Pasco High has only known district championships since Tom McHugh became the coach three seasons ago.
If the Pirates are to make it four in a row they will again rely on throwing the ball all over the field using a version of the spread offense.
“Jacob Guy will be our quarterback to start the year and he has a lot of good receivers to throw to,” McHugh said. “Guys like Hakeeme Ishmar, Mike Clower and Jackson Johnson.”
Guy, a junior, is the younger brother of former Zephyrhills High quarterback Tyler Guy. Last year he was the backup for D.J. Clower, who had 1,525 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior. Guy attempted just 19 passes, completing 13 for 159 yards and one score in 2009.
While Guy will have many receivers to choose from, one stands out. Ishmar, a senior, has received more than 10 scholarship offers, several from Division I schools. He had a team-leading 400 receiving yards as a junior.
Ishmar, along with Chaise Dunn, Mitchell Wozniak and Janarion Grant, each had at least 350 yards receiving last season. Dunn and Wozniak each graduated, but Grant is only a sophomore.
One of the team’s defensive leaders is linebacker Jamie Byrd. The 6-foot senior had a team-high 129 tackles while adding six sacks and four fumble recoveries last year. He also had 136 rushing yards and two scores as a fullback.
Pasco went 9-2 last year and loses only nine seniors from that team. McHugh said the graduates received some kind of scholarship and will play football at the collegiate level.
“That’s something I’m proud of because they’re going to school first of all and their football talents are helping pay for it,” McHugh said.
In the Pirates district is Wesley Chapel High, who has a familiar face running their program — Ben Alford. The 2003 Pasco graduate was the Pirates quarterback and had some trouble against McHugh while playing.
“When I was the defensive coordinator at Wesley Chapel we beat him every year,” McHugh said with a laugh. “Right now I wouldn’t call it a rivalry between us. They’re 10 miles away and we have that other team nine miles south in Zephyrhills that is our big rival. It can become a good rivalry and I like the competition in east Pasco County.”
The annual district battle between Zephyrhills High and Pasco is known as the 9-Mile War. Pasco has won the game the last two years, including a 48-7 victory last year.
While the Pirates are ready for the season, the team is coming off a recent loss. Dan Brown graduated from Pasco in the spring and was to start as a freshman at Defiance College in Ohio, but was killed in a car accident last month. Brown was 19 and spent three years as a defensive and offensive lineman.
“As a 16, 17 or 18-year-old kid you don’t talk about those things much,” McHugh said. “If you look down deep it has to impact the guys who knew him. I’m sure it’s there in their minds. It will probably be a motivating factor for them because they remember which one was his locker and how he played for us.”
Pasco has a bye the first week of the season. The Pirates will start the 2010 campaign against American High in Dade City Sept. 10.
-All stats as recorded to Maxpreps.com by coaches as of Aug. 23. To reach Kyle LoJacono e-mail him at .
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