© St. Petersburg Times, published October 6, 2002
"This game means a lot because it's the first district win, and we've got three more left. I've always said from the very get-go, that westside doesn't mean a thing to me, conference doesn't mean that much to me. It's district games and going to the playoffs that mean a lot to me."
-- SCOTT SCHMITZ, Mitchell coach, after his team's 21-3 win over his former team (River Ridge) to stay alive in the Class 4A, District 6 race.
Wildcats senior fullback Tyrone Tomlin was held without a touchdown for the first time since his sophomore year in Zephyrhills' 24-21 win.
Tomlin was held to 53 yards on 18 carries, his last effort a 9-yard loss on fourth-and-7 with 3:32 left in the game.
Tomlin came up with some big hits defensively and spent more time on that side of the ball than he has in any game this season.
Offensively, he struggled, losing two fumbles to give him five in the last two games. He entered the game averaging 10.9 yards per carry, but that average dropped by 2 yards Friday, still the best of any county runner with 25 or more rushes. Of his 18 carries against Zephyrhills, only four went for more than 6 yards, and none for more than 12.
On the other hand, Wesley Chapel passed for more yards (177) than it had in its first four games combined. Quarterback Cory Filley threw touchdowns to Jon Muhammad and Greg Harrison, tripling his season total, and running back Chris Roberts got into the action, completing a 56-yard pass to Patrick Cushman on a halfback option on the game's first play.
Pasco kicker Amanda Newsome, the first female to play varsity football in Pasco County, nearly doubled her points for the season, kicking five PATs in the Pirates' 41-7 win against Gulf.
Newsome had six extra points in the Pirates' first four games. The only kick she didn't make Friday was a result of a bad snap that holder/quarterback Ben Alford scooped up and tried to throw into the end zone for a two-point conversion.
As the clock ticked down to the final seconds at Bulldog Stadium in Zephyrhills Friday night, 45 miles away at W.D. "Des" Little Stadium, the Pasco sideline was celebrating. Hearing the news that the Bulldogs knocked off previously undefeated 3A-7 district leader Wesley Chapel, the Pirates had more to cheer about along with their 41-7 win.
"That makes things more interesting, doesn't it?" Pasco coach Ricky Thomas said. "We have a while to think about those guys."
River Ridge desperately needs an identity. It found it in quarterback Ryan Mistal.
The Royal Knights now join the ranks of pass-happy Pasco County teams, but by necessity. River Ridge only rushed for 50 yards on 24 carries in Friday night's 21-3 loss, and falling behind 14-3 in the third quarter didn't help.
So coach Mike DeGennaro turned to Mistal, the 5-foot-11, 165-pound sophomore, who enjoyed one of his best nights as a passer even as his team endured one of its worst. He went 7-of-15 for 142 yards, finding five different receivers. Chris Malone caught two passes for 58 yards. But, for the second week in a row, the offense could not find the end zone.
Mistakes continue to doom River Ridge. Friday it was a false start on fourth-and-1 at the 10, two punt returns fumbled away, a blocked field goal attempt kicked low and blockers running into Mistal too many times.
"We drive all the way down the field, we miss a block, miss a snap, we miss something," DeGennaro said. "It's just one thing or another killing us. We had two great drives and we had three points."
Talk about deep. Land O'Lakes coach John Benedetto emptied his bench in a 42-14 win over Ridgewood. Ten players got carries and seven caught at least one pass.
Eddie Gibbs, the new starting tailback since Chris Perez was lost for the season last week with a knee injury, led all Land O'Lakes rushers with nine carries for 41 yards. Keith Elser's two catches for 40 yards, including a touchdown, led the team.