SPRING HILL - For as long as he has played for Bill Vonada, senior quarterback Ian Wald said the Springstead coach has deferred the coin toss or chosen to start on defense.
But, facing a potentially explosive Hernando team with a veteran offensive line Thursday at Booster Stadium, Vonada decided the time was right to change tactics.
"He said, "We want the ball. No matter what, we want the ball,' " Wald said. "We knew what we could do on offense, and we did the right thing."
Springstead drove 62 yards for a touchdown on its opening possession and never looked back, scoring the first eight times it had the ball in a 44-12 victory.
Wald ran for two touchdowns and passed for another, and Justin DeMutiis kicked three field goals as the Eagles spoiled Matt Smith's coaching debut with their third victory over the Leopards in four seasons.
"A team with that many weapons, and then you've got some real tough leadership there with some of their guys up front, we felt it was very important for us to get out front early and set the tone of the game," Vonada said.
The push started up front, where an offensive line (Chris Sibilia, Will Wilson, Kevin Hennessey, Phil McGuire and Chris Schaefer) with four new starters gave Wald all the time he needed to execute Springstead's option offense.
Wald rushed for 59 yards, including touchdowns of 38 and 3 yards, and threw a 60-yard touchdown to Quinden Floyd as part of a 213-yard passing effort.
"It's all thanks to our offensive line," Wald said.
"O-line won the game for us. If they don't block, we don't make those plays."
Hernando was seeing the option live for the first time because lightning forced the team to practice inside much of the week.
"Most of the stuff all week was off the chalkboard," Smith said."You can draw up option responsibilities off the chalkboard all you want, but until the kids start seeing it live, it's harder to do."
Senior running back Chad Sanders was a bright spot for Hernando, rushing for 184 yards, including touchdowns of 1 and 80 yards.
DeMutiis kicked field goals of 39, 45 and 31 yards.