The poll awards points for each place voted on by five panelists — correspondents Mike Camunas, Andy Villamarzo and Kenny Sanders, high school sports writer Nick Williams and high school sports editor Doug Jacobs — with 10 points for a first-place vote, eight points for second, six for third, etc. First-place votes appear in parenthesis.
1. Pasco (3) 46 points
The Pirates vault to the top of the poll following a solid spring, high numbers and returning two (and possibly more) Division I players. Senior experience on both offense (Grant Starling) and defense (Andrew Ivie) returns, while coach Tom McHugh and company have many athletic weapons at their disposal, which will come in handy in the tough Class 5A-District 6.
2. Land O’ Lakes (2) 38
The Gators have arguably the best pocket passer in Oregon State-commit James Pensyl, plus he has numerous weapons around him to duplicate the offensive success from 2013. Pensyl also has a strong, experienced offensive line, but Land O’ Lakes biggest concern will be new players on defense that have to replace senior playmakers from last season.
3. Sunlake 34
The Seahawks lost nine of 11 defensive starters from a 2013 squad that allowed only 78 points. Coach Bill Browning has always done well finding new talent and has more than 100 players to work with, plus the return on downhill running back, senior Nathan Johnson. The bruising back has his sights set on becoming Sunlake’s first 2,000-yard rusher.
4. Zephyrhills 14
The Bulldogs return experienced skill athletes, such as running back Jaylen Pickett, plus senior leadership. Coach Reggie Roberts has breathed new life into his alma mater, however, despite being in contention the past two seasons, the Bulldogs have still fallen short of their ultimate goal: the first playoff berth since 2006.
5. Hudson 12
The Cobras may have lost many seniors from their most successful season in recent memory, but return leadership and experience and a big offensive line to protect dual-threat quarterback Joey Caruso. As coach Mark Kantor has rejuvenated a once-floundering program, Hudson is now favored to win its first district title since 2005.
Also receiving votes: Anclote, River Ridge