Eagles collect 4 turnovers, blank Hornets (again), 21-0

SHS defensive end Nick Billingsly seeks a pursuit angle Friday night at Weeki Wachee. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Springstead junior slotback Jaylen Thompson scoots around the end. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO


Rookie QB Centola

guides SHS shutout



SPRING HILL – For F.W. Springstead, two weekends of football have resulted in two rare achievements.

Last week in Spring Hill, Springstead began its 44th varsity football season with largest-ever margin of victory to open a season – 53-0 – against Sunlake.

Last night at the Hornets’ Nest in Weeki Wachee, behind sophomore quarterback Nick Centola, the Spring Hill crew delivered back-to-bagels for the first time since 2012, 21-0.

Centola, who is listed at 5-foot-10, 150 pounds on the jayvee roster, earned his initial varsity start when senior signal caller Max O’Rourke was held out – due to a shoulder injury.

Mike Garofano

According to seventh-year SHS skipper Mike Garofano, “We held Max out as a precaution. He was dinged up last week and we’ve got tough stretch of games coming. Why push the issue? We thought Nick could handle it and he did.

“He’s not the biggest guy in town but he did what we asked him to do: manage the game. He had some trouble throwing over guys, but he’ll make adjustments. We were extremely happy with how he handled himself. It was a tough spot starting a county game on the road at their house.”

With the win, SHS climbed to 2-0 overall and remained unbeaten against Weeki Wachee in seven career meetings.

The setback spoiled the debut of the program’s third mentor, Chris Cook.

The US-19 crew dipped to 0-2 and were blanked for the second straight week.

The Hornets were their own worst enemies committing four turnovers.

First-year starting – running back RJ “Ronnie” Mariani lost the handle three times and junior signal caller Kobe Bigger was intercepted once.

The Hornets’ defense countered by swiping an errant Centola fade route by Kenny Davis to close the first half and recovered a fourth quarter fumble by ex-Hornet fullback Toby Rahman.

The Red Tide defense of Springstead engulfed WWHS.

They forced the hosts to punt five times.

How horrific was the offense?

The Hornets managed two first downs – one in each half and nothing else.

Twenty-seven rushing attempts netted zero positive yards.

The Hornets demonstrated a lot of guts and guile not folding against the bigger Eagles.

Garofano, for his part, was not happy.

A week away from traveling to archrival Brooksville – where the Eagles face Nature Coast Technical, Garofano unloaded.

“It has to be better than this,” said a displeased Garofano. “Give Weeki Wachee credit, those guys played hard. They never folded the tent. I think we took a step backward this week.”

“…The best thing we did was shut someone else out again. That’s hard to do in back-to-back weeks. We’re gonna have to be a lot more mentally tougher moving forward. I told the kids we can’t worry about the weather or where we’re playing next. But just to concentrate on being a better football player and better person.

On what pleased Garofano, “Producing four turnovers after not getting one last week was big. But we left too many points on the table. We never closed out drives. It has to be better,” lamented Garofano.

Springstead standouts

Offensively, SHS rushed for 215 yards on 51 carries.

Anthony Alexis

Senior fullback Anthony Alexis paced the visitors with 63 yards on 13 carries, including his county-leading fifth rushing touchdown from six yards out.

Toby Rahman

Playing sluggo football, the Eagles rolled up their sleeves as Rahman toted the rock 11 times for 50 yards and while senior backup fullback Adrian Cabrera added 51 yards on 10 carries, highlighted by his first touchdown from seven yards out in the fourth quarter.

Junior slot back Jaylen Thompson added 43 yards.

Defensively, senior Paxton Chancey recovered two fumbles, junior Nick Billingsly added one recovery, senior safety Logan Blevens notched his first interception and linebacker Mackenxo Maysonet set the tone early with a huge third down sack.


Recapping the scoring

Hornet errors led to their down fall.

After the teams traded early punts, Mariani lost the handle for an 11-yard loss that Springstead recovered at the Weeki Wachee-14 yard line.

On fourth down, Centola flipped a 4-yard pass to Thompson for his first varsity touchdown pass.

Jaylen Thompson
Nemo Pierre

With 0:43 showing in the first quarter, junior backup placer kicker Nemo Pierre split the uprights with the first of three perfect point-after placements, 7-0.

Four plays later, Blevens intercepted an errant Bigger pass across the middle.

Again blessed with ideal field position, SHS traversed 31 yards in five plays to double the score.

Alexis did the honors cashing in from six yards our.

Pierre’s second point-after with 9:27 left in the first half pushed the ledger, 14-0.

Another Mariani fumble to open the fourth quarter was costly.

From the Weeki Wachee 35, SHS aimed eight straight runs before Cabrera scored from seven yards out.

Pierre’s final boot with 7:26 left upped the ante, 21-0.

It could have been worse.

Two plays later, WWHS fumbled again but on Springstead’s next possession Rahman fumbled the ball back to the hosts.

Post-game comments

Nick Cenola

Centola, who helped guide SHS to 47-0 jayvee win last week in Weeki Wachee, said he was understandably nervous prior to the game,

“Once the game started, I started to settle in,“ explained the 15-year-old Centola. “I felt like I was in command in the huddle. To me, this was pretty big game.“

Mackenxo Maysonet

Maysonet, who recorded 92 tackles last fall to make the All-County defensive team explained, “We came to play tonight,“

“I thought we started soft but got tougher as the game went on. It seemed like we started clicking. At halftime, coach got on us. He said the defense needed to step up. Thank you, Jesus.”

Blevens was grinning from ear-to-ear thanks to his pick.

Logan Blevens

“It felt good,” smiled the 17-year-old Blevens. I thought in the second half, we played a lot better than we did in the first half.

“Give Weeki Wachee credit. Their backs ran hard, but they didn’t give up. Its nice to be 2-0,” added Blevens.

Springstead 21, Weeki Wachee 0























Individual Scoring:

SPG – Thompson 4 pass from Centola (Pierre kick)

SPG – Alexis 4 run (Pierre kick).

SPG – Cabrera 7 run (Pierre kick).





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