LAND O’ LAKES — Good quarterbacks have been the Mitchell High football team’s Achilles heel for as long as anyone that has watched or been apart of the Mustangs rivalry with Land O’ Lakes can remember.
The Weatherford quarterback era comes to mind of past contests between Land O’ Lakes-Mitchell. From the Mustangs’ first encounter against the Gators back in 2001, which ended in a 30-6 loss to the Drew Weatherford-led Land O’ Lakes to when Stevie Weatherford tossing three touchdowns in a 41-7 victory against Mitchell in the fall of 2010.
In a more than decade long line of talented quarterbacks, Land O’ Lakes’ current QB, James Pensyl, goes into tonight’s game at Mitchell at 7:30 p.m. with similar storylines: district matchup, postseason berth on the line and Mitchell’s Wing-T vs. Land O’ Lakes’ high-flying offense.
Last season’s dismal 4-6 season now serves as this season’s motivation to succeed. A 3-0 start, that includes wins against Anclote, River Ridge and Ridgewood, is being led by the Gators’ no huddle passing attack with Pensyl at the helm.
“It’s always fun when you win,” Pensyl said. “We did a lot of work over the offseason and we worked constantly on our no huddle and quick tempo. The biggest difference I see between this year’s team and last is we’re more of a family and we do whatever it takes to win the game.”
That type of winning mentality will have to stay true if the Gators want to improve to 4-0. Pensyl will need to stay on course with his current numbers to keep Mitchell off balance. The 6-foot-6 junior southpaw has completed 57 of 93 pass attempts for 871 yards and an impressive eight touchdowns to one interception.
Pensyl credits a strong offensive line and sure-handed receivers such as Liam Heaney (17 ctaches, 282 yards), Kamal Wells (nine catches, 165 yards) and Javin Tandy (eight catches, 205 yards) for his stats. But Pensyl also believes if the Gators execute both offensively and defensively, they’ll come away with a victory at Mustang Stadium this evening.
“We have to execute and do what our coaches tell us to do,” Pensyl added. “The receivers and offensive line are doing a great job. The guys are really doing it right. We have to stay to ourselves and win this game.”
PREDICTION: All seven correspondents who cover Pasco County football, Mike Camunas, Andy Villamarzo, Bart O’ Connell, Steve Campbell, Kyle LoJacono, Kenny Sanders and Chris Errington pick Land O’ Lakes.
Correspondent Andy Villamarzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.