As the high school football season continues to roll on, matchups down the stretch are becoming more crucial with teams needing to play well once the postseason comes around. One of the top matchups in Pasco County is when River Ridge travels across county to face off against perennial district rival Zephyrhills. Both programs have had memorable matchups in the regular season and playoffs, with Friday’s game shaping up to be another good one. We take a closer look at the matchup between the Royal Knights and Bulldogs. 

River Ridge Royal Knights (4-2) at Zephyrhills Bulldogs (3-2); Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

Bulldogs are on a roll

There’s no telling which Zephyrhills’ squad might show up on any given night, but the last three games might be telling that the Bulldogs are starting to click on all cylinders. Zephyrhills has out-scored its last three opponents (Cypress Creek, Tarpon Springs, Anclote) by a combined 125-7. The Bulldogs face their toughest since the beginning of the season when they faced Tampa Catholic and Sickles. 

River Ridge finding success on the ground

If there’s one way that Ryan Benjamin likes to play, it’s down in the trenches. His first few seasons with Chris Schwarz proved success on the ground, but the Royal Knights have been searching for a primary ball carrier. Enter Nick Marzicola, who has rushed for 436 yards and scored three touchdowns this season. If River Ridge can run the ball consistently versus Zephyrhills, that should open up the pass attack for Trenton Hawks. 

Always a classic matchup between these two

When Zephyrhills and River Ridge face head to head, you can almost guarantee a good game from start to finish. Last year, the Royal Knights blew out the Bulldogs 52-19 but in the three prior matchups before that, each one was a nail biter. In 2018, Bulldogs edged out the Royal Knights 21-19 and in 2017, beat out River Ridge 38-35 and in the playoffs 35-31. Get your popcorn ready, or in Zephyrhills’ case, boiled peanuts. 

Andy Villamarzo can be reached at and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.