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TWO-COACH APPROACH SUITS BULLDOGS

Troy Hochstetler is already tired of the questions about how this co-coaching thing is going to work at Zephyrhills.

I think it's going to work just fine, and here's why:

Greg Mathis concurs.

"We're over it and ready to move on," Mathis said.

See? Synergy!

Tonight, the Bulldogs open the Hochstethis reign ... or the Mathettler reign ... in a season opener delayed by a perfectly placed bye week.

So, seriously: how will the co-coaching thing work?

Smoothly, I'm guessing. Hochstetler will take care of the defense, and Mathis handles the offense, and they will work together on "all the intricacies in between."

It's not an ideal setup in most cases, though in this one it's a perfect one. Bringing in another coach three weeks before the season would have been traumatic for the players, and now they at least have some familiar faces to play for.

For 10 weeks or so, it can work.

Beyond that, it's a bad idea.

RUNNING SHOES: Hochstetler, on who we, the media, should interview after games:

"Whoever doesn't win the race off the field."

I don't want to mention any names, but I guess that means *cough* Hochstetler. *cough* I'm going after the former offensive lineman.

BULL(DOG) MARKET: Hochstetler and Mathis at least have this working for them - the new coaches on the North Suncoast were a perfect 4-0 last week.

POTENTIAL: If Wiregrass Ranch spoils the Bulldogs' debut, it will be 2-0 heading into next week's home game with Wesley Chapel.

That will make the fledgling neighborhood rivalry the biggest game in Bulls history. And if they happen to beat Wesley Chapel, it won't be the biggest game in school history for long. It will establish the Bulls as a serious player for the runnerup playoff berth (behind Tarpon Springs) in Class 4A-6, with many big games to come.

HUH? I want this T-shirt:

"My high school went to Jacksonville to play a football game and all I got was this Esprit de Corps Center for Learning football T-shirt."

Okay, so maybe that's a bit long for a T, but Esprit de Corps Center for Learning will host Wiregrass Ranch on Oct. 2, the Warriors' only home game.

HOMECOMING: Nature Coast Tech coach Mark Lee goes up against his old team today when the Sharks visit Springstead.

Despite the Eagles' overtime thriller Saturday morning that ended right about the time that most of you were waking up, Springstead is no match for mighty NCT and Lee will have a happy (and maybe afterward, a little sad) homecoming.

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS: Shot a segment for Friday Night Rewind on Thursday at Gulf. In Florida recruit Leon Orr's locker: three iPods, a stack of media guides from colleges, a basket of recruiting letters and two Duchess Honey Buns, hidden away.

POLLING PLACE: Ridgewood picked up five votes in the latest Associated Press state poll, despite losing 52-0 to Land O'Lakes.

I don't even have a joke for this.

Wait! How about ...

Nope. I got nothing.

BUZZ REPORT: I was really looking forward to seeing Pasco open its season today, as I'm one of those who think the Pirates actually have a decent chance to go even further than they did last season.

But after that 52-0 win last week, I'm more curious about Land O'Lakes. Are the Gators really that good? Is Stevie Weatherford ready for a breakout year? Is Tyler Peak the best running back in Pasco County?

Pretty sure you can make a strong case for a "yes" for each one of those.

WELCOME TO THE CLUB: Anclote coach Brian Wicks leads the Sharks into their first season at home today against Victory Christian, whose days as a state power have waned. But it will still be a stiff test for the Sharks, who have to stop a team that threw for 359 yards last week in a game that is the only one on their schedule they can win.

PASCO TURNOVER: Still feels a little strange covering Pasco County football without a Tom Fisher, Scott Schmitz or John Benedetto on the sideline.

REBOUND TEAM: Lecanto, which has won just one of its past 35 games (beating an Umatilla team last year that finished 0-10), takes on Hernando in the Leopards' home opener today.

Times preps columnist John C. Cotey can be reached at cotey@sptimes.com.

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