Hernando Sun sports writer
photography by Cheryl Clanton
A lot of changes have happened throughout Hernando County when it pertains to prep football and ever since the season ended back in November, programs have been itching for spring football to start up.
Hernando County’s five teams will get back on the field starting on April 22nd in non-contact drills, as spring football gets underway. The county has plenty of good storylines to go around- from who will become the next great back at Nature Coast to how things will fair at Weeki Wachee with the departure of Vaughn Sykora, the intrigue begins in less than two weeks. We dig in and take a closer look at each of the county’s five teams and what to expect come April 22nd.
Central: A winless 2018 season has the Bears looking to improve in every area of the field under second-year head coach John Warren. Central had a tough time scoring point against most of its opponents from last year, as the Bears were shutout in seven games. The main point of emphasis for Central heading into the spring is just to improve anywhere and everywhere on both sides of the football.
Hernando: The Leopards had a successful season in 2018 under first-year head coach Rob Kazmier, who guided Hernando to the Class 5A State playoffs. Despite the Leopards falling 28-14 to Baker County in the regional quarterfinal, Hernando returns a talented group this spring but will focus on the offensive side of the ball. Kazmier will have to replace the likes of quarterback Boston Tafelski and running backs David Hale Bronson, Israel Fields.
Nature Coast: No team ended the 2018 season losing more production in the backfield than Nature Coast. Michael Weston graduates this spring and he led the Sharks all the way to the Class 5A, Region 2 final. Weston’s 2,000-yard plus campaign now leads to the search of who will replace him in the backfield. One interesting caveat will be the inclusion of Weeki Wachee transfer Vaughn Sykora, who set the county record for passing touchdowns in a single season. The main focus for the Sharks will revolve around the offense and Sykora.
Springstead: Another 7-3 record and another season in which the Eagles just missed out on the postseason. Springstead is another club that will likely have its eyes set on revamping the offense, as last season’s leading rusher Nathan Sims will be graduating, leaving a huge void in the backfield. Likely to see more touches in Mike Garofano’s offense is junior Toby Rahman, who rushed for nearly 300 yards last fall.
Weeki Wachee: The Hornets’ football program was hit with two big blows this off-season, with head coach Jacob Gray stepping down and quarterback Vaughn Sykora transferring over to Nature Coast. Stepping in as the school’s next head coach is former Moore Haven High School offensive coordinator Chris Cook. Moore Haven was predominantly a run-first club and rushed for over 260 yards a game and went 7-3 this past season. Cook has also coached at Sebring and Hardee County High Schools, respectively. Look for the Hornets to focus on the running game heavily this spring.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.