A more seasoned Springstead football team looks to get over the .500 hump

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Tue. July 20, 2010 | Derek J. LaRiviere

SPRING HILL — The entire Springstead football program will pile onto buses Thursday and make its way to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp at Stetson University in DeLand for a three-day team-building exercise.

“We attended last year as well,” coach Bill Vonada said. “There’s some chapel time, some individual team exercises, and we work out against some other high schools. (The FCA camp includes 10 teams.)

“… It’s great to see how the experience affects their lives.”

It is just the type of offseason work that should help make the Eagles contenders in 2010 after holding steady as a consistent but not flashy team for several years.

Springstead has finished 5-5 three of the past four seasons, including in 2009. Vonada, now the longest-tenured coach on the North Suncoast in his 13th season, is close to a .500 career percentage at 60-61 overall.

But the veteran is convinced the Eagles are ready to break through for more.

The team was inexperienced last season with underclassmen scattered throughout the roster. In 2010, those underclassmen should bring stronger chemistry.

“When it comes to the schedule, we always just look at it just one week at a time,” Vonada said. “There are several things to look at over the course of the season: experience, teams on the schedule, the way the ball bounces and staying injury-free. We just have to be the best team we can be.”

Last year, Brian Beeker split time under center with Chris Kelley, who has since graduated. That leaves Beeker, a senior, as the lone quarterback. 

Beeker, speedy at 5 feet 8, is more the option quarterback that Vonada favors, but has shown the ability to make solid decisions on the fly.

“When you think about the prototypical quarterback, you think about 6-3 or 6-4,” Vonada said, “but he makes good decisions, and he has worked really hard this summer on improving his passing and his decision making.”

Behind Beeker in the backfield is Devean Huff. Rushing for 1,221 yards as a junior, the then 134-pound tailback bobbed and weaved his way through cracks in the offensive line all season.

Springstead returns most of its offensive and defensive fronts, giving it an advantage in the often wide-open Class 4A, District 5 race (Gainesville, Lake Weir, Central and Lecanto also are in the district).

Even with the young roster last season, Springstead was in the postseason hunt. A win over Lake Weir at home or Gainesville on the road would have wrapped up a playoff berth, but the Eagles fell short in both games.

“It should be a competitive district,” Vonada said. “With our style of play, we’re not afraid to line up against anybody. You can’t be guaranteed the ball’s going to bounce your way, but I feel really good about where our team’s headed.”

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