Coach: Bill Vonada (first season; 16th overall,79-75)
Last season: 3-7
Colors: Purple and gold
Stadium: Tom Fisher Stadium, 200 E. Kelly St., Brooksville
Playoff appearances: 1967, 1981, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2010, 2011
Last appearance: Lost 60-3 to Gainesville.
Aug. 29 at Jacksonville Bolles, 7:30
Sept. 5 at Jacksonville Bishop Kenny, 7
Sept. 12 vs. Citrus, 7:30
Sept. 19 vs. Weeki Wachee, 7:30
Oct. 3 at Nature Coast, 7:30
Oct. 10 vs. South Sumter, 7:30
Oct. 17 at Pasco, 7:30
Oct. 24 vs. Zephyrhills, 7:30
Oct. 31 at Central, 7:30
Nov. 7 vs. Springstead, 7:30
Mark your calendar
Veteran coach Bill Vonada embarks on his debut season with Hernando in what a lot of folks at Hernando are calling a rebuilding year. Vonada isn’t hearing it. “We’re worried about being the best football team we can be today,” Vonada said. “Tomorrow we’ll worry about being the best football team we can be tomorrow.” Right now, Vonada and staff are “more focused on Hernando” than the schedule. That being said, the Leopards have a brutal schedule (vs. six playoff teams from last season), the toughest Vonada says he has had in his entire high school coaching career. Watch for the four-game stretch starting Oct. 3 against district contenders Nature Coast, South Sumter, Pasco and Zephyrhills.
Vonada era: After taking a year off last season, Vonada is back in the saddle for the Leopards. His coaching staff stayed behind at Springstead, but former Central head coach Mike Einspahr comes over to help Vonada with the defense.
Not all that familiar territory: You would think after coaching on the North Suncoast for years, Vonada would be familiar with the teams in his new 5A-6 district but not so, not so. Vonada hasn’t seen Pasco since 2006, only saw Weeki Wachee in spring, Zephyrhills a few coaches ago and hasn’t been around Citrus since 2003. There are only two coaches on Hernando’s schedule that Vonada has faced in the past.
Believe in the scheme but adapt to the personnel: Vonada will bring a similar style of play from Springstead, but he will be flexible to the talent he has on the field. “We’d love to play with two tight ends but if you don’t have it, you don’t run it,” Vonada said.
Mr. Hyde and well, Mr. Hyde: Vonada is also the youth director at the local church. He says he’s basically the same person whether he’s the youth director or the head football coach, just, “with a little more intensity” as the football coach.
LB/DL Steven Delaine, Sr.: With 55 total tackles and nine for a loss a year ago, Delaine is emerging as a leader of the defensive unit. Vonada calls him the voice and spirit of the defense.
QB Tyler Kline, Sr.: Kline played in all 10 games from last year. His numbers were less than impressive, but 2014 is a new year and Vonada said that Kline has been rapidly improving. Vonada is already bending his two-back offense to the personnel he has and Kline seems to be making the transition.
DB/LB Dalton Coleman, Sr.: Coleman is the backup quarterback, but will be most frequently used on defense. Vonada likes Coleman’s attitude and ethic, and very much likes him as a change of pace at quarterback.
OLs Rylee Cheek, Jr. and Todd Flannery, Sr.: This tandem will make up the core of Hernando’s run-heavy attack. Cheek goes 6-4, 285 and Flannery about 6-0, 225.
WR/RB Derrell Holland, Sr.: Holland will line up in the slot and in the backfield. Vonada likes his elusiveness and says he is picking up the new offense quickly.
WR/DB Mark Wilson, Sr.: A converted basketball player, Wilson is out for the football team for the first time in his high school career. Vonada is excited because of Wilson’s athleticism. Wilson has set the standard on Hernando’s conditioning tests. Vonada also likes Wilson’s cool confidence and think he’ll develop into a playmaker.
RB/LBs D’Angelo Fagin, Sr. and Brad Ellis, So.: Vonada feels very good about these comparable characters and thinks they’re capable at either position.
LB/DB Brock Buchanan, Jr.: A hybrid defensive player, Buchanan should move between the two positions as needed. Vonada says Buchanan is one of those players who will do whatever you ask of him.
DL/TE Tyson Libengood, Jr.: With maybe the best tale of the tape on the team, Libengood goes 6-2, 225. Libengood only played in three games for Hernando a year ago but Vonada believes he has a tremendous upside, saying, “If this young man gets it figured out, you’re going to remember his name”.
Vonada is faced with what many would consider a rebuilding year at Hernando. Vonada is having none of it, yet he’s realistic about the situation. “Imagine you’re building a house on the Gulf and you’re putting down a strong foundation, only you see there’s a hurricane headed your way. You’re going to build with a sense of urgency.”