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North Suncoast: Friday night picks

Friday's matchups

All games at 7:30 unless noted.

Zephyrhills (2-3, 1-0) at Pasco (4-1, 1-0)

The Pirates were within 20 yards of pulling out a big win over Nature Coast last week, but suffered their first loss 18-17. Nine miles away Zephyrhills pulled off a considerable upset of Wesley Chapel 28-0. What does it all mean? Suddenly, the 9-mile war looks a lot juicier and carries great significance in terms of the race to claim the Class 3A, District 8 title.

Izzy Gould's pick: Pasco, 19-10. The Bulldogs claw and scrape and make this a close game, but it's hard to see Pasco losing back to back at home.

Joey Knight's pick: Pasco, 24-16. If the Bulldogs were a bit healthier, I'd pick them.

Central (3-2, 1-0) at Springstead (3-1, 1-0)

Eagles quarterback James Mahla, who hasn't thrown a pick all year, faces a defense that has nine interceptions. Speaking of QBs, Central's Dallas Waugh has thrown for close to 600 yards, coach Cliff Lohrey says. The Eagles are coming off a bye week, and little seems capable of stopping these Eagles. "It concerns me because I just think (Mahla) is playing with so much confidence," Lohrey said. "You can just see it."

IG: Springstead, 27-14. The Eagles look strong and I believe they are destined to play for the district title against Tarpon Springs on Nov. 7. No pressure, Eagles.

JK: Springstead, 33-14. Eagles have had two weeks to prepare for this one.

Land O'Lakes (2-2, 0-1) at Tarpon Springs (4-0, 1-0)

Land O'Lakes dives into the Land of Sponges in search of an upset, but think back to the matchup last season. The Gators rolled on the Spongers not once, but twice. Land O'Lakes was up 17 points when the game was postponed because of bad weather. Tarpon Springs had to travel back to Land O'Lakes three days later in a game the Gators won 39-20. A bunch of the Spongers' skill players from that game are back. Most of Land O'Lakes' aren't.

IG: Tarpon Springs, 21-14. All good things come to an end, including consecutive playoff streaks.

JK: Land O'Lakes, 24-23. Alex Spock wins this one to preserve Gators' playoff hopes.

Mitchell (3-1, 0-0) at Gaither (2-3, 0-0)

Mitchell has defeated three teams with a combined onfield record of 3-10. Still, something tells us they're going to give the Cowboys all they want.

IG: Gaither, 28-10. Mitchell is playing good football, but Hillsborough County plays great football.

JK: Gaither, 22-14. Win last week against Jesuit was a huge boost for Cowboys

Wesley Chapel (2-3, 0-0) at Wharton (3-2, 0-0)

The annual battle of the Wildcats appears to favor Wharton all the way. Wesley Chapel is coming off an inexplicable loss at Zephyrhills, and Wharton had a solid win against Plant City last week, which featured its top players in three-way senior Jarius Jones and senior quarterback Andrew Clifford.

IG: Wharton, 35-7. Wharton has the weapons and homefield advantage and this was Jones' breakout game two seasons ago.

JK: Wharton, 31-8. These 'Cats are more talented across the board.

Gulf (5-0, 1-0) at Sunlake (1-3, 0-1)

We're still not sure if Bucs quarterback Madison Burr (foot) will play, but with all due respect to the talented Bucs junior, he didn't play last week and Gulf still rang up 52 on Ridgewood.

IG: Gulf, 45-3. The Bucs pick up another key district win to remain undefeated.

JK: Gulf, 53-8. Another Golden performance from Gulf.

Crystal River (1-4, 0-1) at Hernando (2-2, 0-0)

Hernando's offensive skill players are at full strength — and not a Friday too soon. Previously-injured fullback Champ Lumsden, who ran for 133 yards against Wesley Chapel two weeks ago, provides an ideal complement to sophomore Alvin Delaine (4.98 yards per carry). Hernando coach John Palmer has had two weeks to prepare for this critical game and spent last week scouting the Pirates' 21-17 loss to Groveland South Lake.

IG: Hernando, 14-6. The Leopards climb above .500 overall and stay in the playoff hunt.

JK: Hernando, 22-14. Leopards move one step closer to postseason in Palmer's first year

River Ridge (0-4, 0-1) at Ridgewood (2-2, 0-1)

We'd suggest the Rams must improve their passing game to complement senior tailback Sterling Ross, but when Ross is running for 300 yards a night — as he did last week against Gulf — what's the worry? At any rate, we expect to see both Jimmy Mattos and Scott Kujak behind center tonight for Ridgewood.

IG: Ridgewood, 33-10. The Rams make quick work of the Royal Knights and consider trying to catch the final three innings of the Rays-Red Sox game.

JK: Ridgewood, 35-7. When the outcome is clear, Rams coach Chris Taylor will pull Ross.

Lecanto (1-4, 0-1) at Nature Coast (4-0, 1-0)

Sharks coach Jamie Joyner was a little lucky, a little crazy and if Nature Coast had lost last week at Pasco, some would say a little stupid. But winning teams need a little luck and a lot of skill to make it in the playoffs. Lecanto has had a tough season, so this should be little more than a night to stretch the legs and make sure the wheels are working.

IG: Nature Coast, 42-3. Lecanto takes an early lead, but the Sharks roll off 42 consecutive points in the win.

JK: Nature Coast, 33-0. Joyner empties his bench early

Hudson (0-4, 0-1) at Wiregrass Ranch (0-5, 0-1)

The Bulls scored 41 points last week after struggling on offense all season. Two-way senior Stephen Geidel (leg infection) is out for Hudson, but coach Mark Nash says everyone else is healthy. Physically, anyway. One has to wonder how the season's first four weeks have affected this young Cobras team emotionally.

IG: Hudson, 18-6. The Cobras should have more wins. They will after tonight.

JK: Hudson, 34-20. For all their early-season woes, the Cobras remain very much alive for a playoff berth.

Leesburg First Academy (1-3) at Hernando Christian (5-0)

First Academy's lone victory was by forfeit. Tonight, it faces a Lions defense that forfeits very little. HCA has allowed 20 total points in its past three games.

IG: HCA, 32-0. Knight's argument last week was convincing and it came back to bite me. Not anymore, Lions all the way!

JK: HCA, 34-0. First Academy comes in second tonight.

Lake Wales Vanguard (1-4) at Bishop McLaughlin (1-3)

Vanguard's lone win was by forfeit. Its four defeats have been by a combined score of 218-0.

IG: BM, 42-0. Okay, maybe this argument by Knight is a little strong.

JK: Bishop McLaughlin, 41-0. Numbers speak for themselves

North Suncoast: Friday night picks 10/09/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 9, 2008 3:15pm]

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