So much for easing into the season. Friday night saw the official start of the prep football campaign, and three of the four games involving Hernando County teams came down to the wire. Perhaps the most dramatic conclusion occurred at Springstead’s Booster Stadium, where long-downtrodden Central pulled off a shocking 13-7 victory.
With the game tied at 7, and 5.3 seconds remaining, the Eagles opted to attempt a 40-yard field goal. The low kick was blocked by Manny Scott and picked up by Albon Jones, who streaked 68 yards down the field to the end zone as time expired. “Feels great, feels great to win,” Jones said. “I told (Scott), ‘Just go ahead and block it,’ and I was going to go get it. And I did it.”
De’Vonta Smith rushed 28 times for 170 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown in the first quarter to pace the Bears. Central went just 2-8 last season, and had gone 8-52 since 2009.
“We’ve been waiting for that one to happen, the one that really meant something,” said head coach Chris Sands, starting his second year. “This one was it. This is the team that’s been the power in the county for probably 5-10 years now and we were able to come in, on their home turf, and come in and get a victory.”
Springstead has certainly ranked as the county’s dominant program the past three seasons, having gone to a regional final in 2013. Quarterback Jordan Wright went 13-of-16 passing for 169 yards, connecting on a 21-yard scoring strike with Randy Morgan. “There’s only one thing you can do,” Springstead head coach Mike Garofano said. “We’re going to go back tomorrow, watch film, and prepare like we always do. It’s important for the guys to stay together, stay positive and prepare as hard if not harder next week for Hernando.”
As for Hernando, the Leopards failed to hold on to a 34-19 lead and lost at Fivay in overtime, 41-40. Statistical leaders for Hernando featured Christian Dowdell, with over 200 yards rushing, and David Hale Bronson, with over 100 return yards.
Weeki Wachee dropped its opener at Ridgewood, 35-34, despite four touchdown passes from Alec Cromie. Shawn O’Gorman scored twice and caught five passes for 135 yards.
The Hornets couldn’t contain Glass Wilson, who ran for 255 yards and three scores. They pulled within one late in the fourth quarter, when Cromie hit Trevor Hamilothoris for a 26-yard touchdown, and Arrow Alvarez on the ensuing 2-point conversion.
By comparison, Nature Coast cruised to a 27-16 home win over Bradenton-Southeast. DeShawn Smith carried the ball 21 times for 154 yards and scored three touchdowns.
The volleyball season also got underway this past week, and the schedule featured several county-rivalry matches. Springstead got off to a 2-0 start, beating Nature Coast on Wednesday, 27-25, 12-25, 25-19, 25-18, and Hernando on Thursday, 25-14, 25-17, 25-21. Weeki Wachee lost a grueling opener on Tuesday at Crystal River, 15-25, 29-27, 26-24, 25-23, but rebounded to top Hernando on Wednesday, 25-23, 25-20, 25-23. The Lady Hornets also pulled out a five-set battle against Citrus on Thursday, 15-25, 22-25, 25-16, 25-20, 15-11. Miranda Werkmeister had 41 kills, 55 digs and eight aces over the three matches, while Zoe Murchio tallied 84 digs and nine aces. Sarah Asbury had 87 assists. Though Hernando suffered back-to-back losses, it did beat Central on Tuesday, 25-9, 24-26, 25-6, 25-8.