BROOKSVILLE — Early in the season, the Achilles heel for Hernando appeared to be pass defense. But the Leopards have straightened that out and seem to have improved in all phases of the game.
River Ridge experienced the improved Hernando team first hand Friday night at Tom Fisher Stadium in a 61-14 Leopard victory. Hernando (4-2, 3-0) continued its undefeated run in Class 6A, District 6.
Tyrail Hawkins used his elite speed to gain 421 total yards and five touchdowns. He rushed for 230 yards on only eight carries, 35 yards on only one reception, and 156 yards on only three kickoff returns. That's 12 touches. Twelve.
"Tyrail is one of those kids that has a chance to make a big play any time he touches the ball," Hernando coach John Palmer said. "(Our assistant coaches) did a great job of calling the game and giving us an opportunity to move the ball."
Defensively, the domination was not much different.
Though River Ridge (3-2, 1-2) scored two late touchdowns with a running clock, the Leopards were up 41-0 before the Royal Knights got on the scoreboard.
After being criticized for weaknesses in pass defense early in the season, Hernando is thriving on that side of the ball.
River Ridge quarterback Josh Maisel was harassed every time he dropped back to pass, tossing three interceptions and getting sacked five times.
"The struggles you go through early in the season only prepare you for later in the schedule," Palmer said. "It makes us a better team."