Photography by JOE DICRISTOFALO
by ANDY VILLAMARZO, Hernando Sun Sports Reporter
SPRING HILL- One passing attempt.
That’s all the passes Springstead needed to attempt other than a botched 2-point conversion pass, as the Eagles cruised past Sunlake for a dominating 53-0 victory Friday night at Booster Stadium.
Springstead played without the lack of a preseason game the previous week, as field conditions didn’t quite live up to expectations for play. Despite the lack of a tune up game, the Eagles’ offense worked just fine in the final statistical line of 459 total yards of offense.
“We probably could’ve played last week’s game if it was a regular season game,” Springstead head coach Mike Garofano said. “But with it just being the preseason and we don’t get new turf every week like a professional field or college, we decided against it.”
Not playing the game ended up paying off dividends for the Eagles, as the one pass completed by quarterback Max O’Rourke went for eight yards. The other 451 yards of offense all came on the ground against Sunlake (0-1), who is breaking in a new head coach in Trey Burdick. Burdick comes in replacing former Springstead, Sunlake coach Bill Browning.
In a game that last season went into overtime, this matchup ended with the clock running the entire second half. Springstead’s first play from scrimmage was a 43-yard touchdown run from O’Rourke, who ended the evening with 85 rushing yards on just four carries. His backfield mate, Anthony Alexis, went off for 146 yards on just 10 carries, scored four touchdowns and didn’t play at all in the second half.
The Eagles’ defense stepped up to the occasion and held the Seahawks without a first down the entire first half and Sunlake ended the game with just one in the fourth quarter. Sunlake certainly seemed to struggle from transitioning to a more spread-style system under Burdick from Browning’s I-formation offense. The Seahawks ended the game with just 30 yards of offense.
“We know Sunlake is going through a rebuilding year right now,” O’Rourke said after the game. “Last year the game went into overtime, but we know they’re in transition right now. Those guys will be alright. We just came out hungry to play tonight.”
The next game for Springstead is Friday Aug. 30 at Weeki Wachee High School at 7:30pm.
Other final scores from Hernando County
Nature Coast 32, East Lake 25: The Sharks started off the regular season with a statement victory over one of Pinellas County’s better teams, as Nature Coast was able to roll to a 32-25 victory over East Lake. Nature Coast was down at halftime 14-13, but was able to out-score East Lake 19-11 in the second half.
Central 52, Umatilla 34: Call it the Contae Cason Show. That was the scene Friday night when Central faced Umatilla, as the Bears were able to amount 52 points behind a 246-yard effort from Cason. To put in perspective the offensive effort, the Bears scored 38 points total in 2018.
Groveland South Lake 7, Weeki Wachee 0: It would come down to a nail biter on the road for the young Hornets, but just one touchdown short of victory. Weeki Wachee wasn’t able to get on the board in a 7-0 loss on the road to Groveland South Lake. The game served as the debut for Weeki Wachee head coach Chris Cook, who is in his first-year with the school.
Lakeland Lake Gibson 41, Hernando 0: Year 2 of the Rob Kazmier era didn’t start off exactly the way the Leopards wanted, when they faced Lake Gibson Friday night. Hernando fell behind 27-0 en route to dropping its regular season opener 41-0. The Braves boast one of the top programs in all of Class 6A and are expected to make a run for the state championship come December.