The regular season ended Friday night, and some fans were still hoping for refunds. Let's face it, some seasons live up to the hype; some do not. This one was too predictable. Refer to our "Contenders and Pretenders" package that ran last month. Every pick was on the money. Blame the success of 2008 for the lack of enthusiasm at the end of 2009. Last season had a little bit of everything: Pasco's deep playoff run, Nature Coast's controversial exit, games decided by gutsy two-point conversions and athletes now playing on Saturdays. In retrospect, this might be one of the most disappointing seasons in recent North Suncoast memory. Call it a rebuilding year, but it had its moments. Who will soon forget the firing of Zephyrhills coach Jerrell Cogmon? Mitchell's 8-0 start? The rise of Pasco freshman Janarion Grant? The resurgence of Hernando? Nature Coast's rally to earn a playoff berth in a three-way tiebreaker? The bluntly honest comments from Land O'Lakes coach Matt Kitchie? And in all likelihood the end of the John Castelamare era at Wesley Chapel? We even saw Spoto coach Dale Caparaso at two North Suncoast games. Five North Suncoast teams are still playing. Hudson, Land O'Lakes, Nature Coast and Pasco are in the playoffs. Wiregrass Ranch has accepted a bowl game against Spoto. We'll place our 2010 predictions on hold until after the playoffs, but we're forecasting a quick end to this postseason, with one North Suncoast team at best advancing to the second round.
All games at 7:30 p.m.
• Hudson (5-5) at Gainesville (9-1)
• Land O'Lakes (9-1) at Jefferson (8-1)
• Nature Coast (7-3) at Citra North Marion (9-1)
• Pasco (9-1) vs. Lakewood (8-2)
Super Seven (final poll)
1. Pasco (9-1): The Pirates' flashy offense returns. Freshman Janarion Grant scores five touchdowns against Wiregrass Ranch.
2. Land O'Lakes (9-1): Gators get the job done against Hudson.
3. Nature Coast (7-3): Sharks play three games in eight days and win the two most important ones to reach the playoffs.
4. Mitchell (8-2): Idle. The Mustangs are arguably the best team on the North Suncoast not in the playoffs. Early predictions indicate a berth next season.
5. Hernando (7-3): Leopards also play three times in eight nights, but lose twice to Nature Coast. Look for the tables to turn next season.
6. Hudson (5-5): The Cobras make the playoff for the first time under quarterback Zack Wynn. Our advice: play at Gainesville with nothing to lose.
7. Wiregrass Ranch (5-5): Got to love the spirit of Bulls coach Jeremy Shobe. He will take a crack at Spoto in a bowl game. Awesome.
|Alvin Delaine, Jr., Hernando||Running back broke the school's single-game rushing record with 329 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries in a 55-6 win against Central. He broke Dwayne Mobley's record of 315 yards against Central in 1992.|
|Janarion Grant, Fr., Pasco||Scored four rushing touchdowns and added another one receiving. He compiled 193 yards of total offense in a 37-10 victory against Wiregrass Ranch.|
|Taylor Foster, Sr., Hudson||Defensive lineman had three sacks and forced a fumble in a 21-6 loss to Land O'Lakes.|
|Isaac Bailey, Jr., Nature Coast||Defensive back sparked a 14-0 win against Hernando with a 39-yard interception return, vaulting the Sharks into the playoffs. It was Bailey's third interception in two nights.|
Times correspondent Derek J. LaRiviere contributed to this report.