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Sunday Morning Quarterback: North Suncoast edition

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Sat. September 1, 2012 | Matt Baker | Email

Sunday Morning Quarterback: North Suncoast edition

North Suncoast Super 7
1. Hernando (0-1): The Leopards’ brutal non-district schedule will pay off in the long run.

2. Pasco (0-0): With a healthy Janarion Grant, the Pirates could still be the North Suncoast’s top team.

3. Sunlake (1-0): Aside from Grant, ATH Eddie Burgos might be Pasco County’s top player (207 total yards, three TDs Friday).

4. Land O’Lakes (1-0): The Gators showed grit in a comeback win over Zephyrhills.

5. Fivay (1-0): No sophomore slump for the Falcons, who looked like playoff contenders in Week 1 against a good River Ridge team.

6. Zephyrhills (0-1): The Bulldogs found a legitimate quarterback in Mike Smith (three TD passes, one TD rush Friday).

7. Nature Coast (0-1): Sharks need to bounce back after surrendering 21 unanswered points in a season-opening loss.

In case you missed it
• Land O’Lakes RB Harrison Wood’s 140-yard night was the third 100-yard performance of his career, and the second in a row.

• Springstead LB Luke McLeod’s 63-yard interception return for a touchdown was his second pick-six of the season, after a 40-yard score against Hudson in the preseason.

• River Ridge WR/DB George Cordova had four touches on offense or defense against Fivay. He scored on three of them — a 60-yard interception return, a 48-yard catch and a 30-yard catch.

• Mitchell QB Trey Drury threw touchdown passes of 52 and 60 yards. The Mustangs didn’t score their second passing touchdown until the sixth game of 2011.

Five things we learned in Week 1
1. Fivay is just fine without Eric Vitale: Sure, the Falcons missed their starting quarterback, who had a cast over his broken right (throwing) hand. But Tyler Degen looked strong. He finished 12-of-18 passing for 250 yards. He made up for his first-quarter interception with three touchdown passes.

2. The Wildcats remain kings of Wesley Chapel: Coach Ben Alford’s team owns rival Wiregrass Ranch. Wesley Chapel overcame two early fumbles and a 6-0 deficit by ripping off 30 unanswered points to keep the Bulls winless against the town’s older team and retain city supremacy.

3. Don’t forget about Mitchell: By knocking off a popular Pasco County sleeper pick, Anclote, the Mustangs proved they could surprise teams this year, too. Mitchell’s balanced offense should roll through non-district play undefeated, setting up an enticing Sept. 21 showdown against rival River Ridge.

4. Darren Hambrick is an offensive threat: Seriously. The Hernando pass rusher caught a 17-yard touchdown pass in the preseason against Pasco. He followed that Friday with a 30-yard TD catch from Tyrail Hawkins in Friday night’s loss.

5. The rebuilding continues: At Wiregrass Ranch, Hudson, Ridgewood and Central, at least. The teams combined for one win last year — and lost their openers by a combined 129 points.

Offensive MVP
Daquan Caesar, Wesley Chapel: The senior running back racked up 167 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-6 rivalry win over Wiregrass Ranch.

Defensive MVP
Nick Bailey, Springstead: The senior defensive back picked off Ridgewood twice to lead an Eagles defense that allowed only 61 yards in a shutout victory.

Feat of the week
Sunlake senior Eddie Burgos set a school single-game rushing record with his 207-yard performance against Hudson. He broke the mark set by Mike Shaver, who rushed for 204 yards against St. Cloud in 2008.

Breakout performances
Ethan Weilant, Land O’Lakes
: The sophomore QB rushed for two touchdowns and threw for two more to lead the Gators to a win. Can he put up similar numbers against Pasco?

Davion Sutton, Fivay: His 111-yard, two-TD night against River Ridge is just the beginning. Don’t be surprised if he racks up a 1,000-yard season.

Jarret Kelly, Zephyrhills: He tallied two interceptions in the first quarter and scored on a 38-yard touchdown catch.

Coaching debuts
How new coaches fared in Week 1 with their team

Dwayne Mobley, Hernando: Lost 42-25 to East Ridge

Jay Fulmer, Ridgewood: Lost 48-0 to Springstead

Mark Kantor, Hudson: Lost 44-6 to Sunlake

Mark Lee, Weeki Wachee: Won 33-14 over Central

Three quick thoughts on Week 2
1. Expect Land O’Lakes to put up a better fight against Pasco than it did in last year’s 39-6 loss. The Pirates remain favorites, but the Gators’ balanced offense could give Pasco problems.

2. Look for plenty of scoring in the Fivay-Springstead matchup. They combined for 83 points in Week 1. The Eagles are disciplined and take advantage of mistakes, while Fivay showed quick-strike potential on offense.

3. Revenge is on the line this week. Week 2 losses last year included Hernando (to South Lake), Nature Coast (to Fleming Island) and Zephyrhills (to Tampa Catholic). All could have shots at winning their rematches Friday.

One final thought
The area’s newest program, Weeki Wachee, looked like veterans Friday, taking advantage of seven Central turnovers to beat the Bears in the school’s first varsity game. Fivay, Sunlake and Wiregrass Ranch all dropped the first games of their inaugural varsity seasons, so the last North Suncoast team to win its first varsity game was Nature Coast.

Matt Baker can be reached at mbaker@tampabay.com.

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