D.J. Clower walked past his freshman receiver and smiled.
"You're my new go-to receiver," Pasco's quarterback said with confidence.
There were plenty of standouts Friday in Pasco's 27-22 victory against Plantation American Heritage.
One of them was Janarion Grant, whose 62-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter proved to be the difference.
Grant's only other catch, a 56-yard touchdown in the first quarter, gave Pasco (1-0) a 14-7 lead.
"I watched the kid when he was in eighth grade," Pasco coach Tom McHugh said. "...He's phenomenally fast. ... I timed him at track meets. He's football fast with a lot of moves."
But he wasn't the only one to shine.
Clower overcame an interception on Pasco's opening drive. The miscue led to Justin Goldberg's 2-yard touchdown run for the Patriots in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
Clower responded two drives later, connecting with his best friend Chaise Dunn on an 85-yard touchdown to tie the score at 7.
Clower proved to be a solid leader again, completing 8-of-20 passes for 273 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
"You just can't get discouraged and as a senior he should know that," McHugh said. "(He should think) 'I know I'm going to get my chance,' and that's what he does."
After Grant's score, the Patriots (1-1) tied it again with a 16-yard touchdown run by Shanard Saxon.
That was when Pasco's third star, kicker Brennan Allen, backed up McHugh's claim he has one of the best kickers in the state.
Allen, who had been battling an injured ankle for three weeks, connected on field goals of 50 and 49 yards. He missed a 45-yarder in the fourth quarter on a slick field after rain picked up in the second half.
"He is the best kicker in this area of the state," McHugh said. "He was the best kicker last year, and he's the best kicker this year."
The Pirates continue a tough stretch of games next week with a trip to old-time rival South Sumter. But on this night, a team that reached the 2008 Class 3A state semifinal gave McHugh another big win.
With a nice view of the scoreboard behind him, McHugh reminded the Pirates of their goals and that they had just completed one of many in 2009.
"What better test do you want to take," McHugh said. "You want a hard test, this was a hard test."
Izzy Gould can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 421-3886.