(ran PAS edition)
Tom McHugh had some pretty big shoes to fill when he took over Weightman Middle School's football program two years ago.
His predecessor, Ricky Thomas, won 100 middle school games and guided the Wildcats to three titles in five seasons. McHugh replaced Thomas, who became the head football coach at Pasco High.
The fit has been just fine, thank you.
The second-year head coach has led Weightman to an 11-2 record and two straight co-championships.
Last year, the Wildcats went 6-1 and grabbed a share of the Pasco County Middle School Athletic Conference title along with River Ridge and Pine View.
Last week, Weightman defeated Stewart 16-12, and Hudson beat Seven Springs 28-8, giving the Wildcats and Cobras matching 5-1 records. Weightman gave Hudson its only loss of the season.
McHugh, noting that Weightman has either won or had a part of five conference titles in the school's seven-year history, is happy "to get a piece of it" once again.
"The kids feel like they have to win," McHugh said. "We use that tradition like a carrot. It's kind of like if you went to Notre Dame. That's the way it is, and that's the way it'll always be."
On the other end of the spectrum is Hudson, which earned a piece of first place for the first time in the school's 14-year existence.
"It's good for us, since this is the first time that Hudson's ever been up there," Hudson athletic director Joe Wajerski said.
In Weightman's victory, James Day and Tyrone Tomlin each ran for touchdowns. Day and Sean Spaights added 2-point conversion runs.
Jason Boyette, who starts at center on offense and also plays defensive tackle, came up with a late interception to seal the victory.
"He's 500 percent better than he was," McHugh said of Boyette, an eighth-grader who rarely played as a seventh-grader. "He was one of those kids who stood in the back and looked scared. This year, he rang some bells. He changed so much it was amazing."
Boyette had eight sacks this season and stripped the ball out of the hands of running backs on several occasions.
PANTHERS WIN FINALE: Mired in a seasonlong slump, Pine View (2-4) won its last game. A 20-6 defeat of Bayonet Point on Tuesday doubled the Panthers' win total.
Their only other victory came against Seven Springs. A 6-yard touchdown pass by Jeff Young accounted for the only scoring in that 6-0 win.
The team played sporadically, first-year head coach Andy Olson said, adding that "after they beat Seven Springs, they thought they won the Super Bowl."
A three-game losing skid, however, brought the Panthers back to reality.
Against the Patriots, Pine View fell into an early hole by allowing a touchdown on the opening kickoff.
The Panthers countered with a five-play, 60-yard drive that ended with the first of two Stephen Pruden touchdowns. Chris Clarke, who later ran for a touchdown, added a 2-point conversion run to give Pine View an 8-6 lead midway through the first quarter.
Defensive ends Anthony Makawski and Jason Kornhauser helped Pine View pitch a shutout the rest of the way.
"The defense played very well, the offense played well. A lot of kids got to play," said Olson, who substituted liberally in the second half.
Winning the season finale is "something to build on," Olson said. "It's a cornerstone to start next year off."
Team W L PF PA
Hudson 5-1 177 93
Weightman 5-1 159 46
Pasco 4-2 151 73
River Ridge 4-2 92 25
Seven Springs 3-3 80 91
Gulf 2-4 51 113
Pine View 2-4 76 137
Stewart 2-4 74 111
Bayonet Point 0-6 6 177