70 points (7 first-place votes)
Last week: 19-14 win at Zephyrhills. The Seahawks not only grabbed their second playoff appearance in the program’s short history, but the team fathered by coach Bill Browning also won its first Sunshine Athletic Conference title by finishing the season with a program-best 9-1 record. Sunlake rose to the ranking as the county’s best team by putting the best defense on the field, one that allowed 61 points, racked up 41 sacks and forced 18 turnovers.
Last week: 49-30 win at River Ridge. Were the Pirates ever really out of it? Short answer: no. Long answer: coach Tom McHugh had the right motivation to get his team into the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. Back in October, when Pasco was 2-3, people were ready to write the team off, but McHugh rallied his young players around playmakers, especially Malik Johns, and ran the table to win five in a row and still be exactly what works best for his team: the underdog.
3. Land O’ Lakes
Last week: 38-35 OT win at Lecanto. The Gators missed the playoffs despite a high-powered offense with junior quarterback James Pensyl (167-of-292 passing, 2,345 yards, 22 TDs, 3 INTs) running the show. There has been talk that Land O’ Lakes would love to have a bowl game to give impressive seniors such as DL Shaheed Salmon (117 tackles, 8.5 sacks) and TD Liam Heaney (690 receiving, 6 TD) a chance to play one last high-school game.
Last week: 19-14 loss vs. Sunlake. The Bulldogs might be on the outside looking in during the playoff season, but they are looking at a bright future. Since coach Reggie Roberts took over at his alma mater, the team has gone nowhere but up, so with playmakers such as Jaylan Pickett (844 all-purpose yards, 12 TD) returning along with a solid core of players, the Bulldogs should return with high expectations to get to the postseason for the first time since 2006.
Last week: 37-14 loss at Clearwater Central Catholic. The Sharks find themselves hosting their first playoff game after winning their first district title, the result of a lot of hard work by coach Matt Wicks and Co. Wicks built the team from the ground up, but Anclote was successful this season thanks to a defense that allowed 144 points, picked up 44.5 sacks and 16 turnovers.
Also receiving votes: Hudson
The Pasco County prep football Top 5 is voted on by correspondents Steve Campbell, Mike Camunas, Chris Errington, Kyle LoJocano, Bart O’Connell, Kenny Sanders and Andy Villamarzo.