Hornets hit hard in spring game

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

WEEKI WACHEE – Weeki Wachee went into Friday night’s spring game against visiting Wesley Chapel hoping to sure up its deficiencies in tackling and stopping the run.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, the exhibition went in a much different direction. The Wildcats gashed the hosts for 542 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, collecting a 54-20 victory.
“That’s something we’ve got to do. We have to stop the run,” Weeki Wachee head coach Mark Lee said. “Like I told them, we can’t every Friday come out here to play and we make whatever running back we’re facing, he looks like Bo Jackson on Tecmo Bowl. We’ve got to find a way to stop them.”
Playing the role of Bo Jackson in this one was sophomore Dexter Leverette, who didn’t even register a varsity carry in 2015 but rushed 15 times for 280 yards while finding the end zone on five occasions.
Malik Melvin added 121 yards on just six carries, three of them ending in touchdowns. More startling, Wesley Chapel (2-8 in 2015) is a passing team, with Jacob Thomas throwing for 1,825 yards last year compared to the team’s combined 538 rushing yards.
Surprisingly, Thomas attempted just six tosses on Friday, completing two for 41 yards.
“We need to get that toughness,” Lee said. “We’re a school of 1,500 students, we’ve got 60 kids out here. It’s obvious, not everyone’s for football. They don’t want to put in that type of commitment and realize that it has to be every day.
“Players got to get better and us coaches, we’ve got to get better at putting us in better positions. Obviously that starts with me. We’ll watch film on this, see where we messed up and see where we’ve got to get better. But obviously the tackling is something that we’ve definitely got to get much better at.”
Leverette had nearly identical bursts up the middle of 59 and 26 yards for touchdowns, and Melvin had a 46-yard scamper to pay dirt to build a 19-0 lead in the first quarter.
Weeki Wachee (4-6 in 2015) rallied back midway through the second with Alec Cromie finding Montae Bostick for a 9-yard touchdown pass, then scoring himself on a 1-yard sneak to make it 19-13 with 5:06 left in the opening half. But Leverette tacked on scores of 27 and two yards to give the Wildcats a 33-13 advantage at the intermission.
Cromie connected with Shaun Young on a 30-yard scoring strike at the 9:43 mark of the third, yet the Hornets could creep no closer as Leverette and Melvin continued to break free for long touchdown runs.
On the plus side for the Hornets, Cromie completed 24-of-44 passes for 263 yards to go along with the two touchdown throws, and Bostick ran for 113 yards on 17 attempts.
“We had some guys that missed, and you can’t do that,” Lee said. “I don’t care if it’s football practice, it’s work, if you want to be great at something you can’t miss. That’s something that hopefully they understand that. You just can’t miss practices for whatever reason and expect to be able to come out on Friday and excel.
“I think they get the point with that. I hope. If not, it’s going to be an awfully long season for us. If the culture doesn’t change, and from a coaching staff standpoint we’re going to do some things to try to change that culture. We’re going to be a little more disciplined, involved in a tighter ship. Those that can’t handle it can jump off the ship and we’ll go with what we’ve got on it.”
Follow Chris Bernhardt Jr. on Twitter @cpbernhardtjr.

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