Sports Notebook: Running Backs Carry Sharks, Bears

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Friday night in Hernando County, it was good to be a running back named Smith. A debate could probably go on for days over just who had the superior performance: Nature Coast’s DeShawn Smith or Central’s De’Vonta Smith.

At Shark Tank Stadium, DeShawn Smith and his teammates defeated county-rival Springstead, 35-12.
The senior carried the ball 19 times for 296 yards and scored five touchdowns, pushing his season totals to 674 yards and 12 scores in just three games. “I did all right. You can always do better at the end of the day,” DeShawn Smith said. “I got a little deal with the line; they block, I score. That’s our deal. That’s what I’m going to keep doing… I’m pretty confident, but I always stay humble. The more humble, the better.”

Nature Coast improved to 3-0 on the season, and ended a two-game losing streak against the Eagles (1-2). “It means a lot,” DeShawn Smith said. “We haven’t beaten them since my freshman year, so it means a lot.” The Sharks forced Springstead into critical mistakes. Jamison Carnegie and Trevor Gamble each recorded interceptions, and Michael Smith recovered a fumbled punt return that led to a touchdown. There was also a goal-line stand in the first half following Nature Coast’s first score, where the Eagles’ failed to execute a handoff.
Add in several personal foul penalties and it was a return to the uncharacteristically sloppy play exhibited in a preseason loss at Hudson and a Week 1 defeat at the hands of Central. T.J. Owens had a 25-yard touchdown run and backup quarterback Izzy Zena connected with Michael Wheeler for a late 2-yard score to account for the Eagles’ offense.

Next week Springstead opens district play with a Class 6A, District 6 contest at Mitchell. “We’ve played three games now. Preseason’s over. It’s a money week for us,” Springstead head coach Mike Garofano said. “Our goal is the district playoffs and we’re facing a tough Mitchell team that’s multi-faceted. They’ve got some weapons on the outside, good quarterback, good running game, good line. We face another stout offense. “We need all hands on deck. We’ll review film, we’ll get better, we’ll correct it. We’re going to put the best players on the field that’s going to give us a chance to win. Whether it’s only 11 guys offense-defense and not 22, then so be it. We’ve got to give ourselves the best chance to win.”

Nature Coast’s first district opponent will be Central, and the Sharks are certainly riding a wave of positive momentum. “It’s Springstead. That says it all. You go 1-9 and you win one game and it’s your rival, you’re good. That’s the one you’ve got to win,” Nature Coast head coach Justin Worden said. “It’s big for us, especially after losing last year to them, we definitely wanted to get that, especially going into district play. Hopefully we can hit the ground running next week and start ripping off some district games, too… We’re taking it one week at a time. They’ve been very dialed in, I’ve been very impressed with them. I feel like every week they get better and better at that. We tell them win the week. Oregon, they coined ‘Win the day.’ We tell them, ‘Win the week,’ cause it’s high school. We’ve got five long days of working on Central ahead of us, so we want to win the week next week.”

The Bears have their own reasons to feel good heading into that matchup following a 48-10 drubbing of Fivay at the Bears’ Den, improving them to 2-1. De’Vonta Smith needed only 15 rushes to pile up 346 yards and four touchdowns. Teammate Davonte Bates added 107 yards on 14 carries. Manny Scott caught two passes for 76 yards and a score, and also returned a punt 60 yards to the end zone. Jonathan Allion added a 20-yard touchdown reception, one of two thrown by Sebastian Rivera.

Weeki Wachee and Hernando both suffered losses on Friday, the Hornets falling to 1-2 with a 23-13 defeat at Hudson and the Leopards now at 0-3 after a 47-0 blowout versus South Sumter.

In volleyball, Weeki Wachee had better luck. The Lady Hornets beat Central on Tuesday, 25-12, 25-5, 25-13, behind 10 kills from Miranda Werkmeister and 22 assists by Sarah Asbury.

On Wednesday, the Lady Hornets downed Springstead, 24-26, 25-18, 25-9, 25-21. Werkmeister had 23 kills and 20 digs in that one, while Zoe Murchio posted 33 digs and Asbury had 41 assists. For the Lady Eagles, Jennifer Aten notched 12 kills and 18 digs, Alondra Rodriguez added 29 digs and Elise Crowell 31 assists.

Springstead (3-3) started the week getting swept by Sunlake on Tuesday, 25-20, 25-12, 25-19, but bounced back on Thursday by topping Nature Coast, 25-17, 25-23, 25-19. Aten and Sami McLead paced the team with seven kills apiece. Rodriguez had 25 digs.

Hernando posted a 25-20, 30-28, 25-20 win at Lecanto on Thursday. Ali Bronson paced the Lady Leopards with 10 kills and 47 digs.

Junior Zayne Vasquez shot a nine-hole round of 36 at Silverthorn Country Club Thursday afternoon, as Hernando opened its boys golf season with a tri-match against Nature Coast and Weeki Wachee. The Sharks (3-0-1) won the match with a team score of 177, followed by the Leopards (198) and Hornets (247).

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