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Nature Coast Senior Night

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BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — It was a night made for celebration!

There was a bright full moon, a soft autumn breeze. A small group of proud family members gathered and walked alongside the NCT players honored for their dedication to the game of football. It was a ceremony celebrating Senior Night at Nature Coast Tech High School on Friday night, October 11, 2019 inside the Shark Tank.

That evening they faced Weeki Wachee High School and closed the home portion of the 2019 Nature Coast Tech High School football season.

After the pregame celebration, that was complete with tears and hugs, it was time for the Sharks to take care of business, defeating Weeki Wachee High School 42-0, and keeping Nature Coast Tech undefeated in the 5A District 8.

After the defeat at River Ridge High School back on October 4, the Sharks quietly gathered together as a group in the end zone. They all took a knee but seemed to be dazed and discouraged by the loss against the Royal Knights.

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During that team meeting, Nature Coast Tech High School football coach Cory Johns looked at his team squarely in their collective eyes and asked them if they really wanted to play football.  Then he challenged the seniors on the team that the time has come for them to step up and become team leaders!

During the week of practice getting prepared for Weeki Wachee High School, every senior took that long look in the mirror, each senior responded and answered the question that Johns asked.

“We had some guys to step up and do some things that we needed to do,” Johns said. “Andre Dillard played extremely well. The last three games, Fabian Burnett has been the best player on the field and what we needed in the beginning of the season. It took him awhile to get going.” 

When the game started against the Hornets, it was clear that the team paid attention to what their coach had said. 

The game plan against the Hornets was a simple plan, just take care of the football, trust your teammates that they will play their position and the results will take care of themselves.

The rushing game for the Sharks dominated the field, led by Burnett and the rest of the running backs against a frustrated Hornets’ defense.

Burnett and company were finding the holes created by the offensive line that dominated the line of scrimmage. He finished the game by throwing four of four for 49 yards and he added 134 yards running the ball.

The offense was a good example of mixing just enough passing plays that helped the running attack, it was a solid effort by the entire Sharks’ offense and finished the game with 392 yards of total offense.

When the Sharks had to give the Hornets there chance to play offense, the defense for Nature Coast played with a mission, with a style that was appreciated by the players, fans, by Johns and his assistant coaches.

“They were phenomenal!” Johns said, talking about his defense squad. “We didn’t know what Weeki Wachee would run. We watched five or six films on them, we didn’t know what they would run. They run the wishbone, then run some stretch stuff, some wing-T stuff… We worked on getting lined up correctly they did a really good job at recognizing formations and even in the second half when we had some second string they did a really good job at getting some stops when we needed it.”

Weeki Wachee quarterback Michael MacMurray could not find any type of success throwing the football because of the breakdown at the line of scrimmage and the pass protection failed.

When a running play was called by the Hornets in the huddle, it did not find any success because of the speed of the Sharks’ defense. The hole that was supposed to be there was not available for the Hornets’ ball carrier because the Sharks’ defense responded.

“We played phenomenal!” Johns said. “These guys lost to Springstead 21-0 and lost to Hernando 13-0.  They are not a bad football team. It was impressive and what we did against this team was phenomenal.”

Weeki Wachee High School football coach Cris Cook said after the game that his team is going through some growing pains and that his team is still a young team developing.

“Our guys played the whole time they didn’t quit despite the discouraging circumstances obviously the score is not what we wanted,” Cook said. “Got a lot of young guys playing.  They stayed positive for the whole game. They just didn’t quit.”

This week’s practice at Nature Coast Tech High School will be a little more intense, paying attention to the little details. As the Sharks get ready for the game of the season and focus on a chance to win the District title.

The biggest game of the season for the Sharks will be under the lights October 18, on the road in the city of Inverness. 

For the Sharks, it is a chance for the seniors and for the rest of the Sharks, to make some memories against Citrus High School. A win against the Hurricanes would make the District title a reality instead of a dream-now that would be a good night!

Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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