Time and place: 8 p.m., Cobras Stadium, Hudson High.
Records: Hernando 3-2; Hudson 3-1.
Last year: Hernando 67, Hudson 0.
Key points: This is a crucial Class 3A, District 7 game that matches an up-and-coming Hudson squad against a Hernando team that many expected would be 5-0 at this point. Hudson would reach 3-0 in 3A-7 with a victory and set up a Nov. 13 showdown with unbeaten Pasco that could determine the district championship. Hernando would go to 2-0 in the district with a win, with Pasco on tap Oct. 30. Hernando's hopes rest with tailback Jermaine Green, who needs 130 yards to reach the 1,000 mark in the sixth game. Green has scored eight touchdowns. Kicker Roger Kennedy has been the difference in Hernando's narrow victories over Crystal River and Citrus the past two weeks.
An experienced Hudson squad relies on the passing game _ unusual on the North Suncoast. Quarterback Matt Gilio leads Pasco County in passing with 413 yards and has completed 29 of 52 passes, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Seven Cobras have caught passes, led by tight end Patrick Valeski, who has eight receptions for 73 yards. The Hudson defense is quick and aggressive and will try to make Green run from sideline to sideline. The teams have one common opponent: Central. Hudson edged the Bears 14-13, and Hernando beat Central 13-6.
Prediction: Hernando 27, Hudson 15.
Ridgewood at Land O'Lakes
Time and site: 8 p.m., Gators Stadium, Land O'Lakes High.
Records: Ridgewood 4-1; Land O'Lakes 4-0.
Last year: Land O'Lakes 25, Ridgewood 7.
Key points: This is a key Class 4A, District 8 game. Ridgewood, 1-1, must win to stay in the district race. Land O'Lakes, 1-0, can assure itself of playing for the championship Nov. 13 at East Lake, currently 2-0 and 4-0 overall. Ridgewood will try to overcome Land O'Lakes' rugged defensive line with a misdirection-oriented wing-T offense. The attack features tailback Chris Carson, who leads Pasco County in rushing (458 yards) and scoring (12 TDs, 72 points). Fullback Rob Blankenship is second in rushing with 400 yards and third in scoring with seven touchdowns for 42 points. Quarterback Ray Pepito adds a passing dimension with 393 yards on 17 of 30 completions. His favorite target is Kevin Gambill, the county's top receiver with 10 catches for 308 yards.
Ridgewood's suspect defense turned in its best performance this season in a 31-7 victory over Zephyrhills last week. The Land O'Lakes offensive line has helped Trevor Lansford rush for 339 yards and two touchdowns. John Middleton has 175 yards and four TDs, and Tommy Trujillo has 133 yards. Gators coach John Benedetto says his team can also pass but has not had much of an opportunity because it has rained during all four of its games. The Gators defense has controlled the line of scrimmage and contained some of the area top backs so far.
Prediction: Land O'Lakes 28, Ridgewood 14.
Central at Pasco
Time and site: 8 p.m., W.F. Edwards Stadium, Pasco High.
Radio: WDCF-AM (1350).
Records: Central 2-2; Pasco 4-0.
Last year: Pasco 57, Central 6.
Key points: This is one of three games being played tonight in the county because Pasco schools are out on Friday. Pasco, on a 15-game regular-season win streak, hopes to improve to 2-0 in Class 3A, District 7 with what should be a solid victory over Central, 0-2 in 3A-7. It is a non-conference game. Pasco quarterback Issac Johnson has completed 18 of 35 passes for 383 yards, with seven touchdowns. He has not been intercepted at all in his four starts. Central quarterback Tyrone Goodson is 17-of-33 for 269 yards; he has passed for three touchdowns but has been intercepted four times. His main target is Deo Wyatt (eight catches for 171 yards, 2 TDs).
Pasco has backfield depth: five backs with at least 100 yards this year, with 11 touchdowns among them. Sophomore Troy Hambrick leads with 305 yards and on 32 carries. Central's leading rusher is Tellis Roundtree, with 198 yards on 34 carries. The Pirates' tough defense has allowed just 34 points in four games, an average of 8.5 points. They have scored 170 points, an average of 42.5. Central two-way starter Tony Savarese is expected to return tonight after an injury. He plays offensive guard and linebacker.
Prediction: Pasco 42, Central 13.
East Lake at Gulf
Time and site: 8 p.m., Des Little Stadium, on Madison Street in New Port Richey.
Records: East Lake 4-0; Gulf 1-4.
Last year: East Lake 39, Gulf 13.
Key points: This is a Class 4A, District 8 game. Gulf is 0-2 in the district, East Lake 2-0. The Buccaneers earned their first win of the year in impressive fashion, 43-7 over River Ridge, but the Eagles aren't the Royal Knights by a long shot. East Lake appears to be Gulf's toughest foe yet; the Bucs were shut out by three easier opponents. East Lake's Pete Apostalou ground out 202 yards and Jay J. Martin 135 as the Eagles crushed St. Petersburg 49-3 last week. Quarterback Mark Moore is equally dangerous on the ground.
Buccaneers quarterback Julius Mendoza is Pasco County's fifth-leading rusher, with 307 yards and three TDs on 35 carries. Passing, he is 4-for-7 for 24 yards and two interceptions. Running back Mike Pike has 238 yards and two TDs on 47 carries. Gulf's defense looked much improved against River Ridge, which has two strong backs in Nate Shipman and John Malacos. The Bucs gave up just 4 total yards in the second half.
Prediction: East Lake 33, Gulf 14.