Host Hornets (0-4) seeking an offensive identity versus inconsistent Leopards (2-3)

FOOTBALL

Hernando begins brutal stretch of games on the road

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

Weeki Wachee Hornets

Up-and-down Hernando High (2-3) faces a brutal stretch in its season Friday beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Hornets’ Nest.

The Leopards, which opened 5A-8 play thanks to 7-0 loss at Crystal River’s Bramlett Stadium, bounced back last weekend to nip Wildwood in Brooksville (2-3), 14-6.

The Purple and Gold would love nothing better than to extend its dominance to seven games over county rival and winless Weeki Wachee (0-4).

But first, the Leopards must take a hard look in the mirror.

The Leopards have hurt themselves with turnovers and penalties and a general lack of execution.

Isn’t that the reason the team is averaging 14,4 points per game is allowing 13.4 ppg?

Of course graduation stripped away many of the familiar playmakers on offense for the Purple and Gold.

But that’s the same plausible excuse for the WWHS.

This week, the Leopards finally caught a break with their schedule.

With its junior varsity schedule of games completed, the Leopards promoted several more players to its varsity ranks.

For a program that teetered at 30 players will suit up a season-high 41 kids beginning Friday night at Weeki Wachee.

That’s a welcome relief to the starters. Many of whom, have not left the field of play.

Jacob Batten

Last week at Tom Fisher Memorial Stadium, HHS’ 6-foot=4 senior wide receiver Jacob Batten snared his first pass of the season.

That’s a sign of progression for first-year senior signal caller Maurice Holland.

Holland, a former jayvee basketball player, is basically learning what life is like at the varsity level on the run.

On the plus side, Holland directed an emerging offense to 226 rushing yards against the Wildcats.

Only problem were errors. The Leopards fumbled a pair by Batten and Bradley Smith.

Maurice Holland

For his part, Holland rushed for a season-high 15 times for 95 yards, including an 18-yard TD burst.

Senior tailback Kev’on Williams rushed for 60 yards on nine carries, highlighted by his first homerun – from 20 yards out.

Place kicker Perry Grant buried a pair of extra boot boots.

Wildwood quarterback Oscene Mikell finished 23-of-33 on the evening for a game-high 210 yards, mostly in underneath routes.

The Leopards lost its shutout bid in the fourth quarter but had enough moxy to close ranks and hold on with a hard-earned victory.

Second-year HHS skipper Robert Kazmier says the Leopards and Hornets have many similarities.

Both teams basically operate from the single win concept – which is a difficult passing formation.

Both teams graduated a ton of players from commencement exercises – including under center.

Robert Kazmier

“We feel were developing each week,“ explained Kazmier, who guided HHS to the playoffs at 6-4. “We feel the mold is changing every week to suit our personnel the best.”

On the injury front, Jonathan Ahne and Matthew Gillespie are both still out due to concussion protocol.

According to Kazmier, HHS’ starting middle linebacker – the team’s No. 1 tackler, senior Austin McCombs, was is serving the second final week of his suspension from the squad.

McCombs is expected to return next week for critical games at Spring Hill and Inverness.

The Hornets, guided by first-year mentor Chris Cook, switched quarterbacks prior to the last game, a lopsided 46-14 loss two weeks ago to Citrus High.

Kazmier says the Hornets, are a defense-first ball club. That they’re searching for an identity on offense.

David Richards

It’s best offensive player, multi-sport All-County athlete, junior David Richards, who began the season at wide out enters Friday’s game with two catches. Both those receptions arrived in week 1.

Since then he’s rushed 23 times for a paltry 56 yards.

Kazmer says the Hornets are receiving good effort from their players, but it’s not translating into much offensive production yet.

Kaz says the Hornets are a much-improved tackling team in 2019 and credits the WWHS coaching staff for the gains.

“They’ve played a tough schedule so far,” noted Kaz. “They initially tried to spread people out and throw out but that really hasn’t worked.

He also doubts that Hornets have the ability to attempt to aim run after run at Hernando.

“We’re expecting to see a balanced attack,“ predicted Lazier. “On defense, we haven’t given up much. We’ve seen a lot of different looks from them. We have to get ready for everything.”

The Hernando defense is changing.

No longer is Joaquin Spry, Owenton Coney nor Isaiah Brown starting on defense.

Devin Williams

Along the young but emerging offensive line, HAS is waiting for the development of 6-foot-2, 292-pound freshman Devin Williams and tackle Hayden Foster to catch up with William Bart, Brock Valdez and San Fleming along the O-line.

“Along the O-line it’s mostly been a communication issue,” explained Kazmier. “Those guys are learning who to block and when. We’ll move the ball, but if we get a penalty of two we’ve gotten stalled. We have to learn to finish drives.

“We have to be able to throw the football. We’ve got big games coming up and we can’t be a one-dimensional football team. Against Weeki Wachee, we need a clean, well-balanced attack. We feel with our schedule, we’ve got a great chance to return to the playoffs.”

On what the Kazmier is specifically looking for this weekend, “We’ve got keep improving each week. Those extra jayvee kids will help us with our depth. Priority No. 1 is taking care of the football.”

By the Numbers:

Hernando Leopards

Vs. Weeki Wachee Hornets

(Leopards lead series 6-0)

Compiled by TONY CASTRO

 

YR

 

SITE

 

RESULT

 

2013

 

Away

 

W 27-10

 

2014

 

Away

 

W 35-0

 

2015

 

Away

 

W 31-21

 

2016

 

Home

 

W 24-0

 

2017

 

Away

 

W 49-7

 

2018

 

Home

 

W 47-0

 

TOTALS (6)

 

213-48

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

12 + = 15