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HomeSportsFootballMistakes Sink Springstead vs. Commodores

Mistakes Sink Springstead vs. Commodores

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The Springstead Eagles (0-1) opened their regular season at home against the Eau Gallie Commodores (1-0) on Friday night at the Eagles Nest. The Commodores took advantage of key mistakes made by the home team and won the tough, low-scoring battle 14-6. The visitors were coming off a 7-4 season in 2022, while the Eagles had finished their previous year 9-2, and both teams have talented rosters in 2023. While the loss was tough for Head Coach Michael Garofano’s squad, he noted that they intentionally schedule difficult teams early in the season to help prepare them for the long haul. The less-than-ideal result had some silver linings for the Eagles’ coach, and he credited the opponents for their wealth of talent.

“I was proud of the effort,” Coach Garofano said. “We played hard. They are a good team. They have like six division one athletes on there, number three recruit in the nation [defensive] tackle… I thought we were more physical on defense. We lit them up, which was impressive. Offensively, it took us a while to get going. Then, the later part of the game, we kind of wore them down a little.”

The first quarter ended without too many fireworks as the score remained 0-0, but one play would put a scare in the home crowd early on. The very first time a Commodore got his hands on the ball, the Eagles had to watch Xavier Lherisse sprint down the field for a touchdown on a punt return. To Springstead’s relief, Eau Gallie was called for a pair of penalties that brought them all the way back inside their own 10-yard line. Crisis averted—for the moment.

Springstead’s defense would hold firm for as long as they could until a late first-half score ended the stalemate. With 23.5 seconds left in the period, RB Latavious Welch caught a Jamari Crooms pass, and that’s when the Eagles made one of their biggest mistakes. Welch proceeded to break a would-be tackle near the line of scrimmage and sprinted down the right sideline to the corner of the endzone before the defense could react. Despite being set back by another pair of penalties before the extra point, the Commodores elected to go for two from outside the 10-yard line. They managed to convert and went into the half up 8-0.

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“The thing that bothered me most about the missed tackle is we missed a tackle on that touchdown, but everyone kind of slowed down a little because we thought someone else had him, and that’s not how to play team defense. I don’t care. You play to the whistle. So, probably the two most disappointing things to me in this game were that and us jumping offsides from second and goal from the one – the false start. Other than that, take away those two plays, we probably win the game.”

The Red, White, and Blue’s other critical error came in the second quarter as well after a muffed punt by Lharisse set up the home team in prime field position. With a second and goal from the one upcoming, the Eagles’ offense was called for a false start and was forced to settle for a seemingly simple Raul Maldonado field goal. In what appeared to be little more than an extra point attempt, the kick sailed wide right, and the home team came away with no points following a drive that started inside the Commodore two-yard line.

With little time remaining in the fourth quarter, the Eagles finally got on the board for the first time in the 2023 regular season. With 5:28 left in the contest, RB Connor Mccazzio took it up the middle, broke through the secondary, and bolted over 30 yards to the end zone. Issues reared their heads again when a bad snap to Maldonado on the extra point attempt left the home team with an 8-point deficit late. Despite Junior Dalton Williams picking off Crooms on the next drive, Springstead’s offense delivered two fourth-quarter interceptions of their own to Eau Gallie’s defense to seal the game. While the offense certainly struggled, Coach Garofano was very pleased with the other side of the ball.

“Really the whole defense,” said Garofano. “Probably Dalton Williams really stood out… he was everywhere. He was lighting people up. I felt like after a while, they didn’t want any more of our defense. They just wanted to get off the field.”

Depending on the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, the Eagles will host the Citrus Hurricanes at 7:30 on Friday. If it’s game on, Coach Garofano and company will hope to limit their mistakes, particularly on offense, in game two against the squad from Inverness.

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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