Coming into Friday night’s game at the Bears’ Den, Nature Coast running back DeShawn Smith had already strung together three superb performances. The senior ran for 154 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1 against Bradenton-Southeast, only to top that with 224 yards and four scores at Hudson. Then came last week’s home game versus county-rival Springstead. Smith rushed for 296 yards and five touchdowns. Assuredly, he couldn’t continue on such a monumental upward trend. Well, Friday in a 53-18 win at Central, somehow he managed. Boy, did he manage.
Smith carried the ball 20 times, totaling 413 yards, rushing for seven touchdowns and scoring another on a 38-yard reception. The yardage easily surpassed the county record of 363 that Central grad DuJuan Harris, currently on the New Orleans Saints practice squad and in his fifth year in the NFL, established back in 2006.
According to Tony Castro of Hernandosport.com, the eight touchdowns also set a new county mark, and the seven on the ground tie him with Hernando’s Dwayne Mobley, who ran for that same amount in 1991. “The numbers are more shocking after the fact,” said Nature Coast head coach Justin Worden on Saturday. “As he’s doing it, he’s just doing what DeShawn does.”
One factor that may have further increased his production, he often received direct snaps after quarterback Jamison Carnegie was ejected in the first quarter. Carnegie and Central’s Ryan McCane got into it over a loose ball and were both tossed. Worden does not believe any further punishment will be forthcoming from the FHSAA.
Nevertheless, it forced Smith into helming a “Wildcat” offense when backup quarterback Brian Haygood wasn’t under center. “We had Wildcat stuff in to use, we used it the week before, so we said, ‘Let’s go with it,’” Worden stated. “The fact he did it on 20 carries is mind-blowing.”
Smith, who did not return a call seeking comment, has already surpassed the 1,000-yard plateau for the Sharks, who improved to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in Class 5A, District 7. So far Smith has amassed 1,087 yards on only 73 rushes, averaging an eye-popping 14.9 yards per carry. He’s also scored 20 touchdowns. “He’s a real humble kid,” Worden said. “He really didn’t say much about it. I’m sure he’s excited, but to him it was another day at work and he was happy to get the ‘W.’ ”
Sebastian Rivera threw two touchdowns for Central (2-2 overall, 0-1 5A-7), to Manny Scott and Jonathan Allion. De’Vonta Smith ran 21 times for 181 yards and a score.
Also on Friday, Hernando suffered a home loss to Lecanto, 41-15. The Panthers scored on a pair of interception returns each over 90 yards, as well as a 69-yard punt return by Jerimiah Lucas. A 57-yard punt return by Lucas, who scored on one of the interceptions and added a receiving touchdown, set up Lecanto’s first trip to the end zone. Christian Dowdell ran for 171 yards, and Jacob Valentino added 81 yards on the ground plus a 4-yard touchdown for the Leopards (0-4 overall, 0-1 5A-7). “There’s some steps forward, but not fast enough,” Hernando head coach Bill Vonada said. “We were told when we took the job, ‘Hey Coach, understand it’s a three-year process.’ You can say, ‘Yeah,’ but as a coach that’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes.”
Springstead fell to 1-3 overall and dropped its 6A-6 opener at Mitchell, 33-19. Quarterback Jordan Wright scored on a 5-yard run and found Randy Morgan for a 30-yard score. Dominique Walker chipped in a 1-yard touchdown run.
Weeki Wachee, meanwhile, had its bye week on the gridiron.
In volleyball, Weeki Wachee (6-7) dropped its only match of the week, a frustrating 25-17, 15-25, 25-22, 25-21 loss at Lecanto on Wednesday. Miranda Werkmeister had nine kills, Zoe Murchio added 33 digs and Sarah Asbury tallied 18 assists and six aces. That loss left the Lady Hornets, who had beaten Lecanto in four games on Sept. 3, at 4-2 in 5A-7 action, tied for second behind Crystal River, though the Lady Hornets hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Hernando (7-6) was dealt a 25-19, 25-18, 23-25, 18-25, 15-12 defeat by Citrus in another Wednesday district contest. However, the Lady Leopards did rebound for a 25-9, 25-15, 25-9 victory over Central the next night. Taylor Neblock had 15 kills and Ali Bronson 10 kills plus 25 digs and five aces against the Lady Bears (0-8 overall, 0-7 5A-7).
Springstead (5-3) downed Crystal River on Monday, 25-23, 25-13, 20-25, 25-22, behind 14 kills from Sami McLead and 11 by Alexis Thompson. Libero Alondra Rodriguez added 29 digs and setter Delaney Anderson had 41 assists.
On Tuesday, the Lady Eagles topped Land O’ Lakes, 25-19, 25-12, 25-12. McLead led with 10 kills and Anderson chipped in 24 assists.
In eight-man football, Coltin Siuzdak of Spring Hill Christian Academy ran for 232 yards on 25 carries and scored three times in a 58-42 loss to Clearwater-Lakeside Christian.
The Nature Coast boys golf team improved to 4-0-1 with a 179-239 win over Seven Rivers Christian on Thursday. Eric Forrest paced the Sharks with a nine-hole 43, while Tyler Bismarck shot 44, Chris Felts carded a 45, and Glenn Richard and Zach Gates each had 47.
Meanwhile, the Lady Sharks are 2-0 following a 187-266 victory against Springstead at Oak Hills Golf Course on Thursday. Freshman Alexis Dross turned in a 42, and Skylar Muscianese and Dawn Posey followed with 46 and 49 respectively. Haley Neuhausen chipped in a 50.
Saturday morning, Nature Coast held the Shark Invitational cross country meet on campus. Three county boys finished directly behind Lecanto’s Mackenzie Woods (17:16.87): Springstead’s Allen Keister in second (17:26.72), Nature Coast’s Austin Mulyck in third (17:37.77) and Hernando’s Ryan Bell in fourth (18:00.90). On the girls side, Nature Coast’s Amelia Schmit came in third (21:20.10). Lecanto’s boys won the meet with a score of 38, with Hernando (59), Springstead (69) and Nature Coast (89) taking the next three spots. Also, Lecanto’s girls placed first at 58, ahead of Seven Rivers Christian (89), Nature Coast (108) and Hernando (118).