Saturday, Nov 22, 2014
Central High School

Football

Hernando Today correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:28 PM

Offense

Quarterback

Tyler Mahla

Springstead – Sophomore

COMMENTS: Younger brother of 2008 All-County signal caller from Springstead, James Mahla … First-time All-County selection … A multiple threat under center … As a first-year varsity starter, Mahla led the county in passing attempts (139), completions (80), completion percentage (58.0) and interceptions (six) … Finished runner-up in touchdown passes (five) … Finished sixth in the county in rushing with 445 yards … Led the Eagles in scoring touchdowns (seven) … Enjoyed the team's longest scoring jaunt from scrimmage – 66 yards.

QUOTES: "There were times when his inexperience showed. And then there were plays we'd look at on tape and couldn't believe a first-year starter just made. … It's awful hard to ask a sophomore, first-year quarterback to make read after read and play after play, but that's exactly what we're asking of Tyler. When we evaluate him we have to understand there's a certain learning curve – particularly at quarterback. … The scary thing is he's only going to getter better."

- Springstead head coach Bill Vonada

Running back

Player of the Year

Offensive Player of the Year

Tyrail Hawkins

Hernando – Junior

COMMENTS: Extremely explosive … Two-year starter … First-time All-County selection … All-purpose threat … Hawkins led the Leopards in rushing attempts (127), rushing yards (1,242), yards per carry (9.78) and touchdowns (17) … Completed 1-of-2 passes for 14 yards and snared nine aerials for 211 yards (23.4 yards per catch) and two touchdowns … Paced HHS in scoring with 116 points featuring 19 touchdowns and one two-point conversion … On defense, Hawkins finished 13th on the team with 24 tackles featuring one tackle behind the line, one fumble recovery and one interception … Hawkins also led the team in pass breakups with nine.

QUOTES: "Has outstanding speed and is an extremely gifted athlete. Has great hands and is extremely flexible. Has a tremendous skill set in hand and eye coordination. … What I like most? He has an innate ability to know where a defender is."

- former Hernando head coach John Palmer

Running back

Matt Breida

Nature Coast – Junior

COMMENTS: First-time All-County selection … Represented 68 percent (1,698 yards) of the Sharks' 2,470 yards of total offense … Led the local circuit in five major categories: rushing attempts (208), rushing yards (1,613), touchdowns (20), scoring (136 points) and longest run for a touchdown (94 yards) … Demonstrating his versatility, he also completed his one pass attempt for nine yards and latched on to five aerials for 85 yards (21.3 yards per catch average) … Played sparingly on defense, recording nine tackles.

QUOTES: "For us, Matt is indispensable. He could have started on defense – he's our best defensive back. … He was our offense; we had to rely on him. To me, he was the county's Player of the Year. … I don't expect him to come off the field (this coming season). As long as we can keep him healthy and keep all the guys around him intact, he should have another tremendous season."

- Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett

Fullback

Marqui Redding

Hernando – Senior

COMMENTS: First-time All- County selection … In a brilliant season, Redding ranked third in the county in rushing with 780 yards and third in scoring (72 points) … He carried the ball 115 times featuring 11 touchdowns … He also broke off an 88-yard touchdown run.

QUOTES: "The most surprising player last year was Marqui. When we opened the season he was going to start at tight end. Then we had some injuries. He had played fullback in the past and we thought 'Why not?' Despite never starting, he had a monster game against East Ridge. It kind of set the tone for him. … He did a lot of the little things it takes to win at this level and we're certainly going to miss his leadership."

- former Hernando head coach John Palmer

Wide receiver

Taylor Minter

Springstead – Senior

COMMENTS: Not flashy … Great route runner … Three-year letterman … Repeat All-County selection … In 2010, Minter led the county in receptions with 23 for 356 yards (15.5 yards per carry) and four touchdowns … A year later, Minter again led the local circuit in receptions (41) and receiving yardage (482) … He finished second in touchdown catches (three).

QUOTES: "Taylor was our go-to guy. He was normally our first option. … He's one of those guys that run good routes. … To me, he's a throwback to guys like Steve Largent. Those guys weren't necessarily athletically gifted, but ran crisp routes and were very effective."

- Springstead head coach Bill Vonada

Wide receiver

Terrence Owens

Hernando – Senior

COMMENTS: Three-year letterman … At 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, Owens is described as a late bloomer … Multi-sport athlete in football, basketball and track and field … First-time All-County selection … He finished third in the circuit in receptions (13) … Could stretch the field averaging 23.4 yards per catch … Paced the county in touchdown catches (four) … Went from seven tackles in 2010 to 44 in 2011 … Led the circuit in interceptions (four) … Recovered a team-best four fumbles and returned one for a touchdown – one of six defensive touchdowns for the Purple and Gold.

QUOTES: "Was crucial to us on both sides of the ball. … Being a running team, he excelled in blocking – which helped a lot. He took a lot of pride in his blocking. … With his ability to get deep, that would create opportunities for us. … He's an excellent student who is just now realizing his athletic prowess."

- former Hernando head coach John Palmer

Tight end

Elijah Leon

Central – Senior

COMMENTS: First-time All-County selection … Led all county tight ends with two catches for eight yards … Paced the Bears in tackles with 94 including four tackles behind the line and 1.5 sacks.

QUOTES: "He was the glue to our team. When you go 0-10, he was one of those kids that kept playing at a high level. … Everyone in our locker room respected him."

- Central head coach Mike Einspahr

Offensive tackle

Derek Moore

Hernando – Senior

COMMENTS: Versatile athlete … Was named All-County in weightlifting … First-time All-County gridiron selection … Two-year starter for the Leopards after his family relocated from Hudson to Brooksville … Good size at 6-foot, 230 pounds … Besides playing along both sides of the line of scrimmage, Moore was forced into the place-kicking position and responded by making 18-of-21 point-after attempts.

QUOTES: "Derek just works and works at it. … To me, he is the ultimate grinder. … What I like most? He's extremely coachable and applies what the coaches are talking about."

- former Hernando head coach John Palmer

Offensive guard

Ethan Kemp

Springstead – Junior

COMMENTS: First-time All-County selection … Stout at 6-foot, 260 pounds … Can play multiple positions along Eagle O-line.

QUOTES: "Ethan was our go-to guy up front. … He's pretty athletic for his size. … He's a little quiet, but is a guy who leads by example."

- Springstead head coach Bill Vonada

Center

Austin Neff

Hernando – Senior

COMMENTS: First-year All-County selection … Two-year starter … Sturdily built at 6-foot-2 and 275 pounds … Neff helped pave the way for the county's leading offense, which averaged 355 yards and nearly 36 points per game.

QUOTES: "Had one of the best years we've ever had from a center. … Has an uncanny ability to reach and scoop a linebacker. … Though he weighs close to 300 pounds, he has excellent footwork for a big man. … What I liked? He developed a little nasty streak. He took a lot of pride in finishing blocks off."

- former Hernando head coach John Palmer

Offensive guard

Jesse Gaudin

Hernando – Sophomore

COMMENTS: Tremendous athlete … Is a two-time All-County wrestling selection … First-time All-County gridiron pick … Listed at 6-foot-2, 235 pounds … Excellent balance, great quickness … As a pulling guard, Gaudin helped enable HHS to rush for a county-high 3,397 yards – or almost 309 yards per game.

QUOTES: "His teammates nicknamed him 'Gorilla.' … He doesn't say a lot. His actions speak more. … An outstanding football player who plays as hard as he can every play. … Also, an excellent student. … He definitely has a chance to play at the next level."

- former Hernando head coach John Palmer

Offensive tackle

Robert Wadsworth

Nature Coast – Senior

COMMENTS: Two-year O-line starter … First-time All-County selection … Listed at 6-foot-3, 254 pounds … Helped enable NCT to rush for 2,227 yards or nearly 230 yards per game … Signed to play collegiately for Geneva College.

QUOTES: "Robert was our O-line Player of the Year. We're really going to miss both he and Lance (LeDoux) up front. Matt (Breida) could not have rushed for over 1,600 yards without those two guys."

- Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett

Placekicker

Scott Baker

Springstead – Junior

COMMENTS: First-time All-County selection … Led the local circuit in points scored by a place kicker (29), extra points (20) and converted field goals (three).

QUOTES: "Scott came into a difficult situation – arriving just before the season opener. … He continues to get better. … It's tough when you're the new guy on campus and you're thrust into a pressure situation (missing the game-winning attempt against Mitchell)."

- Springstead head coach Bill Vonada

Defense

Defensive lineman

Robert Hill Bronson

Hernando – Junior

COMMENTS: Multi-sport athlete who also competed in wrestling and soccer at HHS … First-time All-County gridiron selection … Plays bigger than his 5-foot-9, 185-pound stature … Ranked third on the team in tackles (76) … He led the Leopards in sacks (12.5) and tackles behind the line (30.5) … Finished second in quarterback pressures (18), caused two fumbles and blocked a kick.

QUOTES: "A lot of people look at number three (Bronson) and decide that's where they want to run the football; that's fine. … He's extremely strong for his size and is very quick off the ball. … Robert Hill has the ability to get off blocks. … Had a tremendous season for us. … Was hurt early in the Gainesville game (a playoff loss) and was taken out. Who knows what would have happened if he would have been in there for the entire game?"

- former Hernando head coach John Palmer

Defensive lineman

Darren Hambrick

Hernando – Junior

COMMENTS: Repeat All-County selection … Listed at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds … In 2010, Hambrick led the team in tackles (84) featuring 14 tackles behind the line of scrimmage … Hambrick caused one fumble, recovered two and intercepted two passes, returning one for a score … Last season, Hambrick notched near-identical stats finishing runner-up in tackles (81), including 16.0 hits behind the line … Hambrick added 20 quarterback pressures, 5.5 sacks and recovered one fumble – returning it for a touchdown.

QUOTES: "Darren is part of a formidable defensive front. When we switched him to end last year prior to the Land O' Lakes game, that's when we began turning the corner. That move allowed us get another athletic linebacker on the field. It was a truly selfless move – one that paid great dividends for us. … I'm not sure where he'll play this year, but he's definitely an impact player for us."

- former Hernando head coach John Palmer

Defensive lineman

Defensive Player of the Year

Malcolm Hudson

Hernando – Senior

COMMENTS: Three-year letterman … First-time All-County selection … Played much bigger than his 5-foot-11, 235-pound frame … Described as cat quick with tremendous footwork … Will not give up on a play … Hudson finished sixth on the team in tackles (55) highlighted by 18 quarterback pressures, 15 hits behind the line of scrimmage and three sacks ... He recovered three fumbles, returning one for a touchdown, and was one of nine Leopards with at least one interception.

QUOTES: "Our defensive line is the foundation to our defense and Malcolm was the centerpiece. … In three years he emerged as our team leader. … Blessed with natural strength and tremendous ability to shed blockers. … His technique is extremely good. … Not only a great kid, but a great student/athlete. … Replacing guys every year is tough; replacing players like Malcolm will be even more difficult."

- former Hernando head coach John Palmer

Defensive lineman

Darius Stewart

Nature Coast – Senior

COMMENTS: First-time All-County selection … A huge run-stopper at 6-foot-4, 360 pounds … Was a mainstay in the Sharks' three-technique up front and also switched to a down lineman … Stewart finished 10th in tackles (37) featuring four tackles behind the line and one sack. He also blocked a kick.

QUOTES: "His size and ability made a big difference for our defense. … Simply put, other teams weren't going to go through him. … He was a huge part of our 30- and 40-front packages."

- Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett

Linebacker

Zach Sullivan

Hernando – Senior

COMMENTS: Multi-sport athlete who also wrestled … First-time All-County gridiron selection … Listed at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds … In 2011, Sullivan emerged as a leading man. He paced the county in tackles (114), averaging over 11 tackles per game … Sullivan collected 11.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage featuring 1.5 sacks … As far as splash plays, he caused three fumbles, recovered two and hauled in an interception.

QUOTES: "He's one of those kids that lead by example. … His development on defense was crucial to our success. … His forte is reading the offensive guard, beating any blockers and planting the ball carrier."

- former Hernando head coach John Palmer

Linebacker

Zach Pritz

Hernando – Senior

COMMENTS: Tremendous student/athlete … Excelled in wrestling as a three-time state qualifier and three-time All-County mat selection … Also threw the discus and shot put for the Leopards …Three-year football starter … Three-time All-County gridiron selection … Pritz finished fourth on the team in tackles (70), featuring 13 hits behind the line and 4.5 sacks. He chipped in one fumble recovery and one interception.

QUOTES: "When Zach went down in the Nature Coast game (due to a torn ACL) it took away something from us. It wasn't like our kids didn't step up, but we didn't have that warrior we've had for four years (in the playoffs) against Gainesville. … In years past, we moved him around to take advantage of his quickness and his football IQ. … What we will miss most is his tremendous leadership both on and off the field. He was a tremendous vocal leader for our kids."

- former Hernando head coach John Palmer

Linebacker

Joey Berrios

Nature Coast – Junior

COMMENTS: Two-year starter … Repeat All-County selection … Listed at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds … As a sophomore, Berrios paced the Sharks in tackles (101) featuring three sacks. He also caused a fumble and recovered two fumbles. ... A year later, Berrios once again paced the Sharks in tackles (111) including 12 hits behind the line of scrimmage, 15 quarterback pressures and two sacks. He also recovered three fumbles and blocked a kick.

QUOTES: "Fittingly for the position, he's got a little nasty streak in him. … He has that old-school mentality to the game. … His partner Josh (Benyola) is more of an even-keel guy. Sometimes you have to pull Joey back. … Of those two, I send Joey (Berrios) a lot more (on the blitz). … Both guys really complement each other. If either guy was 6-foot-1 or taller, D-I schools would be all over them."

- Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett

Linebacker

Josh Benyola

Nature Coast – Junior

COMMENTS: Two-year starter …First-time All-County selection … Listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds … In 2010, Benyola finished second on the team in tackles (81) including two sacks … This past season, he again finished second in tackles (90) to Berrios … He totaled 11 hits behind the line of scrimmage and two sacks. He also caused a team-best four fumbles with one recovery.

QUOTES: "Josh is our go-to guy. He always lines up on the strong side. … He's one of our captains. … He's such a tenacious athlete, we even had him play offensive guard in the spring. … He and Joey (Berrios) are like bookend inside linebackers. … The biggest difference is their personalities. … Josh is more of a level-headed type guy. He plays at a constant level emotionally. … By comparison, Berrios plays with much more emotion."

- Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett

Defensive back

Richard Hart

Nature Coast – Senior

COMMENTS: Three-year varsity letterman … Repeat All-County selection … Listed at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds … He finished third behind Berrios and Benyola in tackles (78) – featuring 60 solos. His season was highlighted by three hits behind the line and three sacks. He also forced three fumbles and recovered two.

QUOTES: "Over my eight years at Nature Coast, Richard (Hart) might be my most favorite player. … I thought he was a smart football player when he was a freshman. Then he started for us for three years. … If I had to capsulize him I'd say he's very smart and plays instinctive football."

- Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett

Defensive back

Nick Bailey

Springstead – Junior

COMMENTS: First-time All-County selection … Listed at 5-foot-10, 140 pounds … Steadily improved as the season progressed … Finished sixth on the team in tackles (35) … Paced the Eagles in interceptions (two).

QUOTES: "As the season went on, Nick (Bailey) got a little better and little better. … He's not a flashy kid. He doesn't have a 32-inch vertical jump or anything. … He's probably a little better cover guy than in run support."

- Springstead head coach Bill Vonada

Defensive back

Jacquez Kincade

Nature Coast – Junior

COMMENTS: First-time All-County selection … Played at Central before transferring prior to last season … Kincade finished seventh in tackles (40) and paced the Sharks with five pass breakups and one interception.

QUOTES: "Often times when you don't notice someone it's because they're doing such a good job. When you're in the secondary and getting beat, it's hard not to standout. … I thought Jacquez did a great job of run support and made the plays when he had to."

- Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett

Punter

Special Teams Player of the Year

Richard Hart

Nature Coast – Senior

COMMENTS: Hart's left foot lofted 37 punts for 1,458 yards for a 39.4 average in 2011 … Longest punt went 53 yards … Eight punts landed inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

QUOTES: "Richard (Hart) had a big, strong leg. … I'm anxious to see how we replace a guy who meant so much to us as a defender and punter."

- Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett

"By far the county's best punter. … He had an awkward punting style. It was extremely difficult to read his punts. … Give him credit; he could change a game on special teams and by how he performed defensively."

- Hernando head coach John Palmer

"Richard Hart meant a lot to his team. … He was athletic and was explosive. … He could provide big plays at both ends of the field. … As a coach, Richard Hart is the type of guy you want out there as much as you can."

- Springstead head coach Bill Vonada

Utility

Jeremiah Jackson

Hernando – Sophomore

COMMENTS: Two-year starter … First-time All-County selection … Plays bigger than his 6-foot, 205-pound frame suggests … Jackson ranked fourth in the county in rushing with 714 yards on 105 carries and scored 10 touchdowns … On defense, he collected 47 tackles including 15.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage highlighted by four sacks.

QUOTES: "Does a lot of things really well on the football field. … Is a great blocker. … Is equally effective running the football or playing linebacker. … With our three-headed attack, we believe we have the capability to break a big play on any snap – that really helps our O-line. … He's also a great student. … Even bigger and better things are in the future for Jeremiah."

- former Hernando head coach John Palmer

Utility

Lance LeDoux

Nature Coast – Senior

COMMENTS: Incredible story of courage. Due to two childhood immune deficiency diseases, LeDoux went from being paralyzed from the neck down in third grade to team captain as a senior … Multi-sport athlete competing in wrestling and track and field at NCT … Two-year O-line starter for the Sharks … First-time All-County selection … Listed at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds … Played tackle and guard for a team that averaged nearly 23 points per game … Signed to play college football with Bethel College in Kansas.

QUOTES: "We're really going to miss both (Robert Wadsworth) and Lance up front. Matt (Breida) could not have rushed for over 1,600 yards without those two guys; those are big shoes to fill. Their loss leaves a huge void up front for us."

- Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett

Utility

Conor Ross

Springstead – Freshman

COMMENTS: Tremendous athletic potential … Was named All-County in wrestling, finishing as the Class 2A state runner-up at 170 pounds … Rare freshman starter in football … First-time All-County gridiron selection … Led the Eagles in tackles (78). Also collected three tackles behind the line of scrimmage, one sack and one interception.

QUOTES: "Has a huge upside. He's certainly a big-hit guy. … When Luke (McLeod) went down (due to a concussion), we asked a lot of Conor. … He possesses what a lot of guys don't: natural power and tremendous athletic ability."

- Springstead head coach Bill Vonada

Utility

Luke McLeod

Springstead – Junior

COMMENTS: Two-year letterman … Repeat All-County selection … When healthy, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound McLeod seeks ballcarriers like a cruise missile does its target … Missed the middle portion of the 2011 schedule due to the effects of a concussion … McLeod tied for the team lead in interceptions (three).

QUOTES: "When Luke is on the field, he's our big emotional leader. … He's our big-hit guy. We go as he goes. … One of the reasons we're looking toward next season is having Luke and Conor healthy at the same time. We're a much better football team with both of those guys out there."

- Springstead head coach Bill Vonada

Coach of the Year

John Palmer

Hernando – 4th Year

COMMENTS: Member of the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame … Two-time COY selection … Arrived from Port St. Lucie and has seen the Purple and Gold improve behind 3-7, 7-3, 9-2 and 8-3 campaigns … After struggling to a 1-2 start in 2011, Palmer troops responded with seven straight wins to capture the Hernando County and the Class 6A, District 6 crowns … The back-to-back county titles in 2010-11 are first for the Purple and Gold since 1999-00 under Bill Browning … The district title was the school's first since 1997 under Browning … HHS came within 65 seconds of upsetting heavily-favored Gainesville in the regional quarterfinal at Tom Fisher Memorial Stadium before losing 20-14 … Palmer retired in the spring due to health concerns.

QUOTES: "The closeness of our (coaching) staff made the difference last season. There were lots of times I couldn't be out there on the field (due to reoccurring health issues) – so they deserve a lot of credit. They did an outstanding job holding it together. … During our undefeated run through our district opponents, I thought we met our team's expectations. … Playing that real tough non-district schedule helped prepare us for what was ahead. … Overall, we faced a lot of adversity. But those are the kinds of things that make your team stronger. … To me, each week brought a different challenge. … For everything that happened, this was an extremely rewarding season."

- Palmer

"The ultimate compliment I can pay to Coach Palmer is he got his kids to believe in themselves. They came within a minute of beating a very talented Gainesville team and advancing to the second round. … Hernando's not just well-coached, they've got a lot of quality citizens thanks to J.P."

- Springstead head coach Bill Vonada

"I understand Hernando was down before John (Palmer) got here. He came in with a plan and has stuck to it. … He has a tremendous product on and off the field. … It's just a shame he had to retire. He and his staff deserve a lot of credit for surviving a rough start and then getting better and better."

- Central head coach Mike Einspahr

"I'm a huge fan of J.P. – especially after watching what he's accomplished since he arrived back in Brooksville. … I've followed his career since Port St. Joe and I have to tell you, I sure would love to beat him once. … The biggest thing he brings to any sideline is his guiding presence. It's like a calming influence on everyone involved. … To me, there was no doubt who deserved this honor."

- Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett

 

2011 Hernando Today All-County Football Team

Offensive Selections (15 positions)

POS NAME SCHOOL YR

QB Tyler Mahla Springstead 10th

RB Tyrail Hawkins Hernando 11th

RB Matt Breida NCT 11th

FB Marqui Redding Hernando 12th

WR Taylor Minter Springstead 12th

WR Terrence Owens Hernando 12th

TE Elijah Leon Central 12th

C Austin Neff Hernando 12th

OG Ethan Kemp Springstead 11th

OG Jesse Gaudin Hernando 10th

OT Derek Moore Hernando 12th

OT Robert Wadsworth NCT 12th

PK Scott Baker Springstead 11th

Defensive Selections (14 positions)

POS NAME SCHOOL YR

DL Robert Hill Bronson Hernando 11th

DL Darren Hambrick Hernando 11th

DL Malcolm Hudson Hernando 12th

DL Darius Stewart NCT 12th

LB Zach Sullivan Hernando 12th

LB Zach Pritz Hernando 12th

LB Joey Berrios NCT 11th

LB Josh Benyola NCT 11th

DB Richard Hart NCT 12th

DB Nick Bailey Springstead 11th

DB Jacquez Kincade NCT 11th

PT Richard Hart NCT 12th

UTL Jeremiah Jackson Hernando 10th

UTL Lance LeDoux NCT 12th

UTL Conor Ross Springstead 9th

UTL Luke McLeod Springstead 11th

County Player of the Year – Tyrail Hawkins (Hernando)

Offensive Player of the Year – Tyrail Hawkins (Hernando)

Defensive Player of the Year – Malcolm Hudson (Hernando)

Special Teams Player of the Year – Richard Hart (NCT)

Coach of the Year – John Palmer (Hernando)

Comments

Part of the Tribune family of products

© 2014 TAMPA MEDIA GROUP, LLC