It's Super Bowl or bust for New Port Richey's Varsity team in the Pasco Police Athletic League this season.
Last year, the Northern Division champion Buccaneers lost to Lutz in the Super Bowl and head coach Joe Cabral said his 1994 team will settle for nothing less than the PPAL crown. "They know what they have to do and they go out and do it. We're taking it all this year," Cabral said.
With half the players back from last season, the Varsity Bucs are in first place with a 7-1 record. They clobbered Dade City 32-0 last Saturday for their sixth shutout of the season. Mike Sestokas rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns, and the defense produced two scores. Shawn Johnson blocked a punt and Matt Mearing recovered in the end zone, and John Thomas tallied on a 2-yard interception.
"We've got a great defense," Cabral said, crediting defensive coordinator Gerry McCormick. "Defense wins games."
New Port Richey and Dade City split their four games Saturday, with the Bucs Flyweights also winning 18-12 in triple overtime. Dade City's Mighty Mites won 18-0 and its Junior Varsity frolicked 42-0.
Elsewhere, Hudson's Flyweights were dropped from the unbeaten ranks with a 20-7 loss to West Hernando, which took two of three games. Hudson's only victory came in Mighty Mites. Also, the Land O'Lakes Flyweights downed Lutz 36-0, but the Chiefs won the other three games.
Lund intent on Metro title
For University of South Florida senior Aimee Lund, Saturday's Metro Conference cross-country championship in New Orleans is a chance to run down her demons.
Last year at this meet, she was determined to win and stubbornly chased Louisville's Michelle Borgert for much of the race. Lund eventually wilted and finished sixth.
"It's a really big deal for me," said the former Gulf High star. "I really want to win it. I'm feeling stronger than I've ever felt before."
As important as the race is to Lund personally, it could be a crossroads for a young program on the rise. The women's team has won three meets to earn its first national ranking; it's now No. 23.
A conference title, which would be the program's third in eight seasons of existence and first since Lund was a freshman, also could enhance the team's chances in the NCAA regional meet Nov. 12 in Greenville, S.C.. The top two finishers there are assured a spot in the NCAA championships. USF never has fared better than ninth at the regional.
For the first time in years, coach Bob Braman's top runners are experienced (four seniors with Lund, Clare Tomkinson, Sarah Erickson and Keisha Wilson), healthy and fit. Talented freshmen include Hernando High graduate Gina Bawden, Jessie Schra and Tami Heckman.
"I'm more excited for the team," Lund said. "The seniors have all had a great year. Clare's been great and Sarah and Keisha are having their best years. We're trying not to analyze it. We're just going with it."