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Nature Coast picking up important district wins down the stretch

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by ANDY VillAMARZO
Photography by Cheryl Clanton

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BROOKSVILLE —  Last Friday night against Weeki Wachee in a Class 5A, District 7 matchup, Weston proved once again that his running style is hard to go up against for an entire game. The 230-pound tailback rushed for 239 yards on 32 carries and added four scores in leading Nature Coast to a 38-24 victory over the Hornets on the road. 

“(Michael Weston) is one of those running backs that defenders in the second half just get tired of tackling,” Nature Coast coach Cory Johns said. “He just wears on you as the game progresses. By the fourth quarter, many team’s defenses just don’t want to tackle him.” 

With the win, the Sharks (5-1, 3-0) continue to control their playoff fate in Class 5A, as they remain undefeated in 5A-7. Nature Coast still has crucial matchups against rival Hernando and  Citrus, but looks to be the class of the district. For Weeki Wachee, it was a valiant effort but the loss for all intents and purposes knocks the Hornets out of the postseason picture. 

The rivalry between the two schools appears to be heating up, as coaches from both teams exchanged words after the game. The only thing Johns was truly worried about was making sure his team remains focused as they head into the final four games of the season. 

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“I don’t think (Weeki Wachee) stopped us one time all night,” Johns said. “We didn’t score a couple times and one of them was my fault. (Mike Weston) threw an interception there by the goal line, but I think we only punted once all night.”

One glitch to the schedule, however, is the postponement of Nature Coast’s district contest against Lecanto because of the threat of Hurricane Michael. As the storm closes in towards Florida’s panhandle, the threat of tropical storm force winds, rain added with storm surge along the Gulf Coast of the peninsula forced Citrus County schools to cancel activities on Friday. 

Nonetheless, the Sharks will have a tough track ahead of them as they’ll have to play two games in one week at some point this season. Nature Coast last season finished as the district runner-up to Hernando and ended up playing Baker County in the postseason. Johns pointed out it makes all the difference in the world not having to travel in the first round. 

“It means everything to us to win the district,” Johns added. “Last year we lose the district to Hernando and finish as the runner-up and end up having to travel four hours to Jacksonville and play Baker County. It’s a big deal for us to play at home to start the postseason.”

Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.
 

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