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Kyle St. John, No. 4, is quarterbacking a River Ridge Royal Knights squad that has a match-up with 5-0 Zephyrhills looming.

NEW PORT RICHEY — If there’s something in common between the NFL’s New England Patriots of the last few seasons and River Ridge’s varsity football team, it is that both clubs get off to slow starts.

Those slow starts gradually turn into progress as the season transpires, as the Royal Knights were seemingly left out of the discussion as one of the county’s top teams due to an 0-2 beginning. River Ridge has since then won three in a row and looks to make it four when they face Gulf this Friday.

The Royal Knights will be heavy favorites to defeat the Buccaneers in the Class 5A, District 8 match-up and after that have a huge division game looming against Zephyrhills coming up in a couple of weeks. The Bulldogs are 5-0 on the season, after winning the district championship last fall.

River Ridge’s three straight wins have all been shutout victories by the Royal Knights. They defeated, by 35 points or more, West Park Prep, 45-0, Anclote, 35-0; and Fivay, 35-0. After the Zephyrhills game, River Ridge will close out the season with games versus Hudson, Wesley Chapel and Sunlake.

Head Coach Ryan Benjamin’s bunch didn’t have the most favorable start to 2018, with losses coming to Pinellas Park, 42-0, and rival Mitchell, 14-0. The Royal Knights faced the same start last season before finishing 2017 with a record of 7-3 and qualifying for the postseason.

Now with the new FHSAA postseason qualifications, River Ridge has an uphill climb in Class 5A, Region 2 but there’s one sure fire way for the Royal Knights to reach the playoffs and that’s winning 5A-8. In under two weeks River Ridge and Zephyrhills will clash at the Jim Valentine Sports Complex.