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Bulldogs revel in win, title

The coach's reward for winning was a bucket of ice water dumped on his head.

Losing coaches have their own issues, like consoling normally brazen linemen and letting them know with a hug it's okay to shed a few tears. Then there's the postgame locker room and trying to make sense of why despite your best effort things just didn't work out.

"I'm sorry," Pirates coach Dale Caparaso said to one of his guys as they shared an embrace.

Zephyrhills coach Tom Fisher stood a few yards away trying to express his emotions, taking time to let his trembling body warm a bit as his teeth chattered uncontrollably.

An ice bath never felt so good, and the Bulldogs' 23-14 victory was worth suffering the postgame chill. Now these Class 3A, District 8 rivals move in completely opposite directions.

Zephyrhills will prepare for its second consecutive playoff appearance hoping to avenge a loss at Eustis in the first round last year. By securing the district title the Bulldogs guaranteed themselves a home game.

In Dade City, speculation about Caparaso's future at Pasco began after an 0-5 start. Pasco has just two wins in each of the past two seasons. Despite the poor record, the Pirates came into Friday with a chance to advance to the playoffs.

They fell short.

"If you're going to play 8-1 teams you have to get that ball in the end zone, and we didn't," Caparaso said. "And you have to make sure you don't turn the ball over, and we did."

The Bulldogs came within one 10-minute stretch from being undefeated heading into next week's regular-season finale against Ridgewood.

A win could mean the Sunshine Athletic Conference title.

"This feels great," Fisher said. "Our seniors worked hard the last couple of years. They got close last year. It's great. But we have to get better. If you want to go anywhere in the playoffs you have to get better."

Two teams with two very different paths.

Izzy Gould can be reached at or (727) 580-5315.