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Springstead kicks itself after loss to Central

A rash of punting problems are responsible for a 40-6 whipping suffered by the Eagles.

Springstead head coach Bill Vonada had ominously said one day earlier that the punt was the most dangerous play in football.

In Friday night's 40-6 loss to Central, punting problems were lethal for the Eagles.

On the high school game's first possession, Springstead punter Everett Simmons barely got off his punt, which grazed the hand of the Bears' Lance Holland and went just 20 yards.

The next time around, Holland got all of it.

Holland easily blocked Simmons' kick, and Kashif McCormick recovered the ball to set up Central on the Eagles' 40-yard line.

Five plays later, the Bears were up 6-0.

They never looked back.

"We try our darndest in practice to make it work," Bears coach Steve Crognale said. "You just line up and try to block it.

"Lance has long arms, which help knock passes down and block kicks. He's unique," Crognale said.

When Central wasn't blocking punts, its pressure was causing problems.

Springstead's punting woes continued, giving the Bears a ridiculous advantage in field position.

For the first 10 minutes of the second quarter, the ball stayed inside the Eagles' 35-yard line.

A low snap led to Simmons kicking a 16-yard punt off the side of his foot.

Central needed just three plays to score from there.

Then after Springstead lost 15 yards on its next possession, Simmons could muster only a 24-yard punt, so the Bears started again on the Eagles' 35.

Springstead finally had a punt bounce its way.

Simmons booted a 38-yarder with two minutes remaining, and Central's Chase Evans lost a fumble after picking up the loose ball.

The Eagles were able to get to the Bears' 4-yard line, spiking the ball to stop the clock with 4.4 seconds left.

But with kicker Alonzo Triggiano nursing a pulled groin, Springstead elected to go for it instead of attempting a 21-yard field goal.

Steve Garofano was stuffed in the backfield to end the half.

Both teams opened the second half with better punting.

Central's Jamie McElfresh got a fortuitous bounce in getting a 55-yard punt to roll to a stop on Springstead's 2-yard line.

The Eagles' offense made little progress.

With the ball inside the 1 and Simmons lined up at the back of his end zone, he had just enough time to get off a 34-yard punt.

Vonada attributed the punting difficulties to mental mistakes in blocking assignments, part of a "tentative" nature that he said players fell prey to after Central started building its lead.

Before the game, Vonada had reiterated that Springstead works its punt team more in practice than any squad in Florida.

After Friday's struggles, don't expect that to change anytime soon.