Prep Football

Irma sacks county’s prep football schedule

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast quarterback Fabian Burnett sets up under center during last Friday's game against South Sumter. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

The third week of the prep football regular season promised an exciting matchup of county rivals Nature Coast and Springstead.
But Mother Nature has spoiled all the fun, at least temporarily. With Hurricane Irma threatening just about every area in Florida, Hernando County followed the trend of surrounding counties by canceling school – and all other activities – for Friday.

Sports notebook: NCT rolls South Sumter for first win

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast's Michael Weston carries the ball versus South Sumter on Friday night. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

After its season opener against IMG Academy White lasted less than a quarter because of rain, the last thing Nature Coast wanted was more weather-related delays.
On a Friday night when seemingly every area game was impacted by lightning, the Sharks managed get their home opener versus South Sumter off without a hitch, collecting a 33-7 victory.

Leopards have a ‘Fields’ day against Seven Rivers

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Hernando running back Isaac Fields awaits a play Friday night against Seven Rivers Christian. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

BROOKSVILLE – When a team opens the season with a 62-0 victory, it can be hard to follow up with a proper encore.
Hernando hosted Seven Rivers Christian on Friday at Tom Fisher Memorial Stadium, and while it didn’t go quite as smoothly as last week’s thumping of Fivay, it counted all the same with a 27-7 win.

Sports Notebook: Hernando opens season in style

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Hernando's Ygenio Booker during Friday night's game against Fivay, in which he had a 68-yard touchdown run. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Throughout his 18 seasons at the helm of Springstead and now Hernando, Bill Vonada has often said a coach is never fully satisfied.
But in evaluating Friday’s season opener, the veteran football headman couldn’t find much fault with the outcome. The Leopards stomped Fivay at Tom Fisher Memorial Stadium, 62-0.
“The guys came out firing on all cylinders and really just didn’t have any letup at any position or play,” Vonada said. “I guess not being able to play in the spring and all that, the guys were charged up about playing somebody else.

Springstead slides past Central to open season

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead's Randy Morgan attempts to shake off a Central defender during a run on Friday night. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

SPRING HILL – Central and Springstead had to wait nearly an extra hour to start their season on Friday night, and when they finally took the field at Booster Stadium, the performance mirrored the soggy weather.
Both teams had their share of miscues and wasted opportunities, and in the end a missed 2-point conversion proved the difference as the host Eagles held on for a 21-20 victory.

Eagles overcome sloppiness to win classic

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead sophomore Anthony Alexis runs for 142 yards and two touchdowns in Thursday's preseason classic at Hudson. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

HUDSON – For the past two decades, Springstead has prided itself on playing a disciplined, mistake-free brand of football.
But preseason classics are rarely a showcase of crisp, fundamentally-sound performance. To that end, Thursday night’s exhibition at Hudson revealed plenty of ragged edges, though still yielded a positive result: a 32-6 victory.

Football teams come together for good cause

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Springstead's Adam Bass gains yardage against Fivay during Saturday's Clash 4 Clayton event at Springstead. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

Dustin Kupcik admits, he didn’t really know Rob Mahler. Yet the Springstead athletic director felt a kinship with the former Hudson High head football coach that compelled him to act.
Last month, Mahler’s 1-year-old son Clayton was diagnosed with Stage 3 intermediate-risk embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of pediatric cancer. Mahler had stepped down in November after two seasons leading the Cobras. Four years ago, Kupcik’s sister Kasey went through her own battle with cancer.

Bears mourn loss of beloved ‘Coach Buck’

Photo provided by Joe DiCristofalo

Willie "Coach Buck" Thomas Jr./Photo provided by Joe DiCristofalo

The opening weeks of August are typically a time of excitement and hope for a high school football team, with practices beginning and the season on the near horizon.
But at Central High, it’d be understandable if the mood was far more subdued. There’s a large void left on the Bears’ coaching staff and a metaphorical hole in the hearts of those connected to the program following last month’s sudden passing of assistant coach Willie Thomas Jr., better known as “Coach Buck.”

Central front and center on National Signing Day

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

From left, four Central football players pose together during their ceremony Wednesday on National Signing Day: Dominique Walker, Josh Rivera, De'Vonta Smith and Sam Garner. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Since he took over as Central’s head football coach three years ago, Chris Sands has often emphasized his focus on finding opportunities for his players at the college level.
The product of his efforts was on display during Wednesday’s National Signing Day, when four Bears celebrated as they put pen to paper on a National Letter of Intent.

Worden leaves Sharks for alma mater

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast head coach Justin Worden is leaving the Sharks after three seasons. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Justin Worden made a name for himself the past three seasons at Nature Coast, guiding the Sharks to the best two-year football run in county history.
But Hernando County isn’t truly home, and the chance to return to his alma mater proved an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. So on Thursday, Worden stepped down as Sharks’ head coach to take the same position at Titusville-Astronaut.