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Springstead running back Kevin Bedford, a rising sophomore, saw carries with the varsity toward the end of last season, which proved valuable as the Eagles reached the second round of the playoffs for only the second time in program history.
Bedford will be a key cog in the ground attack as the Eagles replace graduating senior and 1,000-yard rusher Devean Huff.
Springstead coach Bill Vonada expects the trio of Bedford, rising senior Jeremy Junod and rising junior Pedro Estrada to share carries. While Junod and Estrada have the most experience, Bedford may possess the most potential.
“Kevin should have the opportunity to step up for us a lot,” Vonada said. “But I see us spreading the ball around a little bit more than we have the past couple years. That always allows you to catch defenses off guard.”
After running for 42 yards on 21 carries in limited time as a freshman, Bedford is ready for the chance. At 5-foot-6, he has the ability to shoot through holes to complement the receiving talents of Junod and hard-nosed running of Estrada.
Ex-Ironmen take center stage
Since 1985, Academy at the Lakes coach John Castelamare has been conducting his own version of the Ironman, first at Ridgewood, then at Wesley Chapel and now at his current stop as the six-man coach with AATL.
Castelamare has each of his players go through an NFL combine-like skills competition where various results in eight competitions — 880-meter run, bench press, leg press, vertical jump, over/under, shuttle, 10-yard dash and 40-yard dash — lead to an accumulation of points.
Current Wesley Chapel senior and Florida football signee Hunter Joyer is the record holder in Castelamare’s Ironman competition after amassing 204 points in 2008. On Friday, Joyer along with older brother Kamran, a redshirt sophomore at Louisville, signed autographs and offered advice to the 16 AATL players taking part in Castelamare’s Ironman.
“I’m trying to get some guests in here so my players can see how hard they have to work in the sport,” Castelamare said.
Hunter said he enjoys giving back to some of the younger area athletes and was eager to help out Castelamare, his former coach while he was a freshman and sophomore at Wesley Chapel.
“I’m going to miss him when I get to Florida,” Hunter said.
‘No-way’ number of the day
.500: Springstead’s winning percentage four of the past five seasons. As the longest-tenured coach on the North Suncoast, Vonada has made a career on consistency. In 14 seasons, Vonada compiled an overall mark of 66-67. After losing starting quarterback Brian Beeker, tailback Huff and defensive stalwarts Joshua Santana and Lou Wendelstedt, the Eagles will have a tough hill to climb to get to 5-5 in 2011.
Football programs on the west side of Pasco County have had some serious participation issues in the first week of spring practice.
Gulf had 25 kids on its first day and Ridgewood was flirting with close to 40, but nothing compares with what Hudson coach Justin Fenton had to work with on his first day. The Cobras had only 16 athletes come out on Day 1, and Fenton was considering shutting down the program for the spring due to the low numbers.
Hudson’s participation numbers have gone up since — as of Friday, 28 suited up. Fenton says academic issues as well as injuries to athletes playing other sports have accounted for the low numbers. Fenton hopes the Cobras will have more players trickle in from the local middle schools with newcomers coming out for football this fall.
“I told our kids when I was a defensive coordinator at Ridgewood that I think he’s the last player to win both offensive and defensive player of the year. It’s great to have him come back and into coaching. He obviously has a vast knowledge of defenses and defensive lines, and he’s excited and enthused.” — Fivay coach Chris Taylor on the addition of Adamm Oliver to his coaching staff. Oliver was a two-way standout for Ridgewood before starring on the defensive line for Georgia Tech.
Compiled by staff writer Bryan Burns, and correspondents Derek J. LaRiviere and Andy Villamarzo.