DADE CITY — Generations of Pasco fans have passed through the gate at W.F. Edwards Stadium.
Other than the faces, little appears to have changed. The band blares the same notes. Cheerleaders chant the same words. The black and red is a blur on a field of ripped-up grass and sand.
But look closer and there are subtle differences. This season it's the sheer number of options on offense, which were in plain view Friday in a 37-14 win over old-time rival South Sumter.
Is it too soon to start comparisons to Pasco's 2008 Class 3A state semifinalist team?
"We have to play every game like it's a playoff game because everyone's trying to take Pasco out," Pirates senior Jamie Byrd said. "…We have to stay focused and we have to want it."
It didn't take long for the Pirates (2-0) to prove they wanted it Friday night.
Pasco defensive end Mark Landry set the tone, grabbing a deflected pass from Raiders quarterback Ian Papenheim on South Sumter's 9-yard line. Two plays later, Pasco quarterback Jacob Guy connected with Trey Dudley-Giles for a 4-yard touchdown and 7-0 first-quarter lead.
Pasco scored on its next two possessions, first on a 2-yard touchdown run by David Emmanuel, then on a punt return by Dudley-Giles 75 yards for a 20-0 lead.
Guy connected with Mike Clower on a 49-yard touchdown catch and run on the final play before halftime for a 27-0 lead. Guy finished 11-for-17 passing for 205 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
A big loss at South Sumter was a turning point for Pasco in 2009.
"You can tell every day in practice there's not as much messing around," Guy said of the attitude and focus. "…Everybody's ready."
Pasco still has a month before it faces Class 3A, District 7 rivals Land O'Lakes, Mitchell and Sunlake. But Pasco coach Tom McHugh will have to convince this group to stay the course and avoid the pitfalls of complacency.
"We have seven in a row that determine what you do at the end of the year," McHugh said. "These are seven games we have to win to get the district championship."