SPRING HILL - Coming off Springstead's best football season in school history, with the team boasting an 11-2 mark under first-year coach Mike Garofano, the Eagles' head man strapped on the pads himself Saturday night against the Brooksville Ballers, an adult amateur football team.
Garofano and 37 other Springstead alumni put on the pads and faced off against the Ballers, the 2013 United Football Federation champion, and though the Eagle alums lost, 32-15, in the exhibition contest, both squads agreed it was a successful event and would love to do it again in the near future.
"I talked to Coach (Jason) Owens over there. He's a great guy and we talked about playing this game about midway through our high school season," Garofano said. "We talked about getting the game and bringing the communities together. The game acts as a fundraiser for us, because we make money at the door, so it's a win, win."
Owens, the offensive coordinator for the Ballers, helped set up the game with Garofano and the contest was a competitive one on both sides.
Though both teams made numerous mistakes via penalties and turnovers, the squads eased themselves into the game with the Ballers taking the early lead off a 12-yard scoring run by Javan Smith.
The Springstead alumni took their only lead of the game when 2013 graduate Joe Predoehl picked off an Antonio Brown pass and returned it for a touchdown, to put the Eagles up 7-6 early in the second quarter.
From there Brooksville was able to take control of the game, as the Ballers scored 26 unanswered points heading into the final period, before Steve Garofano scored a 1-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Brown added scoring runs of 5 and 21, with two touchdown passes, including a 35-yarder to Shawn Williamson in the second quarter.
The Ballers begin their regular season in the UFF on Feb. 8.
Both team's rosters boasted former Hernando County prep stars, including Nick Pauliot (Hernando), George Fribley (Hernando), John Hogeland (Springstead) and Jesse Cowan (Springstead). Cowan is currently a senior at the school.
"We just want to thank the Springstead family for welcoming us onto their facilities for this game," Brooksville Ballers coach Eric Riggins said. "We got some much needed work in today heading into our regular season. Coach (Mike) Garofano and the school did a tremendous job and we thank them again."