WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
2013 CHS graduate
was named All-County
Special Teams POY in 2012
By TONY CASTRO
If life about the bling, Brooksville’s Quadavis Battle’s search is about the ring. As in NCAA championship.
Team success has not always sided with Battle.
Battle graduated from Central High in 2013.
His last prep season was 2012 when the Bears, under Mike Einspahr, were outscored by 281 points, or 400-119.
The sleek-built, 6-foot-3, 193-pound Battle did everything for Einspahr’s squad.
Battle threw a pass, served as the Bears’ second-leading rusher with 321 yards – highlighted by a 75-yard TD scamper against Land O’ Lakes – corralled five passes, and finished seventh on the team in tackles with 29 as a cornerback.
Despite his modest overall numbers, Battle excelled in special teams. He blocked a kick and returned it for a touchdown – one of his three touchdowns during his senior season with the Ken Austin Parkway gridders – but also returned punts and kickoffs.
For his overall efforts he was named to Hernando Today’s 2012 All-Hernando County all-star team.
Moreover, the area coaches thought so highly of his special teams’ skills, he was further feted as the county’s Special Teams Player of the Year.
After a stint at Independence Community College, Battle transferred to the University of West Florida Argonauts in Pensacola.
That’s the same university that produced Hernando County’s winningest-ever softball mentor: F.W. Springstead’s Craig Swartout.
Through eight games, UWF stood just 5-3.
But behind six consecutive wins, fourth-year Head Coach Pete Shinnick’s team is peaking at precisely the right time.
After gaining entrance to the D-II Super Regionals playoffs, the Argonauts have run the table besting four straight opponents including: Wingate (31-0), West Georgia (17-14), West Alabama (28-21) and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (27-17).
Standing in the way of the Argonauts’ (11-3) national championship is the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions (13-1).
The two teams clash at 5 p.m. Central Standard Time Saturday in Kansas City, Kansas on ESPN 2 for D-II national championship.
Besides Battle, the West Florida roster is loaded with a Sunshine State flavor including 2016 Class 1A state weightlifting champion and former River Ridge fullback Chris Schwarz.
Nature Coast Technical fans will remember Schwarz carved up the 2015 Sharks’ defense for 280 yards on 38 carries, highlighted by two touchdowns.
That night at Shark Tank Stadium, the Sharks barely prevailed thanks to Deshawn Smith’s 27 carries for 447 yards and six touchdowns, plus a blocked field goal in NCT’s razor-thin 42-33 5A-II regional semifinal win.
Battle, who is a backup cornerback and plays in the nickel package on defense, doesn’t come off the field on special teams.
His lone touchdown this season came with his calling card, a blocked punt he returned six yards for a score against Chowan.
In last week’s national semifinal triumph over Indiana, he nearly blocked another punt, but made sure not to clobber the punter and ended up not being penalized.
Battle says before relocating back to Florida, he carefully weighed his options for his final season of eligibility. As a senior, he was reluctant to make the move.
What’s been the difference?
“We’ve got a lot of D-I transfers here. There’s a lot of talent,” explained the 24-year-old Battle. “Since the playoffs started we’ve really played well in all three phases of the game. The offense has picked up a lot. We just want to keep on doing what we’re doing.”
On the transition to the new team, “It was tough. I was the new guy,” recalled Battle. “I really liked it here; more than I thought I would. I like the campus. The entire community here is like family. Everybody in town knows us. They know everybody.”
Battle, who maintains a 2.7 grade point average, is majoring in communications with a minor in criminal justice. He yearns to be a sports anchor.
On the night life in Pensacola, “It’s a nice city; it’s better than Brooksville,” grinned Battle. “They have a nice beach.
“… The best part are the fans. They really support us. Our football stadium is under construction. We’re filling the 10,000-seat baseball stadium on campus. The community here has really embraced us.”
In forecasting the game, “We know the Lions will throw it,“ shared Battle. “That’s fine. we’ve faced other teams that spread it out too. Both teams are traveling to Kansas City, so there’s no home field edge.
“… Since we beat the No. 1 seed, West Alabama, we feel like we’ve beaten the best team in the field.”
On whether playing in his final football game is paramount, “Even when I was at Central and guys were crying after our last game, I knew I wasn’t done. I knew I’d play again. I have the same feeling now,” he said confidently.
On the possibility of possessing a national championship ring after Saturday night, “That’s crazy. We started the playoffs at 7-3, now look at us. We have a good chance to win,” Battle said. “We can play defense. Not even West Alabama could run the ball down our throat.
“Personally, I think we’re gonna win it. For a lot of the guys it’s one more game. I feel like we’ll get it done. Afterward, I’m planning to attend some (NFL) combines and you never know,” he shrugged.