Thursday, May 24, 2018
Sports

North Suncoast: Sunday morning quarterback

North Suncoast Super 7

1. Pasco (4-0, 1-0): If the Pirates look this good without star Janarion Grant, how dominant will they be in the district when he returns from his broken hand?

2. Springstead (5-0): Steady Springstead continues to get it done, especially on defense. Joe Predoehl had another big fumble recovery to continue an all-North Suncoast-caliber season.

3. Sunlake (3-1): The Seahawks woke up after sleepwalking through the last two games. Could Sunlake be a sleeping giant?

4. Mitchell (4-1): The bad news: The Mustangs' shot at their first 5-0 season since 2009 is gone. The good news: Mitchell is still a legitimate playoff contender in a crazy district.

5. Nature Coast (2-2): Two of Rohan Blackwood's three receiving touchdowns in his Sharks career have come against River Ridge.

6. Fivay (3-1): The Falcons have scored at least 28 in three of their four games. That trend should continue against Hudson.

7. Zephyrhills (2-2): After another 100-plus-yard game, Willie Williams has become one of Pasco County's top players. He, Mike Smith and the rest of the offense need to continue to click to battle for the playoffs.

Offensive MVPs

Matt Breida, Nature Coast: The senior Division-I recruit had his second consecutive 200-yard game, rushing for 253 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-21 win over River Ridge.

Davion Sutton, Fivay: The junior running back continued a breakout season by rushing for 190 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-7 win over Wesley Chapel.

Defensive/special teams MVPs

Clarence Farria, Ridgewood: His 50-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first quarter set the tone in a 20-3 win over Gulf.

Mike O'Donnell, Gulf: The sophomore kicker booted a 20-yard field goal in the loss to Ridgewood to give Gulf its first points this year.

Stat of the week

Pasco's Malik Johns returned a punt 75 yards for a score against Anclote. The junior has scored on a punt return in each of the Pirates' four games this season.

Three things we learned in Week 5

Class 6A, District 6 is still a mess: Mitchell looked unbeatable in a 4-0 start, but looked vulnerable on both sides of the ball against Sunlake. Hernando shut out Central 33-0 but didn't seem impressive, while Nature Coast seemed to find some offense against River Ridge. Who would have thought Land O'Lakes would be 0-2 in the district, or that Springstead would be the most consistent team so far?

Sunlake's demise has been greatly exaggerated: As a Seahawks coach gently pointed out during a 36-7 win over Mitchell. Sunlake played flat against Wiregrass Ranch and early against Springstead before rallying. But when the Seahawks play a complete game, as they did against the Mustangs, they're hard to beat. Don't count them out of the playoffs yet.

Pasco's defense is unbreakable: Pirates coaches were excited about more depth this year because fewer players would start on both sides of the ball. That has paid off on defense. Pasco has only allowed one touchdown all season and has shut out three straight opponents. By blanking district foes Gulf and Anclote, Joey Ivie and the Pirates haven't allowed a touchdown in four consecutive district games, since beating Fivay 59-6 last October.

Five thoughts on Week 6

Class 6A, District 6 will shake out: A little bit, at least. A Sunlake loss to Nature Coast would doom the Seahawks, and the winner of the Land O'Lakes-Mitchell game can keep its postseason hopes alive. Hernando hasn't dominated yet, but a convincing win over River Ridge would remind the North Suncoast that the Leopards remain a talented team.

Bishop McLaughlin has a big test: The Hurricanes are 3-2 and have their first winning record under coach Derrick Alexander. Bishop has a dangerous, multifaceted run game and has a chance to match its win total for last season against Cornerstone Charter Academy.

This is huge for Nature Coast: The Sharks have done what they've needed to do so far, racking up double-digit wins over outmatched Central and River Ridge. But Sunlake is perhaps Nature Coast's most talented opponent yet. A win over the Seahawks would prove that the Sharks are back in the playoff picture, again.

Look for Anclote to earn its first W: The Sharks (0-4) have been competitive, with three of the losses coming by 10 or fewer points and only falling to Pasco by 34, not bad, given the opponent. Anclote should beat Ridgewood and has a legitimate shot at a .500 season.

It's now or never for Land O'Lakes: The Gators had chances to knock off Hernando and couldn't find a run game against Springstead. Land O'Lakes is 1-3 and winless in the district. A loss to Mitchell this week would be nearly impossible to recover from.

The last word

It's easy to focus on Ridgewood coach Jay Fulmer beating his old team, Gulf, 20-3. But the Rams needed a victory, regardless of the opponent. Ridgewood had suffered blowout losses (to Mitchell and Springstead), a close one (to River Ridge) and a fourth-quarter collapse (to Hudson) in losing 13 of its last 14 games. Tyler Vito, Xavier Nazario and the Rams rebounded well to earn their first win of the season and the first in Fulmer's tenure.

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