Sports notebook: Eagles earn county’s lone spring win

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Springstead got its spring football game off a day early this week, traveling to Anclote on Thursday night for an exhibition, hoping to build on last season’s strong finish.
The Eagles also had the memory of an embarrassing 63-32 loss to the Sharks the previous spring. This time, things went down much differently, as Springstead collected a 53-26 triumph.
“I felt we played really well. The offense really clicked. We punted once and that was after a touchdown was called back. We mixed up the run and the pass pretty well,” Springstead head coach Mike Garofano said. “We had a pretty up-tempo offense, a faster tempo than we have had in the past.”
Offense was a curiosity, as Garofano has taken over play-calling duties on that side of the ball. For the first time out, the results were overwhelmingly positive.
Jordan Wright, who will enter his senior season as a third-year starter, threw for three touchdowns and ran for four more. Nathan Sims caught two touchdowns and scored another on a kickoff return.
“We didn’t turn the ball over on offense,” Garofano said. “I said going into the game I wanted to win convincingly and not turn the ball over. It’s kind of a reversal of last year. That shows the difference a year makes.
“The difference this year is guys are more team-oriented, putting the team before themselves. Last year we had a lot of ‘me’ guys. This year there’s more team guys. That makes a big difference.”
The remainder of the county squads, all of whom played on Friday night, did not fare anywhere near as well, each suffering a lopsided loss.
Nature Coast is coming off a run to the Elite Eight, but the nation’s leading rusher and scorer, DeShawn Smith, is no longer in the fold. The Sharks went to Palm Harbor University and lost, 37-2.A Nature Coast player hauls in a pass during spring practice. Photo by Alice Mary Herden
The host Hurricanes built a 30-0 advantage by halftime and led 37-0 before Nature Coast recorded a safety in the third quarter.
“We’ve got a long way to go defensively,” Nature Coast head coach Justin Worden said. “A lot of people will point at DeShawn, DeShawn, DeShawn. Yes, DeShawn was a focal point of our offense. But we lost a lot of guys on the offensive and defensive lines who may not have stood out to people in the stands, but they were very important to what we do.
“The kids kept fighting. They kept scrapping. They didn’t lay down. That’s a good thing, but with a little more leadership, especially from our seniors, we won’t be in that position in the first place.”
Central fell at Boca Ciega, 32-6, though that final tally is a bit misleading. The Pirates led just 7-0 at halftime, then pulled away in the third quarter, taking a 26-0 edge. De’Vonta Smith scored the Bears’ lone touchdown on a 1-yard run in the fourth.Central runs a play during a recent spring practice. Photo by Alice Mary Herden
Defensively, Central head coach Chris Sands credited the work in coverage of cornerback Dominique Walker, but admitted that his players tired in the second half.
“Our kids played hard,” Sands said. “We had to suspend our quarterback (Sam Garner) because he violated team rules. We were very one-dimensional. We threw the ball four times. So they just packed the box.
“Hats off to them. They were the bigger and more physical team. We’re looking to have a good summer.”
Finally, Hernando made the trip to Sunlake, losing 54-13. The Seahawks went in front 48-0 through the first half, before the Leopards scored on runs by David Hale Bronson and Jacob Butts.A Hernando player participates in a spring practice. Photo by Alice Mary Herden
“You just can’t win a game when you spend the first half turning the ball over and not tackling,” Hernando head coach Bill Vonada said. “The second half I felt like we played a little bit more aggressively right from the start.
“Sunlake’s a great team. We made them look a bit better tonight than they probably are, but we’ll look at the film and find out which guys were really the primary playmakers in the second half that stuck around and fought. We know some of them but the film always tells you a little bit more, and then we’ll go back and build from there.”
Follow Chris Bernhardt Jr. on Twitter @cpbernhardtjr.

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