BROOKSVILLE- For the first time in Bill Vonada's tenure as the head coach at Hernando High School, the Leopards are off to a 3-0 start and much of that can be attributed to the renaissance of the quick option attack offense and a stout defensive unit.
Leopards made some believers after an impressive showing against Pasco County's River Ridge in the 'Clash 4 Clayton' event back in August. Now three games into the regular season and many more are starting to believe Hernando could be a postseason contender. Hurricane Irma did derail a week and a half for Vonada's bunch, but that didn't stop his group one bit.
"We've had four games on our schedule. We've had one cancellation and two delays," Vonada said. "You've got to have an understanding about the weather in Florida as a coach. You've got to have a wet weather plan. It's kind of funny, we were out for 12 days between practices and a lot of our guys were checking on each other and they even worked out together."
Much to the surprise of Vonada, the first practice Hernando had back from Hurricane Irma he believed was one of the best the team has had to date.
"We came back on Monday and we had one of our Monday practices," Vonada said. "Great practices without game performance means nothing."
Many players are stepping up all over the field for the Leopards, with quarterback Boston Tafelski providing stellar play under center and throwing for 374 yards and six touchdowns through three games played. Another key standout for the Leopards is junior Israel Fields, who has rushed for 368 yards and scored five touchdowns.
Vonada pointed out with so many playmakers on both sides of the ball and victories over Fivay, Seven Rivers Christian and Citrus, the Leopards have a new sense of confidence about them.
"I would say we have a newfound sense of confidence," Vonada said about Hernando's confidence level. "We still have a ways to go. We had a game (Seven Rivers) where it seemed like every other play was a mistake. Give credit to Seven Rivers, they played good defense. Guys know we were in a battle there and we can bounce back."
Many around Hernando County now wonder could this be the season that Hernando reaches the postseason for the first time since the 2012 campaign. That season saw the Leopards go 6-5 under Dwayne Mobley and Hernando was bounced out of the opening round of the playoffs to Gainesville in a 60-3 loss. Vonada saw his fair share of postseason appearances during his time as the head coach at Springstead and says it can become a pressure-like situation as the season continues to roll on with people expecting a playoff berth this fall.
"It can be a pressure situation but we're breaking down the situation," Vonada added. "They say the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. We want to go 1-0 every week. We don't want to look any further ahead than the task at hand."
Follow Andy Villamarzo on Twitter @avillamarzo