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.
1. Sunlake, 64 points (4 first-place votes)
Last week: Idle: The Seahawks are coming off the much-needed bye week looking to, not only win their last district game, but make only their second postseason berth in history. To do that, Sunlake will be rooting for Springstead to defeat crosstown rival Land O’ Lakes, making the Seahawks the 6A-District 6 runner-up. Back in action will be the county’s second-leading rusher, junior Nathan Johnson, who has 1,108 yards and 13 TDs.
2. Zephyrhills, 54 points (3 first-place votes)
Last week: Defeated Hernando 32-14: Coach Reggie Roberts has been saying it all season: his Bulldogs are hungry. The only meal they want: a postseason berth. Roberts, a Zephyrhills alum, has done a remarkable job turning around the floundering program to days, where they were relevant and playoff contenders. Now, headed into one of the biggest 9-Mile Wars in recent memory, it becomes fitting that the last hurdle standing in the way of the long-awaited return to the postseason is their long-time rival Pasco.
3. Land O’ Lakes, 44 points
Last week: Defeated Fivay 44-12: The Gators showed no signs of fatigue after an overtime loss to Sunlake, and junior QB James Pensyl got back to work, throwing for two touchdowns and running for two more to prepare for the second make-or-break game in the matter of three weeks. Land O’ Lakes must win to keep the crowded 6A-District 6 playoff race alive and validate the Gators best season under coach Brian Wachtel.
4. Pasco, 26 points
Last week: Defeated Brooksville Central 49-12: This is why you never count the Pirates out. On Oct. 4, at 2-3, most thought coach Tom McHugh, senior Malik Johns, sophomore Nate Craig and the whole bunch were done and would miss the postseason for the first time in McHugh’s seven-season tenure. But, the Pirates are winners of three straight and now focused on doing what they’ve always done in the past to their long-time rival Zephyrhills. That is, beating the Bulldogs to get back in the playoffs.
5. Hudson, 12 points
Last week: Defeated River Ridge 26-16: Almost there. Coach Mark Kantor has completed 179 degrees of the 180 turnaround of a struggling Cobras program. In only his second year, Kantor has Hudson back in the playoffs and on the cusp of a district title, which is remarkable, since when he took over, the team had a 22-game losing streak and barely enough players to fill two busses.
Also receiving votes: Anclote