Central

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.

Nature Coast boys, girls repeat as golf champs

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Nature Coast's Skyler Muscianese on the course during Monday's 2A-13 Tournament at Brooksville Country Club. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

Last year, Nature Coast’s boys and girls golf teams captured district championships on the same day. On Monday, they did it again.
At Brooksville Country Club, the Lady Sharks shot a 386, an incredible 168 strokes lower than second-place Fivay at 554, posting five of the seven best individual scores in the Class 2A, District 13 Tournament.

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.

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.

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.

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