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HomeSportsFootballCity Council Recognizes HYL 8U Football Team

City Council Recognizes HYL 8U Football Team

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During their regular meeting in the council chambers on Jan. 8, 2024, the Brooksville City Council recognized the Hernando Youth League’s 8U Football team for their strong 2023 season. Council Member Thomas Bronson, who himself played HYL and Hernando Leopards’ football, had the honor of announcing the recognition of the team for their proficiency on the field and in the classroom on Monday evening. Head Coach Mike Lastra’s youth squad showed resilience in a year that saw them lose their opening matchup before finishing their schedule 10-2.

“It was a great season with these boys,” Coach Lastra said. “It is a lot of fun. I am also the proud principal of Eastside Elementary… Coaching these kids was special […] The nice thing is we are going to keep these boys together in the Purple and Gold and you are going to hear a lot from them. So, hopefully, we will be out here every year from the future and, once they get to ten-year-old, they will be able to compete for a national championship.”

The young team was so impressive that it was not only the coach who was looking to the future. Considering their accomplishments, Mayor Blake Bell joked that the whole team should agree to play for the Hernando Leopards when they get to high school.

Following the team’s loss to start the season against Wildwood in “110-degree” heat, as the head coach noted, they showed tremendous resolve during the playoffs as well. Despite being down 21-0 at one point, the Leopards battled back in the fourth quarter and took the first-round victory. Coach Lastra and company proceeded to win ten games in a row and won the Central Florida Football Conference. The 8U team would advance all the way to the Pop Warner Southeast Regional Final Four before being upended for their second loss of the year.

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“The way you battled through adversity, starting off with an ‘L,’ you learned a lot from that,” Bronson said. “The way you guys bounced back shows a lot about y’all’s character, and keeping the GPA up to play is so big. That is going to take you all so far in life. So, cherish these memories.”

Below are the names of the HYL athletes and coaches who received recognition from the city council on Monday:

Jacob Baker
Dwaine Barclay
Clinton Duncan
Aiden Estrada
Keiron Garner
Ke’Shaun Garner
Jonathan Grooms
Mason Hanson
Terron Holland
Ryder Lastra
KenTreeeon Mason
Isaiah McKenzie
De’Aundra Roberts
Kayden Sallie
Santana Sanders
Trey Shugarts
Cameron Shuler
Kaiden Simmons
Qutayvion Simmons
Easton Thompson
Ta’Umani Warthen
Da’Trevon Washington
Dwayne Williams
Nico Williams
DeAndra Wright
Mike Lastra
James Joyner
Jose Estrada
Ty Shugarts

“We are just so blessed to be here,” Coach Lastra said. “This is really and truly an honor. As you could tell, when you put out a message to parents about ‘hey, let’s come on out to the city council meeting’ and this many kids showed up […] That is really amazing. That really means something. Thank you.”

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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