Central

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.

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.

Springstead slides past Central to open season

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead's Randy Morgan attempts to shake off a Central defender during a run on Friday night. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

SPRING HILL – Central and Springstead had to wait nearly an extra hour to start their season on Friday night, and when they finally took the field at Booster Stadium, the performance mirrored the soggy weather.
Both teams had their share of miscues and wasted opportunities, and in the end a missed 2-point conversion proved the difference as the host Eagles held on for a 21-20 victory.

Bears mourn loss of beloved ‘Coach Buck’

Photo provided by Joe DiCristofalo

Willie "Coach Buck" Thomas Jr./Photo provided by Joe DiCristofalo

The opening weeks of August are typically a time of excitement and hope for a high school football team, with practices beginning and the season on the near horizon.
But at Central High, it’d be understandable if the mood was far more subdued. There’s a large void left on the Bears’ coaching staff and a metaphorical hole in the hearts of those connected to the program following last month’s sudden passing of assistant coach Willie Thomas Jr., better known as “Coach Buck.”

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.

Rivera’s state title school year’s top story

Springstead 113-pounder Richie Rivera finishes off a takedown against Lleyton Taylor of Riverdale in their quarterfinal match in Class 2A state meet action. Rivera won 5-0. Photo by Matt Pfiffner/Citrus Chronicle

With the school year coming to a close in Hernando County, the time has come to reflect back on the 2016-17 prep sports season.
Success was spread out, with all six FHSAA-sanctioned schools boasting at least one district championship team, and the county had an Elite Eight squad in all three seasons, fall, winter and spring.
Here are the top three stories from the past 10 months of action:
1. Rivera overcomes adversity for state crown

Zena’s four TDs lead Bears to spring win

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Cental quarterback Izzy Zena tries to elude the grasp of Hudson's Dominick Rutigliano. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

BROOKSVILLE – Last time Central played a football game, the Bears were absorbing a season-ending 50-12 loss to Hudson in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl and the ending of the prep career of De’Vonta Smith.
More than six month later, on Thursday night, Central was once again looking at the Cobras on the opposing sideline, but the outcome was far different. Behind 265 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground by quarterback Izzy Zena, the host Bears capped their spring with a 35-14 exhibition victory.

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.

Sports notebook: Sharks double up on track district titles

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast senior Kaitlyn Pierce won the 400 meter (1:04.88), came in second in the triple jump (33-1) and placed third in the 200 (27.98) in Friday's district meet. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

District championships have become a tradition for the Nature Coast track and field team, and nothing changed on Friday at Anclote High.
Both the boys and girls defended their Class 2A, District 7 crowns, the Lady Sharks tallying 199 points to far outdistance second-place Weeki Wachee (108), while their male counterparts totaled 159, well ahead of Zephryhills with 116.

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