Okay, 2020 is coming to a merciful end and it’s been a chaotic year for everyone around the country, including our Hernando County faithful. The sports world has been affected just like everything else and the Hernando County sports scene was one that saw many feel-good stories throughout the year. Whether it was football, baseball, softball, basketball, cross country, swimming, you name it, there was plenty of memories to go around for people to talk about. But now with the conclusion of a wacky 2020 year, we take a look back at the top Hernando County sports stories of the last 12 months.
The sports world stops, shutting down high school sports in March
On March 17th, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ordered that all K-12 schools remained closed through April 15th. The announcement would actually be for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year, as the coronavirus pandemic surged throughout the United States. The school closures cost the senior year of athletes who played sports such as baseball, softball, track and field, and spring football. When it looked like it could be a banner year for some programs, it ended up being a short-lived memory of a shortened season.
Prep football resumes with Gulf Coast 8 matchups only
When it looked like at one time that a Hernando County prep football season might not take place, Hernando County schools in coalition with Citrus County schools came together to make it happen. On September 25th, Friday night high school football resumed and it kicked off with Hernando, Nature Coast, Weeki Wachee, and Central all taking the field. Springstead’s debut would be delayed due to a coronavirus scare, but the Eagles would eventually take to the field as well.
Contae Cason transfers to Hernando
After racking up 1,758 rushing yards in 2019 for the Central Bears, Contae Cason made it be known publicly via Twitter he would be taking his talents elsewhere. Shrouded in secrecy over the off-season, Cason eventually popped up at Hernando High School and not much changed in the production department. Cason ended up rushing for over 1,000 yards with the Leopards despite playing in just nine games.
Weeki Wachee volleyball overcomes adversity
Volleyball was another fall sport that made its return and Weeki Wachee’s team was the best around in the county. The Hornets, however, had to overcome adversity heading into their 2020 season as head coach Kelly Werkmeister was fighting an illness that took her away from the sidelines. Allen Werkmeister took over and helped lead the Hornets to an impressive 17-1 record, with the only loss coming to Academy of the Holy Names.
Rob Kazmier steps away at Hernando; Leopards hire Earl Garcia III
Longtime Hernando County assistant Rob Kazmier got his long-awaited opportunity to be a head coach and was the lead man at Hernando for two seasons but stepped down this summer after going 5-5 in 2019. Kazmier stepped away due to personal reasons and the program moved quickly in finding his replacement, tabbing former Hillsborough High School defensive coordinator Earl Garcia III as the next head coach. Garcia III led Hernando to a record of 7-2 and back into the playoffs.
Former Nature Coast back Matt Breida signs with Miami Dolphins
The most successful running back to come out of Nature Coast Technical High School was traded from the San Francisco 49ers to the Miami Dolphins for a 5th round pick on April 25th. Matt Breida made a name for himself playing for the Super Bowl runner-ups and has a new team back in his home state of Florida.
Emma Elferdink becomes first Weeki Wachee swimmer to ever qualify for states
For a school that started sports up in 2011-2012, it has been a long time coming for a swimmer to qualify for states. That became the reality for Weeki Wachee’s Emma Elferdink, who became the first-ever swimmer from Weeki Wachee to reach states.
Bill Vonada returns to Springstead as assistant
He made his name at Springstead High School as football head coach and returned to be an assistant. Bill Vonada returned to his old stomping grounds at Springstead and came back as an assistant this time under Mike Garofano. It was a welcoming sight, as Vonada was coming off a season assisting Weeki Wachee’s staff in 2019.
Nature Coast boys basketball streak of 11 straight playoff appearances snapped
11 straight postseason appearances under the watch of head coach David Pisarcik was snapped early this year when the Sharks lost to Holiday Anclote 69-51 in the Class 4A, District 8 tournament. The streak was an impressive one that featured multiple trips to the region final and state semifinals.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.