What we learned
1. Leopards leap back into playoff hunt
Hernando needed a victory over Tavares on Friday to keep pace with the leaders in Class 3A, District 6. But 56-0? Over Tavares? Who saw that coming? The Leopards didn’t just beat Tavares, they stole the Bulldogs’ lunch money, weekly allowance and may have made off with a credit card number or two. Hernando held Tavares to 6 yards passing and 100 yards total while racking up a whopping 449 yards of its own, all on the ground. Five players — Alvin Delaine, Zach Sullivan, Sam Adams, Rashad Hart and Demarcus Maner — found the end zone for Hernando, which scored 14 points in each quarter. Hernando’s lopsided victory served two purposes: one, it kept the Leopards from starting district play 0-2, which would have been disastrous, and two, it sent a statement to the rest of 3A-6 that the road to the district title goes through Brooksville.
2. Pasco at Land O’Lakes isn’t the only game being played Oct. 22
Wiregrass Ranch looked impressive in beating first-year school Fivay 49-7. Now the question becomes, can the Bulls take the next step in their team’s young history and overtake Tarpon Springs for the Class 4A, District 6 crown? Most observers penciled in the Spongers as district champ before the season started, but they have yet to deliver on the promise they showed in the preseason. Make no mistake, Tarpon Springs is still the favorite. The Spongers demolished Ridgewood 52-0 on Friday. The Bulls managed only 15 points against the Rams. But Tarpon-Wiregrass should be an entertaining matchup. The teams share similar offensive styles, employing solid quarterback play with a steady ground attack. One advantage for the Bulls: they have a bye next week while Tarpon Springs plays local rival Countryside on Friday.
3. Eagles’ wings clipped
Springstead is up against the ropes in Class 4A, District 5 after a tough 17-14 loss to Lake Weir in which the Eagles gave up the go-ahead score on the second-to-last drive. At 1-1 in the district, Springstead faces a must-win in two weeks against Ocala West Port and will almost certainly need an upset victory over Gainesville a week later to have any postseason hopes. If the Eagles miss out on the playoffs, their fingers will be pointed squarely on Friday’s loss as the game that could have extended their season.
1. Pasco (5-0): The Pirates had five players score touchdowns and rolled up more than 400 yards of offense in a 45-13 win over Gulf.
This week: vs. Anclote (1-4)
2. Land O’Lakes (5-0): The Gators put up 50 points for the second week in a row, and QB Stevie Weatherford had five touchdowns, giving him 25 for the season.
This week: vs. Wesley Chapel (2-4)
3. Sunlake (5-0): Sunlake’s defense continues to shut down opponents. The Seahawks held Wesley Chapel to 157 yards of total offense to blank their third opponent of the season.
This week: vs. Zephyrhills (0-5)
4. Hernando (4-1): The Leopards bounced back from their first loss and got back into the playoff race by thumping Tavares 56-0.
This week: at Leesburg (4-2)
5. Nature Coast (3-2): What are the Sharks thinking on their bye week after watching Hernando roll past the same Tavares team that beat the Sharks 41-35?
This week: at Dunnellon (4-1)
6. Mitchell (5-1): The Mustangs racked up 432 yards of total offense and put up their highest scoring total of the season in a 51-22 blowout win over Zephyrhills.
This week: vs. Gulf (3-3)
7. Wiregrass Ranch (3-3): Wiregrass breaks into the super seven after demolishing Fivay to the tune of 49-7. Now the Bulls have a week off to prepare for Tarpon Springs in what could be for the district title.
This week: Bye
On the bubble: Gulf (3-3), Springstead (2-4), Wesley Chapel (2-4), Bishop McLaughlin (4-1)
RB/S Alvin Delaine, Hernando: While Delaine’s touches on offense have been limited this season, he made the most of them against Tavares. On 11 carries, he rushed for 218 yards and four touchdowns, three in first half. Delaine was also key on defense as the Leopards completed a shutout against one of the most potent offenses in the district.
QB Jacob Guy, Pasco: Guy’s completion percentage (43 percent) wasn’t as stellar as past games, but the junior quarterback still managed to throw for more than 309 yards in a rout of Gulf. Guy engineered scoring drives on the first three possessions and tossed three touchdowns.
QB Rashad Hart, Hernando: After starter Tyrail Hawkins went out with an injury, most thought backup Cleve Pope would step in. No one saw Hart, a freshman from the JV, coming in and dominating like he did. Even with a loss of 20 on a bad snap, Hart finished with seven carries for 42 yards and a touchdown while expertly managing the offense in a 56-0 rout of Tavares.
QB Jacob Jackson, Sunlake: Jackson scored Sunlake’s first touchdown on a 62-yard carry, then rushed in from 32 yards out for the Seahawks’ second score. He finished with 140 yards on nine carries while going 11-for-15 for 132 yards and two more scores.
QB Matt Michaels, Mitchell: Michaels put up more than 200 yards of offense in the Mustangs’ 29-point win over Zephyrhills. Michaels threw for 163 yards on 5-of-7 passing and had touchdown throws of 75 and 12 yards. He averaged 10 yards a carry and had 40 yards rushing.
LB Johnell Strong, Wiregrass Ranch: Strong picked up a Fivay fumble in the third quarter and returned it 74 yards to the house to halt a potential Falcons scoring drive and all but seal the Bulls’ 49-7 victory. With the win, Wiregrass moves to .500 and 2-0 in district (4A-6) play.
SS Justin Tello, Land O’Lakes: Tello’s 65-yard punt return in the first quarter gave the Gators a 23-0 lead. Then in the third, Tello intercepted an Anclote pass and returned it 35 yards for the Gators’ final score.
QB James Tringali, Wiregrass Ranch: The 6-foot-5 senior signal caller led a potent offense to nearly 500 yards of total offense and also threw for 164 yards on 12-of-17 with three touchdowns. He added to his stats with 30 yards rushing in the Bulls’ 49-7 blowout of Fivay.
QB Stevie Weatherford, Land O’Lakes: Another ho-hum night for the USF commitment. Weatherford went 8 of 11 and had five touchdown passes. That’s three fewer than last week when he found the end zone eight times, but who’s counting?