This was their last hurrah.
As far as the fall sports go, the seniors have played their last down, run their last race and spiked their last ball. Winter sports are already in full swing, but before 1998 begins to slip from our memories, here's a look a back at the fall sports' top seniors.
Eric Coon, Central, football
Breaking the school's all-time rushing record was not much of a feat for Coon because he did it in the second game of the season. But he finished the season with more than 1,000 yards rushing and was the fulcrum of Central's offense.
Daley is a fierce hitter, a tenacious tackler and was in on nearly every defensive play for the Leopards this season at linebacker. He leaves Hernando with four school records: tackles in a game, season, career and fumbles recovered in a season. It's no wonder he was a Times first-team All-Suncoast selection.
Anthony Daniel, Central, football
Coach Steve Crognale didn't name Daniel his second-most important player this season for nothing. After not really showing up in the stats last season, Daniel exploded his senior season, gaining 678 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground and leading the Bears in receiving with 223 yards and two more scores. He also returned a kick for a score and picked off two passes in being named a first-team Times All-North Suncoast defensive back.
Heather Hamilton and Jenna Iannella,
Central, cross country
What would Central do without their star runner from last season, Brooke Bastien? Replace her with two equally good runners, of course. Hamilton and Bastien kept the Bears ranked second in the state during the regular season and led Central to its second consecutive district and region titles. Hamilton finished fourth in the district, seventh in region and 13th overall at state. Iannella finished fourth in the region.
Jason Holley, Central, football
Holley is living proof that hard work yields results. Although undersized for a collegiate defensive lineman at 6 feet 2, 235 pounds, he was the most fierce pass-rusher on Central's 8-3 playoff team. He had 58 tackles (10 for losses) and was a second-team All-Suncoast selection.
Jimmy Holtje, Springstead, football
A perfect mix of brains and brawn, Holtje, who carries a grade-point average near 4.0, an SAT score above 1300 and has offers from several Ivy League schools, punted for 41.3 yards a kick. He also made 74 tackles and picked off three passes from his safety position.
Casey Isaac and Brian Major,
Hernando, cross country
This tandem would not let Hernando's 1997 state title be forgotten. Although they were the only returning starters, they were enough to inspire the youngsters and carry the Leopards to a second-place finish at state this season. Isaac was sixth overall at state and won the district. Major was fifth at state and finished first in the region.
Dee Dee Lawson,
She was the leader of Hernando's young team, which still managed to win a Gulf Coast Athletic Conference title. She finished as the county leader in kills (150) and digs. She also was a second-team All-North Suncoast selection at outside hitter.
Tim Maher, Springstead, football
Star receiver Huey Whittaker would not have been such a playmaker without someone to consistently get him the ball. Maher completed 55 of 107 passes this season for 1,089 yards and 14 touchdowns _ quite reminiscent of another Maher, Rich, who threw for 1,000 yards at Springstead and made the Florida State roster as a walk-on.
Quinn Schuster, Central, volleyball
Honorable mention on the All-North Suncoast team didn't seem to do this senior justice. Schuster was the main offensive weapon and a consistent force on a Central team that was starving for stability. Her leadership will be missed; so will her 137 kills, 58 digs and 53 aces this season.
For a guy who nursed an injured foot for the first two games of the season, his statistics did not reflect it. Whittaker finished with 36 catches for 902 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also was named a Times All-Suncoast wide receiver.