Sure, it was only an exhibition, won't count in the standings and will be pretty much forgotten by tonight, but Hernando's 40-14 drubbing of Land O'Lakes in the preseason classic certainly did not hurt preparations and morale going into the opener against Springstead.
"We got off to a good start," Hernando coach Bill Browning said. "It has given some of our younger kids some confidence."
Holding Gators star quarterback Drew Weatherford to a good-not-great evening (12-of-25 passing for 112 yards, two touchdowns and an interception) also was a plus. Hernando will not see a better passer, yet showed it could play against the Florida State recruit.
"It was great to work against a kid of that caliber," Browning said. "We were just concentrating defensively on not making any mental mistakes assignment-wise."
RUN TO REMEMBER: Sophomore running back Quinden Floyd provided the highlight-film play from Springstead's 17-14 preseason win over Mitchell. In the second quarter he swept right, rolled over a pile of his blockers and approaching tacklers, then regained his footing and completed a 30-yard touchdown run.
It was one of those runs that coaches and teammates were still talking about Monday.
"That's one you can see on ESPN or Channel 1, our channel at school," Springstead coach Bill Vonada said. "I saw him disappear in a crowd of people, then I turned around to call the next play. Then I saw everyone cheering."
TOUGH TASK: Coach John Wilkinson said Central will have its hands full with Citrus, which defeated the Bears 21-10 in last season's opener.
"I think they're a good football team, well-coached, they do a real good job defensively and, offensively, I'm scared to death of R.J. Cobb. We have to stop him. They have a good quarterback (Casey Snyder) and some big linemen."
Cobb rushed for 108 yards against Central a year ago.
"He's one of those kids, he's fast enough to run away from you but big enough and strong enough to run you over, too," Wilkinson said. "I heard he had a 90-yard run against Hudson, so that means he can take it to the house any time he touches the ball."
SAFETY SHIFT: Chad Sanders will take Hernando's starting safety spot formerly inhabited by Chris Cresser, last year's starter who is recovering from a broken neck and twisted spine sustained in a car accident over the summer.
Browning said the battle for the position was close among a number of candidates, including Nate Howell and L.J. Thomas, but Sanders earned the chance to get the first reps after the Land O'Lakes game.
SNEAK PEEKS: With Hernando playing its preseason game Aug. 28 and Springstead taking the field Friday, both coaching staffs got to check out their opponents live.
Browning said he was impressed with Springstead's veteran front and slew of running backs and Vonada gave props to Hernando's execution in its blowout win. But in the end, both admitted that there was not really anything that got them scrambling back to the drawing board to change tonight's gameplan.
"I don't suppose that there's any coach in the state of Florida who's going to run his whole playbook in a preseason game," Vonada said.
INJURY UPDATE: Central will be without wide receiver Dustin Kucpik (dislocated elbow) and defensive end Anthony Wright (broken fibula), who were injured during preseason practice.
"It's just kind of like a wait-and-see thing," Wilkinson said.
"We're shooting for having them back for the Springstead week (Sept. 19), but I would say probably more likely the East Ridge game (Oct. 3). It's just all going to depend when they go back to the doctor how they're dealing with it and what's going on."
Hernando and Springstead are healthy, though several Eagles fought off a flu bug that spread through the team during the week.
- JOHN SCHWARB and FRANK PASTOR