Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Sports

North Suncoast: Sunday morning quarterback

North Suncoast Super 7

1. Springstead (6-1, 2-0): The Eagles emerge from a bye week for a key matchup against district rival Mitchell, followed by a highly anticipated game against Land O'Lakes.

2. Sunlake (7-1, 2-1): The Seahawks are second in 6A-6 after their 28-21 overtime win against Land O'Lakes. RB Nathan Johnson rushed for 152 yards and three touchdowns.

3. Zephyrhills (6-1, 3-1): The Bulldogs dominated Central 70-21 and remain second in 5A-6, just behind undefeated South Sumter. Upcoming matchups against Hernando and Pasco will offer a clearer view of the postseason.

4. Land O'Lakes (6-1, 1-1): The 28-21 overtime loss to Sunlake dropped the Gators' district positioning, but they played a tough game with a strong defense. They face district rival Fivay next.

5. Pasco (4-3, 2-2): The Pirates proved they are still postseason contenders by beating Hernando 7-0 and moving into a tie for third in 5A-6.

6. Anclote (4-3, 3-0): After a 43-9 pounding of Gulf, the Sharks are tied with Hudson for the 5A-7 lead and are on a roll after starting 0-3.

7. Hernando (2-5, 2-2): Pasco held the Leopards scoreless, but Hernando didn't hand the Pirates the win. The Leopards face district rival Zephyrhills next.

Blind side

Things we didn't see coming:

1. Ridgewood hanging with Hudson. The Cobras are much improved, and so is Ridgewood. Behind Glass Wilson's 176-yard, two-touchdown night, the Rams were tied with Hudson early in the fourth quarter before the Cobras scored 21 unanswered points to seal a 47-26 win.

2. That Land O'Lakes-Sunlake finish. Fourteen points in the first three quarters. Twenty-eight in the fourth quarter, plus a touchdown in overtime. Ridiculous.

3. Weeki Wachee's big win. The Hornets earned a 31-28 homecoming win with clutch plays down the stretch. Doing so against a Class 8A opponent, Orlando Colonial, is noteworthy.

4. Those Pasco-Hernando defenses. Three quarters with no points. We expected both teams to earn at least three touchdowns, but the Pirates scored the only TD of the game in the second quarter.

5. Wiregrass Ranch hanging with Steinbrenner. The Bulls led by 10 at halftime but lost 27-20. That's still an improvement from last year, when the Warriors drubbed Wiregrass by 38 points.

Playoff picture

A breakdown of the North Suncoast's three main district battles:

Class 6A, District 6: Springstead is the only undefeated team left in district play and would win its second straight title by beating Land O'Lakes on Nov. 1. If the Gators win, they will likely create a three-way tie for first with the Eagles and Sunlake.

Class 5A, District 6: South Sumter has clinched the district title. After that, it's a hot mess. Zephyrhills will be playoff-bound if it wins out, but Pasco and Hernando remain alive, too, and both face the Bulldogs. There's also a slim chance that Nature Coast joins those teams in a four-way tie for second place.

Class 5A, District 7: If Hudson beats River Ridge this week, the Cobras and Anclote will both advance to the playoffs, and the winner of their Nov. 1 contest takes the district title.

By the numbers

3 Touchdowns scored by Sunlake RB Nathan Johnson against Land O'Lakes. Johnson has rushed for more than 100 yards in seven games this season

4 Games (in his past five) with at least 140 rushing yards by River Ridge senior Ben Perdomo, who had 141 on Wesley Chapel

4.3 Tackles per game by Pasco's Jacob Morphew, who led a defense that held Hernando to 42 yards on 21 carries

5 Turnovers forced by Weeki Wachee's defense against Orlando Colonial

38 Points scored against Springstead since its first and only loss of the season to Citrus, 42-14

205 Yards rushing for Mitchell's Nate Boler against Fivay, the second time this season he has run for more than 100 yards

Performances worth another mention

Pasco ATH Malik Johns: His third consecutive 100-yard outing included a 5-yard touchdown, the game's only score in a pivotal 7-0 district win over rival Hernando.

Hudson RB Noah Siegrist: He averaged 8.9 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns in a win over Ridgewood that keeps the Cobras' district title hopes alive.

Nature Coast RB DeShawn Smith: Rushing for 110 yards (even in a loss) against mighty South Sumter is impressive. Doing it on only eight carries is even better.

Audible

"Nobody likes to lose, and we haven't experienced much of that the past few years." — Tom McHugh, Pasco coach, after a win over Hernando

Injury update

Wiregrass Ranch senior Jordan Mutcherson is okay after leaving Friday's loss to Steinbrenner in an ambulance with an undisclosed injury. He has been released from the hospital, Bulls coach Mike Lawrence said. Mutcherson, a 6-foot-2, 236-pound defensive end/linebacker, has 64 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks this season. He also holds an offer from Youngstown State.

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