TAMPA — After a nail-biter last week, Robinson High School fans had better get ready for another.
Actually, if you offered Knights' head football coach Mike DePue a guaranteed white-knuckler at home tonight he'd probably take it. That's because most teams are well out of it when they play Pasco — by halftime.
During their 10 regular-season games the Pirates' most dangerous test was a 54-20 win over Fivay. They "struggled" to a 26-0 win at Wesley Chapel and "only" beat Anclote (a playoff team) 34-0. Outside of that, they scored more than 60 points three times, topped 49 points three other times and . . . you get the point.
Basically, the Pirates did to opponents what the Knights did to theirs, up until Robinson ran into Plant to end the regular season. The difference between the teams in this Class 5A region final is Pasco doesn't offer nearly the threat of the passing game as the Knights do with Zain Gilmore. He showed poise under the ultimate pressure last week, guiding the Knights for the winning score, a 4-yard pass to Martin Ruiz with just 14 seconds left to beat Lakewood 19-14.
Jacob Guy, who ended up walking on at the University of Florida, was the Pirates' signal caller last year and was the key factor as the Pirates topped Jesuit at this stage of the postseason. Pasco went on to lose in triple overtime to Wakulla in the state semifinals.
This year, the Pirates haven't had a reliable thrower and often take to putting all-around superstar Janarion Grant under center.
But that strategy has worked pretty well. Grant missed the first half of the year with an injury, but he's back and already has 13 touchdowns. David Emmanuel, a fellow senior, has 17. And the Pirates are excellent on defense, shutting out Gainesville Eastside 52-0 last week, and holding solid North Marion to 10 points before that.
All of this means tonight's game promises to be high-flying, scintillating and anyone's guess as to who will win. Maybe Robinson's recent tests serve as an advantage should it get tight. The victor gets to stay home for the state semis, and won't have to worry about previously No. 1 Wakulla as an opponent, as it fell to Godby last week. The Pasco-Robinson winner will play Godby or Jacksonville Bishop Kenny.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Robinson.