Prep Football

Outlook, expectations changing at Central

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Photo by Alice Mary Herden

There’s something different about Central’s football team heading into this new season. In fact, there’s a lot of things different.
On paper, there’s a different talent level, and a much different roster size. There’s a different mentality, and yes even different expectations. The only thing left is to produce a different outcome.
It has been roughly a decade since the Bears were realistically considered a threat on the North Suncoast, but now local coaches are quietly dubbing them a team on the rise.

Expectations remain high for Sharks

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast head coach Justin Worden during a recent practice this month. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

DeShawn Smith is gone. The nation’s leading rusher and scorer graduated following his historic senior season at Nature Coast, and surely took the Sharks’ hopes of repeating 2015 with him, right?
That’s the perception the Nature Coast football battles as it heads into a new campaign, exacerbated by a poor showing in the spring, a 37-2 loss to Palm Harbor University.

Wright focused on leadership role

Photography Cheryl Clanton

Springstead quarterback Jordan Wright is prepared to lead the Eagles into the 2016 season. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Jordan Wright left no wiggle room in evaluating his performance this past Thursday, in Springstead’s 24-13 preseason football loss to Hudson.
The senior quarterback was 4-of-14 passing for 31 yards with two interceptions, though he did run for a touchdown. Later that night he took to Twitter to vent his frustration.
“I have to play better no questions asked,” Wright tweeted out.
His perspective hadn’t changed a couple days later, the exhibition leaving a sour taste heading into the start of the regular season this Friday.

Eagles want to build on late-season momentum

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead head coach Mike Garofano enters his fourth year at the helm. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead hopes 2015 proves to be the aberration, not the new normal. If the Eagles can continue with what they did the last three games of that season, this could go down as a rebound year.
Between 2012-13, Springstead pieced together one of the finest two-season runs in local history, going a combined 20-4 with a pair of district titles and the county’s first trip to the Elite Eight in 2013.

Hernando’s Williams settling in at linebacker

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Hernando's Harry Williams holds the ball during a recent practice. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

One look at last season’s Hernando High football stats tells the story of where the defense is at as it heads into the 2016 campaign.
Austin Sternberger, who paced the Leopards with 76 tackles; he was a senior. How about Tyson Libengood, right behind with 72 tackles? He was a senior, too. So was Brock Buchanan (62 tackles), Beck Buchanan (54) and Bruce Warren (50).
That’s Hernando’s five leading tacklers from a year ago having moved on to the next step in life, leaving behind a defensive unit that must find a way to replace all that production.

Leopards looking for new leaders

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Hernando head coach Bill Vonada overlooks a recent practice. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

These days, Bill Vonada has plenty on his plate. In a few months, he could have even more. But right now, he’s preparing to perform the job he’s done for nearly 20 years: serving as head coach of a local prep football team.
Beginning his third season at Hernando, Vonada is attempting to coax further progress out of the Leopards in a rebuilding plan all while running for a spot on Hernando County’s school board.

Preseason football notebook: Central drops shootout

Photography by Alice Mary Herden and Cheryl Clanton

Central's Jonathan Allion gains yardage against East Ridge during Friday night's preseason game. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

BROOKSVILLE – Based on the results of Friday night’s preseason classic, Central won’t have any problems putting points on the board. Whether it can outscore the opposition is another matter.
Hosting Clermont-East Ridge in an exhibition, the Bears were repeatedly burned by big plays, canceling out a spectacular performance by running back De’Vonta Smith in a 45-26 defeat.


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