BROOKSVILLE- When Earl Garcia III left his defensive coordinator gig at Hillsborough High School and headed up a couple counties north to become Hernando High School’s head coach, the tight knit community was something that drew him in heavily.
Garcia comes off a season in which the Leopards ended up going 7-2. Reaching the playoffs was a nice first touch for Garcia and crew, but Hernando is looking to take the next step in its development as a football program. An infusion of some Hillsborough County ties are starting to pop up as well.
“We have a couple new faces on the coaching staff starting with Terrence Crenshaw who was at Bloomingdale last year and John Capel will be coaching the receivers,” Garcia III said.
“Want our kids to play hard as heck and be physical. That's 1 and 1A. Coach Crenshaw had a very explosive offense last season at Bloomingdale so that will be fun to see him in action. Protect the football, limit penalties, be physical and know what the heck you're supposed to do. That's what we're looking for.”
One player Hernando will sorely miss on the offensive end of the football is running back Contae Cason. Cason was the team’s leading yard getter all across the board, as he rushed for 1,120 yards and had 313 receiving. Now with Cason gone, Garcia and his staff will have to find playmakers to replace his productivity.
“(Contae Cason) was a good player. We try not to look backwards at all,” Garcia said. “We have three or three kids that we think can carry the ball so that should be exciting to watch their development. No one has a starting position anywhere on the field. Wipe the slate clean and start over. The ones that'll be on the field will be the ones that have earned that right.”
Improving on defensive line play is something Garcia pointed out specifically was an area the Leopards needed to improve on. Another part of Hernando’s game that Garcia would like to see improvement on is catching the football, as there were some key drops that hurt Hernando last season.
“Defensive line play. Felt down the stretch last year; we got sloppy,” Garcia said. “Maybe we got tired due to a lot of those guys going both ways but there's no excuse.”
“At wide receiver, we dropped too many balls last year. They blocked their tails off, but there were three or four crucial drops that killed drives or put us in spots that we shouldn't have been in had we caught the football.”
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.