6. SPRINGSTEAD TURNAROUND: In its first football game of the season, Springstead was blasted 54-7 by Central, prompting coach Pat McCoy to resign. Then the Eagles got walloped in their second game, 33-0 by Land O'Lakes. But new coach Bill Vonada and star receiver Huey Whittaker rescued Springstead. Vonada turned around the attitude and Whittaker scored 10 touchdowns as the Eagles rebounded from a disastrous start to win four of their last eight games.
7. HERNANDO NEARLY REPEATS: The Hernando boys cross country team lost three of the top five runners from its 1997 Class 4A state championship squad, so much less was expected in 1998. However, the Leopards, led by seniors Brian Major and Casey Isaac, repeated as district champs and finished a close second to Jesuit in the region and at the state meet.
8. HERNANDO STOCKS MINOR LEAGUES: Three Hernando High graduates had outstanding minor league baseball seasons as pitchers: Mike Walker in AAA, and Brent Stentz and Bronson Arroyo in AA. A fourth ex-Leopard hurler, Bert Snow, was drafted in 1998 by the Oakland A's and began his professional career. A fifth Hernando grad, Tyrone Woods, left the Red Sox farm system and became the Mark McGwire of South Korea, setting the single-season home run record with 42 and becoming the first foreigner to win the league MVP award.
9. LITTLE LEAGUE DISARRAY: While the kids played, the parents vehemently squabbled and the field was in disrepair. How bad was it among administrators of the West Hernando Little League? A petty dispute over procedure in procuring donations led to the league returning the donated materials. Ugh.
10. CENTRAL GIRLS TENNIS ON RISE: Central High had done poorly in girls tennis in recent years, but that all changed when sophomore twin sisters Tammy and Stephanie Beaulieu decided to take a break from the junior circuit and join the high school team. With the sudden influx of talent and enthusiasm, the Bears qualified for the Class 4A state meet. Stephanie was runner-up in the state at No. 2 singles and paired with Tammy to reach the semifinals in No. 1 doubles.
11. USER FEE FOR COUNTY FIELDS: The County Commission levied a $3-an-hour usage fee for all sports league teams using county fields. A $100,000 shortfall in the recreation division necessitated the move. But before its implementation, it was repealed, as the commission agreed with complaints that the fee was too much, too soon, and that perhaps it should be assessed differently. Some sort of compromise is likely to be reached early in 1999.
12. LEOPARD GIRLS REVOLT/REVIVAL: Walt Cermak is in his 18th season coaching the Hernando girls basketball team, and he has 10 conference titles among his many achievements. But after last season, a petition circulated among Hernando players to have Cermak removed as coach for being too harsh in his criticism of players. The petition never was presented to the powers that be, Cermak still is the coach, and Hernando still is a smashing success _ the Leopards have won 16 of their first 17 games this season.
13. TOTH BOWLS AN 823 SERIES: Heading into 1998, the best series ever bowled at Spring Hill Lanes was an 803. On Dec. 7, that standard was shattered. Brooksville's Greg Toth, 29, who has a 219 average, beat his previous best series by 35 and surpassed the old Spring Hill Lanes mark by 20 with a 289-300-234_823.
14. HULTON SWIMS ENGLISH CHANNEL: Shannon Hulton, a standout swimmer at Springstead, was part of a six-person relay team composed entirely of junior swimmers that swam across the English Channel and back in one swoop last July. They covered the approximately 42-mile round trip in 16 hours and 48 minutes, the fourth-fastest swim of its kind in history. Hulton swam three legs for a total of about 6.9 miles, with her final leg coming in a lightning storm and choppy seas.