BROOKSVILLE — Postseason-bound Hernando needed a wake-up call Friday night at Tom Fisher Stadium in what has been a rivalry game for the program.
In the end, the Leopards easily impressed the home fans with 51-0 victory over Central in the regular-season finale.
Hernando (9-1) was the team whose season was far from over, yet it was Central (2-8) that looked motivated at kickoff.
Although the Bears had a call go against them when a pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage, called a lateral and brought back for a touchdown by Hernando cornerback Derek Wilson, the underdogs stood tall for much of the first quarter. Central not only held the Leopards offense twice, its offense also drove the length of the field once, tossing a costly interception.
"(Wilson's) done that all year for us," Hernando coach John Palmer said. "We need to make sure that we keep doing that next week as well."
It was at this point in the second quarter that the floodgates opened for the playoff-bound Leopards. That one pick from the Hernando defense soon turned into four interceptions of Central quarterback Josh Burkhart.
"The kids had a day off from school yesterday, and I think anytime you get kids out their schedule it's tough," Palmer said. "We did a good job preparing, and our defense continues to play hard and play fast."
The halftime lead was quickly pushed to 31-0 on the heels of Alvin Delaine's 62-yard touchdown scamper. The run put Delaine at exactly the century mark for yardage in the game and pushed the leading rusher on the North Suncoast from last season to more than 1,000 yards this season as well (1,036). He finished with 100 yards on seven carries for the game.
Wilson wasn't done either. He tallied two of the interceptions off Burkhart and iced the game with a 56-yard punt return for a touchdown with the clock running as the fourth quarter ran down.