I didn’t feel good about the North Suncoast district predictions we made over the summer. And, after a few weeks of fall practice, some transfers/defections/suspensions and a slate of kickoff classics, I feel even worse about them.
So let’s try this again. Behold the new district predictions, with old rankings in parentheses.
Class 5A, District 6
1. Pasco (1): As long as Nate Craig and Malik Johns are healthy, the Pirates are the team to beat.
2. South Sumter (2): Even when the Raiders are rebuilding, they’re still a power program.
3. Zephyrhills (5): The Bulldogs followed up a strong spring game showing against Ridgewood with a successful night against Land O’Lakes last week. Zephyrhills lost three fumbles and bobbled six snaps, but those mistakes seem more like flukes than permanent fixtures. The Bulldogs’ skill players are athletic — senior Jordan Roberts looked like one of the county’s top three players — and talented enough to make them playoff contenders.
4. Hernando (4): The quarterback position remains a question mark, but Hernando has enough surrounding talent to battle for Hernando County supremacy.
5. Nature Coast (3): Although the Sharks aren’t as bad as their 47-7 loss to Citrus suggests, they have serious issues to fix before district play begins. The only good news was that Rohan Blackwood won’t miss a district contest after his suspension.
6. Weeki Wachee (6): The Hornets’ defense showed improvement from a rough spring outing against Gulf. It’s still hard to see them climbing higher than sixth in this brutal district.
7. Central (7): The Bears are clearly improving, even if the results don’t always translate into victories.
Class 5A, District 7
1. Anclote (1): The Carter twins and Willie Barrett keep the Sharks at the top.
2. River Ridge (3): No rationale here. Just a hunch that the Royal Knights jump Hudson for the second playoff spot.
3. Hudson (2): The Cobras will be one of the North Suncoast’s most improved teams, regardless of whether they make the postseason.
4. Wesley Chapel (4): I thought about moving the Wildcats ahead after a very strong effort against Fivay, but I’ll keep them here.
5. Gulf (5): New coach Jason Messamore has changed the Bucs’ attitudes, although he has a long rebuilding road ahead.
6. Ridgewood (6): Depth remains the biggest concern for the Rams, who put up a respectable performance early against Pasco.
Class 6A, District 6
1. Springstead (1): The Eagles remain the favorites for back-to-back district titles.
2. Mitchell (3): The Mustangs and Seahawks seem pretty evenly matched, but Mitchell’s run game gives it the slight edge for now.
3. Sunlake (2): Linebacker Jacob Guzman leads a strong defense that will have Sunlake vying for the playoffs, again.
4. Fivay (4): The Falcons will go as far as Davion Sutton carries them.
5. Land O’Lakes (5): A few strong special teams plays were the highlights of its classic loss to Zephyrhills. If the Gators improve their execution, they can be spoilers.