Central High School
By Chris Bernhardt Jr. | Hernando TodayFivay at Springstead, 7:30 p.m.
Published: September 7, 2012
Published: September 7, 2012
This time last year, Fivay wasn't supposed to be a major threat coming out of Pasco County; not in its first full varsity season.
But then the Falcons defeated Springstead, 21-14, for their first win in 2011, and went on to finish 7-4 and earn a playoff berth in the process.
So when the Eagles host Fivay at Booster Stadium, they'll face their toughest opponent to date.
Springstead downed Hudson in the preseason, 37-0, and followed with a 48-0 thumping over Ridgewood in last Friday's regular-season opener.
Still, the Cobras had dropped 22 straight on the field going into that game, and the Rams went 1-9 a year ago – the victory coming against Hudson.
"We know we're going to face a bit of a tougher test this week just for no other reason than the sheer numbers," Springstead head coach Bill Vonada said. "Ridgewood did play tough early but didn't have enough numbers to really maintain it.
"Fivay's solid on both sides and they've got depth. We know they have quickly established themselves as a power down in Pasco County."
The Falcons beat River Ridge this past week, 35-28. Senior quarterback Tyler Degen completed 12-of-18 passes for 211 yards, throwing three touchdowns against an interception.
On the ground, junior running back Davion Sutton carried the ball 16 times for 114 yards, twice finding the end zone.
By comparison, Eagle junior Tyler Mahla was 8-of-11 passing for 192 yards and three touchdowns versus Ridgewood.
Shane Scorza caught both those scoring tosses, and Daniel Wright ran in a pair of touchdowns.
"Coming off of last week, it's very important for us to get momentum going," Vonada said. "I thought in the second or third quarter we started finding our offensive consistency.
"Our defense seems to be playing very well, reacting very well as evidenced by the turnovers (three interceptions, one recovered fumble) we were able to create. That's going to be critical this week."
Hernando at Groveland-South Lake, 7:30 p.m.
What a difference a week has made for Hernando.
The luster of a preseason win over longtime-rival Pasco faded when the Leopards blew a 19-7 first-half lead in a 42-25 loss to Clermont-East Ridge last Friday.
"The guys, losing this week, realize they are vulnerable," Hernando head coach Dwayne Mobley said. "They can't just go in and do what they want to do.
"They got hyped and ready to play Pasco, and after that they may have thought it was just going to be a walkthrough with East Ridge."
It has thus far been in the inverse of 2011, when Hernando fell to the Pirates before bouncing back to top the Knights.
The Leopards will hope that form holds when they travel into Lake County to face South Lake.
At this point a year ago, the Eagles handed Hernando a 27-13 loss at Tom Fisher Memorial Stadium.
South Lake, however, ended up 4-6. Walter Banks was not retained as head coach, replaced by East Ridge offensive coordinator Mark Woolum.
The Eagles survived in a 14-7 season-opening victory over Mount Dora that came down to the final play of the game.
In topping the Leopards last year, South Lake piled up 267 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
That was an uncharacteristically poor performance by a typically stout Hernando defense, as was the defeat at the hands of the Knights.
East Ridge tallied 399 yards of total offense, spoiling another outstanding performance by Leopard senior Tyrail Hawkins, who ran for 162 yards and two scores, and threw for two more. He did get picked off twice, though, and fumbled away a punt return.
"South Lake runs the same stuff East Ridge runs," Mobley said. "The good thing is we saw it all last week. This week, hopefully we can wrap up and sure up some of the tackles we didn't sure up from last week."
Mobley admitted that falling to the Knights was a wake-up call that the Leopards may have needed as they try to avoid starting 0-2.
"It's important to win," Mobley said. "I'm not going to talk about going 0-2. If we lose, period, we've got a problem, stuff we need to correct. We've already had our first loss, so we're correcting a lot of stuff this week. I feel this week we're ready to go."
Lecanto at Weeki Wachee, 7:30 p.m.
Most prognosticators probably would have pegged first-year Weeki Wachee to be 0-1 following its season opener at Central.
Instead the Hornets stunned the Bears in a 33-14 triumph.
Now imagine Weeki Wachee moving to 2-0. It isn't that far-fetched entering the first varsity home game in school history, against Lecanto.
"The kids are excited to be at home," Weeki Wachee head coach Mark Lee said. "The one thing we tried to tell them this year, they'll be a lot of firsts for everything.
"I'm very proud. We had a lot of people from Weeki Wachee at the Central game. I imagine we'll have even more at a home game. We've just got to go out, do the things we're supposed to do and try to put ourselves in the best position for success."
The Hornets did that well against the Bears, but Lee conceded they had some luck on their side. Six turnovers and 16 penalties isn't usually a winning formula.
"The win is a nice way to start the season," Lee said. "But we've got to eliminate the penalties and obviously the turnovers. That was the biggest thing we've really concentrated on."
The visiting Panthers went 3-7 in 2011, and that actually represented an improvement from recent seasons. It was the first under head coach McKinley Rolle.
Last week, Class 6A Lecanto suffered a 20-3 defeat to 1A Chiefland, mustering only 73 yards of total offense.
The key, Lee said, will be applying defensive pressure and solid tackling.
"They like throwing the ball," Lee said. "They've got some athletes, so we definitely need to stay with our assignments and play football. It's definitely a nice test this week, that's for sure."
Lee said running back/defensive back Jon King and running back/linebacker Jacey Tarter are likely out with undisclosed injuries.
Nature Coast at Orange Park-Fleming Island, 7:30 p.m.
Nature Coast probably didn't want to spend the long trip to Fleming Island pondering what could have been a week earlier.
Unfortunately for the Sharks, they don't have much choice. Not after blowing a 14-0 halftime advantage in a season-opening 21-14 loss to Crystal River.
That's in stark contrast, Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett noted, to last year's venture north to Orange Park, a 29-7 defeat following a 42-0 win at Gulf.
"This year we're coming off a tough loss," Liggett said. "That creates a whole different situation. You don't want to be 0-2 facing Dunnellon in Week 3. It puts a little more urgency to it.
"We're probably a little more tense going up this year than last year. But you try to prepare for it and enjoy it the best you can."
Fleming Island (1-0 after beating Green Cove Springs-Clay, 31-14) has advanced to at least the regional semifinals in four of the past five seasons, including last year's 9-3 campaign.
Defensive coordinator Frank Hall took over as headman following the retirement of Jeff Webb. He inherited a roster missing 26 graduated seniors and with one returning offensive starter.
"Our key last year with them was keep everything underneath us and not let them beat us deep," Liggett said. "We did a pretty good job of that last year except for two plays.
"I know they lost a lot from last year and it looks like they just reloaded."
Nature Coast did suffer a critical injury against the Pirates. Senior linebacker/fullback Joey Berrios is out 2-4 weeks with a pulled ligament in his right ankle. Berrios has led the team in tackles the past two seasons.
Also, Liggett reported that speedy junior Luis Espinosa has reclaimed the starting quarterback job he originally had in the spring.
Though Espinosa played at defensive back against Crystal River, he had previously missed an entire week of practice due to injury, causing the Sharks to turn to Ryan Quigley and Trevor Castro under center.
Central at Wildwood, 7 p.m.
Smarting from its loss to Weeki Wachee, Central travels to Sumter County for a matchup with a Wildwood club that similarity went down hard last Friday, 77-15 to South Sumter.
"They took it on the chin from South Sumter, but South Sumter is a very good team," Central head coach Mike Einspahr said.
"They're big. They've got some skill kids. They came out last year and played well against us (52-0 Wildwood win). Hopefully some of those kids graduated."
Ball security was the main focus at Bear practice this week. Counting the preseason game against Zephyrhills, they've fumbled 17 times and lost 10.
"It was somber on Monday," Einspahr said. "Like anything else, time will heal some things. You get back up and go to work and things get better.
"We don't need to reinvent the wheel, but we need to play within ourselves. Just play our game, not get caught up in outside influences that can make a difference."
Sophomore Cody Brooks remains the starting quarterback, though junior Cole Teater could again see some snaps. Teater threw a late touchdown pass against Weeki Wachee; Brooks also led a scoring drive in the first quarter.
Nose guard Jeff Dow and wide receiver Walker Sheppard are game-time decisions with minor injuries.
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