DADE CITY — Tom McHugh huddled his players around the same spot he always does after a home win.
Pasco's second-year coach told the Pirates to look at the scoreboard in W.F. Edwards Stadium, with the score in bright lights: Pasco 50, Gulf 0. "Left no doubt, did you?" he said.
Let the comparisons to Pasco's 1992 state championship team begin. With Friday's win, this Pirates team (11-1) has come the closest to touching those legendary Pirates. Keep in mind, this year's Pasco still needs three more wins to claim its own title.
With many former Pirates standing within earshot of the field, the 2008 edition enjoyed an offensive onslaught Friday.
Call it a Thanksgiving hangover, but it took a blocked punt by Pasco senior Dominic Wilson to spark the Pirates. Then Pasco went deep into its pocket of talent and called on guys like Jamaal Sampson and Chaise Dunn to do the heavy lifting on offense.
Sampson had 17 carries for 71 yards with the game's first score on a 28-yard run to begin the second quarter. Turns out that's all Pasco needed, but the scoring never seemed to stop.
The next scoring play was a 46-yard touchdown from D.J. Clower to Dunn. Dunn caught four passes: three for touchdowns and a two-point conversion.
"Depending on what the defense gives us those kids are asked to step up and execute," Pasco offensive coordinator Brad Starling said. "Chaise Dunn for example, he's probably got the best hands in the county and there's some nights we don't throw the ball to him that much because that's not what they're giving him. Nights like tonight we see we can attack and he steps up and makes big plays.
"Jamaal Sampson for example. We've kind of kept him in our hip pocket all year knowing he's one of our best natural runners with the ball."
Clower threw three touchdowns, completing 4-of-9 for 73 yards, and Pasco led 30-0 at halftime. When Clower connected with Josh Johnson for a 6-yard TD to go up 37-0, Pasco's sideline could feel a region final berth.
And when it seemed Pasco had done all it could offensively, Johnson called an audible on a fourth and long, throwing a 47-yard touchdown to Hakeem Ishmar for a 44-0 lead in the third quarter.
Dunn caught one more touchdown in the fourth as he continued to mourn his grandfather, who died Monday.
"Before the game, I was emotional," Dunn said. "…It was tough on our family. …We're close. When I was young I used to stay with him and my grandmother a lot. After every one I hit my chest and looked up. I was thinking about it. I would tell him thank you for teaching me and raising me right."
In all, Pasco put up 265 yards of offense and 50 points. McHugh then reflected briefly on the offensive explosion.
"It's been there," he said. "What we've usually done is coasted a little bit. …Those are the plays we should have been making and could have been making all year long."