LAND O’ LAKES — It’s going to be quick. Maybe even a blur.
Returning this fall, and tonight, will be the Gators hyperactive, won’t-wait, up-tempo to-the-extreme offense that will have statkeepers unable to catch their breaths.
“There’s no slowing down for us,” said 6-foot-6 left-handed senior quarterback James Pensyl, who led Pasco County with 22 touchdown passes, 2,345 passing yards and only three interceptions, with a smile.
After scoring 305 points with 40 touchdowns and 4,368 total yards en route to an 8-2 record, Land O’ Lakes, if anything, are quicker in between snaps. Pensyl will be surrounded by quick weapons such as running back Larenz Scroggins and receiver Ethan Weilant, but they’ll be quick to point out that despite going 8-2, the Gators still missed the playoffs.
“Going 8-2 and missing playoffs is heartbreaking,” offensive coordinator Josh Scoggins said, “but if you can make the playoffs out of our district, then you’re playoff ready.”
Getting past in-town rival Sunlake, defending district champ Spring Hill Springstead and Mitchell will be a tall task, one that will be hinged on the growth, and decision making, of Pensyl, as well as replacing many top defensive players.
“On that side, there are a lot of gaps to fill from Shaheed Salmon and Darius Wells and Colin Irwin, so we’ve got to also stay with the basic and not force plays on offense,” Scroggins said. “We’ll see more empty backfields in our offense and more four-receiver sets without having Liam Heaney there. There may be more passing and there may be more of Larenz seeing the ball. Having one of the best quarterbacks doesn’t hurt, either.”
Pensyl, who, last week, picked up his first Division I offer from Oregon State, will have all eyes, especially those of defensive backs, on him. Scroggins said Pensyl will have to play smart in his senior season, from not trying to force plays too far down the field or carry too much responsibility on offense.
And the Gators may have to move fast to stay atop the Class 6A-District 6 standings, but slow and steady can win the race, too.
“We’re getting better and stronger as time goes on and, now, going into the spring and summer with the same offense and that’s really beneficial for this year,” Pensyl said. “Losing Liam Heaney, the top receiver, changes some things, but we have to take it one game at a time. We know we have to play (the district opponents) and want to play them, but those games on matter if we keep winning. We just have to execute every play.”
Correspondent Mike Camunas can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @MikeCamunas.