Land O' Lakes (9-2) at Anclote (2-8)
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m./Anclote Stadium, 1540 Sweetbriar Drive, Holiday
COACHES: Brian Wachtel (Land O' Lakes), Matt Wicks (Anclote)
NEED TO KNOW: The Gators are expected to remain very versatile on offense with Ryan Bird at quarterback, but should use a trio of runners behind him. Harrison Wood, Darin Patmon and Shadow Williams (the fullback) should all get carries in Wachtel's system, and it will be interesting to see who gets the biggest workload. In the passing game, TE Kent Taylor has been asking Bird for more looks in practice, though there is still an emphasis on spreading the ball around. … If Wicks wanted to know just how far his third-year program has come, it'll find out with a visit from one of Pasco County's top teams. Junior John Forgione is Anclote's lone quarterback with varsity playing experience and will play most of the first three quarters if, "we're playing them tough and still in the game." If not, he will play a half and a trio of understudies will play the second half.
River Ridge (2-8) at Gulf (6-4)
WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m./Gulf Stadium, 5255 School Road, New Port Richey
COACHES: Ryan Benjamin (River Ridge), Tom Carter (Gulf)
NEED TO KNOW: According to TE/LB Dylan Rutledge, this game should have all the intensity of a regular season district matchup. The two schools consider themselves rivals to one another, are geographically close and will be playing for a lot of pride. Expect the biggest change to the Royal Knights' offense being the added emphasis on Austin Schwarz running the ball. Schwarz played most of the time at linebacker last year, but has been moved to defensive end to showcase his pass rushing ability, and also to reduce his side-to-side movement across the field so he can get more carries. … The Tom Carter era begins at Gulf following an 6-4 season a year ago. Carter was an assistant at Land O' Lakes for the past 23 seasons. Freshman Keshawn Peters, younger brother of talented all-purpose senior Ty'Shon, will get the starting nod at quarterback in a game expected to focus on the varsity with little to no JV playing time.
Brooksville Hernando (9-2) at Pasco (11-1)
WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m./W.F. Edwards Stadium, 36850 State Road 52, Dade City
COACHES: John Palmer (Hernando), Tom McHugh (Pasco)
NEED TO KNOW: Hands down the best team in Hernando County, the Leopards look to repeat last season's success, especially with anticipated senior seasons of QB Cleve Pope (6 TD), RB Scooter Maner (5 TD) and OG Malcolm Hudson. Plus, with a defense led by junior LBs Darren Hambrick and Robert Bronson, the Leopards look to improve defensively, where they averaged 31 points to opponents per game. … And hands down the best team in Pasco County, the Pirates advanced to the second round of the 2010 state championship, only to be eliminated by eventual 3A state champs, Jefferson. Senior QB Jacob Guy (28 TD, 2,014 yards) returns to run the offense and gets back his weapons: RBs David Emmanuel and Janarion Grant (combined 20 TD) and ATH Trey Dudley-Giles (9 TD). Guy will have to work with a new offensive line this season, but the Pirates offense solidified themselves by taking home the USF Sling and Shoot 2 title. Keep on an eye on the defense that includes Dudley-Giles as a shutdown corner, plus the emergence of DL Joey Ivie, who looks to lead the team in sacks.
Brooksville Central (2-8) at Zephyrhills (2-8)
WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m./Bulldog Stadium, 6335 12th Street, Zephyrhills
COACHES: Mike Einspahr (Central), Reggie Roberts (Zephyrhills)
NEED TO KNOW: The Bears didn't do much scoring last season, posting just 99 points while giving up 347. However, there will be many fresh faces this fall as Central sent off 25 seniors and last season's leading rusher is not on the roster. FB/LB James Crews is the top returner on both sides of the ball and looks to play a prominent role this season. … The Bulldogs struggled as well last season, but came on strong and won two of its last three games, including a 19-14 stunner over Gulf. Zephyrhills has senior Jake Smith taking over at quarterback full time (made two starts as a junior), plus an experienced offensive coordinator/QB coach, former Alonso coach Arturo Meza, and more numbers in young players to help. Throw in RB Jamal Roberts and WR Adrian Sanchez and the Bulldogs look to score more than 165 points this season. Keep an eye on the defense, which will be speedy and experienced, especially with junior LBs Joel Morrison and Tylar Hochstetler.
St. Petersburg (10-1) at Wiregrass Ranch (6-5)
WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m./ Wiregrass Ranch Stadium, 2909 Mansfield Blvd, Wesley Chapel
COACHES: Joe Fabrizio (St. Petersburg), Jeremy Shobe (Wiregrass Ranch)
NEED TO KNOW: The Bulls begin preparation for what's expected to be a rough Class 7A-District 7 schedule with a preseason test against an opponent from 7A-9. Wiregrass Ranch will debut Jake Day at quarterback, and hopes to make progress in a passing game that has a lot of inexperienced, but potentially very talented, pieces. Shobe expects to "open the playbook up" against the Green Devils, whom he considers "an athletic, well-coached football team". "This is as close to the teams we play in our district as you can get," Shobe added. RB/LB Jamie Barrone and ATH Jamel Nunez will not play, but only as a precaution and are expected to be ready for next week's opener against Sunlake. The varsity team will play the entire game.
Orlando Downey at Academy at the Lakes (6-man)
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m./Land O' Lakes Recreation Center, 3032 Collier Pkwy., Land O' Lakes
COACHES: John Castelamare (Academy at the Lakes)
NEED TO KNOW: Castelamare begins his second season at Wildcats coach and has 20 players this year, which means most won't have to play both ways. Since Academy at the Lakes didn't have a Kickoff Classic, Castelamare has no idea what to expect when they finally see a different colored uniform. Quarterback A.J. Carlson will lead the offense, which runs the Wing-T, as the Wildcats begin a quest for a second straight playoff berth.
Rick Harmon, Mike Camunas, Chris Errington, Bart O'Connell