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HomeEmpowerLocalDePetrillo and Sharks Spoil Leopards Senior Night with Offensive Onslaught

DePetrillo and Sharks Spoil Leopards Senior Night with Offensive Onslaught

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By Patrick Yasinskas
 
BROOKSVILLE — On what was supposed to be a glorious “Senior Night” for the Hernando High girls flag football team, a bunch of Nature Coast underclassmen got in the way.
 
Riding the strong right arm of sophomore quarterback Madelyn DePetrillo, the Sharks cruised to a 34-6 victory against the Leopards in the regular-season finale for both teams at Tom Fisher Stadium on Thursday night.
 
 

 
DePetrillo threw for three touchdowns on a night when the Sharks had to get by without their own seniors. Four Nature Coast senior starters missed the game due to a senior field trip. But that really didn’t matter because DePetrillo, looking relaxed and in control all throughout the game, put the Sharks (4-4) on her back as she had the best game of her life.
 
“What you saw tonight was a fine example of what we’ve been seeing from (DePetrillo) in practice all season long,” Nature Coast coach Ian Wald said. “But it wasn’t always transferring over to our games. Tonight, though, she put it all together.”
 
Nature Coast Tech, 17, Madelyn DePetrillo sets to launch a pass in the game with Hernando High. Photo by [JOE DiCRISTOFALO]
Nature Coast Tech, 17, Madelyn DePetrillo sets to launch a pass in the game with Hernando High. Photo by [JOE DiCRISTOFALO]
 
Why the sudden surge?
 
“She went out there with what I call a silly spirit,” Wald said. “She relaxed and she had fun out there. You could see her confidence grow as the game went on.”
 
That was never more evident than on the final pass DePetrillo threw. At first, her receivers weren’t open. Instead of forcing a pass to a well-covered receiver or throwing the ball away, DePetrillo calmly scrambled around in the pocket and dodged Hernando defenders for what seemed like an eternity.
 
Finally, junior wide receiver Olivia DiFrank, who caused major problems for the Hernando defense all night, popped open in the front of the end zone. DePetrillo spotted her right away and threw a dart for the Sharks’ final touchdown. DiFrank also caught a touchdown pass from Kennedy Rasmussen, who had taken a lateral from DiPetrillo and, then, looked to throw downfield in the first quarter.
 
But maybe DePetrillo’s big game was prompted by a huge play by another sophomore early in the game. On just the second play of the game, Athena Brown intercepted a Hernando pass and returned it for a quick touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
 
Brown hadn’t played defense at all this season but was forced into a start at defensive back as the Sharks juggled their lineup to compensate for the missing seniors.
 
“I truly believe that, if Athena doesn’t make that play, it would have been a totally different game,” Wald said. “That gave us early momentum and maybe eased the pressure a little. It all just took off from that play and everything seemed to go right for us once Athena made that play.”
 
The Sharks went on to build a 28-0 lead before Hernando’s only touchdown came on a pass from Carlie Grant to Jackie Cuevas midway through the fourth quarter.
 
DePetrillo and the Sharks might be maturing at just the right time. The regular season has ended for Nature Coast and Hernando (4-8). The district playoffs start next week. Nature Coast will host Citrus at 7 p.m. Monday and Hernando will be at Central at the same time.
 
“I told them after the game that they can’t expect another easy win like this one on Monday,” Wald said.
 
 
Hernando quarterback, 2, Jackie Cuevas has her flag pulled by Nature Coast Tech, 4, Athena Brown before she was able to get off a pass Thursday at Hernando High. Photo by [JOE DiCRISTOFALO]
Hernando quarterback, 2, Jackie Cuevas has her flag pulled by Nature Coast Tech, 4, Athena Brown before she was able to get off a pass Thursday at Hernando High. Photo by [JOE DiCRISTOFALO]
Hernando High, 1, Annabelle Chamberlain runs for yardage pursued by Nature Coast Tech, 4, Athena Brown Thursday at Hernando High. Photo by [JOE DiCRISTOFALO]
Hernando High, 1, Annabelle Chamberlain runs for yardage pursued by Nature Coast Tech, 4, Athena Brown Thursday at Hernando High. Photo by [JOE DiCRISTOFALO]
Nature Coast Tech, 21, Rakhira Lawson has her progress stopped by Hernando High’s ,4, Kayla Holloman. Photo by [JOE DiCRISTOFALO]
Nature Coast Tech, 21, Rakhira Lawson has her progress stopped by Hernando High’s, 4, Kayla Holloman. Photo by [JOE DiCRISTOFALO]
Nature Coast Tech, 3, Charlotte Brady concentrates on catching a pass which turned into a long touchdown in the game with Hernando High. Photo by [JOE DiCRISTOFALO]
Nature Coast Tech, 3, Charlotte Brady concentrates on catching a pass which turned into a long touchdown in the game with Hernando High. Photo by [JOE DiCRISTOFALO]
Nature Coast Tech, 21, Rakhira Lawson works to gain control of a bobbled pass while defended by Hernando High’s, 6, Elisa Scrivens. Photo by [JOE DiCRISTOFALO]
Nature Coast Tech, 21, Rakhira Lawson works to gain control of a bobbled pass while defended by Hernando High’s, 6, Elisa Scrivens. Photo by [JOE DiCRISTOFALO]

Patrick Yasinskas
Patrick Yasinskas
I am a sportswriter with more than 30 years' experience covering sports on all levels. I started out covering high schools, but have covered the NFL since 1993. I have won numerous awards, covered more than 20 Super Bowls and have been a Pro Football Hall of Fame voter three times. I began my career covering high school sports in Hernando County, which remains near and dear to me, for The Tampa Tribune from 1990 through 1992.
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