The last time a prep football team has taken the field was about three weeks ago in November and there’s surely still some debate on who is the coach and players of the year. The last team eliminated from playoff contention was Hernando. Here at the Hernando Sun, we covered Central, Hernando, Nature Coast, Springstead, and Weeki Wachee all season long. We now take a look at the coach and players of the year from the county. Hernando County saw all five teams advance into the Florida High School Athletic Association playoffs and every club had some of the top players in the county. We take a look at Hernando County’s coach of the year and players of the year on offense and defense.
Coach of the Year, Earl Garcia III, Hernando: Garcia III faced an uphill battle taking the job at Hernando in the middle of a pandemic and he did an admirable job in doing so. The former Hillsborough High School defensive coordinator navigated the Leopards through Covid-19 and was able to get nine games in during an odd period. Garcia III guided Hernando to a 7-2 record and into the region quarterfinal, where they fell 39-0 against state power Orlando Jones. But despite the second-round loss, Garcia III has plenty of positives to take away from his first season on the job and expectations should be high going into year No. 2.
Offensive player of the Year, Contae Cason, Hernando: The Central transfer came into a new situation when he joined the Hernando Leopards, but Cason’s role remained somewhat the same. Cason continued to be the bell cow for another program, as the senior tailback rushed for over 1,000 yards and total just over 1,600 in total offensive production. Not just to mention when it comes to yards, Cason was equally productive in finding the endzone. The senior scored 16 touchdowns on the ground and five through the air, ending with 21 total scores on offense. Cason did have a 22nd touchdown, but that would come via an interception return. To say Cason meant a lot to Hernando’s success is a little bit of an understatement.
Defensive player of the Year, Kyle McIntosh, Nature Coast Technical: When you play in a Cory Johns’ defense, you can expect the middle linebacker to be making a lot of plays. For linebacker Kyle McIntosh, he was all over the field for Nature Coast and it was hard not to notice. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound linebacker was always in the vicinity of the play or making one, as he notched 114 total tackles through seven games played. In addition to all the tackles made, 10 of those went for a loss and the senior was the leader of a defense that yielded 125 points (15.6 average per game). Though he will be greatly missed, McIntosh’s play in the front seven helped solidify one of the top defenses in Hernando County.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.