Sports Notebook: Hernando opens season in style

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Throughout his 18 seasons at the helm of Springstead and now Hernando, Bill Vonada has often said a coach is never fully satisfied.
But in evaluating Friday’s season opener, the veteran football headman couldn’t find much fault with the outcome. The Leopards stomped Fivay at Tom Fisher Memorial Stadium, 62-0.
“The guys came out firing on all cylinders and really just didn’t have any letup at any position or play,” Vonada said. “I guess not being able to play in the spring and all that, the guys were charged up about playing somebody else.
“We were playing with great energy to begin with, and even when we went to the second-tier guys it seemed like the tempo just maintained.”
Hernando scored 54 points in the first half despite an hour-long rain delay before kickoff, and outgained the Falcons, 540-12, while holding them to minus-4 rushing yards. Quarterback Boston Tafelski threw for two touchdowns, rushed for another and also ran in a 2-point conversion. Israel Fields ran two times for 117 yards, scoring on runs of 42 and 75 yards. Seven different players reached the end zone for the Leopards.
“It’s not just winning, but performing well,” Vonada said. “There were not a lot of glaring mistakes. It was just affirmation that what they’re doing is paying off.
“They have to realize that it’s not a one-game season. Teams are going to look and say, ‘OK, Hernando has definitely improved this year.’ We’ll be on people’s radar. I don’t think we’ll sneak up on anyone at this point. We’ve got to understand that and it’s pretty critical that we continue to improve and perform.”
Weeki Wachee hosted Ocala-Lake Weir and ultimately fell in a shootout, 41-38. Quarterback Diante Thomas connected on 3-of-6 passes for 95 yards and threw a touchdown, and rushed 21 times for 142 yards and two scores.
Also for the Hornets, Shaun Young had four completions for 129 yards and two touchdowns, and Sebastian Class had 13 carries for 95 yards and one score.
“We knew from the get-go that they were going to be very, very good on offense,” first-year Weeki Wachee head coach Jacob Gray said. “They scored 49 in their kickoff classic (last week) against Santa Fe. We saw them on film. They were huge, they were fast, they were well-coached. They run an RPO scheme. They stretch you so thin on defense.
“I think that if this team was in our district, they’d be making a playoff run. So to be able to play with them like that; we’re still obviously a year into a rebuild and trying to do things the right way. We can do the hard work of finding the end zone, but not the little things at the end that make the difference between winning and losing.”
Nature Coast traveled to Bradenton to face IMG Academy White, and the Sharks pieced together an impressive first quarter, totaling over 200 yards of total offense. They led 6-0 on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Fabian Burnett to Willie Coffey, but with two minutes left in the opening period the game was halted due to inclement weather.
After hours of waiting, the game was eventually called and will not be rescheduled.
“It was looking good. You never know how it would end up, but we were playing really well and the offense was clicking like it should,” Nature Coast head coach Cory Johns said. “I’m really just disappointed for the kids, to not be able to get the culmination at the end of a long week of work.”
In the first week of volleyball action, Weeki Wachee got off to a strong start with a pair of three-game sweeps. On Tuesday, the Lady Hornets defeated Citrus, 25-23, 26-24, 25-13, behind 11 kills by Seytia Hill. On Thursday, Weeki Wachee blanked Central, 25-10, 25-13, 25-12. Brooke Sereda totaled 10 kills.
Springstead downed Seven Rivers Christian on Monday, 25-12, 25-19, 25-16, before its five-game victory over Hernando on Thursday, 28-30, 17-25, 25-17, 25-11, 15-7. The Lady Leopards had lost to Lecanto on Tuesday, 20-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-22.
At the season-opening cross country Whispering Pines Invitational at Whispering Pines Park in Inverness, Nature Coast’s boys placed a county-best fifth with 173 points. Leonard Iacopelli had the county’s fastest finish with a 14th-place 18:59.12.
The Lady Sharks also had the county’s highest placing in the team standings, ending up in eighth place with 184. Springstead’s Kylie Kanaar led the Hernando County field with a 12th-place 22:35.10.
Follow Chris Bernhardt Jr. on Twitter @cpbernhardtjr.

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