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Citrus likes chances this time


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000

INVERNESS -- The Citrus football team is in familiar territory.

It can only hope the outcome is different.

With a 4-4 record, 2-2 in Class 3A, District 5, the Hurricanes have the exact mark they had one year ago this week, and they're almost in the exact same position.

If Citrus beats Hernando on Friday and Crystal River defeats Central, the 'Canes will finish in a three-way tie for second in the district with Central and Hernando.

If Citrus and Central win, the Hurricanes will finish in a tie for third with Hernando and would have a good shot at an at-large berth.

A loss likely would knock Citrus out of playoff contention.

"It's pretty much the same situation as last year," Hurricanes head coach Larry Bishop said.

Last season, Hernando defeated Citrus 51-24.

"(The Leopards) led 21-0 six minutes into the game," Bishop said. "Our kids really fought back and we brought it to 21-14, but they were just physically bigger and stronger than we were.

"If we would have won, it would have created a three-way shootout with Lecanto, Hernando and us," he said. "That pretty much knocked us out of it."

The final punch was delivered one week after losing to Hernando, when River Ridge beat Citrus 21-19.

The Hurricanes watched the playoffs from home after Lecanto earned an at-large spot.

One big difference this year is that Lecanto is not in the picture.

The other is that Bishop said his team is more capable of beating Hernando (4-4, 3-1) than it was in 1999.

"We feel like we match up a lot better," Bishop said. "The kids have been playing hard. Physically, I think we match up better.

"They are still going to be bigger and faster, but there won't be such a disparity like there was last year. We feel good about our chances."

They should.

Citrus has played its best football in recent games.

Two weeks ago, the Hurricanes had Central on the ropes before losing 25-15. Last week, they crushed Lake Weir 34-0 after building a 31-0 halftime lead. A running clock was used in the second half.

"We're pretty excited," Bishop said. "One of the things we talked about after the Lake Weir game is that we're right where we wanted to be."

To win, Citrus knows it will have to play its best.

"We can't do anything that will help them out -- like turning it over on offense or having stupid penalties," Bishop said. "We're really going to stress fundamentals this week."

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