North Suncoast: Friday night rewind

Around the area Rams settle on Mattos

Rams quarterback Jimmy Mattos was 8-for-11 with 116 yards and two scores, apparently settling Ridgewood's quarterback spot in a 35-12 win. Both of his scores came after Hudson turnovers. One score was in the third quarter from 27 yards out, the other in the fourth quarter from 26 yards. Five of his eight completions were for 10 yards or more.

"We had two quarterbacks ready to start for us. It just so happens that the senior got the nod (Friday) and did well," Rams coach Chris Taylor said. "We will continue to let them compete in practice."

Kessler limited

Hernando transfer Clay Kessler played a limited role in his Leopards debut because of a hamstring injury. The Division I prospect didn't touch the ball offensively, and he played a limited amount of snaps at defensive end. Hernando coach John Palmer said he expected Kessler to be closer to 100 percent for the game but now is taking it week-to-week.

Palmer gets first win

We've said all along Hernando's transformation under Leopards alumnus John Palmer would be swift and sure. Consider: With three more victories, Hernando equals the program's victory total of the past two seasons.

Try, try again

C.J. West has a bunch of jobs for Wesley Chapel. Not only does he have to take snaps from the center as quarterback, but he is also the kicker and punter. Though he might want to have a punt back Friday. On a fake punt in the fourth quarter, West looked to scramble but after taking a few steps he ended up booting the ball rugby style. The result: a minus-1-yard punt. The ball went backward out of bounds. Asked about it, West simply smiled and said, "Well, I try."

Did you know?

Wiregrass Ranch is in its third year as a varsity program, and 2008 is the Bulls' first season with seniors. However, the last time a high school football program in Wesley Chapel was in its third year, it went 10-0. The Wildcats, who beat the Bulls 21-6 on Friday, went undefeated in the 2001 regular season.

Gators struggle in openers

Land O'Lakes has not won an opener since 2005. But the first game hardly seems to matter as the Gators are searching for their 12th consecutive trip to the postseason. Last year, the Gators fell at Pasco 15-10. In 2006, Zephyrhills won at Land O'Lakes 14-7.

Pasco takes the lead

The Pirates' win against Land O'Lakes gave them a 17-16 lead in the head-to-head series.

A first for Fulmer

Gulf coach Jay Fulmer won an opener for the first time in four seasons. The Bucs did it with 34 points of offense, more than they scored in the previous three openers combined (39-0 loss to Wesley Chapel in 2005, 16-15 loss to Wesley Chapel in '06, 41-13 loss to Mitchell in '07). Fulmer is 16-16 at Gulf.

Game balls

Sterling Ross

RB, Ridgewood

The Rams transfer rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns, proving he can fill the void left by Byronell Arline. Two of his carries were for 45 and 75 yards.

Tevin Drake

RB, Nature Coast

The Sharks junior had 153 yards and three touchdowns with his longest run 66 yards.

Jamall Haynes

RB, Pasco

The Pirates senior rushed for a game-high 102 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.

D.J. Clower

QB, Pasco

The Pirates signal caller, above, was almost perfect, completing 8-of-9 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown.

Keenan Reynold

RB, Wesley Chapel

Every other play seemed to involve Reynold. Of the 39 rushing plays the Wildcats ran, Reynold had 15, racking up a game-high 175 yards and a 31-yard TD run.

Alvin Delaine

RB, Hernando

He had 24 carries, 133 yards and two touchdowns.

Times staff writer Mike Camunas and correspondents Andy Villamarzo, Derek LaRiviere, Chris Wagenheim and Greg Rhodes contributed to this report.

What an opening week. We learned the Sharks rule, and the Royal Knights are simply just the same-old Knights. Pasco is powerful, and Hudson has been disappointing. Springstead has been stellar, while Mitchell has not. And Hernando got the best of Central, but certainly not the Bears' best effort. HCA won the battle of private schools, though Bishop McLaughlin is gaining strength. Hey, Sunlake! Way to go on win No. 1. Zephyrhills needs a pick-me-up. Well, things can't seem as bad as they do at Hudson. The Gators could revive their season at the expense of Wesley Chapel. That won't be easy, just ask Wiregrass Ranch. After scrapping with Wildcats the Bulls get the surprising Rams. Is it Week 2 already?

The North Suncoast Fab Five

1. Nature Coast

The Sharks are ferocious and licking their chops to show Catch 47 just how good they really are. 2. Pasco

The Pirates were sizzling in an all-around dominant performance against Land O'Lakes. Look out! 3. Springstead

Eagles continue to soar toward this week's showdown at rival Nature Coast. Good luck. 4. Gulf

The Buccaneers have our attention and suddenly have us thinking playoff contender. 5. Ridgewood

Perhaps the most underrated of all the North Suncoast teams. Quick reads

• Wiregrass Ranch-Wesley Chapel is the North Suncoast's newest big rivalry. More than 2,500 people (estimated attendance for Friday's game) can't be wrong, can they?

• Pasco's defense was stunning, with four sacks and a forced fumble. The crew, led by Pirates senior Mylon Brown, held the Gators to 2 yards rushing.

• The game of the year in Hernando County? Springstead at Nature Coast … on Friday … on Catch 47.

• Zephyrhills has had a couple of rough games, but don't give up on the Bulldogs just yet. They travel to Mitchell this week to face another team still in search of an identity.

Unsung heroes

Wesley Chapel's defense

Held Wiregrass Ranch to a touchdown, 130 yards of total offense, picked up three interceptions, forced a fumble, had two sacks and a relentless secondary allowed just five completions.

Rockkem Greene

DL, Nature Coast

Recovered a fumble and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Jon Mahan

CB, Wesley Chapel

He had two interceptions in the Wildcats' victory.

Cody Kleiner

WR, Gulf

The Buccaneers senior caught four passes for 62 yards and made clutch catches to keep drives alive.

Pasco's defense

The Pirates shut down the Gators, sacking quarterback Stevie Weatherford four times and forcing a fumble.

Josh Grey

K, Ridgewood

He was 5-for-5 on extra points Friday. His accuracy became important after Hudson botched two conversions in the first half and the Rams went up 21-12, making it a two-possession game.

Gulf's defense

The Buccaneers defense allowed 41 points and 439 yards of offense last year to the Mustangs. This time, Mitchell scored only seven points and was held to 133 yards.

James Stephens

LB, Hernando

This senior recovered two of Central's four lost fumbles. He recorded three tackles for a loss and used his speed to break up many attempts to run outside.

North Suncoast: Friday night rewind 09/06/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 8, 2008 10:05am]

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