By Andy Villamarzo
Hernando Sun sports reporter
Photography by Alice Mary Herden
SPRING HILL- All week the status of Springstead linebacker Adrian Cabrera was up in the air heading into last Friday’s tilt against Hernando.
The team’s arguably best player went into Wednesday’s practice of last week finally getting the green light from head coach Mike Garofano and was beyond excited to get back on the field with his fellow teammates.
With both teams taking part in the first annual Glory Days Burger Bowl, there was added incentive thrown in to win the decorative trophy given to the winning team and on Springstead’s homecoming week, the Eagles pulled out all the stops to make sure it was them.
Cabrera returned to play linebacker and running back, but it would be Springstead running back Anthony Alexis stealing the show. The senior tailback rushed for a game-high 216 yards on 38 carries and led the Eagles to a thrilling 19-16 overtime victory over the Leopards at Booster Stadium.
“Coaches said when I get out there to let the pitbull out and I went there barking, growling and couldn’t wait to be back on the field with my brothers," Cabrera said. "It was a long three weeks away, but I’m just ready to get it rolling again here.”
Springstead (6-0) has continued to roll this season and after a narrow 10-3 victory over Dade City Pasco the previous week, winning close games have become a little bit of the norm for this particular Eagles team. The Eagles came out with the game’s first touchdown, as Alexis scored on a 1-yard plunge to put Springstead up 7-0.
The game had the feel of a throwback, grind it out, trench battle and both teams are well versed in that style of football as they both play in single-wing offenses with options built in for the quarterbacks and running backs. Hernando was able to find pay dirt in the third quarter when running back Kev’on Williams rushed 35 yards up the right sideline for the Leopards’ first score. The Leopards’ touchdown was setup by a 36-yard run by quarterback Maurice Holland.
With the game notched at 7-7, neither team would be able to find the go-ahead score in regulation time as Springstead’s potential game-winning field attempt was botched by a bad snap. The contest would go into overtime, with each team trading off touchdowns on their opening possession of the extra time period.
It would be the heroics of Cabrera, who played both ways nearly the entire game, that would end up winning the contest for Springstead in the end. The two-way star scored the go-ahead run in the second overtime period.
“These guys showed some resolve. There was a lot of pressure on the guys," Garofano said after the win. "The hold, the kick and the bobble but they overcame that adversity and were able to make it happen in overtime.”
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.