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Friday night rewind

By BRANT JAMES, FRANK PASTOR, KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 22, 2002


LOGAN PAYNE, LAND O'LAKES: The senior split end/defensive back caught five passes for 33 yards, including touchdowns of 14 and 13 yards, returned an interception 35 yards for a score and kicked three extra points.

CHRIS PEREZ, LAND O'LAKES: The junior running back rushed for 55 yards on eight carries, scoring on runs of 1, 7 and 18 yards and taking a screen pass 60 yards for another score.

DREW WEATHERFORD, LAND O'LAKES: The junior completed 15 of 17 passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns.

ERMINE LEWIS, CENTRAL: The junior linebacker had a simple job: Blitz. He had four sacks and otherwise harassed River Ridge quarterback Ryan Mistal.

STEVE MARTIN, CENTRAL: With Tim Gaynor hurting, the senior rushed 12 times for 57 yards and a touchdown.

JAGREN CASTILLO, HERNANDO: Broke loose for touchdown runs of 53 and 61 yards in the second half. Finished with 169 yards and three touchdowns.

BRAD WYATT, HERNANDO: Connected on six of his first eight passes, finishing with 142 yards despite constant pressure from the Pasco defense. He found Jason Joseph for a 45-yard pass to set up Hernando's first score and Mozell Elder for a two-point conversion.

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS

Springstead could get one starter back sooner than expected, but two others might be lost for the season. Running back Joe Merando could return for Friday's game at Lecanto after sustaining a deep ankle bruise in last week's 39-6 loss to Crystal River. Defensive back Frank Conway, also injured against the Pirates, is out for the season with a torn medial collateral ligament. Defensive back Jeff Sullivan will have arthroscopic surgery on a torn meniscus and isn't expected to return until late in the season, if at all.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

Four turnovers and a botched punt were responsible for Springstead's 46-3 halftime deficit. It wasn't the first time the Eagles gave an opponent so many early opportunities. Springstead turned the ball over five times in the first half against Pasco in 1998 but trailed by only seven points. "We had a little bit more mature defense then," Springstead coach Bill Vonada said.

ONE TOUGH 'D'

Land O'Lakes' defense was opportunistic against Springstead, forcing five turnovers that led to touchdowns. Though the defense doesn't normally force so many miscues, it has been strong all season, allowing an average of just over nine points per game, including a shutout of Zephyrhills. "It's the eight of them that were starters last year as juniors that are back," coach John Benedetto said. "So it's a mature, experienced defensive football team."

SAFETIES IN NUMBERS

Both Central punter Bobby Batista and River Ridge counterpart Steve Bamber experienced the oddity that is the safety on Friday. Batista knew his was coming. He was asked to run into the end zone, kill time, then step out. Bamber didn't know his was coming. A punt snap sailed over his head and he had to fall on the ball in the end zone.

PASSING FANCY

The Leopards got strong games from receivers Mozell Elder and Jason Joseph, neither of whom had caught a pass in Hernando's first two games. Elder had one 22-yard catch and a two-point conversion, while Joseph caught two passes for 61 yards.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

1. John Wilkinson's new system sometimes seems like it must be in Cyrillic. Players wear wristbands with plays on them but often seem confused. When they understand, the system works. Several of the Bears' passing wrinkles had River Ridge baffled.

2. Someone is going to have to step up as a kick-returner for Central. Both Shawn Dunker and Tim Gaynor muffed or fumbled kicks on Friday.

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