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Nature Coast: 2014 football preview

Nature Coast Head Coach Justin Worden during Spring practice on Thursday, May 8, 2014.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Nature Coast Head Coach Justin Worden during Spring practice on Thursday, May 8, 2014.

Nature Coast

Coach: Justin Worden (first season)

Last season: 4-6

Class/district: 5A-6

Colors: Blue and black

Stadium: The Shark Tank, 4057 California St., Brooksville

Playoff appearances: 2006, 2007, 2009

Last appearance: Lost 34-22 at Citra North Marion

Season schedule

Aug. 29 vs. Crystal River, 7:30

Sept. 12 at Springstead, 7:30

Sept. 19 at Central, 7:30

Sept. 26 vs. Pasco, 7:30

Oct. 3 vs. Hernando High, 7:30

Oct. 10 at Zephyrhills, 7:30

Oct. 17 at South Sumter, 7:30

Oct. 24 vs. Forest, 7:30

Oct. 31 vs. Weeki Wachee, 7:30

Nov. 7 at Lake Weir, 7:30

Mark your calendar

Nature Coast vs. Pasco, Sept. 26: This was one of the more entertaining games of 2013 with Nature Coast pulling out a 29-28 victory on DeShawn Smith's winning 50-yard run in the fourth quarter. Pasco is sure to be a bit testy after relinquishing a late lead in last year's game. And in such a crowded district race, this could decide either's playoff fate early in the season.

Huddle highlights

New direction: In January, Nature Coast hired former Orlando Oak Ridge defensive coordinator Justin Worden to replace Charles Liggett, who resigned after three seasons. Worden installed a new up-tempo attack and has a more aggressive defense. There were some positive results in the spring with the Sharks splitting their jamboree halves, beating Titusville Astronaut 7-0 and losing to Daytona Seabreeze 14-6.

Rough stretch: From Sept. 26 through Oct. 17, Nature Coast plays the four district opponents — Pasco, Hernando, Zephyrhills and South Sumter — that will be in the mix for a playoff spot. The win against Pasco was the Sharks' only one against those four last season as they quickly fell out of the postseason picture.

Moving the ball: In the spring, Worden put most of the emphasis on offense. The biggest task was finding a replacement for quarterback Ryan Quigley, who combined for 891 yards rushing and throwing last year and is now at Warner. Jamison Carnegie won the job after playing well in the spring. He should put the ball in the air more to create some balance and prevent opponents from keying on running back DeShawn Smith.

Known quantities

TE/LB Sedrick Burkes, Sr.: Though he was limited last season, Burkes switched to a hybrid linebacker position this spring and was in the backfield on nearly every play.

TE/DB Le'Shaun Gray, Sr.: The leader in the secondary finished with 61 tackles and an interception last season.

LB Dylan Miller, Sr.: The team's top returning defender had 111 tackles and two sacks last season.

OL/DT Christian Pellage, Sr.: The three-star recruit, who has already committed to South Carolina, is quick, something you don't see too often from someone who is 6 feet 7 and weighs 290.

RB/DB DeShawn Smith, Jr.: The Sharks' leading rusher last season (719 yards, nine touchdowns) is poised for an even bigger performance this year. He plays well in big games, as evidenced by his three touchdowns against Pasco last season.

Up-and-comers

QB/SS Jamison Carnegie, Jr.: Worden was impressed with the quarterback's mobility in the spring. Despite playing in both halves of the jamboree, Carnegie avoided being sacked.

DL Trevor Gamble, So.: The speed rusher wreaked havoc in the spring with two sacks, one coming with such impact that it knocked the Seabreeze quarterback out with a broken leg.

WR/DB Brian Haygood, So.: Though he has just six receptions last season, Haygood looked good in the spring and should put up better numbers in a more wide-open offense.

Coach's corner

"A lot of teams in the district improved so we have our work cut out for us. But the spring was a big confidence booster for us. It let us know we can do some things and the guys are starting to have more trust in one another." — Worden

Nature Coast: 2014 football preview 08/09/14 [Last modified: Saturday, August 9, 2014 8:28pm]
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