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TODAY'S GAMES

Zephyrhills (5-2) at Central (3-3)

Time and site: 7:30 p.m., Bears Den stadium, on the campus of Central High, west of Brooksville.

Last year: Zephyrhills 45, Central 21.

Key points: Each team has won at home in this three-game series, which Zephyrhills leads 2-1. Zephyrhills is coming off a 14-7 victory over Dunnellon in which quarterback Donnie Pinkerton rushed for one touchdown and threw for the other. Pinkerton is Pasco County's passing leader, completing 43 of 87 attempts for 756 yards. Mike Barber, the county's second-leading rusher with 670 yards on 109 attempts, ran for 182 last week. The Bulldogs have won four of their last five games. Central upset Citrus 13-6 last Friday. The Bears had two 100-plus-yard rushers against Citrus: Marc Munford (127) and Tellis Roundtree (108). Central's players and coaches have battled illness with flu-like symptoms during the past week, keeping them from practicing outside on Tuesday. A non-conference, District 4A-7 game.

Prediction: Zephyrhills 13, Central 7.

Dunedin (1-5) at Springstead (2-5

Time and site: 7:30 p.m., Booster Stadium, on the campus of Springstead High, Spring Hill.

Last year: Springstead 21, Dunedin 7.

Key points: Springstead's victory over Dunedin last season marked the first meeting between the schools. Dunedin lost quarterback Sam Pitts to a broken leg last week, after losing running Paul Mack the week before. The Falcons are coming off a 23-3 loss to Clearwater Countryside. Center Billy Gregoire (out, ribs), linebacker Troy Johnson (out, shoulder separation) and linebacker/offensive guard Marcus Stern (questionable, Achilles tendon strain) are new additions to Springstead's long injury list. Fourteen Eagles have missed one or more games due to injuries. Leading receiver Jerry Blake (ankle) and linebacker Keith Barnier (shoulder separation) both return this week. In Blake's absence, Jimmy Vranek came up with four catches, including one for a touchdown, when Springstead beat Land O'Lakes 21-7 last week. Eagles quarterback Rich Maher was 7-of-7, and Andrae Brooks rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown. Because of Springstead's injuries, Maher may have to play on defense this week. A non-conference, District 5A-7 game.

Prediction: Springstead 14, Dunedin 13.

River Ridge (3-3) vs. CCC (0-6

Time and site: 7:30 p.m. at CCC at 2750 Haines-Bayshore Rd. off U.S. 19.

Last year: River Ridge 16, CCC 6.

Key facts: This is a Class 4A, District 8 game. River Ridge lost last week to non-conference foe Pasco, falling behind by 22 point before rallying late in the fourth quarter. River Ridge has the county's second-best rushing attack, with John Malacos (516 yards, 5th in the county) and Nate Shipman (555, 3rd) leading the way. Quarterback Larry Disparte has been consistent, and the Royal Knight defense has shut down the teams it should. CCC is one such team. The Marauders have struggled all season, losing 10-0 to St. Petersburg Catholic last week. They are led by quarterback Chris Defant (43-of-99, 583 yards).

Prediction: River Ridge 31, CCC 7.

East Lake (3-3)

vs. Ridgewood (2-4)

Time and site: 7:30 p.m. at RAm Booster Stadium.

Last year: East Lake 27, Ridgewood 7.

Key facts: This is a Class 5A, District 7 game. Both teams lost last week, as the Rams were upset by Gulf 23-18, and East Lake fell to Dixie Hollins 10-6. The Rams are led by Jason Franjesevic, who had 118 yards last week and is their leading rusher. Quarterback Shane McCann ran for a score and has thrown for 307 yards this year. East Lake's touchdown last week was scored by Roy Mann on a 23-yard run, but the offense was held to nothing in the second half. This is a big game for East Lake, as they still have strong playoff hopes.

Prediction: East Lake 26, Ridgewood 7.

Hernando (6-1) vs. Hudson (1-5).

Time and site: 7:30 p.m. at Cobra Stadium in Hudson.

Radio: WWJB-1450 AM (Brooksville).

Last year: Hernando 60, Hudson 7.

Key facts: This is a Class 4A, District 7 match-up, and one of the bigger mismatches around this week. Hudson is having a terrible time of it this season, with sophomore quarterback Brandon Hall (14 interceptions, 1 touchdown) struggling to grasp control of the offense. The Cobras have a non-existent running game, and the defense is slowly wearing down from all the time it spends on the field. Hernando, by comparison, runs the ball very well, has a poised senior quarterback in Shad Reese, and a quick and effective defense. Hernando County rushing leader Eric Riggins (629 yards, 10 touchdowns) has averaged over 10 yards a carry, and Matt Deason (595 yards) and Reese (313) give the Leopards a viscous three-pronged attack matched only by Pasco. add for Hernando version: Nine of Reese's 12 completions have been to Lee Sullivan. Marvis Norwood and Fabian Burnett each had one catch last week. Linebacker Danny Gay will be out 2-3 weeks with severe knee sprain suffered last week, and Matt Sullens, who had three sacks against Lecanto, is questionable with and ankle sprain. Linebacker Ryan Blust had 14 tackles, including 10 solo stops, against Lecanto, and Sullens and Fred Bennett had 10 tackles each. Hernando will clinch a playoff berth with a win.

Prediction: Hernando 58, Hudson 0.

Land O' Lakes (2-4)

vs. Pasco (6-1)

Time and site: 7:30 p.m. at W.F. Edwards Stadium in Pasco.

Radio: WDFC-AM 1350 in Dade City.

Last year: Land O' Lakes 29, Pasco 7.

Key facts: This is a very key Class 4A, District 7 game. Basically, it goes like this -- if Land O' Lakes loses, its hopes for a district playoff berth go up in smoke. The Gators will be hard pressed to stop the Pasco tandem of Troy Hambrick, the county's first and only 1,000-yard rusher and county's best in yards and touchdowns (14), and Page Sessoms, who averages 12.6 yards a carry. And don't look now, but Pasco may have a passing game brewing. Artie Meza has thrown for seven touchdowns and only two interception, and A.J. Jones leads the county in yards receiving with 419 yards. In all, too many weapons for the Gators to fend off. Meanwhile, Land O' Lakes will counter with a running game that has been fairly average this season, and a defense that is gritty but has allowed more than its fair share of 100-yard rushers. The only hope would be that Pasco is looking ahead to Zephyrhills next week, but that's stretch considering the game doesn't even count.

Prediction: Pasco 37, Land O' Lakes 6.

South Sumter at Citru

Time and site: 7:30 p.m.; the Citrus Bowl on the Citrus High campus on Highland Boulevard off U.S. 41.

Records: South Sumter 4-1, Citrus, 5-2.

Last year: South Sumter 15, Citrus 0.

Key points: This District 4A-6 contest is the second of three games that will determine who goes to the state playoffs. Both teams are 1-0 in the district. Citrus will try to regain its winning form after a 5-0 start deteriorated into back-to-back losses to Ocala Vanguard (35-0) and Central (12-6). South Sumter was idle last week, giving coach Inman Sherman and the Raiders two weeks to prepare after a 28-7 victory over Crystal River. South Sumter has won the last five meetings by a combined score of 97-36. The last two were shutouts. Citrus' offense is led by junior running back Dwight Neil (681 yards, nine touchdowns) and the tandem passing attack of junior quarterbacks Brian Turner (279 yards, five TDs) and Troy Waller (258 yards, one TD). Also a Gulf Coast Conference game.

Prediction: South Sumter 28, Citrus 7.

Gulf at Crystal Rive

Time and site: 7:30 p.m.; Pirates Stadium on the Crystal River High campus on NE Eighth Avenue off County Road 44 in Crystal River.

Records: Gulf 3-4, Crystal River 5-2.

Last year: Gulf 6, Crystal River 0.

Key points: This is a non-district, non-conference game, the second in a row for Crystal River and the only kind Gulf High plays in its second season as a Class 5A independent. The Pirates, who will celebrate homecoming at halftime, are coming off a 37-20 victory over first-year-school Fort Myers Lehigh in which the ground game chewed up 199 yards and scored four touchdowns. Gulf quarterback Matt Stanton moved up to third on the North Suncoast list of passers after last week's effort. Backfield mates David Blow and Adam Willey have combined for 844 yards and nine TDs.

Prediction: Crystal River 21, Gulf 7.

_ Compiled by TIM BUCKLEY, JIM CARSON, JOHN C. COTEY and JOANNE KORTH

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