It’s over! Eagles conclude Sharks’ 4-year, 19-game win skein, 30-19

Springstead senior Anthony Alexis broke off a 96-yard kickoff return – the third longest in SHS history – Friday night at Shark Tank Stadium. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Max O’Rorke converted 3-of-4 point-after boots , nailed a 42-yard field goal and rushed for 47 yards and hurled his first touchdown pass of the season.Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO


SHS’ Cabrera scores twice before being injured, Alexis’ 96-yard kick return seals the deal


BROOKSVILLE – For many first-time visitors to Shark Tank Stadium, its an experience unlike so many others.

But Friday night’s 15th lifetime clash between archrivals NCT and F.W. Springstead represented a unique blend of football.

After four years of frustration, the Spring Hill crew became the first Hernando County squad to knock off the defending county champion Nature Coast Technical Sharks – spoiling its 19-win streak, 30-19.

The game featured several standout performers on both sides.

Dedric Hall

NCT junior Dedric “Hollywood” Hall kept the hosts in the game with 12 carries for 74 yards and two highlight reel touchdowns.

He scored from a yard out and added a 90-yard kickoff return for another.

Senior Vaughn Sykora, who transferred from Weeki Wachee to NCT to play backup quarterback to All-County signal caller Fabien Burnett, may have created a bit of a quarterback controversy.

With Sykora in the game, the Sharks battled from a 21-7 deficit to 21-19.

With a chance to tie the game, Sykora’s perfectly thrown two-point pass was dropped in the end zone.

In relief of Burnett, Sykora completed 11-of–15 passes for 69 yards highlighted by a gorgeous 45-yard post route to Hall.

Vaughn Sykora came in relief of Fabien Burnett and nearly led the Sharks to a tied game. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Sykora and Burnett were dropped for trio of sacks by ex-Shark defender Mackenxo Maysonet.

Adrian Cabrera

Another All-County standout, senior Adrian Cabrera helped the Eagles build an early lead with three carries for 48 yards, highlighted by a pair of touchdown runs – from 1 yard out and 47 yards out.

He injured a shoulder following his third carry in the third quarter and never returned to the game.

Anthony Alexis

Senior Anthony Alexis, who rushed for a team-best 63 yards on 15 carries, torched the Sharks with a 96-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter.

The return served as Anthony’s team-high sixth touchdown of the season.

That return served as Springstead’s third-longest-ever return.

In 1988, Dwayne Roberts burned Citrus High for a 99-yard return while Anthony Owens returned a kick 98 yards versus River Ridge in 1996.

Senior quarterback Max O’Rourke, who missed last week’s game at Weeki Wachee due to injury, went 2-for-2 passing for 14 yards and his first touchdown pass of the season to senior David Battle.

O’Roarke added 12 carries for 47 yards on the ground and led a mistake-free Eagle offensive unit.

He also connected on 3-of-4 point-after boots and buried a clutch turn-out-the-lights 42-yard field goal.

Springstead’s beefy offensive line helped generate 242 yards of total offense, including 228 rushing yards.

Junior slot back Jaylen Thompson aided the cause with 41 yards on three carries while backup fullback Toby Rahman added 26 yards on six late carries.

Post-game comments

Mackenxo Maysonet

The 6-foot-2 Maysonet, who entered the game with 18 tackles, was beaming afterward.

“I’m so happy that this team came together,“ explained the 17-year-old Maysonet. “Both our O-line and defensive lines did the job tonight. It just seems like we’re jelling at the right time. Districts is next.”

Junior Logan Crossley says everything started up front.

Logan Crossley

“Every one along the O-line did their job,“ insisted the 16-year=old 352-pound Crossley. “Our defense was amazing tonight. We had a lot of different guys step up.”

Colby McMillan

We overcame a couple of mistakes“ added 332-pund guard Colby McMillan. “We allowed them to get back into the game. To me, this is just step toward reaching Daytona.“

Toby Rahman

“We came out strong,” noted the 17-year-old Rahman. “We took control of this game in the first quarter. This was a lot like a heavyweight fight. Both teams landed punches; we just landed more of them.

“I gotta thank Anthony on that last touchdown. He’s the one who broke this game open for us.”

Max O’Rourke
David Battle

Battle, was still smiling following first touchdown catch of the season – a perfectly executed fade route from O’Rourke.

“That pass was perfect. It went right in my hands,” admitted Battle, 18. “The game was intense but that pass was spot on.”

“I have great chemistry with David,“ noted O’Rourke. “The route was there and I‘m glad coach called for it. There’s a certain level of trust amongst ourselves.”

Seventh-year skipper Mike Garofano appeared relieved afterward.

Springstead head coach Mike Garofano consults . Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

“It’s so hard winning here and beating those guys,” noted Garofano. “This was like a heavyweight brawl. They hurt us on a bomb when they caught us flat-footed in the secondary.

“The kickoff return was a fluke. Ninety-nine percent of the time, from that distance Max buries that ball in the end zone. He just miss hit and they returned it. That was a huge play. That’s when the momentum was shifting.“

“Thank goodness Alexis returned a kick for touchdown for us. That was huge. So was the field goal. A nine-point game is different than an eight-point game.”

On what pleased Garofano the most, “Our offensive line got after it. They’re a big, quick team. I’m so glad we’ve got a bye week next; we need it.

“I like our resolve tonight,” explained Garofano. “It didn’t matter who played tonight. “Every one played their butts off. This was about executing along our offensive and defensive lines. I’m proud of the way these kids played.

….Now, we need some time off to heal and then get ready for districts.”

Springstead 30, NCT 19























Individual Scoring:

SPG – Cabrera 1 run (O’Rourke kick).

SPG – Cabrera 37 run (O’Rourke kick fails).

NCT – Hall 45 pass from Sykora (Rivera kick).

SPG – Battle 7 pass from O’Rourke (O’Rourke kick).

NCT – Hall 90 kickoff return (Garcia run fails)

NCT – Hall 3 run (Sykora pass fails)

SPG – Alexis 96 kickoff run (O’Rourke kick fails).

SPG – O’Rourke 42 FG.





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