Like the local football community, Tim Stevens' cell phone was abuzz following one of the biggest upsets in recent North Suncoast memory Friday night.
Stevens, River Ridge's third-year coach, said he got a succession of congratulatory calls after his previously winless team rallied for a 31-14 homecoming victory against Class 4A, District 8 rival Springstead (5-2).
Pasco County athletic director Phil Bell, Gulf coach Jay Fulmer and countless coworkers were among those to phone in after the Royal Knights won for only the second time in their last 40 contests. And the postgame locker room? The euphoria one might expect.
"If they don't believe in themselves now they never will," Stevens said.
"I'd rather be going over to Land O'Lakes (on Friday) with this win than losing by 40 points ... but on the other hand I hope we don't act like we won the Super Bowl and that's all we have to do this year. I've got some quality kids, so hopefully that won't be the case."
River Ridge trailed 14-10 entering Friday's fourth quarter before scoring 21 unanswered points - all on the ground - against a team that had posted three shutouts. Springstead, in fact, had allowed 44 total points in its first six contests.
"One of the key things was both times they scored, we came back on offense and scored," Stevens said. "Our defense was rested and the kids were able to stay positive, and there was never a point where they said, 'Here we go again.'"
Rams on timely roll
These days, Ridgewood just might be riding a close second to River Ridge as the local volleyball team no one wants to play in the district tournament.
A sub-.500 team early, the Rams (14-8) won six matches in a row down the stretch before Thursday night's five-set loss to Hudson. They finished with an 8-2 Sunshine Athletic Conference mark and earned the No. 2 seed in the Class 5A, District 7 tournament.
Coach Amber Starkey, a Ridgewood alumnus, points to the last week of September as a turning point. The Rams fell to 4A-8 top seed Nature Coast in five games before sweeping Central - coming off a huge win against the Sharks - the following night.
"From that point on the girls have just turned it around," said Starkey, whose team hosts Central in a district semifinal Wednesday. "They've gained confidence as the season has gone on, and we've won some games here and there."
Compiled by staff writer Joey Knight.
North Suncoast football statistics
Player, school C-A Yds TDs INTs
Zack Wynn, Hudson 126-220 1,560 13 8
Stevie Weatherford, LOL 79-132 1,085 8 7
James Mahla, Springstead 73-121 1,001 9 1
Madison Burr, Gulf 54-83 974 11 2
Tyler Guy, Zephyrhills 66-122 928 6 10
Player, school Rec Yds TDs
Dylan Buono, Hudson 48 678 7
Ian Townsend, HCA 17 460 0
Alex Robinson, LOL 25 439 5
A. Sampson, Zephyrhills 29 430 2
Ben Noury, Springstead 26 393 2
Player, school Att Yards TDs
Adrian Golden, Gulf 120 1,603 22
S. Ross, Ridgewood 172 1,347 13
Ricky Trinidad, Mitchell 104 879 6
Tevin Drake, N. Coast 131 875 14
Jeremy Knight, HCA 121 872 5
For more stats, visit highschool.tampabay.com. Updated stats can be submitted to the Times (email@example.com) by noon on Mondays.
Izzy Gould can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 909-4619. Joey Knight can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3350.