ZEPHYRHILLS — Coach Reggie Roberts had his players chanting their rival’s name.
He wanted it loud enough to be heard nine miles away, down the road at Pasco High. That’s because Roberts, a Zephyrhills alum who has rejuvenated the football program, wants the Pirates to know his team is coming for them hosting next week’s annual 9-Mile War.
And with Pasco (5-3, 3-2) defeating Brooksville Central (0-9, 0-5), and Zephyrhills (7-1, 4-1) downing Brooksville Hernando 32-14 at Bulldog Stadium, that longstanding battle will be for the Class 5A-District 6 runner-up postseason berth.
“We don’t want to settle,” said Roberts, who was 4-0 vs. Pasco as a player in the late 80s. “If this is golf, we wouldn’t want a par, we’d want a birdie or an eagle. ... I didn’t come here for the money. I can here to make the people at this school excited about football again, and if you can find a seat here next week, then I failed.”
The Bulldogs, who haven’t reached the postseason since 2006, jumped out to 10-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a 27-yard field goal by Zach Gleaton and a 37-yard pass Devon Brockington hauled in from Justin Swanstrom, who split snaps at quarterback with Ty Tanner.
Tanner later hit Swanstrom on a 12-yard pass for a 17-0 halftime lead.
The Leopards (2-6, 2-3) scored 14 unanswered points in the third thanks to a 8-yard Ra’shaad Hart run and a 52-yard by Jeremiah Jackson.
The Bulldogs got a boost in the fourth when Riley Murphy and Garrett Pritchard sacked Hart in the end zone for a safety with 10:58 remaining.
Later, Tanner took a QB keeper 83 yards to the 1 to set up a Jaylen Pickett touchdown.
Hernando 0 0 14 0 — 14
Z-hills 10 7 0 16 — 32
Z - FG Gleaton 27
Z - Brockington 37 pass from Swanstrom (Gleaton kick)
Z - Swanstrom 12 pass from Tanner (Gleaton kick)
H - Hart 8 run (Maclachlan kick)
H - Jackson 52 run (Maclachlan kick)
Z - Safety
Z - Pickett 1 run (kick failed)
Z - Pickett 13 run (Gleaton kick)