Leopards (3-3) invade unbeaten Springstead (5-0) for the first of two homecoming dates

Springstead High senior Anthony Alexis leads the eagles with 499 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

FOOTBALL

In Year 41, Glory Days offers pair of $1,000 scholarships to a member of the winning and losing teams

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

After four decades, the county’s oldest rivalry has a new supporter.

The less than 1-year-old Glory Days restaurant in Brooksville is offering a pair of $1,000 scholarships to a member of the winning and losing teams from Friday’s 41st installment of Hernando versus Springstead.

The Glory Days Bowl winner will also tote home a traveling commemorative trophy, as well.

The burning question is which Hernando High will show up?

In an up and down season, the Leopards (3-3) enter Spring Hill’s Booster Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff – winners of season-best two games in a row.

Hernando High opened its second season under Head Coach Robert Kazmier, a 41-0 loser to powerful and unbeaten Class 6A titan Lakeland-Lake Gibson.

The following week arrived a one-way 130-mile bus trip to Melbourne, falling to Eau Gallie Commodores in the fourth quarter, 13-7.

In Week 3, the Purple and Gold finally unwrapped its offense – leading 39-0 at halftime – to blast Ocala-Lake Weir, 51-0.

Prior to Week 4’s test at Bramlett Stadium in Crystal River, the Leopards were dealing with some internal strife.

The coaching staff, as a whole, took exception to “kids taking plays off” and generally deciding to play hard when its suited them.

As a result, three key Leopard seniors – Qwenton Coney, Isaiah Brown and Jaquan Spry – none started on defense against the Pirates.

The Pirates forced a couple of key turnovers in CRHS’ gutsy 5A-8, 7-0 win.

The following week at Tom Fisher Memorial Stadium, the Leopards bent but didn’t break against Wildwood High air assault, winning 14-6.

Last Friday at Hornets‘ Nest in Weeki Wachee, Hernando still hasn’t been able to get its offense untracked.

The Leopards’ first touchdown – in the second quarter arrived courtesy of special teams.

Jaquan Spry

Spry knifed in an blocked a punt attempt before Fred Scrivens fell on the loose football in the end zone for a gift defensive touchdown.

Fred Scrivens .Jr.

The place kicker Perry Grant then misfired on the point-after boot, 6-0.

The score remained deadlocked until senior tailback Kev’on Williams scored from 27 yards out in the fourth quarter.

Grant tacked on the final extra point, 13-0 Leopards.

The Leopards savored the bagel to improve to 7-0 lifetime against the US-19 rivals while the Hornets slumped to 0-5.

Kenny Davis

Kenny Davis, the 5-foot-10, 160-pound junior running back, rushed 17 times for team-best 60 yards.

Perry Nation added six totes for 21 carries.

Starting quarterback Mike McMurray finished 0-for-2 passing as the Hornets continued to hurt theme selves losing five fumbles.

Looking back, Coach Kazmier wishes the Leopards had not opened the season against the Braves but readily admits since that game that the Purple and Gold allowed just 26 stingy points.

In the Leopards’ second whitewash of the season, the future was unfurled.

Six-foot-1 sophomore linebacker Samuel Sternberger has begun to emerge.

Samuel Stemberger

Sternberger recorded a season-high 15 tackles against WWHS.

Cordell Warthen

Sternberger joined Cordell Warthen, Kev‘on Williams, Fred Scrivens and G‘Koby Winn with recovered fumbles against the lowest scoring team in the county.

The visitors, who amassed a game-high 178 rushing yards on 37 carries, were paced by Williams’ 14-carries for 100 yards.

Senior quarterback Maurice Holland, who carried 10 times for 41 yards, coughed the ball up twice.

The lack of execution and the lack of ball protection continue to undermine Hernando’s offense all season.

“We moved the ball the entire night. But what did we have 180 yards in penalties. That’s undisciplined football; that’s unacceptable,” chided Kazmier.

“Every week in practice we emphasize ball security. This week is huge with us playing at Springstead. It’s first of back-to-back homecoming dates for us. For using that as motivation.”

Robert Kazmier

On what Kazmier has seen of Springstead, They’re the type of program that doesn’t beat themselves. They’ve made some (kicking-game) mistakes against Nature Coast and they paid the price.

“The problem is they don’t normally turn the ball over much, so they don’t hurt themselves,“ noted Kazmier.

Max O’Rourke

“How many teams have a quarterback with 4.5 grade point average? Well, Springstead does with O’Rourke and he’s playing at a high level as a kicker and quarterback.

“O’Rourke isn’t the fastest guy in town when he’s running the option, but we like all the intangibles he brings. He makes a lot of smart decisions on the field.

“Their weapons concern us as well. Anthony is a solid back and the Rahman kid is a great backup. Cabrera, if he plays, can hurt you, too.”

“We can not play undisciplined football on Friday and expect to win the game,” stressed Kazmier. “We did a lot of up/downs all day yesterday in practice. We’re gonna get the snap count down.

“I think we had 180 yards in penalties last week against Weeki Wachee. We have to stop hurting ourselves. As a coach, penalties are part of the game. We have to minimize them.

“…Against Weeki Wachee, we lost two turnovers and one was inside their 10-yard line. Those are back breakers. We opened the game with 22 offensive snaps and didn’t score a point – that’s frustrating. That’s where we’re at.”

Lineup-wise, nose tackle Jonathan Ahne and backup running back Matthew Gillespie are both not going to dress out. Both suffered concussions and are being closely monitored.

Austin McCombs

Senior middle linebacker Austin McCombs has served a two-week suspension and is expected to start against Springstead.

Prior to missing the last two tilts, McCombs was Hernando’s leading tackler.

“We took a lot of pride posting that shutout on the road,” explained Kazmier. “Scoring a defensive touchdown is always huge. We feel very comfortable with Coach Malandrucco calling the defense. Those guys are playing at a very high level.”

Kazmier didn’t hesitate with the keys to the game, “Whoever wins the trenches will win Friday night. We can’t allow their O-line to establish themselves,”

On the eve of playing Springstead, Citrus, Central and NCT to close out 2019, Hernando clearly understands what’s ahead.

“We still believe we can control our own destiny,” remarked Kazmier. “We think six wins will get us into the playoffs. I wish we could have that Crystal River game all over again.”

Springstead, which opened Class 6A-5 play by edging Pasco High, 10-3, is still short-handed.

Adrian Cabrera

Senior middle linebacker Adrian Cabrera dressed out this week with a non-contact jersey on.

Cabrera, a three-year starter, has missed the last two games due to shoulder injury.

Seventh-year SHS mentor Mike Garofano says Cabrera will be a game-time decision on whether he’ll step on the field or not.

Nemo Pierre

Junior Nemo Pierre has filled in with 10 tackles against Crystal River and six more tackles versus Pasco.

Sophomore cornerback Robert Burgos (broken ankle) will not be dressing out.

Senior offensive tackle Scott Lydting (sore knee) missed last week’s game against Pasco and is also a game time decision.

Gannon Lanning

Six-foot-4, 260-pound junior Gannon Lanning made his initial varsity start last week against the Pirates.

Garofano, whose team lost fall in Brooksville, 17-14, has plenty of respect of the Leopards.

“Their O-line will get after it,“ explained Garofano. “And they have some backs who can crease you in a heartbeat.”

If Lydting can’t go, expect Lanning to replace him along the starting O-line.

“This game has nearly every angle covered,” noted Garofano. “It’s not a district game, but it counts toward the conference. It’s a rivalry game with a lot of ramifications. It’s also our Homecoming Game; so it’s a big deal.”

By the Numbers:

Springstead Eagles

vs. Hernando Leopards

(Leopards lead series 23-17-0)

– Compiled by TONY CASTRO

Hernando Leopards
 

YR

 

SITE

 

RESULT

1978

Away

L 0-7

1979

Away

L 0-49

1980

Home

L 7-40

1981

Away

L 0-51

1982

Home

L 7-55

1983

Away

L 0-14

1984

Home

L 12-17

1985

Away

L 12-31

1986

Home

L 6-20

1987

Away

L 7-45

1988

Home

L 3-6

1989

Away

L 0-16

1990

Home

L 6-30

1991

Away

L 15-48

1992

Home

L 13-14

 

1993

 

Away

 

W 31-7

 

1994

 

Home

 

W 27-21

 

1995

 

Away

 

W 30-6

 

1996

 

Home

 

W 33-14

 

1997

 

Away

 

W 19-14

1998

Home

L 13-21

1999

Away

L 0-55

2000

Home

L 6-23

 

2001

 

Away

 

W 26-7

2002

Home

L 22-28

 

2003

 

Away

 

W 10-7

 

2004

 

Home

 

W 44-12

 

2005

 

Away

 

W 28-21

 

2006

 

Home

 

W 17-16

 

2007

 

Away

 

W 13-6

 

2008

 

Home

 

W 21-0

 

2009

 

Home

 

W 26-25 (OT)

2010

Away

L 3-28

2011

Home

L 0-42

 

2012

 

Away

 

W 28-7

 

2013

 

Home

 

W 41-20

2014

Away

L 17-19

 

2015

 

Home

 

W 35-10

2016

Away

DNP

 

2017

 

Home

 

W 31-24

2018

Away

L14-17

 

TOTALS (40)

 

623-886

 

 

 

 

 

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