tampabay.com

The year that was

By DAVID MURPHY
Published May 13, 2007


Schuyler Swanton

Springstead, Wrestling

Having won a state title this year at 103 pounds, he isn't exactly unknown. But he should be in store for one heck of a senior season.

Tevin Drake

Nature Coast, Football

Despite spending the first half of the season playing junior varsity, he rushed for 857 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging over 8 yards per carry.

Chris Nyholm

Hernando, Tennis

The freshman won the HCAC title and should be the top returning singles player in the district next season.

Alex Livengood

Nature Coast, Volleyball

Only a freshman, she'll likely enter next season as the preseason favorite for Player of the Year.

Travis Murray

Nature Coast, Baseball

The junior went 4-0 with a 0.92 ERA and hit .333 with six doubles and 15 RBIs while helping Nature Coast to a 17-6 record. He and fellow junior Brandon Deresperis (.345, 20 RBIs) will have to lead the senior-depleted Sharks next season.

Cherikhan Waddy

Nature Coast, Girls basketball

The county's player of the year as a junior (10.4 points, 4.1 rebounds), she'll try to lead the Sharks to the next level as a senior.

Darryn Frazier

Central, Boys basketball

A transfer from Alaska, he led the county in scoring with 19.2 points per game as a sophomore. If he develops his defensive skills and his outside game, he should only get better.

Stephen Pelaez

Nature Coast, Football

One of the school's best athletes, he has contributed primarily at wide receiver and linebacker the past couple seasons. Next year, though, he'll quarterback the Sharks.

George Fribley

Hernando, Football/Baseball/Track

Pulled off one of the more improbable feats you'll see, winning the 100 meters during an afternoon track meet, then walking across campus to the baseball diamond and hitting a grand slam. The speedy halfback emerged as a weapon for the Leopards last season on the football field. It will be interesting to see what he does next year.

The first official event of the year was a preseason football game between Hernando and South Sumter. The last was the Class 3A state track meet at which Central star DuJuan Harris brought home two state titles. In between was plenty of jubilation and deflation, joy and heartbreak. Such is the nature of high school sports. And such was the nature of the 2006-07 school year.

Headlines you could see next year:

Former Hernando star Dee Brown promoted to Double A

The outfielder is the leading hitter at high-Class A Potomac. If he continues his torrid start, it's hard to imagine the Nationals not promoting him to Double A before the end of the season.

Nature Coast's athletic ascension continues

The four-year-old Sharks made the state playoffs in football, boys basketball, girls basketball, girls tennis, boys tennis and baseball this year. One can only assume the rest of their sports teams eventually will flourish.

Once teammates, now rivals ...former Bears stars set for Sun Belt duel

On Oct. 6, Troy will travel to Miami to face Florida International, which would re-unite a pair of former Central stars - running back DuJuan Harris, who will be a freshman for the Trojans, and offensive lineman Andy Leavine, who will be a sophomore for the Golden Panthers.

Former Central standout Alex Ruoff named all-Big East

Ruoff started all last season for WVU, averaging 10.3 points and 5.3 assists per game for the NIT-champion Mountaineers. If he can adapt to life under new coach Bob Huggins, big things could be in store.

Notable Arrivals

Rodney Byrd, long-time Hernando assistant, was hired to replace Matt Smith in January as football coach.

Rick Ahrens, who helped start Hernando's soccer program, was hired to replace John Bifulco as the school's girls soccer coach.

Dan Murphy, was hired as volleyball coach at Nature Coast.

Joe McLain, who took over for Matt Smith as Hernando's wrestling coach.

Donnie Whitehead, a former player and long-time assistant, took over as Hernando baseball coach.

Eric Hayes, a former Tampa Catholic star, was hired as Central's boys basketball coach.

Cristi Charlow, hired to replace long-time Hernando volleyball coach Dena Frye.

Notable Departures

Matt Smith, who coached Hernando's football team for three years before he was let go in December.

Joe Nicolai, who led Central's girls tennis team to six district and two region titles, retired.

Jeff Laing, resigned after six seasons as Hernando's boys basketball coach

Maria Garcia, who resigned as Nature Coast volleyball coach midway through the season.

Tim Sims, who retired after 12 seasons as Hernando's baseball coach.

John Bifulco, who retired after a one-year stint as Hernando's girls soccer coach.

Walt Cermak, whose retirement brought a 20-year career as girls basketball coach at Hernando to a close.

Craig Swartout, who led Springstead's boys basketball team to its second straight district title, resigned to focus on softball.

DuJuan Harris

Central, Football/Track/Weightlifting

The Bears star put together one of the best eight-month stretches in county history. In football, he rushed for more than 1, 600 yards and set the county's single-game record with 363 yards. As a weightlifter, he qualified for state at 183 pounds. And he capped it all off in track and field season by winning state titles in the long jump and triple jump.

Rae-Lynn Sheffield

Central, Swimming

Despite competing for a school that doesn't have regular use of a pool, she finished second in Class 2A in the 100 breaststroke. She'll compete for Florida Gulf Coast next year.

Kyle Kuzniar

Nature Coast, Baseball

Hit .377, scored 24 runs and stole 27 bases in 31 attempts. Ben Martucci

Hernando, Cross country/Track

Capped a stellar career with a second-place finish at the Class 2A cross country meet and ran a blistering anchor leg to help the Leopards finish second in the 4x800 at the Class 2A track meet.

Angela Passafaro

Springstead, Girls soccer

Scored 25 goals and had 16 assists for the Eagles.

Josh Magrini

Springstead, Weightlifting

The senior capped his career with a state title, lifting a combined 550 pounds to win gold at 139 pounds.

Bryan Daniels

Nature Coast, Baseball

Went 6-2 with a 1.88 ERA, striking out 51 in 44 2/3 innings.

Katelyn Vanderham

Hernando, Softball

Hit over .500 with 23 RBIs and went 5-1 with a 2.49 ERA on the mound.

Tim Hennigan

Springstead, Boys basketball

Averaged 15.7 points per game, led the county in 3-point shooting and hit a buzzer-beating 16-footer to beat Nature Coast in the Class 4A, District 8 title game.

Jeanette McDonald

Central, Girls tennis

Though she didn't make state, the Bears senior capped a tremendous four-year career by leading Central to the team district title. Her only two losses of the season were to Wesley Chapel ace Yumi Hasegawa.