Of course, the second-to-last week of the regular season is like this. Of course it has come down to this to determine which teams are moving on and which are sitting at home in the first round of the playoffs. And even still, not all may be decided after tonight, with the possibility of the second straight season with a three-way tiebreaker.
For starters, let’s take a look at the three important games happening in Pasco County tonight at 7:30.
PASCO AT ZEPHYHILLS
WHAT: Class 5A-District 6 runner-up game
RECORDS: Pasco (5-3, 3-2); Zephyrhills (7-1, 4-1)
WHEN/WHERE: Bulldog Stadium, 6335 12th St., Zephyrhills
COACHES: Pirates: Tom McHugh (7th season); Bulldogs: Reggie Roberts (4th season)
LAST MEETING: Nov. 2, 2012, Pasco 56-17
NEED TO KNOW: The county’s biggest rivalry, the 9-Mile War, revives for the 56th meeting, with Pasco leading the series 38-17. Pasco is 5-0 since 2008, though Zephyrhills last won in 2007, McHugh’s first season with the Pirates. However, this year’s Hatfield-McCoy matchup is a winner-take-all game, with the victor becoming the 5A-District 6 runner-up. If Pasco wins, they’ll make the playoffs for the seventh straight season, while Zephyrhills is seeking its first postseason berth since 2006. The Pirates, led by ATH Malik Johns (16 total TDs, 1,438 all-purpose yards), will look to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time under McHugh. The Bulldogs want nothing more to be in the playoffs behind ATHs Devon Brockington (11 TDs, 921 all-purpose yards) and Jaylen Pickett (12 TDs, 844 all-purpose yards). Keep an eye on Zephyrhills’ QBs, Ty Tanner and Justin Swanstrom, the former more of a scrambling QB and the latter more of a pocket passer.
PREDICTION: All seven correspondents who cover Pasco County football, Mike Camunas, Andy Villamarzo, Bart O’ Connell, Kyle LoJacono, Kenny Sanders, Chris Errington and Steve Campbell, pick Zephyrhills.
HUDSON at ANCLOTE
WHAT: Class 5A-District 7 title game
RECORDS: Hudson (6-2, 4-0); Anclote (5-3, 4-0)
WHEN/WHERE: Shark Stadium, 1540 Sweetbriar Drive, Holiday
COACHES: Cobras: Mark Kantor (2nd season); Sharks: Matt Wicks (5th season)
LAST MEETING: Nov. 2, 2012, Anclote 28-12
NEED TO KNOW: The Cobras and the Sharks are meeting for only the third time, however, never has either of these two current teams been in a situation like this. The winner of this game takes home the 5A-District 7 title and hosts the winner of Tarpon Springs-Boca Ciega game, while the district runner-up will travel to Bradenton Lakewood Ranch. Anclote has never lost to Hudson, outscoring the Cobras 69-22 the past two seasons. However, if the Sharks win, it will be their first district title in young program’s fifth season, while Hudson would be picking up its first title since 2005. The Cobras are led by one of the county’s three 1,000-yard rushers, senior Noah Siegrist, who has 1,059 yards and 10 TDs. Hudson is also a ball-hawking team with 11 INTs, led by Zach Russell’s three. The Sharks have four shutouts this season and have allowed only nine points in their past three games. Willie Barrett has a team-high 72 tackles and Devonte Luis 7.5 sacks. Barrett and fellow RB Trent Crawford have combined 1,623 rushing yards and 13 TDs on offense.
PREDICTION: Four of the seven correspondents who cover Pasco County football, Andy Villamarzo, Bart O’ Connell, Kenny Sanders and Chris Errington, pick Anclote, while Mike Camunas, Kyle LoJacono and Steve Campbell select Hudson.
SPRINGSTEAD at LAND O’ LAKES
WHAT: Class 6A-District 6 decisive matchup
RECORDS: Springstead (7-1, 3-0) at Land O’ Lakes (7-1, 2-1)
WHEN/WHERE: John Benedetto Stadium, 20325 Gator Lane, Land O’ Lakes, FL 34638
COACHES: Eagles: Mike Garofano (1st season); Gators: Brian Wachtel (4th season)
LAST MEETING: Sept. 28, Springstead 20-7
NEED TO KNOW: The Gators face a do-or-die situation tonight, needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Land O’ Lakes, which hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010, needs to beat the Eagles to either force a three-way tiebreaker Monday or take the district title (if Sunlake were to lose to Fivay). If the Gators lose, they are out and Sunlake (as long as it wins) is the district runner-up. The Gators, behind QB James Pensyl (128-for-225 passing for 1,754 yards and 16 TDs), are averaging more than 30 points a game, and will face the Eagles defense that has allowed only six points in their last three games. Springstead’s offense is averaging 25 points, so Gators players such as DL Shaheed Salmon (87 tackles, 7.5 sacks) and LB Darius Wells (6.5 sacks) will contend with Eagles’ do-it-all QB Tyler Mahla. Land O’ Lakes leads the all-time series 15-13.
PREDICTION: Four of the seven correspondents who cover Pasco County football, Mike Camunas, Andy Villamarzo, Kyle LoJacono and Chris Errington, pick Land O’ Lakes, while Bart O’Connell, Kenny Sanders and Steve Campbell select Springstead.
TONIGHT’S OTHER MATCHUPS
Bishop McLaughlin (1-7) at Tampa Catholic (7-1): The Hurricanes, which have scored only seven points in their past three games, finish up their brutal 3A-District 4 schedule with the Crusaders, who have allowed only 82 points this season.
Sunlake (7-1) at Fivay (3-5): The Seahawks are coming off a bye week, but still have a must-win game against the Falcons that will keep them, if not help them, win the playoff race.
Wesley Chapel (0-8) at Gulf (0-8): Well, one team will come away with its first win, but the Buccaneers may have the edge. The Wildcats have scored only 47 points this season, while Gulf has put up 148, including 54 last week’s loss.
Ridgewood (2-7) at River Ridge (3-5): Old rivals meet once again, but this game should be about two talented running backs: the Rams’ Glass Wilson (1,301 yards, 212 carries, 11 TDs) and the Royal Knights’ Ben Perdomo (194, 968 yards, 8 TDs).
Wiregrass Ranch (3-5) at Freedom (1-7): The Bulls, which haven’t defeated a Hillsborough team since 2011, are looking to grab one more district win for their most successful season since 2010 and have a good chance to do so with the Patriots scoring only 77 points this season.