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Putting their record on the line

The West Hernando Cougars flyweight youth football team put its undefeated record on the line in a game Saturday that held special meaning. The Cougars won and improved to 8-0. Moreover, they did so by beating the Hernando Leopards, their rivals from the east side of the county. The flyweight players range in age from 7 to 9 and weigh up to 85 pounds. Even at that age and size, however, the players involved view the showdown as seriously as a Hernando High-Springstead High game in which they may play some day. "It's a bitter rivalry," said Sandy Semegen, who coaches the Cougars peewee team for players ages 12 and 13. "It's been that way for years." Nearly 200 players in the county are involved with the Hernando and West Hernando youth programs. They play on one of three divisions: flyweight, mighty mite (ages 10-11, up to 105 pounds) and peewee (up to 135 pounds). The West Hernando and Hernando teams play in a six-community league that also includes teams from Crystal River, Inverness, Bushnell and Gainesville. The West Hernando Cougar flyweights, coached by Sam Buckwalter, are the only undefeated team in their division. The Cougar flyweights have two regular-season games remaining in their quest for perfection, including a meeting against Gainesville scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Citrus High in Inverness.

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