North Suncoast Super 7
1. Springstead (6-1, 2-0): The Eagles' pattern of high scoring and tough defense continued in a 37-0 win over Central. Springstead has a bye before key matchups against Mitchell and Land O'Lakes.
2. Land O'Lakes (6-0, 1-0): The Gators allowed Hudson only seven first downs in a 16-0 win, showing off a defense that could stop the Springstead rushing attack and QB Tyler Mahla in three weeks.
3. Zephyrhills (5-1, 2-1): The Bulldogs scored early and often in a 37-16 win against a Nature Coast team that didn't regroup until the fourth quarter. Zephyrhills is tied for second with Hernando in the Class 5A, District 6 rankings and could overtake the Leopards in two weeks.
4. Sunlake (6-1, 1-1): Coming off a 30-0 victory against Wesley Chapel, the Seahawks will vie for the No. 2 spot in 6A-6 when they play Land O'Lakes at home next week.
5. Hernando (2-4, 2-1): A fumble recovery and two touchdowns in the second quarter weren't enough against powerhouse South Sumter in the Leopards' 34-14 loss. Whether Hernando can mount a challenge against Zephyrhills in two weeks will outline its postseason narrative.
6. Nature Coast (2-4, 2-2): Despite RB DeShawn Smith's presence, the Sharks couldn't muster a rushing attack in a 37-16 loss to Zephyrhills. The defeat dropped the Sharks in the district rankings, and their matchup against South Sumter next week doesn't look promising.
7. Pasco (3-3, 1-2): The Pirates dominated Weeki Wachee 46-7, but their upcoming matchup against Hernando will truly test whether they'll have a chance in the 5A-6 postseason.
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Hudson's defense kept a traditionally high-scoring Land O'Lakes team out of the end zone. The Gators won 16-0 on three field goals and an interception return for a touchdown. Land O'Lakes had scored at least 24 points in every game this season.
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A breakdown of the North Suncoast's three main district battles:
Class 6A, District 6: Springstead and Land O'Lakes remain undefeated in the district. Their Nov. 1 meeting could decide the district title. But don't count out Sunlake. Nathan Johnson's Seahawks have beaten rival Land O'Lakes the past two years, and this week's meeting could be the most intense yet. Can the Gators' high-scoring offense crack Sunlake's tough defense? A Seahawk loss would all but end their playoff hopes.
Class 5A, District 6: South Sumter is the clear favorite. After that, it's anyone's guess between Pasco, Nature Coast, Hernando and Zephyrhills. Secure your parking spot now for the 9-Mile War on Nov. 1. The Pasco-Zephyrhills showdown could decide the second playoff spot and looks like the biggest meeting between the rivals in years. This week's Pirates-Hernando rivalry isn't too shabby, either.
Class 5A, District 7: Anclote and Hudson are both 2-0 and atop the district. Their Nov. 1 meeting will likely decide the championship, unless River Ridge makes a run at either. Breakout RB Ben Perdomo and his Royal Knights have already lost to Anclote, but if they survive Wesley Chapel this week, a win over Hudson on Oct. 25 would likely send them to the playoffs for the first time since 1998.
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By the numbers
2 Times Land O'Lakes QB James Pensyl has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in a game this season. Pensyl threw for 124 against Gulf and 131 against Hudson.
3 Shutouts by Springstead's defense this season. The Eagles blanked Weeki Wachee in the second game and have shut out Fivay and Central in back-to-back weeks.
6 Games in which Sunlake RB Nathan Johnson has rushed for more than 100 yards this season. Johnson rushed for 152 against Wesley Chapel on Friday.
6 Touchdowns of at least 50 yards scored by Zephyrhills this season. Jordan Roberts and Jaylen Pickett both had 50-plus yard scores against Nature Coast.
57 Points scored against South Sumter in seven games this season. The Raiders have shut out three teams and kept the others to 15 points or fewer.
100 Tackles this season by Wiregrass Ranch junior Jaye Miner. He had 25 in the Bulls' homecoming win over Ridgewood.
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Performances worth another mention
Pasco RB Malik Johns: Had 15 carries, 192 yards and four touchdowns by the end of the first half in a 46-7 win over Weeki Wachee, as he team played without WR Nate Craig (sprained ankle).
Mitchell QB Taylor Schneider: Threw a 55-yard TD pass to Zach Rapaport with 1:05 left against Lecanto. Schneider's two-point conversion lifted the Mustangs' cushion to 29-25.
Land O'Lakes DE Shaheed Salmon: Scored his team's only touchdown on a 32-yard interception return and made two goal-line stops to keep Hudson scoreless.
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"An effort like this is only going to help us. As for a playoff spot, it can happen, if the kids come to work hard, every day. And that's what they've been doing." - Mark Kantor, Hudson coach, after his team's 16-0 loss to Land O'Lakes