South Sumter at Pasco
Time and site: 8 p.m., W.F. Edwards Stadium at Pasco High.
Radio: WDCF, 1350 AM.
Records: South Sumter 3-0, Pasco 3-0.
Last year: Pasco 42, South Sumter 0.
Key points: The game has no other significance than to determine which team will remain undefeated. The teams play in different districts and conferences. Both teams are riding regular-season winning streaks _ Pasco has won 14 straight and South Sumter seven. The Raiders defeated Dunnellon 35-12 last week; Pasco had an open date. South Sumner likes to run, with Kelly Hart getting the brunt of the work. He has 370 yards and three touchdowns. The Raiders use an unusual quarterback system with sophomore Clinton Hart (Kelly's brother) and junior Jarod Davis alternating on every play. Pasco is led by quarterback Issac Johnson, who has completed 14 of 27 passes for 294 yards and five touchdowns. He has not thrown an interception. Johnson's favorite target is Chris Jones, who has caught six passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Pasco has great depth at running back, interchanging seven players. The defense is led by end Taras Ross and linebacker Darren Hambrick. Brent Locklear gives the Pirates an advantage at kicker.
Prediction: Pasco 35, South Sumter 21.
River Ridge at Gulf
Time and site: 8 p.m., Des Little Stadium on the campus of Gulf High off Madison Street in New Port Richey.
Records: River Ridge 1-3, Gulf 0-4.
Last year: Gulf 58, River Ridge 0.
Key points: Second-year River Ridge won its first game ever, 6-2 over Zephyrhills, last week. It has a chance to make it two in a row tonight as Gulf has been shut out in three of four games. The Bucs' only scoring was in a 41-14 loss to Ridgewood. Despite such low scoring, Gulf's ground attack has been competent and could open up against the Royal Knights. Quarterback Julius Mendoza leads with 171 yards on 29 carries, followed by Mike Welch (24 for 119), Drew Berman (41 for 113) and Mike Pike (35 for 102). River Ridge's offense keys on sophomore running backs Nate Shipman and John Malacos. Shipman is the county's fourth-leading rusher with 281 yards on 59 carries; Malacos has 168 yards on 49 carries. Each has two touchdowns. Neither team has shown any semblance of a successful passing game, so the game should move quickly. A non-district, Sunshine Athletic Conference game.
Prediction: Gulf 18, River Ridge 15.
Zephyrhills at Ridgewood
Time and site: 8 p.m., Rams Booster Stadium, on the campus of Ridgewood off Orchid Lake Road in New Port Richey.
Records: Zephyrhills 0-4, Ridgewood 3-1.
Last year: Zephyrhills 42, Ridgewood 14.
Key points: Zephyrhills' passing game has been sporadic; quarterbacks Kevin McLeod and Donnie Pinkerton have combined for 341 yards on 21 completions, but that is on 65 attempts and they have eight interceptions. Ridgewood quarterback Ray Pepito is 14-for-26 for a 53 percent completion rate, the best on the North Suncoast. He has passed for 335 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown. Zephyrhills' ground game has been non-existent lately; no rusher has more than 100 yards. But the Bulldogs may have more luck against Ridgewood's mushy defense. Ridgewood was slammed 33-8 by district opponent East Lake last week, the Rams' first loss. Running backs Chris Carson and Robbie Blankenship combined for less than 100 yards, but should have a much better time tonight. Carson has 335 yards on 44 carries and eight TDs, Blankenship 317 on 47 carries. A non-district, Sunshine Athletic Conference game.
Prediction: Ridgewood 30, Zephyrhills 12.
Crystal River at Hernando
Time and site: 8 p.m., Tom Fisher Stadium, 200 East Kelly St., on the campus of Hernando High, Brooksville.
Radio: WWJB, 1450 AM, Brooksville; WXCV, 95.3 FM, Crystal River, 7:45 p.m. pregame show.
Records: Hernando 2-2, Crystal River 2-2.
Last year: Hernando 28, Crystal River 0.
Key points: A non-district, Gulf Coast Conference game. Hernando High is coming off a 14-13 victory over Citrus; Crystal River beat Lecanto 22-0 last week. Hernando is 2-1 in the GCC, Crystal River 1-0. Hernando's Jermaine Green is the North Suncoast rushing leader (86 carries, 714 yards, 8.3-yard average). He has scored six of Hernando's eight touchdowns. Crystal River's Bobby Fischer is third among area rushing leaders (60 carries, 416 yards, 6.9 avg.). He has rushed for four touchdowns, including a 71-yarder and a 9-yarder last week. Hernando quarterback Shad Reese played all of last week's game despite a swollen knee that caused him to miss one-and-a-half days of practice. His favorite target is Rodney Addison (4 catches, 115 yards). Crystal River continues to use two quarterbacks, Kasy Copeland and Todd Bandhauer. Copeland has started all four games. Hernando is the only county team playing tonight. Springstead and Central are idle.
Prediction: Hernando 14, Crystal River 12.
Umatilla at Lecanto
Time and site: 8 p.m., Panther Stadium, located on the Lecanto High campus on Educational Path of County Road 491.
Records: Umatilla 3-1, Lecanto 0-4.
Last year: Umatilla 28, Lecanto 21 (OT).
Key points: The Panthers are coming off a 22-0 loss at Crystal River. The Bulldogs won a big game last week, beating three-time 2A-5 champion Wildwood 13-6 to take the district lead. Umatilla runs a wing-T offense that keys on two main running backs: Lawrence Clark (40 carries, 416 yards) and Darrell Mitchell (37 carries, 297 yards). The Bulldogs' ground game averages 220 yards per outing. Lecanto's run-and-shoot offense continues to be effective in terms of yardage (422 rushing, 335 passing), but has produced only one touchdown in four games. Lecanto junior running back Guy Touchton rates seventh on the North Suncoast with 286 yards on 65 carries, while junior quarterback Skip Baxley is second among passers with 335 yards. Baxley's 91 attempts are nearly twice the number of any other area quarterback, as Lecanto has maintained nearly a 1-to-1 ratio of running plays to pass plays. A non-district, non-conference game.
Prediction: Lecanto 21, Umatilla 18.
Clermont at Citrus
Time and site: 8 p.m., the Citrus Bowl, located on the Citrus High campus on Highland Boulevard in Inverness.
Records: Clermont 3-1, Citrus 3-1.
Last year: Citrus 30, Clermont 14.
Key points: The Hurricanes are coming off a disappointing 14-13 loss at Hernando that snapped a three-game win streak. The Highlanders beat Kissimmee-Gateway 36-14 last week. Clermont relies on 6-foot-2, 198-pound tailback Kendrick Moore, who leads the Leesburg area in rushing with 694 yards on only 82 carries (an 8.4 average). Citrus will counter with fullback Rob Malpica, who retains his No. 2 spot on the North Suncoast rushing list despite gaining only 80 yards against Hernando. Malpica has 483 yards on 66 carries (a 7.3 average), and four touchdowns. The Hurricanes have a well-rounded attack with quarterback John Autry and placekicker Shawn Nolan. Both teams are known for stingy defenses. A non-district, non-conference game.
Prediction: Citrus 17, Clermont 16.