Weeki Wachee

Irma’s aftermath causes scheduling chaos

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead's football team sprints on to the field earlier this season. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Hurricane Irma is in the rearview mirror, but her impacts are still being felt. High school sports may be a low-level concern as the state recovers from the storm, however coaches and administrators are nonetheless scrambling trying to figure out how to move forward.
In Hernando County, where school and all activities had already been called off last Thursday through Saturday in preparation for Irma, prep sports have been shut down until Monday, when all schools will reopen. That means no practices and no games, even if they’re off campus or outside the county.

Sports notebook: NCT earns big wins on volleyball court

Between Labor Day on Monday and Hurricane Irma knocking out all activities Thursday through Saturday, it was a very short week of action in prep sports.
But the Nature Coast volleyball team made the most of the two-day window, earning two huge Class 6A, District 7 victories.

Irma sacks county’s prep football schedule

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast quarterback Fabian Burnett sets up under center during last Friday's game against South Sumter. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

The third week of the prep football regular season promised an exciting matchup of county rivals Nature Coast and Springstead.
But Mother Nature has spoiled all the fun, at least temporarily. With Hurricane Irma threatening just about every area in Florida, Hernando County followed the trend of surrounding counties by canceling school – and all other activities – for Friday.

Sports notebook: NCT rolls South Sumter for first win

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast's Michael Weston carries the ball versus South Sumter on Friday night. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

After its season opener against IMG Academy White lasted less than a quarter because of rain, the last thing Nature Coast wanted was more weather-related delays.
On a Friday night when seemingly every area game was impacted by lightning, the Sharks managed get their home opener versus South Sumter off without a hitch, collecting a 33-7 victory.

Sports Notebook: Hernando opens season in style

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Hernando's Ygenio Booker during Friday night's game against Fivay, in which he had a 68-yard touchdown run. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Throughout his 18 seasons at the helm of Springstead and now Hernando, Bill Vonada has often said a coach is never fully satisfied.
But in evaluating Friday’s season opener, the veteran football headman couldn’t find much fault with the outcome. The Leopards stomped Fivay at Tom Fisher Memorial Stadium, 62-0.
“The guys came out firing on all cylinders and really just didn’t have any letup at any position or play,” Vonada said. “I guess not being able to play in the spring and all that, the guys were charged up about playing somebody else.

Football teams come together for good cause

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Springstead's Adam Bass gains yardage against Fivay during Saturday's Clash 4 Clayton event at Springstead. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

Dustin Kupcik admits, he didn’t really know Rob Mahler. Yet the Springstead athletic director felt a kinship with the former Hudson High head football coach that compelled him to act.
Last month, Mahler’s 1-year-old son Clayton was diagnosed with Stage 3 intermediate-risk embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of pediatric cancer. Mahler had stepped down in November after two seasons leading the Cobras. Four years ago, Kupcik’s sister Kasey went through her own battle with cancer.

College signings spread out across the county

Photos provided

Springstead softball shortstop Abby Oliver with principal Carmine Rufa during her signing with Warner University. Photo provided

Back in February, Central’s football team dominated National Signing Day with four football players officially inking with college programs.
That quartet included the state’s leading rusher, De’Vonta Smith (Division I Appalachian State), defensive back Dominique Walker (D-I Florida Championship Subdivision FAMU), linebacker Josh Rivera (D-II Lincoln University in Pennsylvania) and safety Sam Garner (NAIA Webber International).
Those were far from the only signings among the six county schools, however, and they weren’t the only signees from Central, either.

Sports notebook: New football coaches make debuts

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

New Weeki Wachee head coach Jacob Gray during Thursday's spring game against Anclote. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

In the long run, this week’s spring football classics will likely be forgotten footnotes for the upcoming prep football season.
But for Nature Coast’s Cory Johns and Weeki Wachee’s Jacob Gray, those exhibitions marked the first time those two new head coaches roamed the sideline at their respective posts.
Johns and the Sharks traveled to Palm Harbor University on Tuesday, since Nature Coast held its graduation on Friday night, and cruised to a 44-14 victory.

Sports notebook: Eagles repeat with blowout win

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead's Joey Delgatto throws to the plate during Wednesday's 6A-6 semifinal versus Lecanto. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

It was no secret that Springstead’s baseball team entered the Class 6A, District 6 Tournament as the prohibitive favorite to repeat as champion.
But the Eagles certainly didn’t fall short of those expectations this week, recording two blowout wins to collect another first-place trophy.
“We just played real well,” Springstead head coach Shawn Laferty said. “Defensively, we made one error. That’s been our M.O. all year. We played good defense, had good pitching and hitting when we need to.

Sports notebook: Springstead rallies for district repeat

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead catcher Paige Pfent had the game-winning single in Thursday's 6A-6 final. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Suffice to say, Springstead’s softball team’s road to a repeat district championship hit a significant speed bump halfway through Thursday night’s Class 6A, District 6 final.
Host Crystal River had shown it could stand up to the once top-ranked Lady Eagles a few weeks earlier, holding on for a 2-1 win at Springstead’s home field on April 4.
This time around, the Lady Pirates built a 4-0 advantage through the top of the fourth, but couldn’t stave off the top seed, who rallied to tie it up twice and eventually pulled out a 7-6 victory in eight innings.

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