High school football previews

River Ridge High School hopes Trenton Hawks’ second year under center will propel it to another playoff run.

This year has been a roller coaster to say the least, and whether high school football will be played or not is still a question. The earliest Pasco County sports can resume official practices is Sept. 7 and that will allow for enough time to get ready and get on the field sometime in late September or early October. Assuming there will be a season, we take a look at some of the schools and preview the 2020 campaign.

Anclote: The Sharks have hired Antony Smith, a former Lake Weir High School assistant. Smith is tasked with turning around a Sharks team that finished with two wins last season. How fast he can turn things around is based on how quickly players can buy into his system.

Bishop McLaughlin: Year 1 of Ken Stills’ tenure is underway at the school and the former IMG Academy assistant has wasted no time in getting his kids ready for football in 2020. Stills, who is the son is Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills Jr., brings plenty of experience to the Hurricanes and hopes to take the team to the next level this fall.

Fivay: Matt Durchik’s program has been averaging around 60 players at workouts and the Falcons are a club to be reckoned with in 2020. The Falcons return running back Angel Gordon and a slew of other athletes to the roster. Fivay was competitive last season and the club looks to take the next step.

Gulf: After having to close up shop before the season ended, the Buccaneers are hoping to pick up some steam and get things on the right track under coach Daniel McLeod. He heads into his second season as Gulf’s coach and after a rocky first year, McLeod has a revamped home side bleachers section and undefeated middle school team that has sent an influx of players in. Turnaround could be in sight.

Hudson: The 1-9 season in 2019 was a tough pill to swallow for the Cobras and Tim Hicks, but Hudson aims to get back toward the .500 mark. The Cobras have plenty of talent across the board to get there, as quarterback Hunter Young has made strides along with middle linebacker A.J. Blanton leading the defense.

Mitchell: No team on the west side of Pasco County has higher expectations than that of Mitchell High School. A team that nearly upended Bradenton Manatee last season in the playoffs, the Mustangs have one of the most talented clubs in the area. Andy Schmitz lost some talent on the offensive end, including at the running back position. Mitchell does return quarterback Ezra Brennan and wide receiver Ronnie Fiumara. 

River Ridge: The other top team on the west side of Pasco County is arguably River Ridge High School, as the Royal Knights have continued to get better with second-year starter Trenton Hawks at quarterback. Ryan Benjamin’s club was a playoff team last fall but was ousted soundly in the first round. Now with a bit more experience under its belt, River Ridge should be able to make a run this time around.