PTP 3: Football rankings for Hernando County

No more waiting. After weeks of staying idle, nearly every Hernando County public school kicks off their season. Here are the top three teams heading into the opening week. 

1. Hernando

Last season: 5-5

Up next: vs. Crystal River

Former Hillsborough defensive coordinator Earl Garcia III, son of the longtime Terriers coach, took over the Leopards this summer. Garcia III, who replaced Rob Kazmier, inherited a talented roster that includes running back Kev’on Williams, linebackers Shawn Bingham Jr and Sam Sternberger and defensive backs James Perkins and Jordan Williams. Hernando also was bolstered with the additions of running Contae Cason, tight end Jaylon Hall and lineman CJ Tolbert, who all transferred from Central. Cason, who rushed more than 1,700 yards last season, will team with K’von Williams for one of the best backfields in the area. 

2. Nature Coast

Last season: 6-6

Up next: vs. Central

The Sharks bid farewell to some productive players, particularly on offense. Quarterback Fabian Burnet, running back Lenkel Smith and linemen  Andreas Pantouvakis, Andre Dillard, and Michael Marotta all graduated. Still, Nature Coast has some dynamic left. The running load likely will be shared by Issac Edwards, Dedric Hall and Kenyatta Morgan. Hall, who had 924 yards receiving last season, also is the top deep threat in the passing game. Austin Alliota and Dante Hester anchor the line. The Sharks will get a lot of value out of Hall and Morgan, who wll both be counted to lead a young defense. Hall had a team-high six interceptions and Morgan recorded 100 tackles last season. 

3. Springstead

Last season: 9-2 (lost in region quarterfinals)

Up next: vs. Weeki Wachee (Oct. 9)

The Eagles, who had the best record in the county last season, are trying to rebound after what has been a rough start to the season. Springstead already went into practice having to replace its top five leading rushers, as well as its top four leading tacklers. That process was made even more difficult when the Eagles found out they had to quarantine for the next two weeks because of COVID-related issues. It also meant the first two games of the season had to be postponed. When Springstead does return on Oct. 9 to host Weeki Wachee, it will lean on the offensive and defensive lines, which should be a strength. 

One the bubble

Central, Weeki Wachee