"I think it was overnight. I think it was the pasta I had for dinner. Oh wait, I made enchiladas."
_ CHRIS WATTS
Mitchell quarterback, commenting on his overnight transformation into a dangerous passer. Watts, who entered with 320 yards, completed nine of 15 passes for 175 yards and orchestrated two fourth-quarter scores in a come-from-behind 19-17 win at River Ridge.
Playoff countdown: 12 days
The county's four playoff teams are set, and each knows who they face in the opening round in two weeks. Class 3A, District 9 winner Wesley Chapel (9-0) goes for its first playoff victory at home against Robinson (7-2), the runner-up from Tampa's 3A-10. The 3A-9 runner-up, Pasco (7-2), travels to 3A-10 champion Jefferson (8-1), ranked eighth in the state Class 3A poll. Class 4A, District 7 champion Land O'Lakes (5-4) hosts 4A-8 runner-up Auburndale (7-2), and 4A-7 runner-up Mitchell (3-6) travels to 4A-8 champ Lake Gibson (7-2).
Run down, run over
Stopping the run has been a problem for Zephyrhills.
Against Mitchell, the Bulldogs let the Mustangs' Spencer Brown and Mark Pijanowski both go over 100 yards, but Zephyrhills pulled out the win. Against Pasco, the Bulldogs let the Pirates get 100-yard games from Donte O'Neal and Mike Onyskin, a key factor in Pasco's win, which eliminated Zephyrhills from the playoffs.
But Friday night, Hudson piled up more than 400 rushing yards, ending with all three of its primary running backs topping 100 yards. Nathan Toole rushed 32 times for 181 yards to lead the Hudson attack, but Travis Miller and Tommy Snow both went over 100 yards in the fourth quarter, combining for five touchdowns.
"We just pounded the ball with all three of our running backs," quarterback Kyle Hatcher said. "Our line stepped up phenomenally. I think this proves to the county how we can play when we really want to play."
Said Bulldogs coach Tom Fisher: "They ran the ball hard and they blocked hard. They put it to us."
Half good, half bad
Land O'Lakes quarterback Drew Weatherford carved up the Rams defense in the first half of the Gators' 42-21 win, but Ridgewood shut him down in the second. He was 8-of-15 for 206 yards and two touchdowns in the first, but 3-of-14 for 26 yards and an interception in the second.
"Our goal was to get to (Weatherford) and hit him," Ridgewood coach Troy Cornwell said. "We did pretty well at that. It's a testament to his talent that he still put 42 on the board."
Trailing by three scores in the third quarter, Ridgewood had several opportunities to catch up, but each ended in an interception. Weatherford, Chris Perez, Scott Mays and Michael Dantschyschyn all had picks.
Third string's the charm
Wesley Chapel was without its top two running backs in a 38-36 win against Citrus. Nigel Bryant and Marcus Stewart sat out the game with minor injuries. Junior Aaron Dickler made the most of his opportunity to start, rushing for 159 yards on 25 carries. "I feel I did really well. This was the first time I had the opportunity to step up," said Dickler, who has 576 rushing yards, which puts him among the county's top 10. "The line was awesome, they gave huge holes, all I had to do was hit them."
No, he wasn't the victorious quarterback in River Ridge's loss Friday night. But quarterback Ryan Mistal put on a show. He completed 10 of 18 passes for 148 yards, hitting Jahmaal Osbourne for a 34-yard touchdown in the second quarter and a 52-yard scoring pass to punter Steve Bamber with two minutes left in the half.
On the game's last drive, to give his team a shot to win it with a field goal, Mistal went 5-of-5 for 38 yards and scrambled for 37 yards, making up 10 yards lost on a sack with a third-down 26-yard ramble out of bounds with 13 seconds left.
_ GREG AUMAN, THOMAS GEMKOW, JEREMY RASMUSSEN, JAMAL THALJI.