Bulldogs & Falcons Positioned for Playoff Push

By on October 20, 2011

Zephyhills, Fla. – Amid the festivities of homecoming week at Zephyrhills High School, there have been whispers of the possibility that the Bulldogs could reach the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Zephyrhills is 4-2 on the season, but more importantly it is 4-0 in Class 5A-District 6 play and in a three-way tie with Pasco and Fivay for the best record in the district. The top two teams at the end of the year qualify for the postseason and buzz surrounding the Bulldogs is starting to simmer.

Before the season started, it would have been difficult to find believers in the Bulldogs. In fact, a few respected Pasco County prep football analysts commented that Zephyrhills was in rebuilding mode and would not compete for a playoff appearance this year.

Those prognosticators were wrong.

Reporters from The Tampa Tribune and the St. Pete Times have agreed all season that Pasco (7-0; 4-0 in district play) is the best team in 5A-District 6, but they have been unsure about who would finish in second place and claim the district’s other playoff berth.

Early in the season, Wesley Chapel was the chic pick. Although the Wildcats have showed improvement in the second year of the Ben Alford era, a 1-3 record thus far in district play has all but eliminated them from contention.

Fivay, in only its second year of existence, has received praise all year for its capable defense. The unit, led by linebacker Brice Sesler (73 tackles), has yet to allow more than 17 points in any contest. The Falcons are 4-0 in district play, winning their last five games after dropping the opener at home against River Ridge.

If Fivay reaches the playoffs this year the headlines will write themselves: Second-Year Program Overcomes the Odds!

Pasco (ranked fourth in the state in Class 5A in the latest AP poll) has been dominant all year long, recording three consecutive shutouts earlier in the year and scoring 50 or more points in each of their last 5 games (a Pasco County record). The Pirates have outscored their opponents 378-45 so far this season and boast NCAA level talent at all the skill positions.

Pasco and Fivay, who play each other this week, deserve all the accolades they have received as we hit the stretch run of the 2011 prep football season, but, until recently, nobody was talking about Zephyrhills.

There is no doubt that the Pirates are the class of Pasco County, but just remember that in their Spring game against the Bulldogs, Pasco only held a 14-7 lead in the third quarter before lightning shortened the contest.

An 0-2 start to the season (against non-district opponents) did little to change the outside perception of the Bulldogs, but losses to Land O’ Lakes and Tampa Catholic helped Zephyrhills forge an identity that has served them well ever since.

Zephyrhills has won its last four games (all against district foes), averaging 43.3 points per game during the streak. A win at home on Friday against Ridgewood (1-6) would setup a colossal matchup at Fivay the following week. More than likely, the winner of that game would represent the district in the playoffs.

Either the upstart Falcons or the unexpected Bulldogs will reach the postseason, that much is sure. Which team goes will be decided soon. Stay tuned.

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