Hernando ,45, Harry Williams sacks Westport QB, 10, Brian Maurer. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Thin, inexperienced Leopards steering toward stability

FOOTBALL Hernando High offense breaking in entirely fresh O-Line, special teamers BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com After three straight losing seasons, the 2016 Hernando High Leopards are at a crossroads of sorts. The longest-ever tenured Hernando County football coach, Bill Vonada, will not be back should he be elected to his new challenge in life in November – the Hernando County School Board. Vonada (86-87 lifetime) begins his third and perhaps…


2016 Hernando County Sports Calendar (thru 09-03)

SPORTS CALENDAR (NOTE: Times and dates are subject to change.) 08-29: HCA at Tampa Adventist, 5 p.m. 08-30: VOLLEYBALL: Weeki Wachee at Springstead, 6:30 p.m. Lecanto at Central, 7:30 p.m. Foundation Academy at HCA, 6 p.m. Hernando at Inverness-Citrus, 7 p.m. Nature Coast Technical at Crystal River, 7 p.m. BOYS GOLF: Hernando, Lecanto-Seven Rivers Christian vs. Nature Coast Technical at Silvernthorn, 3:30 p.m. Central vs. Lecanto at World Woods GC,…

4, runs against Wiregrass Ranch. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Quick-start TDs by Sineus, Delgado fuel Sharks’ 12th straight regular season win at Southeast, 33-14

FOOTBALL Though NCT turns the ball over three times, defense scrapes two INTs, three fumbles BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com Unlike last fall, there were no gaudy statistically anomalies following Friday night’s business-like effort by the Nature Coast Technical football team to Manatee County to face Bradenton-Southeast. For the second time in two years, NCT walked away with a hard-earned 33-14 season-opening triumph – it’s 12th straight regular season nod dating…

Sebastian Class cuts upfield after snaring a pass against Ridgewood. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Prep Football Scoreboard (thru 08-26)

FOOTBALL 08-26: WEEK 1 @ Brooksville Spring Hill-Springstead 42, Brooksville-Central 21 @ Brooksville Brooksville-Hernando 27, Hudson-Fivay 6 @ Weeki Wachee New Port Richey-Ridgewood 56, Weeki Wachee 24 @ Manatee Nature Coast Technical 33, Bradenton-Southeast 14 2016 Hernando County Football Overall Standings (thru 09-01) – Compiled by TONY CASTRO RK. TEAM W L .PCT PS PA 1. Nature Coast Technical 1 0 1.000 33 14 1. Hernando 1 0 1.000 27…

Springstead High's ,14,  Jordan Wright on a QB keeper versus Central High. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Eagles return to ‘Wright’ path behind three fourth-quarter scores over Bears, 42-21

FOOTBALL CHS’ Smith’s game-high 185 yards, 3 TDs overshadowed by two costly lost fumbles BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com BROOKSVILLE – In team sports, its extremely rare for a single player to beat a team. Central High tried its best Friday to do just that in its 26th clash against archrival Springstead to highlight do-everything tailback De’vonta Smith. He made tackles on defense and special teams. The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder rushed for…

12, Bran Haywood follows the blocking by , 50, Michael Smith and ,9, Trevor Gamble versus Wiregrass Ranch. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Can Sharks repeat successful formula without Player of the Year Smith?

FOOTBALL NCT must replace 77% of its rushing attack, 89% of its touchdowns BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com With 2015’s dazzling 12-1 won-lost mark in the rearview mirror, at issue is whether Nature Coast Technical come close to duplicating its heroic feats of a year ago beginning Friday night in Manatee County? Critics point to 14 reasons why not: 14 graduated seniors including All-County, All-Area, All-State choice, Deshawn Smith, gone. Smith’s…

Central High's Devonta Smith rushes against East Ridge.Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Central’s Sands “Our expectations are to win a district championship”

FOOTBALL Can county’s best player, Smith, carry Bears to its first playoff game in a decade? BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com Year 28 for Central High officially opens Friday night by replacing 18 seniors from a program that extended its school record of futility to eight straight losing seasons since 2007. In the simplest terms, the 2015 Bears weren’t the same team that upset Springstead in Week 1 on a blocked…


NCT’s all-time scorer Vraspir edges out Springstead’s Arcidiacono for POY laurels

BOYS SOCCER Shark graduate attempting to walk on at Division-II Saint Leo University Lions BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com In one of the closest ballots ever, Nature Coast Technical midfielder Morgan Vraspir edged out fellow senior, Springstead forward Tyler Arcidiacono, for HernandoSport.com’s 2016 Hernando County Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Both players displayed a penchant to pass-first, score second and each distinguished themselves aligning with their teammates defensively. Vrapir 411…

Springstead High'sGoal Keeper, Chandler Hatcher saves a PK against Wesley Chapel in the Class 3A, District 7 Tournament at Weeki Wachee. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

2016 HernandoSport.com All-County Boys Soccer

BOYS SOCCER BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com Player of the Year MF Morgan Vraspir Nature Coast Technical – Senior COMMENTS: Rare four-year varsity letterman … Three-time All-County selection … Named Player of the Year for the first time … As a freshman in 2012-13, Vraspir tallied a pedestrian six goals and five assists …AS a sophomore, on a team devoid of multiple scoring options, Vraspir finished tied with Gilbert Delgado with…

Central High's Dominique Walker ,5, breaks up a pass intended for East Ridge High's ,2, Jehvaughn Curtis. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

2016 Hernando County Sports Calendar (thru 08-27)

CALENDAR NOTE: Times and dates are subject to change.) 08-24: VOLLEYBALL: Hernando at Weeki Wachee, 6:30 p.m. Springstead at Nature Coast Technical, 7 p.m. GIRLS GOLF: Central vs. Nature Coast Technical at Silverthorn, 3 p.m. 08-25: VOLLEYBALL: Inverness-Citrus at Weeki Wachee, 6:30 p.m. Nature Coast Technical at Central, 7 p.m. HCA at Ocala-Meadowbrook Academy, 6 p.m. BOYS GOLF: Crystal River vs. Nature Coast Technical at Silverthorn CC, 3:30 p.m. Central…

Central High's Devonta Smith dives for the first Central score against East Ridge.Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

East Ridge rolls up 565 yards of offense to throttle Central, 45-26

FOOTBALL CHS’ Smith’s 28 carries for 227 yards, 4 TDs go for naught BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com BROOKSVILLE – Picture an evening of production where Central High’s offense generates 410 yards, including 311 via the rush. It occurred Friday at the Bears’ Den during the final tune-up for the 28th varsity season opener next week against F.W. Springstead. Envision a Bears’ attack etching a game-high 21 first downs to Clermont-East…

Clermont-East Ridge Knights

Central Bears face steep challenge tonight facing up-and-coming East Ridge Knights

FOOTBALL Weeki Wachee enters Fivay with one mission: find a way to win a game BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com The final two preseason tilts of the 2016 season take place Friday night with one game, Clermont-East Ridge at Central’s Bears’ Den and Weeki Wachee traveling to Hudson-Fivay. Both kickoffs are set for 7 p.m. Knights at Bears East Ridge, behind its third coach in five seasons, Ashour Peera, has been…

Hernando ,44, Matthew Oleson runs for a gain. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Bierwiler-to-Batten 5-yard TD pass with 7 seconds left, tames Wolf Pack, 13-12

FOOTBALL Sophomore RB Bronson accounts for 166 of Hernando’s total 251 yards BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com BROOKSVILLE – Typically under the glow of a full moon, everything can and does happen. Such was the case in Thursday night’s epic Hernando High come-from-behind 13-12 victory over Ocala-West Port at Tom Fisher Memorial Stadium. All WP early For one half of football, the Class 7A, District 4 Wolf Pack throttled the 5A-7…

Justin Worden

Trio of preseason treats set tonight in Hernando County

FOOTBALL Bulls at Sharks, Wolf Pack at Leopards, Cobras at Eagles BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com Three of this week’s five preseason prep football tests are on tap Thursday night in Hernando County with the Wesley Chapel-Wiregrass Ranch Bulls at Nature Coast Technical Sharks, Ocala-West Port Wolf Pack at Hernando Leopards and Hudson Cobras at Springstead Eagles. All three are kickoffs are set for 7 p.m. Bulls at Sharks After an…

Dustin Kupcik in 2003

New kid (Kupcik) on the block, ascends to become Eagles’ Athletic Director

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? The 30-year-old former offensive coordinator forgoes coaching BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com There’s a time and place for everything. That’s especially true for F.W. Springstead’s newly-minted athletic director Dustin Thomas Kupcik. Kupcik 101 Kupcik, 30, graduated from Central High in 2004. After serving 18 months as novice assistant under Bears’ skipper John Wilkinson, he completed his associates degree at Pasco Hernando State College. Next, he journeyed to…


After 37 years at SHS, Levija leaves mark, long-lasting Hernando County legacy

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Wrestling Hall of Famer spent his final 16 years serving as Eagles’ AD BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com When school officially began Wednesday at F.W. Springstead’s campus, there was a notable exception prior to the initial attendance bell, the absence of Robert “Bob” Levija. At the conclusion of 2015-16, the 65-year-old Levija retired from the Hernando County School District. The Chicago, Illinois product is a graduate of…

Bill Vonada


FOOTBALL 2016 Central Bears Head Coach: Chris Sands (3rd Year: 0-0 overall; 5-15 lifetime)   DATE   OPPONENT   SITE   TIME/RESULT 08-26 Spring Hill-Springstead* Home 7:30 p.m. 09-02 New Port Richey-Ridgewood Away 7:30 p.m. 09-09 Hudson-Fivay Away 7:30 p.m. 09-15 Brooksville-Nature Coast Technical#* Away 7:30 p.m. 09-23 Weeki Wachee#* Home 7:30 p.m. 09-30 Lecanto# Away 7:30 p.m. 10-07 Inverness-Citrus# Homecoming 7:30 p.m. 10-14 Crystal River# Away 7:30 p.m. 10-21…