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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Luis Delgado, a senior, is back from a torn ACL that kept him out all of the 2006 season.
By Derek LaRiviere, Times Correspondent
Published May 25, 2007
SPRING HILL - As every other program in Hernando County experiences massive facelifts, Springstead and coach Bill Vonada just keep chugging along.
Central is looking to replace the best tailback in the county as DuJuan Harris is graduating, Nature Coast loses its leader in quarterback Josh Ortiz after making the playoffs for the first time in school history, Hernando hired a new coach and is instilling a new offense, and Hernando Christian is also replacing an old coach and lost its two best players, Stephen Johnson and Corey Drummond.
Although Springstead also lost quarterback John Hogeland to graduation, Vonada's gridiron philosophy is what drives the Eagles year in and year out - not the performance of any one player. That philosophy has always included a heavy dose of power football.
"We're always evaluating and trying to see who gives us the best chance to win, " Vonada said. "It's human nature to always want more, but there's a great sense of accomplishment in winning with what you have."
There may be no bigger key to the success of Vonada's power football than hogs on the offensive and defensive lines - a place where senior Luis Delgado will be instrumental for the Eagles in the fall.
After missing all of last season with a torn ACL in his left knee, Delgado rehabbed hard to get back to a starting position. While the team will technically break in projected new starters at quarterback (James Mahla) and tailback (Mike Greco), Vonada always rotated in the younger players last season, so the next starters do have some experience.
"Most of us are just anxious to get back on the field, especially me, " Delgado said. "I feel strong, and there's no better way to show it than to get back into a game."
Two things Vonada believes Delgado is more than prepared to supply are two of the most important things Springstead needs: holes for running backs to get through, and pressure on the opposing quarterback.
"He's going to get some snaps on the defensive side of the ball, but Luis's biggest contribution is going to be on the offensive line, " Vonada said. "He needs to keep good technique and get off the ball well."
The first glimpse of the effectiveness of his leadership in the trenches should be seen during tonight's spring jamboree game at Springstead's Booster Stadium. Facing off against Seminole-Osceola, Delgado will get a good test that should be a barometer for his play heading into the summer.
Seminole-Osceola at Springstead
Where: Booster Stadium, Springstead High
When: Tonight, 7
Last season's records: Seminole-Osceola (8-2), Springstead (5-5)
The skinny: The Eagles will face a tough test for the preseason spring contest, as Osceola is coming off a Class 4A, District 9 runnerup season with the district's best overall record. Unfortunately, the Warriors got a tough first-round draw, losing 48-23 to undefeated eventual state champion Plant and star quarterback Robert Marve. Springstead will have its hands full on both sides of the ball.