Okay, so Troy Hambrick wasn't all that devastating Friday night against Land O'Lakes. He didn't run roughshod over the Gators, had none of those 70-yard touchdown runs, and finished with 29 lousy yards. Geez, the guy has had a few games this year where he almost averaged 29 yards a carry.
So the big question has to be this: So what?
Pasco won 48-7. Page Sessoms had 148 yards on nine carries, answering the question "How do you improve on a 12.6 yards per carry average?"
The defense had two interceptions, both by sophomore De Shawn Southward, and a 66-yard fumble return for a score, answering the question "Are they really that fast?"
And the Pirates poured on 34 second-half points, and ran the ball at will even without gawdy numbers from Hambrick, answering the question, "Is the key to stopping Pasco stopping Hambrick?"
"I don't care if it's Page that gets 150 yards," Hambrick said. "If they want to stop me and focus on me, then let Page run outside."
Which he did, to a pair of rushing touchdowns. And for good measure, Sessoms caught a 30-yard pass from quarterback Artie Meza.
"That's why we run this offense," coach Perry Brown said. "We're not geared for one running back. We can run three backs, plus we have a fairly decent passing game."
Despite the three touchdowns by Sessoms, the Gators were still in it, trailing just 20-7 early in the third quarter.
Then, just to make sure everyone hadn't forgotten him, Hambrick put Land O'Lakes away.
On third down, Gators quarterback Rhett Hierlmeier swung a pass out to Robert Hernandez. Hambrick made the tackle for a 3-yard loss, forcing a punt, which happened to be shanked and bounced off John Shireman near the home sideline at the Pasco 45-yard-line.
Hambrick picked up the ball, and apparently everyone thought he had run out of bounds, because they stopped pursuing the play. Big mistake _ Hambrick tight-roped it down the sideline before cutting it back for a 55-yard touchdown.
"Everyone was slowing up like the ball was dead," Hambrick said. "I don't know what they were thinking, but I got 'em."
That was enough to sew up the win for the Pirates, so Brown gave the crowd a treat _ he gave a glimpse of the future, which happens to look as good as the present. Sophomore John Baxter returned a fumble for a long score, sophomore quarterback Raul Cruz threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Hambrick and Baxter added a 32-yard touchdown.
In fact, the all-sophomore backfield that played the fourth quarter _ Baxter, Southward, and Cleo Stunyard _ ran for 112 yards on eight carries, 16 yards less than the entire Gators team.
The win clinched a playoff berth for Pasco, and all that's left is a non-district game against Zephyrhills and a Class 4A, District 7 showdown against Hernando for the title.
"Last year, we beat Zephyrhills the first time but lost the second time," Brown said. "It kind of took the wind out of our sails. We don't want to go into the Hernando game with a loss."