Prep Football

Sharks trounce Citrus for district repeat

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast's T.J. Owens ran for 248 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-0 win over Citrus on Friday. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Many doubted whether Nature Coast could even come close to matching its historic 2015 season without the services of the nation’s leading rusher, DeShawn Smith.
Though they still have a way to go to duplicate last year’s Elite Eight run, so far the Sharks have had no discernible backslide. There has been no falloff in the win column, and not much for their vaunted running attack, either.

Bears left stunned in pivotal loss

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Bears left stunned in pivotal loss

CRYSTAL RIVER – On Friday night, Central’s football team played its most important game in roughly a decade. Yet the Bears may have produced their worst performance of the season.
Host Crystal River managed to do what no team had, bottling up the state’s leading rusher De’Vonta Smith, and rolled to a shockingly lopsided 36-0 victory.

Sports notebook: Matthew forces scheduling changes

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Nature Coast's T.J. Owens dives over top a Weeki Wachee defender on Saturday. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

While Hurricane Matthew barreled its way up the east coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, Hernando County escaped any real impact from the deadly storm outside of a blustery Friday.
Still, just as with Hurricane Hermine last month, the threat of a tropical system led to the Hernando County School District calling off school and all after-school activities on Thursday and Friday.
That of course wreaked havoc on Week 7 of the prep football schedule. One non-district matchup, Hernando at Ocala-Forest, was completely canceled.

Smith comes up clutch for Central

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Central's Jonathan Allion reaches out to make sure the ball crosses the goal line Saturday versus Citrus. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

BROOKSVILLE – It would seem odd that a player who rushed for over 400 yards and five touchdowns would be in a position to gain redemption on the game’s final drive.
Yet that’s where Central senior De’Vonta Smith found himself on Saturday late in the fourth quarter. He rushed for 335 yards and four scores in the first half, as the host Bears were running away from Citrus, up 34-7.
Then he fumbled three times in the second half, the Hurricanes scored 27 unanswered points, and somehow the game was tied with 4:54 remaining.

Sports notebook: Central wins second straight

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Nature Coast's Nickinson Sineus attempts to catch a pass with a defender on his back in Friday night's game against Lake Wales. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

It was a startling revelation to Central head coach Chris Sands, but nonetheless true. The last time the Bears won back-to-back football games came in 2008.
That all changed on Friday night, when Central won for the second week in a row, trouncing host Lecanto, 35-21.
More importantly for the Bears (3-2 overall), it pushed their record to 2-1 in Class 5A, District 7 after a brutal opening district loss at Nature Coast two weeks ago.

Sports notebook: Central’s Smith sets new county mark

Photography by Alice Mary Herden and Cheryl Clanton

Bears Devonta Smith breaks county record during the game against the Hornest Friday night at Central High School. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

So far this season, the same narrative has followed Central’s De’Vonta Smith. He has tried to escape the shadow of his cousin DeShawn Smith, who led the nation in rushing and scoring during a historic campaign with Nature Coast in 2015.
On Friday night, the senior running back managed to put together a statistical performance even his cousin never quite matched, setting a new county single-game rushing record in the Bears’ 63-28 thumping of Weeki Wachee.

Sports notebook: Eagles start strong in district

Photography by Alice Mary Herden and Cheryl Clanton

Springstead quarterback Jordan Wright carries the ball against Mitchell on Friday night. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

With district play beginning this week in prep football, Springstead shook off a loss to county-rival Nature Coast the previous week for an impressive 33-7 victory over Mitchell on Friday night.
Randy Morgan and Demetrius Barry both ran for a pair of touchdowns as the host Eagles (2-1) bounced the defending champions in Class 6A, District 6.
Quarterback Jordan Wright also had a scoring run for Springstead, who built a 26-0 lead before the Mustangs (2-1) finally got on the scoreboard late in the fourth quarter.

A breakthrough for Bierwiler

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Hernando quarterback Scott Bierwiler ran for a career-high 149 yards and three touchdowns Friday at Lecanto. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

LECANTO – Hernando quarterback Scott Bierwiler came into Friday with a grand total of 137 yards and two touchdowns as a rusher in 12 career games.
So his performance on a slick field at Lecanto in the Class 5A, District 7 opener for both teams could certainly represent a breakthrough for the senior signal caller.
Expertly helming the Leopards’ veer option, he ran 16 times for 149 yards with three touchdowns, all career highs by a wide margin, guiding the visitors to a 33-7 victory.

Haygood, Owens spark Sharks

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast quarterback Brian Haygood ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns in a 59-20 win over Central Thursday night. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

BROOKSVILLE – Last season, Nature Coast’s football season played out like a highlight reel of dazzling touchdown runs by DeShawn Smith.
On Thursday night in front of a television audience on Bright House Sports Network, the Sharks showed that they still have plenty of big-play potential in their backfield.
Facing county-rival Central in the first Class 5A, District 7 contest for both squads, Nature Coast boasted a pair of 200-yard rushers and scored eight touchdowns on the ground, including six on runs of 34 yards or more, in a 59-20 victory.


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