DADE CITY — The electricity from last year's playoff run came rushing back as Pasco unleashed an all-around football frenzy.
Bottled up to some degree for the better part of eight months, Pasco took the first step Friday night toward answering coach Tom McHugh's challenge.
Can these Pirates match or surpass those Pirates, he has asked throughout the preseason.
Those Pirates won 12 games in 2008 and reached the Class 3A state semifinals, one win shy of the title game. These Pirates began 2009 with a 48-0 win over old-time rival Hernando.
"We got a great start," Pasco junior Jamie Byrd said. "…Coach McHugh wanted a team better than last year. He got it."
Yes it was a preseason game, but in fewer than 10 minutes Pasco quarterback D.J. Clower threw touchdowns to Chaise Dunn, Marcus Hicks and Hakeeme Ishmar and ran one in himself for a 28-0 lead. He connected once more with Wesley Chapel transfer Mitch Wozniak proving he has plenty of options.
Defensively, McHugh was ready to anoint Jamie Byrd the new leader after his vicious hitting, including forcing a fumble on Hernando's first offensive play.
Pasco's defense was questioned after heavy losses to graduation. But guys such as Chase Sellers (two sacks) showed there is depth and experience thanks to last year's deep playoff run.
Meanwhile, Hernando struggled in all facets with quarterback Kall Daniel and running back Alvin Delaine held in check. The Leopards offense combined for 92 total yards.
Pasco combined for 315 yards by halftime with Clower finishing 10-for-13 with 175 yards, contributing to five touchdowns before reserves finished.
"(McHugh) keeps saying last year's team had heart," Clower said. "We have big shoes to fill. He's trying to keep us motivated so we have something to strive for."
Izzy Gould can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 421-3886.