At 5 feet 7 and 150 pounds, quarterback Artie Meza is the smallest player on the Pasco High football team. So small that teams have sometimes taken the junior lightly.
Zephyrhills (6-3) did in Friday's second meeting of the season with Pasco (8-1) and Meza made the Bulldogs pay. He passed for 4 touchdowns and 167 yards to lead Pasco to a convincing 46-7 victory.
"People have been saying I'm too small all my life," Meza said. "But I didn't buy it. I just go out and do the job."
Meza stood tall Friday. He lofted touchdown passes of 31 and 59 yards to sophomore sensation A.J. Jones and went over the middle twice to tight end Rob Roberts for 15- and 2-yard touchdowns, exploiting a Zephyrhills defense geared toward the run.
"I don't understand why they didn't switch defenses after the first touchdown to A.J.," Meza said. "I guess they were reading run with their strong safety up and I just laid the ball right out there."
And Zephyrhills could not keep up with Jones and his 4.4 speed.
"I don't think their is one man in the conference who can cover me," Jones said. "They play one man on me and I'm going to burn them.
"And I just love the way Artie drops the ball in there."
Pasco coach Perry Brown said Meza, who now has 13 TD passes, has proved his critics wrong.
"He has a soft touch and excellent timing," Brown said. "We can count him."
Brown can also count on Pasco's dependable running game. Troy Hambrick rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns and a combination of six other Pasco backs added 156 yards.
The game was never really in doubt except briefly in the first quarter when Zephyrhills cut into Pasco's 13-0 lead on a 39-yards touchdown pass from Donnie Pinkerton to Rick Moore.
But Pasco answered with a 6-yard run by Hambrick and the first of Roberts two scoring passes for a 26-7 halftime lead. The Pirates added three second-half touchdowns, the last a 9-yard run by David Womack.
The margin may have been even greater but three Pasco touchdowns were nullified by penalties, including an 88-yard interception return by Roberts. He batted Pinkerton's pass, latched on to it and beat the Bulldogs' B.J. Booker to the end zone but the ball was brought back to the Pasco 26 due to clipping.
But Roberts got satisfaction as he scored on a 2-yard touchdown pass to end the 6-play, 74-yard drive.
The victory sets up a showdown with Hernando next week in Dade City for the Class 4A, District 7 title. Both teams are 4-0.