By Andy Villamarzo
Hernando Sun sports reporter
The regular season for prep football in Hernando County is finally over for teams like Central, Hernando and Weeki Wachee. It’s not completely over for two other teams however, as Nature Coast and Springstead punches their tickets to the playoffs. Nature Coast had already clinched themselves a district championship before being upset by Hernando while undefeated Springstead went on the road to lose their first game of the year to Lake Minneola and then bounced back with a big win over Central. Two out of five of Hernando County’s squads will be in action for the postseason and both the Eagles and Sharks hope to advance closer to playing after Thanksgiving. We take a closer look at both of the playoff matchups on tap for Friday night.
Springstead (9-1) at Lake Minneola (7-3): If the first matchup between these two teams has told us anything, it told us any potential rematch will be a doozy. Well, here we are in the Class 6A, Region 2 quarterfinal and the two teams are back to face each for Round 2 and Springstead’s only loss on the season came to Lake Minneola on the road. The Eagles come in looking to prove the naysayers wrong and the only way to do that will be to win. Losing 26-21 on the road was a tough pill to swallow for the Eagles but another shot at the Hawks could mean redemption. As always, Springstead has leaned heavily upon the production of its run game and the main ball carrier has been Anthony Alexis all season long. On the other side of the football, everything starts and ends with Adrian Cabrera, who is the heart and soul of the team’s defense. Alexis’ big plays on the offensive end and Cabrera’s leadership and playmaking on defense will be the two keys if Springstead looks to move onto the regional semifinals.
Inverness Citrus (9-1) at Nature Coast (5-5): This is another rematch game that’s highly anticipated, especially that it was the lone loss all season long for the Hurricanes. Now Citrus will go on the road to the ‘Shark Tank’ to take on Nature Coast, who ended the season with a 20-7 loss to rival Hernando. Despite the loss, the Sharks are still in great position to make another run through the postseason, as they’ve been able to shore up some of the problems that plagued them through the first four games of the season. One player that hasn’t been a problem for Nature Coast at all is quarterback Fabian Burnett, who has thrown for over 800 yards and rushed for over 500 as the team’s leading rusher. The Sharks want to make it be known that the win against Citrus the first time around wasn’t a fluke and will be looking to make a statement on Friday night. The Hurricanes are going through a bit of a transition with Robert O’Brien stepping down as the team’s head coach right before the season.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.