Prep Football

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.

Sports notebook: Central overcomes miscues

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Weeki Wachee quarterback Alec Cromie drops back to pass in Friday night's game against Hudson. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

Led by star running back De’Vonta Smith, Central has perhaps its most talented roster in recent memory, with hopes of turning a corner and competing for a playoff spot.
But it has become apparent that the Bears must find a way to reduce their self-destructive tendencies. After battling severe penalty problems in the preseason and Week 1 losses to Clermont-East Ridge and Springstead, Central had reason to celebrate on Friday thanks to a 21-7 victory at Fivay.

Owens lifts Sharks over Springstead

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast running back T.J. Owens attempts to shed the tackle of a Springstead defender during Friday night's game. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

SPRING HILL – T.J. Owens couldn’t deny that Friday’s game had a little extra meaning. He was returning to the field he had previously called home throughout his prep career, but in the opponent’s uniform.
The senior running back produced a standout performance for Nature Coast as it paid a visit to county-rival Springstead, rushing 21 times for 169 yards and scoring two touchdowns in a 28-7 victory.

Sports notebook: Hermine wreaks havoc

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Central running back De'Vonta Smith takes to the air while carrying the ball in Week 1 against Springstead. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

The official track of Hurricane Hermine will show that the storm made landfall in the Big Bend area, but it surely managed to leave its mark on Hernando County.
It washed out four days’ worth of prep athletic events and practices, including the entire Week 2 football schedule.
Four games, all non-district, were on the slate, most notably a meeting of county rivals Springstead and Hernando. Though the sun finally poked its head out as skies cleared in the county on Saturday, the prior deluge left fields at Ridgewood, Nature Coast and Hernando unplayable.

Central’s Smith ready for the spotlight

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Central senior De'Vonta Smith rushed for 2,193 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

De’Vonta Smith ran for 2,193 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. Those numbers certainly are worthy of attention, yet he performed in relative anonymity throughout the 2015 campaign.
He ranked second in the state in rushing yards during the regular season, and still ended up fifth despite not having the opportunity to perform in the postseason.
So why didn’t the Central running back garner more headlines? It had to do with that one player in front of him in the stat rankings, who just happened to be from the same county.

Haygood’s role expanding for Sharks

Photography Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast senior quarterback Brian Haygood will be asked to lead the Sharks this season. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast played its first official game in the post-DeShawn Smith era on Friday night, and had to be pleased with the results.
The Sharks went down to Bradenton-Southeast and left with a season-opening 33-14 victory, in a game where no one on the roster rushed for more than 60 yards, yet five different players carried the ball at least five times for no less than 24 yards.
Meanwhile, quarterback Brian Haygood completed 5-of-10 passes for 108 yards, tossing one touchdown (a 58-yarder to Gilbert Delgado) against one interception.


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