Tuesday, November 21, 2017

North Suncoast: Sunday morning quarterback


North Suncoast Super 7

1. Pasco (3-0): Through three games last season, the Pirates outscored opponents 146-33. Through three games this fall, Pasco has won its games by a total of 173-7.

2. Mitchell (4-0): Forget the run game. Behind QB Trey Drury, Mitchell threw four passes Friday, and the Mustangs scored on three of them.

3. Springstead (4-0): Beating a Sunlake team that won a playoff game last fall is a statement-making victory for an Eagles team that looks ready to compete for a district title.

4. Hernando (1-3): Coach Dwayne Mobley earned his first regular-season win behind a great defense, but the offense will have to play better if the Leopards want a third consecutive playoff trip.

5. Fivay (2-1): The Falcons bounced back from a loss to Springstead with an offensive explosion against Anclote.

6. Nature Coast (2-2): Regardless of the opponent, a 33-point first quarter on a stormy night is impressive. A matchup against reeling River Ridge looms.

7. Zephyrhills (1-2): The Bulldogs showed big-play potential with five TDs of 15 yards or longer in a 42-19 win over Wesley Chapel.

Offensive MVPs

Matt Breida, Nature Coast: If only the Sharks running back could play Central every game. A year after setting a school record with 355 yards, he rushed for 257 and four touchdowns in the first half of a 47-0 win over the Bears.

Willie Williams, Zephyrhills: The running back rushed for a career-high 214 yards and two TDs in a win over Wesley Chapel.

Defense/special teams MVPs

Nate Binder, Hudson: His 22-yard field goal in overtime lifted the Cobras to a 27-24 victory over Ridgewood. He also booted a 27-yarder in the fourth quarter and hit the extra point to force overtime.

Robert Hill Bronson, Hernando: The senior pass rusher blocked one punt in the first quarter and another in the fourth. He returned the second block 33 yards for the winning touchdown — the first score of his career — in a 14-13 win over Land O'Lakes.

In case you missed it

• Pasco RB David Emmanuel averaged 33.5 yards a carry, finishing with 134 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over Gulf.

• Bishop McLaughlin blanked Merritt Island Christian 17-0 in the rain. It was the Hurricanes' first shutout win since a 66-0 blowout over Hernando Christian in October 2010.

• Land O'Lakes QB Ethan Weilant ended a Hernando drive in Gators territory with a third-quarter interception. He's at least the second North Suncoast quarterback to make an interception, after Hernando's Tyrail Hawkins.

Five things we learned in Week 4

1. Mitchell is a legitimate playoff contender. The Mustangs are 4-0 and have a 36.5-point average margin of victory. A 46-3 win over River Ridge, a sleeper playoff pick, in a rivalry game is impossible to discount.

2. The rest of Class 6A, District 6 is clearer, too. Hernando proved it can win close games with a 14-13 win over Land O'Lakes. If the Gators' defense plays as it did against Hernando, allowing only one TD, Land O'Lakes can compete, too. Springstead solidified itself as a contender by gutting out a 13-7 win over Sunlake, a playoff team from last year.

3. Fivay and Zephyrhills remain second and third in 5A-6. The Falcons found offensive triplets against Anclote with QB Tyler Degen (293 passing yards), RB Davion Sutton (196 rushing yards) and Andrew Meyer (231 receiving yards). The Bulldogs defense forced six turnovers against Wesley Chapel. Expect the runnerup spot to come down to these two.

4. Anclote is close. The Sharks hung with Springstead in Week 3 and made things interesting in a 41-31 loss to Fivay. Anclote has talented juniors, including Shymere Carter (two TD catches), and could become a playoff contender next season.

5. Pasco's special teams still shine. Despite the loss of ATH Trey Dudley-Giles to graduation, the Pirates are still dominant on special teams. Malik Johns has returned a punt for a score in each of Pasco's first three games, and freshman Nate Craig-Myers returned a kickoff for a TD against Gulf.

Injury updates

• Weeki Wachee QB David Tinch went to the hospital after a hit in a 38-15 loss to Umatilla. His father said in a text message that Tinch tore a muscle, and his playing status was unclear for next week.

• Gulf RB/LB Uly Velez is okay after a hit sent him to the hospital and ended the Buccaneers' loss to Pasco. Coach Tom Carter said Saturday that Velez was sore.

Four thoughts on Week 5

1. Mitchell should be favored to beat Sunlake. Who would have thought that would happen after the Seahawks won a playoff game last year and the Mustangs slumped to 2-5 in district play?

2. Tampa Bay's best under-the-radar game will be Gulf-Ridgewood. The Buccaneers have learned from tough competition, while the Rams are seeking revenge on behalf of coach Jay Fulmer, the former head man at Gulf. Don't be surprised if the Bucs pick up their first win.

3. Pasco shouldn't have any trouble against Anclote. The question is whether the Pirates can continue their streak of back-to-back shutouts.

4. Wiregrass Ranch has shown improvement. After losing to Pasco, Sunlake and Gaither by a combined 128-0 last year, the Bulls have fallen to those teams by 108-19 this season. Don't expect Wiregrass to beat TBT this week, but it should be closer than last year's 46-7 defeat.

The last word

Mark Kantor inherited one of the toughest coaching jobs in Tampa Bay when he took over at Hudson. He has already done something his predecessor couldn't: earn a win. Kantor's Cobras got revenge against Ridgewood after last year's fourth-quarter defeat with a comeback of their own. Hudson (1-2) rallied from 18 down to force overtime and kicked a 22-yard field goal to end a 24-game losing streak. The Cobras still have a long way to go before they're ready to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009, but they're getting closer.


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