By Andy Villamarzo
Hernando Sun sports staff writer
The regular season for prep football in Hernando County heads into its first week of regular-season action while it’s been two weeks since the rest of the state started playing games. Rust and sloppy play has been evident everywhere, as teams haven’t had the luxury of spring football and a regular off-season. With no preseason games either, expect more sloppy play at the get-go. All five of Hernando County’s squads will be in action this week and teams will be starting up the 2020 season next Friday. We take a closer look at all of the Week 1 regular season matchups on tap for next Friday night.
Central (0-0) at Nature Coast (0-0): This annual matchup always brings some bad blood to it, as the neighboring schools are heading into their first game of the season. Nature Coast coach Cory Johns has a lot of pieces he needed to replace from a year ago, but it looks to be shored up for the Sharks. Nature Coast has several returners that are expected to step up in place of the voids from last season’s playoff team. The Bears on the other hand have to cope with life after Contae Cason, who transferred to Hernando this off-season.
Pick: Nature Coast 35-6
Springstead (0-0) at Lecanto (0-0): Not to be confused with last year’s Eagles team, but this Springstead club can be every bit as good if they can live up to their potential. Springstead does need to establish a go-to running back as Anthony Alexis has now graduated, and some on the defensive side has to become the leader of the group with Adrian Cabrera now gone as well. No one can discount the importance of adding a coach like Bill Vonada to the mix, as former Springstead/Hernando head coach now becomes an assistant under Mike Garofano.
Pick: Springstead 24-3
Weeki Wachee (0-0) at Inverness Citrus (0-0): Will the run game bring Chris Cook all the way to postseason success? Yes, I mean, every team can clinch a state series berth for the most part so the Hornets have good news there. As for the overall success of the running game, however? That’s something everyone will have to wait and see, as the Hornets continue the transition from being a passing club to a run-oriented one. This Hornets team should see more improvement under Cook, but the Citrus Hurricanes are always one of the area’s tougher teams.
Pick: Citrus 20-14
Crystal River (0-0) at Hernando (0-0): Enter a new era for Hernando under the watch of new head coach Earl Garcia III, who takes over for Rob Kazmier. Kazmier already had a stout defensive unit before Garcia III arrived in Brooksville. Scoring points was more of the issue pre-Kazmier and that’s something the Leopards will have you do plenty against a talented Crystal River group. Shouldn’t be tough to do with the new duo of Ke’Von Williams and Contae Cason, who rushed for over 1,700 yards last season at Central. Run the football and playing tough defense will be the calling card all season for this Leopards group.
Pick: Hernando 30, Crystal River 17
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.