Diversity Key for Bulldogs Offense

By on October 27, 2011

In 2006, many notable events took place that changed the world as we knew it. Saddam Hussein was charged and found guilty of crimes against humanity and was sentenced to death by hanging, Pluto was downgraded from planet to dwarf planet by The International Astronomical Union, and the Zephyrhills High School football team made its last postseason appearance under longtime coach Tom Fisher.

A 22-14 loss to Eustis, in the first round of the state playoffs that year, ended a season that included a district title for Zephyrhills. Things seemed to be on the uptick in Skydive City.

However, in the following four seasons the Bulldogs would produce progressively worse results. A 5-5 campaign in 2007 was followed by a 4-6 season in 2008. In 2009 and 2010, the program posted 2-8 records. The downward spiral may have reached its climax in the first half of last season, as the Zephyrhills offense scored in double digits only once in its first six games.

Fast forward to the present and we see a Zephyrhills team that has won five weeks in a row, averaging over 44 points per game during the streak. The Bulldogs are tied with Pasco for first place in 5A-District 6 and they travel to Hudson this week with a playoff berth on the line against Fivay, a program in only its second year of existence. 

With a win on Friday, Zephyrhills will clinch at least second place in the district, and, more importantly, return to the playoffs.

The Falcons (5-2, 4-1 in 5A-6) have played capable defense this year (last week’s 59-6 blowout loss to Pasco notwithstanding), holding its first six opponents to 17 points or fewer. If the Fivay defense can rise to the challenge this week, and come away with a victory, the Falcons, and not the Bulldogs, would likely represent the district in the postseason.

So what has keyed the offensive onslaught of the Bulldogs and how will they continue their success against the Falcons?

While the emergence of QB Jamal Roberts, and his gaudy numbers on the ground (Maxpreps.com credits him with 848 yards rushing), has played an enormous role in the offensive output of the Bulldogs this year, in recent weeks Zephyrhills has received solid production from its complimentary pieces as well.

It seems that a different player is carrying the torch each week for the Bulldogs (5-2, 5-0 in 5A-6). Three weeks ago, in a 41-14 win against Gulf, Malik Mutcherson answered the bell with 98 yards rushing on eleven carries, including two touchdown runs. Two weeks ago it was Adrian Sanchez stepping up, catching a touchdown pass and returning a kickoff for another score in a 51-16 thrashing of Anclote. In last Friday’s 49-0 slaughtering of the Ridgewood Rams, Devario Mathis ran for 83 yards, including a 41 yard touchdown scamper, on five first half carries.

In order to defeat the upstart Falcons and deny the program its first playoff appearance, the Bulldogs must continue to find effective ways of diversifying its attack. The current win streak has been so dominant because opposing defenses have been punished for keying too heavily on Roberts. Finding a compliment to the senior quarterback this week will go a long way toward extending the Zephyrhills season and partying like it’s 2006.

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