Coach: Mark Lee (third season, 6-14)
Last season: 3-7
Colors: Dark green, silver and black
Stadium: Hornets Nest. 12150 Vespa Way, Weeki Wachee
Playoff appearances: None
Aug. 29 vs. Interlachen, 7:30
Sept. 5 at Springstead, 7:30
Sept. 12 vs. Hudson, 7:30
Sept. 19 at Hernando, 7:30
Sept. 26 vs. Zephyrhills, 7:30
Oct. 3 vs. Central, 7:30
Oct. 10 at Pasco, 7:30
Oct. 17 at Orlando Colonial, 7:30
Oct. 24 vs. South Sumter, 7:30
Oct. 31 at Nature Coast, 7:30
Mark your calendar
Central at Weeki Wachee, Oct. 3: Despite only two years of varsity experience, Weeki Wachee has gon 2-0 in this series, with a 21-20 win last season. While Central’s program has been down for almost a decade, a new coach could add a shot in the arm to this budding rivalry. The two 5A-6 teams draw students from similar areas, giving this game meaning on and off the field.
Program legitimacy: With Rutgers signing former left tackle Marcus Applefield last year, the Hornets have their first Division I athlete. And recruiters have opened their eyes to talent at Weeki Wachee since then. Junior linebacker Jacob Tinch is among those getting college looks already, lending credence to the program’s up-and-coming reputation.
Backfield by committee: No one player has stepped up to dominate the carries, even though that is what coach Mark Lee would prefer. Devon Dupuis, Shawn O’Gorman, Anthony Hartman and others should see time at running back. But for the offense to be successful, the ground game has to be explosive enough for the opponents to respect.
Lead from the front: For the first time since he began the program at Weeki Wachee, Lee has a full coaching staff. Ryan Wilson and Rob Kazmier, who both worked with him in his one season at Nature Coast, have come onboard. Also joining is former Mitchell assistant Dan Gigantelli and former University of Miami standout defensive end Denny Fortney.
District of doom: Weeki Wachee has surprised many with its competitiveness over the first two seasons, but the Hornets still have not had a winning season or playoff berth. It won’t get easier with perennial powerhouses Hernando, Nature Coast, South Sumter, Pasco and Zephyrhills all residing in 5A-6.
WR/DB Dayonta Patterson, Sr.: After leading the district and county in receptions as a junior, Patterson (29 catches, 344 yards, one touchdown) could serve as a security blanket to whichever candidate wins the job under center for the Hornets. He also provides plenty of value on defense, where his nose for the ball resulted in three interceptions last year.
RB/LB Shawn O’Gorman, Jr.: A hard-nosed football player, O’Gorman (151 yards, two touchdowns) was strong at fullback, but with the departure of backfield standouts Marcus Allen and Jon King, coaches moved the junior to tailback with solid results. In his first action during the spring game, he rolled off a 47-yard touchdown run.
OL Brice Spaulding, Sr.: Spaulding was the starter at center last season, and with Applefield now suiting up for Rutgers, the senior will be the anchor of Weeki Wachee’s offensive line. As a three-year starter, he and senior David Hokanson will help bring along the younger linemen. He’ll guide a line that Lee says is the deepest he’s had since coming to Weeki Wachee.
LB Anthony Hartman, Sr.: Hartman (59 tackles, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery) is the leading returning tackler from last season, and along with Tinch should give Weeki Wachee a boost in its front seven. He is the “quarterback” of the defense, according to Lee.
QB Alec Cromie, So.: As the JV starter, Cromie led the Hornets to a 3-4 record last season, including a 35-0 win over Hernando. At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, he won’t win many foot races, but he has a good arm. The sophomore knows Lee’s system and looks prepared to take the graduated David Tinch’s spot under center.
LB/SS Donte Young, Jr.: Young saw his fair share of playing time last year, but he’s made leaps and bounds over the summer. Not afraid of contact, he could become of the most feared hitters for the Hornets. With the departures of leading tacklers Tyler Wiley (105 tackles) and Xavier Jones (53 tackles, 11 for loss), Young is poised to step in at strong safety.
LB/RB Devon Dupuis, Jr.: Dupuis was forced into action last season after a plethora of injuries in the Weeki Wachee backfield and responded with a stellar performance against Interlachen (10 carries, 75 yards, one touchdown). But coaches love the speed and athleticism he brings to the linebacker position as well. He has been banged up in practice and has missed some time over the summer, so he’ll need to step it up to contribute.
“We don’t have the big-name guys, and we haven’t produced on offense as much as I’d like to have seen over the past two years. Right now, I’m looking for improvement each week. The thing I like most about this group is that we’re not settling for moral victories. There have been times where our kids have felt like just being in the game is acceptable. These guys are like that at all. They want to win.” — Lee