Nature Coast

Sports notebook: Vonada staying on at Hernando

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Bill Vonada will return as Hernando's head football coach next season. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Turns out Hernando High won’t be in the market for a new head football coach after all. A week after Bill Vonada said he wouldn’t be back with the Leopards after three seasons, the school announced his return.
“We’re going to just do everything we can to move forward and put together the best program we can for the coming year,” Vonada said.
Out of respect to his players, Vonada declined to go into specific details about the chain of events that led him to temporarily leave the program.

Sports notebook: Springstead athletes sign early

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Springstead softball player Kama Woodall, left, and volleyball libero Alondra Rodriguez celebrate their signings on Monday, with Springstead principal Carmine Rufa. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

On Monday, two Springstead seniors took advantage of the early signing period that ended on Wednesday to ink national letters of intent with their respective college choices.
For softball pitching ace Kama Woodall, the pick was Division I North Carolina State. Alondra Rodriguez, the volleyball team’s libero the past three seasons, will be attending Division II Rollins College in Winter Park.
Woodall transferred to Springstead last school year after leading St. Petersburg-Canterbury to back-to-back state titles in 2013-14, and to the Final Four in 2015.

Sharks suffer shocking semifinal loss

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

River Ridge's Alex Kostogiannes gets off a punt over the rush of Nature Coast's Lenkel Smith in Friday's playoff contest. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Going into Friday night’s second-round playoff game, undefeated Nature Coast seemed on a collision course with Green Cove Springs-Clay for an Elite Eight rematch.
But River Ridge had other ideas. Hosting the Class 5A, Region 2 football semifinal, the Royal Knights found a way to stymie the Sharks’ powerhouse offense and handed them a stunning 24-3 defeat.
“It hurts. It hurts,” Nature Coast head coach Justin Worden said. “We’ve got a good group of seniors. They’ve played hard all year. Mistakes finally caught up to us.

Sports notebook: Eagles fall to powerhouse Vanguard

Photography by Alice Mary Herden and Cheryl Clanton

Springstead lost a regional quarterfinal at Ocala-Vanguard on Friday, 45-0. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

For Springstead’s football team, the return to the postseason after a two-season absence proved a short visit. But considering the task it faced, the result wasn’t unexpected.
The Eagles visited Ocala-Vanguard in a Class 6A, Region 2 quarterfinal on Friday night and suffered a 45-0 defeat.
Yet considering the Knights (9-1) boast several Division I prospects and averaged 45.7 points in the regular season with an average margin of victory of 41.4 points, it was no secret that Springstead (6-3) faced an uphill battle.

Owens sends Sharks into semis

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast's T.J. Owens rushed for 387 yards and four touchdowns in Friday's playoff victory over Zephyrhills. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

BROOKSVILLE – As a freshman at Springstead in 2013, T.J. Owens caught a glimpse of postseason play while the Eagles made a run to the Elite Eight.
On Friday night, now a senior at Nature Coast, Owens finally had the chance to deliver his own playoff magic. He carried the ball 22 times for 387 yards and scored four touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter as the Sharks pulled away from visiting Zephyrhills to win a Class 5A, Region 2 quarterfinal, 35-21.

Sports notebook: Lady Hornets to host regional final

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

The Weeki Wachee volleyball team will host Ponte Vedra in a regional final on Tuesday night. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

For the second straight season, the Weeki Wachee volleyball team is headed back to the Elite Eight. This time, the Lady Hornets get to play it in their own gym.
On Tuesday at 7 p.m., they’ll host Ponte Vedra in the Class 6A, Region 2 final, a rematch of last year’s meeting in the same round, won by the host Sharks, 25-27, 25-19, 27-25, 25-13.

Sharks stave off Leopards, stay perfect

Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast's T.J. Owens carries the ball Friday night against Hernando. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

As scoring updates hit social media from Friday night’s Nature Coast-Hernando game, a few eyebrows surely raised.
For three quarters the visiting Leopards gave the unbeaten Sharks everything they could handle, but in the end couldn’t quite overcome their county and district rivals, as Nature Coast collected a 40-27 victory.

Sports notebook: NCT golf teams crowned region champs

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Skyler Muscianese and the Nature Coast girls won a regional championship on Monday. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

Never had any boys or girls golf team from Nature Coast captured a regional championship. On Monday, they both did.
The Class 2A, Region 5 boys and girls tournaments, both held at Crescent Oaks Golf Club in Tarpon Springs, each featured a Shark squad collecting a first-place trophy.
For the boys, it came down to one stroke, as Nature Coast bested Mitchell, 329-330. Both teams nonetheless qualified for a trip to states.
“That was exciting,” Nature Coast boys coach Tom Brown said. “I was hoping to get second, so it was really awesome.

Sharks trounce Citrus for district repeat

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast's T.J. Owens ran for 248 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-0 win over Citrus on Friday. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Many doubted whether Nature Coast could even come close to matching its historic 2015 season without the services of the nation’s leading rusher, DeShawn Smith.
Though they still have a way to go to duplicate last year’s Elite Eight run, so far the Sharks have had no discernible backslide. There has been no falloff in the win column, and not much for their vaunted running attack, either.

Sports notebook: Hernando downs county foes Weeki Wachee

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Leoprard David hale Bronson attempts to break through the Horents defense. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

Hernando captured a meeting of 5A-7 and county foes, downing Weeki Wachee (0-7 overall, 0-4 5A-7), 24-0. Quarterback Scott Bierwiler completed 7-of-9 passes for 106 yards, and rushed 10 times for 63 yards and two touchdowns for the Leopards (3-3 overall, 2-2 5A-7). David Hale Bronson ran for 91 yards and a score.

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