Nature Coast

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.

Top duo helps Lady Sharks rule local links

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast senior Skylar Muscianese hits a shot at Silverthorn during a match against Weeki Wachee on Thursday. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

The past two seasons, the Nature Coast girls golf team hasn’t done a whole lot of losing. The Lady Sharks haven’t dropped a regular-season match during that span, collected two district crowns and even added a regional title last year.
So far in 2017, the only opponent they haven’t managed to overcome is Mother Nature. In two weeks, they’ve only completed nine holes once, against a Central squad that couldn’t even field a full lineup.

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.

NCT alum Breida making most of minicamp

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Former Nature Coast running back Matt Breida during the San Francisco 49ers' organized team activity at their training facility in Santa Clara, Calif. on Wednesday. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

For Matt Breida, the dream of playing in the NFL hasn’t quite been realized, but he’s coming awfully close.
The 2013 Nature Coast graduate has been in San Francisco the past few weeks, participating in a rookie minicamp with the 49ers, the running back receiving his first taste of life as a professional football player.
“This is a big opportunity,” Breida said. “Being an undrafted free agent, I’m hoping to prove everyone wrong and prove I belong in the NFL.”

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

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