What we learned
Pasco has a pretty good defense, too: All season we've heard about how explosive the offense can be, and rightly so, considering the Pirates averaged 45 points entering the Land O'Lakes game. But Friday, the Pirates showed that their defense can be just as effective. Pasco harassed and hurried Gators star quarterback Stevie Weatherford all night, forcing him into two interceptions. Weatherford completed only 43 percent of his passes and was limited to a season-low 126 yards passing. Pasco's opportunistic defense created four turnovers and held the Gators' aerial show in check. Land O'Lakes managed only 188 total yards in its 20-14 loss.
Wiregrass Ranch earned its first program-defining victory: In the days leading up to Wiregrass Ranch's showdown with Tarpon Springs for first place in Class 4A District 6, Bulls head coach Jeremy Shobe said his team needed a signature win to prove it could play with the best in the bay area. And that's precisely what Wiregrass Ranch got in a back-and-forth 20-16 win that put the Bulls in the driver's seat for the district title. After falling short in three-point losses to Wesley Chapel and Clearwater Central Catholic, Wiregrass Ranch finally prevailed in a game decided by seven points or fewer, Drake King's interception in the final seconds sealing the victory for the upstart Bulls.
Springstead is a playoff contender: After learning coach Bill Vonata's father passed away earlier in the day, Springstead outmuscled West Port 31-28 to stay alive in Class 4A District 5. With Gainesville, undefeated in district play, coming to Spring Hill this coming Friday, the Eagles can essentially clinch a spot in the postseason with a victory. It won't be easy, though. Gainesville has won three district games by a combined 186-7 and walloped Central 77-0 in its last outing.
1. Pasco (7-0): The Pirates' Trey Dudley-Giles caught three passes for 50 yards and a score in the 20-16 win vs. Land O'Lakes and added a fourth-quarter third-down completion with his team trying to run out the clock.
This week: vs. Mitchell (5-3)
2. Land O'Lakes (6-1): The Gators suddenly face a must-win situation this Friday at Sunlake or they'll be sitting home for the playoffs.
This week: at Sunlake (7-0)
3. Sunlake (7-0): The Seahawks can clinch their first-ever playoff appearance with a win over the Gators.
This week: vs. Land O'Lakes (6-1)
4. Hernando (6-1): With winnable district games remaining against Citrus and Nature Coast, the Leopards appear to be a shoo-in for the postseason.
This week: at Citrus (1-7)
5. Wiregrass Ranch (4-3): The Bulls are another team that can earn its first-ever playoff appearance with a win this Friday.
This week: at River Ridge (1-6)
6. Nature Coast (4-3): Sharks struggle at home in a 35-28 victory against Citrus, which entered with just one win.
This week: at Eustis (0-8)
7. Gulf (5-3): The Buccaneers couldn't put Anclote away until Justin Jackson's fourth-quarter touchdown run in a 33-20 win.
This week: vs. Zephyrhills (0-7)
On the bubble: Bishop McLaughlin (5-2), Mitchell (5-3), Springstead (4-4)
|RB Alvin Delaine, Hernando||Behind another breakout performance from Delaine, the Leopards rolled to their third straight win in district play, 30-6 over Eustis. He gained 245 all-purpose yards and had three touchdowns. The biggest was a 47-yard scoring grab from quarterback Cleve Pope right before the half that put the Leopards up 14-6.|
|QB Jacob Guy, Pasco||On the big stage, Guy shined brightest. The junior quarterback threw 21 times in the 20-14 win over Land O'Lakes, completing 12 passes and racking up 215 yards. Guy's 1-yard sneak in the first quarter gave Pasco a 7-0 lead, and he threw touchdown passes of 30 and 17 yards.|
|DB Davon Henry, Wesley Chapel||Henry picked off a Zephyrhills pass and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown to give the Wildcats some breathing room in their 29-11 victory. Henry added a 23-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Jackson in the third quarter to put the Wildcats ahead 15-3.|
|RB Devean Huff, Springstead||Huff, a 5-foot-4 senior, gained 133 yards on 27 carries in the Eagles' emotional 31-28 victory over West Port. Huff had a 6-yard touchdown run in the first quarter for Springstead's first points, and he added another score from 3 yards out before halftime.|
|QB Jacob Jackson, Sunlake||Jackson went for more than 100 yards on the ground and through the air again in the Seahawks' 45-7 rout of Mitchell. Jackson threw three touchdown passes (54, 41 and 27 yards) and accumulated 198 yards with his arm. He also carried 15 times for 108 yards.|
|RB Nick Lomba, Wiregrass Ranch||With his team's playoff hopes hanging in the balance, Lomba tallied 183 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries in a 20-16 win over Tarpon Springs. His 52-yard scoring run tied the game in the first quarter, and he added the go-ahead score in the third on an 83-yard run.|
|RB Giovanni Perone, Bishop McLaughlin||The Hurricanes' ground game couldn't be stopped in a 63-27 win over Shorecrest. Bishop McLaughlin had 466 yards rushing, and most of those belonged to Perone. The senior gained 240 yards on only 13 carries and had three touchdowns, from 49, 65 and 44 yards out.|
|QB Ty'Shon Peters, Gulf||Playing only his third game of the season, Peters threw two touchdown passes to keep the Buccaneers rolling in a 33-20 win over Anclote. He found Julio Vega for a 90-yard catch and run that gave Gulf the lead for good in the second quarter. After halftime, Peters connected with Damian Hicks for a 30-yard scoring strike.|
|WR Antwan Prince, Wiregrass Ranch||Prince gained more than 100 yards receiving and had a crucial 25-yard touchdown catch in the Bulls' 20-16 upset of district foe Tarpon Springs. Prince, a senior, had six receptions total for 126 yards.|
|RB Mitch Ritter, Bishop McLaughlin||Like his teammate Perone, Ritter found the end zone extremely inviting in the blowout of Shorecrest. Ritter scored three touchdowns. He had two 30-yard scoring runs, threw a 13-yard pass to Christian Nummy for a TD and capped the Hurricanes' night with a 68-yard TD run.|
|RB Cameron Rodriguez, Ridgewood||Rodriguez, the Rams' workhorse, averaged nearly 8 yards a carry and ran 34 times to lead Ridgewood to its first victory of the season, 21-12 over Hudson. Rodriguez gained 260 total yards and had a 50-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach.|