Saturday, Oct 25, 2014
Central High School

Sheppard among Central seniors seeking redemption

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Walker Sheppard, like assuredly all of his Central teammates, is tired of losing.

Over the past two seasons since Sheppard become a fulltime varsity player, the Bears have walked off the field winners just once in 20 chances.

"We definitely want to win a lot more games this year," Sheppard said. "I think we'll do a whole lot better. We definitely want to make a statement. If we beat teams people say we can't, I think that makes a great statement.

"We go up to people and go to away games and they think it's all fun and games when Central comes to town. It was very tough, but this year we think we can be a whole lot better."

Sheppard, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior, figures to be a vital piece if the Bears do manage to make some headway this year.

"He's a tall, good-looking kid," Central head coach Mike Einspahr said. "He's improved his pass catching quite a bit the past few years. He's going to be expected to be one of the go-to guys in the passing game.

"He blocks very well. He's a physical guy, a bigger kid. All (offseason) camp long he was able to be physical on the blocking side, which helps. But when he's in a situation where he's in traffic and he's able to take some hits; he runs routes well, all that makes him a good receiver."

"As a captain of the team, I definitely think I'm going to lead the team and make sure everybody stays together," Sheppard said. "We have to take advantage of every opportunity we get. We need to make sure we do the right things and always strive forward."

Last year Sheppard hauled in 10 passes for 136 yards, finding the end zone once. He is by any measure Central's top returning receiver.

Though he's now exclusively a wideout, a season ago he was still learning the position even as he became a starter.

As a sophomore he was a defensive back, totaling two tackles. Yet when he realized the Bears needed help on the other side of the ball, he convinced the coaches to give him a shot.

Now he has a year under his belt, something that should help him increase his level of play this time around.

"I have a lot more experience going into this year," Sheppard said. "I've attended a lot of camps and combines. I've worked as a receiver, worked with a lot of coaches. I'm going into this season with more confidence and experience."

He'd like to at least double his number of catches, getting into the 20-30 range, and tack on 300 more receiving yards to his previous year's total.

Also, he wouldn't mind finding the end zone a few more times, something that would certainly help support his positive outlook on the upcoming campaign.

"We're very confident in our team this year," Sheppard said. "We feel the depth and the offensive line have improved.

"We definitely think we're improving a lot. We've had much better practices than last year. Everyone seems to want to get better and we're working as a team."

According to Einspahr, Sheppard will receive plenty of opportunities to make an impact.

"He needs to catch every ball thrown to him," said Einspahr, adding that Sheppard's size should allow him to maximize yards after catch. "We hope to get him the ball 7-8 times a game."

A productive showing over the next few months could additionally work in Sheppard's favor in terms of attracting colleges.

"I definitely want to play college football," Sheppard said. "A few colleges have shown interest in me and when the season comes I'm looking forward to see if I can get a few offers.

"I think that's one of my highest goals in life. That's one of my dreams I want to achieve. I really want to play college football more than anything."

cbernhardt@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5288

By the numbers: Walker Sheppard

Receiving

YR REP YDS YPC TD LG

2012 10 136 13.6 1 41*

* Denotes touchdown

2013 Central Bears Roster

No. Name Pos. Yr Hgt Wgt

1 Cody Brooks WR Jr 6-1 165

2 Andre Reynolds WR Jr 5-9 140

4 Anthony Williams DB Jr 5-8 160

5 Emanuel Scott DB So 5-9 145

6 Devante Smith DB Fr 5-10 145

7 Lucas DiaGiacomo RB So 5-7 150

8 Robbie Bradley RB Sr 5-9 180

9 Walker Sheppard WR Sr 6-2 180

10 Justin Grosos DB Sr 5-9 145

12 Taylor Bower QB So 5-10 190

15 Cole Teater QB Sr 6-1 210

16 John Templar LB Jr 5-10 180

18 Andrew Saavedra LB Sr 5-11 185

21 Austin Utter DB Sr 5-9 160

22 Mike Rossetti DB Sr 5-9 160

30 Ala Abdaldean RB Sr 5-10 210

39 Anthony Elliot DL Jr 6-2 180

40 Chris Hernandez LB Jr 5-11 205

45 Martin Rivera DL Jr 6-2 180

50 Ricky Bolduc DL Sr 5-9 190

51 Tyler Eoute OL Sr 5-10 165

54 Austin Dusza OL Jr 5-10 210

55 Shane Murphy OL Sr 6-2 205

58 Cody Carlson LB Sr 5-8 180

60 Michael Helfand DL Jr 5-11 245

68 Dennis Webb OL Jr 6-1 310

73 Tyler Webb OL Jr 6-1 320

74 Jeremy Luckett DL Sr 6-1 225

76 Angelo Adele OL Jr 5-8 290

77 Tanner Hamilton OL Jr 6-3 290

80 Garrett Herbert DL Jr 6-2 175

Head coach: Mike Einspahr (4th year)

Assistant coaches: Bob Burke, Josh Burkhart, Jeff D'Angelo, Justin Early, Chris Hernandez, Robert Paxia

2013 Central Bears Schedule

Date Opponent Site Time

8-30 Hudson Home 7:30 p.m.

9-6 The Villages Home 7:30 p.m.

9-13 Poinciana Away 7 p.m.

9-20 Nature Coast* Away 7:30 p.m.

9-27 South Sumter* Home 7:30 p.m.

10-4 Weeki Wachee* Home 7:30 p.m.

10-11 Springstead Away 7:30 p.m.

10-18 Zephyrhills* (Homecoming) Home 7:30 p.m.

10-25 Pasco* Away 7:30 p.m.

11-1 Hernando* Away 7:30 p.m.

11-8 Bye

* Denotes Class 5A, District 6 game

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