Not much has gone the Central Bears’ way over the past two seasons.
For example, from 2012-13, a span of 20 prep games, CHS captured one victory between the lines – a 28-17 nod Sept, 9, 2012 at Wildwood – plus a forfeit nod over Poinciana last season after originally falling 22-8 to the Osceola County squad.
Over that stretch, the Bears’ defense yielded a county-high 110 touchdowns (56 in 2012, 54 in 2013) and 779 combined points – or an average of nearly 39 points per game.
But over the same period of time, Central’s Christopher “Chris” Michael Hernandez has been one of the team’s few bright spots.
The undersized fullback/linebacker rushed for a combined 95 yards on 17 carries (5.59 yards per game) on offense, but has cut his teeth defensively.
In 2012, the season CHS surrendered 400 points, Hernandez finished second on the 1-9 Bears with 74 tackles.
A year later, the 5-foot-8, 210-pounder managed to collect 88 tackles, including 51 solos hits.
Over two seasons, the Clearwater-born Hernandez has caused four fumbles and recovered two.
The older of two children to Chris and Jennifer Hernandez, the family has called Hernando County home for four years.
Hernandez has played football dating back to his flag football debut at the YMCA of Pasco County at age 3.
He played with the YMCA program four years before turning his attention to tackle football with the Pasco County Police Athletic League for seven seasons, alternating between fullback and linebacker.
While attending Seven Springs Middle School in New Port Richey, he played fullback/linebacker for the Jaguars as an eighth-grader.
Once he matriculated to Central, he branched out.
This fall marks his fourth season with the beleaguered Bears’ program. He’s a rare three-year starter for first-year CHS skipper Chris Sands.
Demonstrating his athletic ability, Hernandez competed on the weightlifting team as a sophomore and a junior, and threw the discus and shot put last spring for the track team.
Hernandez, who has served as a Bear captain since his sophomore year, identified football as his favorite sport, especially excelling on the defensive side.
“Honestly, I like being able to run around and get people fired up to hit somebody,” he said. “On defense, there’s not a lot of thinking involved, it’s all about getting to the football.”
His mantra is simple and to the point.
“I want to make a statement with every tackle,” said Hernandez. “I know when I make a tackle, my teammates have my back.”
Hernandez deflects the criticism of his past two teams.
“Last year, we had a group of kids that were used to losing,” he said. “After a team would score one touchdown, you’d see guys dropping their heads. As one of the team leaders, I know I can’t get down no matter what happens on the field.”
Prior the Bears’ 26th season-opener today at Cobra Stadium in Hudson, “Things are 10 times better than they were last year,” declared Hernandez. “We’re ready to play. It all started in the weight room with guys making a commitment. You could see a fire in a lot of guys’ eyes. This group is tired of losing; we have to make it personal to turn it around.”
As far as responsibilities, “I have to keep the guys in the game,” he said. “If somebody scores against us, we’ve got to shake it off.
“John (Templar) and I are captains. We kind of feed off each other,” described Hernandez. “He’s more of the rah-rah guy; I kind of lead more by example.”
On his duties between the lines, “My job is to get to the ball back for our offense and play smash-mouth football,” indicated Hernandez. “Defensively, we want to create three-and-outs and get our offense back on the field.”
On his relationship with defensive coordinator Mike Benson, “Every day Coach Benson is emphasizing to our defense to make plays,” noted Hernandez. “It really doesn’t matter if I hit a guy 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage if I don’t wrap up. That goes for everybody.
“As a team, we need to win some games,” detailed Hernandez of his personal goals. “As an individual, I’d like to surpass my tackle total from last year.”
Hernandez is also an outstanding student/athlete carrying a 3.5 grade point average. His favorite classes include anatomy and physiology. He aspires to study sports medicine and become a physical therapist.
On the importance of capturing Game 1 at Hudson, “Honestly, it’s pretty important. It’ll kick-start the whole season,” described Hernandez. “Even if we lose, I think this team still has the ability to have a good season.”
In predicting 2014, “I think we have a chance to go 7-3. If we do that, we have a shot of making the playoffs,” explained Hernandez.
“For us to have a successful season, it all starts with beating the teams in the county,” he said. “Those games are more important than anything else. I have a lot of friends who play on those teams.”
Pointing to his optimist stance, Hernandez shared his team’s breakdown after every practice, when the group says, “One team, one dream, one championship.”
By the Numbers: Central’s Chris Hernandez (2012-13)
- Compiled by TONY CASTRO
YR ATT YDS AVG. TD LG HG
2012 04 16 4.00 00 7 vs. LOL
2013 13 79 6.08 00 41 vs. WW 5/51 vs. WW
TOT 17 95 5.59 00 41 vs. WW 5/51 vs. WW
YR SOLO ASST TTK TBL SK QBP CF FR PB BLK INT
2012 22 52 74 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
2013 37 51 88 0 1.0 0 3 2 0 0 0
TOT 59 103 162 0 1.0 0 4 2 0 0 0