason narrative.

6. Nature Coast (2-4, 2-2): Despite DeShawn Smith’s presence, the Sharks couldn’t muster a rushing attack against Zephyrhills. The loss dropped the team in the district rankings, and its matchup against South Sumter next week doesn’t look promising.

7. Pasco (3-3, 1-2): The Pirates dominated Weeki Wachee, but their upcoming matchup against Hernando will truly test whether they’ll have a chance in the 5A-6 postseason. 


Biggest surprise

Hudson’s defense kept a traditionally high-scoring Land O’Lakes team out of the end zone. The Gators won on three field goals and an interception recovered for a touchdown. Land O’Lakes had scored at least 24 points in every game this season.


Playoff picture

A quick breakdown of the North Suncoast’s three main district battles

Class 6A, District 6: Springstead and Land O’Lakes remain undefeated in the district. Their Nov. 1 meeting could decide the district title. But don’t count out Sunlake. Nathan Johnson’s Seahawks have beaten rival Land O’Lakes the past two years and this week’s meeting could be the most intense yet. Can the Gators’ high-scoring offense crack Sunlake’s tough defense? A Seahawk loss would all but end its playoff hopes.

Class 5A, District 6: South Sumter is the clear favorite. After that, it’s anyone’s guess between Pasco, Nature Coast, Hernando and Zephyrhills. Secure your parking spot now for the 9-Mile War on Nov. 1. The Pasco-Zephyrhills showdown could decide the second playoff spot and looks like the biggest meeting between the rivals in years. This week’s Pirates-Hernando rivalry isn’t too shabby, either. 

Class 5A, District 7: Anclote and Hudson are both 2-0 and sit atop the district. Their Nov. 1 meeting will likely decide the district championship - unless River Ridge makes a run at either. Breakout back Ben Perdomo and his Royal Knights have already lost to Anclote, but if they survive Wesley Chapel this week, a win over Hudson on Oct. 25 would likely send them to the playoffs for the first time since 1998.


By the numbers

100 Tackles this season by Wiregrass Ranch junior Jaye Miner. He had 25 in the Bulls’ homecoming win over Ridgewood

6 Games Sunlake running back Nathan Johnson has rushed for more than 100 yards this season. Johnson rushed for 152 against Wesley Chapel on Friday.

2 Times Land O’Lakes quarterback James Pensyl has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in a game this season. Pensyl threw for 124 against Gulf and 131 against Hudson.

3 Shutouts by Springstead’s defense this season. The Eagles blanked Weeki Wachee in the second game and have shut out Fivay and Central in back-to-back weeks.

6 Touchdowns covering at least 50 yards Zephyrhills has scored this season. Jordan Roberts and Jaylen Pickett both had 50-plus yard scores against Nature Coast.

57 Points scored against South Sumter in seven games this season. The Raiders have shut out three teams and kept the others at 15 points or fewer.


Performances worth another mention

  • Mitchell quarterback Taylor Schneider threw a 55-yard pass to Zach Rapaport for a touchdown with 1:05 left in the game against Lecanto. Schneider’s successful two-point conversion gave the Mustangs a four-point lead to end the game.
  • Pasco running back Malik Johns had 15 carries, 192 yards and four touchdowns by the end of the first half against Weeki Wachee, leading his team to a decisive victory despite Nate Craig’s sprained ankle.
  • Land O’Lakes defensive end Shaheed Salmon scored his team’s only touchdown (32-yard interception return) and made two goal-line stops to keep Hudson scoreless. 



“An effort like this is only going to help us. As for a playoff spot, it can happen - if the kids come to work hard, every day. And that’s what they’ve been doing.” Hudson coach Mark Kantor after his team’s 16-0 loss to Land O’Lakes


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