SPRING HILL So much for dynamic debuts.
After 15 seasons, Springstead's career wins leader, skipper Bill Vonada, stepped down this past winner.
It took two days for the SHS administration to anoint his successor, defensive coordinator Mike Garofano.
In Garofano's head coaching debut Friday in the spring classic against visiting Anclote, the hosts swiped a page from 'Vonada ball.'
Vonada's teams typically relied on ball control and seldom beat themselves with costly penalties and turnovers.
Down 13-7 at the intermission, the Eagles scored three second-half touchdowns on three straight possessions led by their backup signal caller, junior Joey Jeffords, and a stout offensive line keyed by 6-foot-3, 285-pound freshman offensive tackle Hunter Hramika to rally past the Sharks, 28-13.
"What I liked the most? The way we controlled the line of scrimmage," pointed out Coach Garofano. "Defensively, we did a real good job on number 33 (Willie Barrett, 16 carries for a quiet 53 rushing yards).
"Even though we have almost an entirely new secondary, we want to maintain our turnover ratio from last year - that's one of the key facets to our continued success," said Garofano. "We finished a plus-2 and we didn't turn the ball over once tonight - that's how we've done things here for several years. We're not trying to reinvent the wheel with Bill (Vonada) gone, we'd like to just make another playoff push."
On the Sharks' two first-half TD passes to wide-open receivers, "I was upset and then I calmed down," recalled Garofano. "We started 22 guys tonight. This is the type of game to learn from."
On the Eagle heroes, "Both of our quarterbacks were outstanding, but I thought Joey (Jeffords) really stepped up. It's such a luxury to use either guy," shrugged Garofano. "We don't miss a beat with either guy. We have two solid quarterbacks; some teams don't have one, so it's a blessing.
"And I can't say enough about how hard Daniel (Wright) competed tonight. He runs with great pad level," added Garofano. "The way our O-line played, every back we used ran well."
SHS, which outgained the West Pasco County crew, 369-228, converted a game-high 17 first downs - highlighted by a huge 13-3 difference in first downs via the rush.
Springstead dented the Booster Stadium scoreboard initially thanks to the first of two touchdown bursts from three yards out by the sophomore fullback Wright.
With starting All-County quarterback Tyler Mahla calling cadence, Wright's first score capped a 22-snap, 80-yard drive that gobbled up nearly nine minutes of the first-quarter clock.
Junior placekicker Harry Bennett followed with the first of four perfect placements with 2:17 showing, 7-0.
AHS roared back behind freshman southpaw quarterback Brandon Vinkler, who replaced the injured starter, junior Andrew Junus.
On his first TD toss, Vinkler split the young and inexperienced Eagle secondary for a 71-yard skinny post pattern pass to sophomore Jonte Scott.
Placekicker Tim Shumute's initial point-after try was blocked by Shane Wiggins, 7-6.
With seven seconds left in the half, the host crowd watched in disbelief as Vinkler torched the Eagle secondary hitting junior wide receiver Tymere Carter in stride for a 50-yard fade pass.
Shumate tacked on the ensuing PAT for the Sharks' lone lead.
Down 13-7, SHS opened the second half with a roll-up-your-sleeves, 13-play, 73-yard drive culminating a 6-yard TD reception by Latavious Hannah.
Wright set up the score by carrying the ball six times for 43 yards before Bennett tacked on the second PAT, 14-13.
After the Sharks went three-and-out, the hosts engineered a six-play, 67-yard drive capped by a perfectly executed 37-yard screen pass from Jeffords to Kevin Bedford.
On the drive, Wright carried thrice for 26 yards before Bennett added his third conversion, 21-13 with 1:20 left in the third quarter.
Eight plays later, SHS junior linebacker Austin Stock intercepted an errant Vinkler pass - his second of the game. In the first half, Mahla intercepted a Vinkler aerial at the Eagle 11.
Utilizing the same modus operandi employed during the district title run last year, Garofano's crew cashed in on the opportunity against a tired Shark defense for 78 yards on nine plays.
The capper was Wright's second TD from five yards out. Bennett's fourth PAT upped the ante with 8:04.
Wright added a 50-yard scamper inside two minutes left setting up a 30-yard field goal attempt -that Bennett pushed wide left.
Wright led all ball carriers with 187 yards on 24 attempts.
Wright credited an Eagle O-line that seemed to push the Sharks on roller skates all night long compiling 63 plays for nearly 400 yards while suffering no turnovers.
"Tonight was amazing," insisted the 15-year-old Hramika, who seemed to excel on either side of the line he played on. "It wasn't just me; we had a great effort overall.
"I think we could have played better. For a spring game, we made a few mistakes," acknowledged Hramika, whose father also played football and wrestled for SHS. "In the second half we did a great job fixing our mistakes and just pushing the ball down the field."
The biggest benefactor of the newly realigned O-line was Wright.
"It was crazy tonight," said the 16-year-old All-County fullback Wright. "All the new guys up front stepped it up over the past couple weeks of practice. Those guys put in the time to get better - I couldn't have done this by myself. The O-line and our receivers did a great job of blocking and maintaining their blocks."
On the Eagles' locker room mood at halftime, "I can tell you the team was disappointed. We made a couple dumb mistakes and they capitalized," noted Wright. "Even though this game means nothing in the standings, it means a lot to our future. This (win) will only help us improve our tempo and help us work even harder."
Defensively, SHS picked up where it left off in the turnover battle. Besides playing error-free (no fumbles lost, no interceptions), the Eagles finished plus-2 with two picks.
Last season, SHS led the county with a plus-18 in the turnover ratio.
Stock's late swipe seemed to seal the proceedings.
"Right before the play, Coach (Garofano) told me to drop back into coverage. He thought something was coming," recalled the 17-year-old Stock. "Looking back, I dropped into coverage and just waited for him to throw the ball. It was a huge play - a huge momentum swing because we went right down the field and scored again.
"We weren't real happy at the break," emphasized Stock. "We thought two big mental mistakes cost us two touchdowns and the lead. But the big thing was our offense came out and pushed them around and we started to tighten up.
"I just glad to be back out there. Taking a year off has messed up my timing."
Springstead 28, Anclote 13
Qtr. Scoring 1 2 3 4
ANCL 0 13 0 0 --13
SPG 7 0 14 7 --28
SPG - Wright 3 run (Bennett kick).
ANCL - Scott 71 pass from Vinkler (Schumate kick blocked).
ANCL - T. Carter 50 pass from Vinkler (Schumate kick).
SPG - Hannah 6 pass from Jeffords (Bennett kick).
SPG - Bedford 37 pass from Jeffords (Bennett kick).
SPG - Wright 5 run (Bennett kick).
First Downs 6 17
Atts./Rushing Yds. 25-63 50-264
Comp./Pass Atts./Int. 5-10-2 9-13-0
Passing Yds. 165 105
Total Offense 35-228 63-369
Fumbles/Lost 3-0 0-0
Return Yards 5-53 1-15
Punts/Avg. 2-28.5 2-28.5
Penalties 3-15 3-17