Lccanto Panthers (1-2) looking to spoil Central’s rare 4-0 run

FOOTBALL

Bears need two victories

to duplicate 1998’s 5-0 start

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

Central High’s first-year skipper, Rob Walden, can’t help but speak with optimism echoing in his tone these days.

And for good reason.

Rob Walden

You see, the Bears are the talk of Brooksville.

Walden, CHS’ 10th head football coach since the doors flung open in 1989, has taken a page from the old manuscript along the Ken Austin Parkway campus.

Explorer K-8 Bobcats

Walden who spent the last eight seasons molding the Explorer Bobcats, hasn’t expanded the playbook just yet.

He’s utilizing CHS’ familiar staples – principally a quality primary back in durable 5-foot-8, 180-pound Contae Cason.

He’s surrounded him by an overachieving offensive line.

On defense, he’s asked his defensive line to whip whoever is in from of them to create chaos in the opposing backfield.

Contae Cason

But what’s helped more than Cason’s Hernando County-leading 715 rushing yards and league-best 102 points, the Bears have increased their overall numbers.

For Friday’s expected 27th meeting against Lecanto High, the Bears are expecting to suit up 35 varsity members.

On the surface that doesn’t sound like many players, but that’s more than either Weeki Wachee, Hernando, or even Zephyrhills is currently carrying.

That added depth has come in handy.

Walden remembers how his team opened the season with almost none of his starters leaving the field of play.

Entering Week 4, he figures he “only 3-4 players who are two-way starters and won’t be leaving the field.”

That’s huge compared to the Hornets and Leopards who don’t have as many substitutes available.

But Walden realizes his biggest asset – besides some additional players – is the Bears must take full advantage of its lighter season-opening schedule.

The Bears didn’t open the season like Hernando did playing powerhouse Lakeland-Lake Gibson before squaring off 130 miles to the east in Melbourne.

Instead, the Bears have taken advantage of its new coaching staff with a much softer schedule of tilts against winless Umatilla (0-2), Gulf (0-3) and Belleview (1-2).

The Bears out-distanced Umatilla, 52-34, muzzled Gulf (45-8) before surviving a 26-point fourth-quarter collapse Monday night in Marion County to trip up the Belleview Rattlers, 41-32.

The Bears’ third straight win is just two victories short of the school record set by Steve Crognale’s 1998 Bears.

That year, CHS opened the campaign with a brilliant 5-0 start before settling at 7-3.

This time, CHS are averaging 46.0 points per game led Cason – the “human highlight reel” with 17 scores.

Cason, who started the last four games last season in John Warren’s forgettable 0-10 campaign, is one of only two returning starters on offense.

The other is 6-foot-1, 250-pound right tackle Zack Carmack.

Zack Carmack

Along the trenches, Leo Valdez mans the left tackle while 6-foot-6, 310-pound Nick Belknap anchors left guard.

Jonathon Jordan is the center while Jesse Sorensen mans right guard.

The Bears alternate Jaylon Hall and Nichols Jalyss at tight end.

Tre Joyner

Sophomore Tre Joyner, the Bears’ starting point guard on the basketball team, calls the signals as quarterback.

Last fall, Joyner, was one of five different signal callers utilized at CHS.

Lining up behind Joyner is H-Back, senior Kaleb Morrison.

From the I formation, Cason, lines up behind Morrison.

CHS receivers include Austin Jackson, Chris Sullivan and Deshawn Brown.

On defense, the Bears enjoy utilizing a 4-4 front.

Jesse Sorensen

Along the defensive ends, Sorensen, Carmack, and Taylor O’ Haver rotate in.

Chris Tolbert, Belknap and Adrioan McFadden rotate in to stay as fresh as possible along the defensive tackle positions.

Morrison and Jaylon Hall anchor the inside linebacker slots while Peyton Chancey and Logan Hickey hold down the fort as outside linebackers.

Walden credits the Bears’ 4-4 front for keeping pressure on the opposition.

Three returning starters are back including Morrison, Logan Hickey and Sorensen.

Logan Hickey

Sullivan and Austin Jackson anchor the two cornerback slots while Kaleb Wood and Joyner rotate in as free safety.

DJ Brown will also see plenty of playing time in the secondary.

From punt formation, Hickey will do the long snapping.

Joyner handles the punting chores while freshman Justin Balderstone is handling the remainder of the kickoff and extra point and field goal duties.

Jackson is also a key part of special teams as the holder.

Coach Walden has been impressed by how quickly his team has progressed.

“Over the last few years, we hadn’t been very good, but that’s changing every day,” noted Walden. “It’s amazing what one win followed by another, followed by another can do do for a team’s morale.

“We wanna ride the wave. I’m coaching the same way I have for years. It’s been a smooth transition (from middle school to high school).”

On Friday, the Bears will face a Lecanto that is sowing its oats after earning first win of the season, nipping Weeki Wachee, 7-6.

Last year, LHS ripped CHS, 27-0 in Citrus County.

On what Coach Walden expects from Citrus County crew, “They’re gonna try to out-formation us. That’s a big challenge And so far, everybody’s trying to stop Contae. They’re loading everyone into the box.

“We’re slowly putting in our offense. we’re more than just Contae. We expect Lecanto to be one of the bigger teams we face this year.” admitted Coach Walden. “We’re excited about the challenge of playing them. It would be nice to have some nice weather to play in. That hasn’t happened yet.

“We unfortunately had a couple active shooter situations lately that have not allowed a lot of the kids to come see us play. We’d love to see a lot our fans at home on Friday.”

On the games’ keys, “We have to come in focused and ready to play. It’s been a short week of preparation because of playing on Monday night.

“I was disappointed that we didn’t have six interceptions against Belleview. How many passes did we flat out drop? A lot,” noted Walden.. “Last week, we didn’t play a full 48 minutes of football at Belleview.

“I’ve been really happy with our defensive pressure up front. Everything starts with movement. Chris (Tolbert) has played really well. Our tackling could use come improvement. We’re gonna have a good test against Lecanto. Right now, with our added numbers, we’re developing depth and confidence. The kids are excited to be playing,”

By the Numbers:

Central Bears vs. Lecanto Panthers

(Bears lead series 17-9-0)

– Compiled by TONY CASTRO

Central Bears
 

DATE

 

SITE

 

RESULT

 

09-27-91

 

Home

 

W 51-9

 

09-25-92

 

Away

 

W 36-6

 

09-17-93

 

Away

 

W 18-14

 

09-16-94

 

Home

 

W 24-19

 

09-08-95

 

Away

 

W 28-14

 

09-13-96

 

Home

 

W 29-27

 

09-19-97

 

Away

 

W 7-6

 

09-18-98

 

Home

 

W 34-2

10-08-99

Away

L 9-20

 

10-06-00

 

Home

 

W 46-0

09-07-01

Home

L 13-26

09-13-02

Away

L 16-28

 

09-12-03

 

Home

 

W 49-6

 

10-04-04

 

Away

 

W 21-8

09-23-05

Away

L 11-16

 

09-22-06

 

Homecoming

 

W 48-17

 

09-28-07

 

Away

 

W 41-7

 

10-03-08

 

Homecoming

 

W 46-8

10-30-09

Away

L 15-47

 

10-29-10

 

Homecoming

 

W 10-7

09-16-11

Away

L 6-35

09-14-12

Home

L 13-26

10-02-15

Home

L 28-39

 

09-30-16

 

Away

 

W 31-25

 

09-29-17

 

Homecoming

 

W 50-0

10-01-18

Away

L 0-27

TOTALS (26)

 

 

 

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