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HomeSportsFootballPanthers Pounce on Hornets Late to Win District Final

Panthers Pounce on Hornets Late to Win District Final

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The Lecanto Panthers are district champions. The Panthers’ (13-1) dominant season saw them fall only once to Tampa Catholic before making a strong postseason run culminating in their 26-0 victory over the Weeki Wachee Hornets (10-2).

 

Lecanto’s resume allowed them to nab the number one seed, the bye, and the home field advantage enroute to back-to-back shut out wins and a 1A District 9 title. In fact, the Green and Gold did not surrender a single point throughout the entirety of their eight-game winning streak. Hornets Head Coach Billy Hughes gave kudos to the staff and team after the game.

 

 

“Lecanto is [a] very strong team, well-polished,” said Coach Hughes. “They are [in the] top 5 in the state for a reason. Tip my hat to their program and coaches. But to step toe-to-toe with them, I’m extremely proud of our girls. They did not back down and competed all night.”

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To Weeki Wachee’s credit, though, they had a remarkable season as well. A 4-0 record against in-county squads and only one early season defeat before Thursday meant the matchup versus Lecanto was going to feature the best of the best in the district.

 

For three-plus quarters, that is exactly what it was. Then, things went awry for the Green and Black early in the final frame. With the home team clinging to a tenuous 7-0 lead, the Panthers broke through and rattled off 19 points in under 10 minutes to blow the game wide open. A once defensive showdown turned lopsided as Lecanto took off while continuing to stymie Weeki Wachee offensively.

 

“Our entire defense played great!” Coach Hughes said. Despite the result, he was impressed with how that side of the ball held up. His offense, though, “just could not get it moving” and “kept stalling out.” Eventually, this would prove too much for the Hornets’ defense to bear. “So, the score does not show how great the game was,” Coach Hughes continued. “Our offense just could not get it moving, kept stalling out. We had a few mental break downs which caused mistakes throughout the game but mainly in the fourth quarter is when Lecanto capitalized on and scored.”

 

The visitors’ mistakes were forced by Lecanto’s suffocating secondary that intercepted four passes between Junior Carly Furniss (1), Senior IG Edwards (2), and Senior Gabi Sanchez (1). Two of these led to a pair of pick sixes by Furniss and Edwards. This finally led to some complimentary football for the home team offensively as Sophomore Devin Pulham and Junior Elisha Bluford got in on the action with a receiving score in the second and a rushing touchdown in the fourth respectively. Sophomore QB Peyton Dison would finish her day completing 14 of 28 for 124 yards passing, 68 yards rushing, and the 1 touchdown to Pulham.

 

Despite the less-than-ideal finish to the year for Weeki Wachee, the Hornets’ flag football program appears primed for a promising future. Having reached multiple milestones during the 2023-2024 campaign, Coach Hughes was effusive in his praise for his squad and what they had accomplished this season.

 

“This season truly has been awesome” said the Hornets’ coach. “So proud of these ladies and their accomplishments. We beat every Hernando County team […] Hernando County Champs!  To finish the season competing for our school’s first ever district championship speaks volumes on how special this team is. This team will go down for one of the best ever in school history.”

 

Weeki Wachee, 11, Jasmine Randazzle scrambles while pursued by Hernando High, 6, Elisia Scrivens Monday at Weeki Wachee High. [Photo by Joe DiCristofalo]
Weeki Wachee, 11, Jasmine Randazzle scrambles while pursued by Hernando High, 6, Elisia Scrivens Monday at Weeki Wachee High. [Photo by Joe DiCristofalo]
Weeki Wachee players before Thursday's district final at Lecanto. [Photo courtesy of Head Coach Billy Hughes]
Weeki Wachee players before Thursday’s district final at Lecanto. [Photo courtesy of Head Coach Billy Hughes]

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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