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Eagles can hardly stand to watch game tape

It was the kind of game that some teams might not want to revisit.

The only thing tougher than losing by 34 points might be watching it again in the tape room.

But Springstead High School coach Bill Vonada made last Friday's 40-6 loss to Central mandatory viewing for his players this week.

"We went over the tape and showed them several different breakdowns," said Vonada, whose team has its home opener against Gulf on Friday.

"There were mental breakdowns, some physical breakdowns and even the emotional and effort type of breakdowns," he said. "It only takes one breakdown to ruin a play, or a series."

The screening wasn't getting thumbs up from everyone in attendance, but Vonada said he's pleased with the way his players have handled Springstead's 0-2 start.

It put the Eagles' losing streak at 15 games, matching the longest in school history.

"They see that they can play a heck of a lot better than we did," Vonada said.

"I think most of them have taken it pretty well. It's never fun to be criticized, and you're going to get hurt feelings any time you have something like this.

"Football isn't a nice game all the time," Vonada said.

GOING FOR IT: Springstead's only points last Friday came on a fourth-quarter touchdown drive against Central's backup defense, but the Eagles had another chance late in the first half.

With two minutes remaining, Springstead's Jon Jenkins recovered a Central fumble after a 38-yard punt, setting up the Eagles on Central's 15-yard line.

Four plays later, quarterback Jose Flores converted a fourth-and-1 from the Central 6, giving the Eagles a first-and-goal situation with the half's last seconds ticking away.

Springstead lined up again quickly, allowing Flores to spike the ball and stop the clock with 4.4 seconds remaining.

Trailing 26-0, Springstead could have attempted a 21-yard field goal to put some points on the board.

But Vonada chose to go for it, and tailback Steve Garofano was tackled for a loss to end the half.

"The field goal wasn't going to mean something, but if we could punch one in, get a conversion, maybe we'd get some momentum going," Vonada said.

"We were looking for something to get things going. If it was 16-0, that's a different story, but we felt it was best to go for the touchdown there," he said.

Senior kicker Oronzo Triggiano was nursing a pulled groin muscle, but Vonada said that didn't factor in his decision.

Vonada said he has confidence in Triggiano and backup kicker Everett Simmons, especially from as short a distance as 21 yards.

WAIT AND SEE: Hernando coach Bill Browning said he has filed an appeal with the Florida High School Activities Association to reduce the six-game suspension levied against lineman Steve Cassell last week.

FHSAA associate commissioner Ron Allen, who will handle the appeal, is out of the office until Thursday because he is attending a national meeting of high school athletics administrators in North Carolina.

Browning said he was holding out hope that a verdict could be reached this week but listed Cassell's status for Friday's game against Pasco as "very, very questionable."

Cassell was ejected from Hernando's season opener after being flagged for a late hit and personal foul.

Browning said he had asked to meet with Allen in person in Gainesville but was told that only a written appeal was necessary.

Browning included a copy of Hernando's footage from the game.

While the tape does not follow Cassell the entire play, Browning said he hopes to see the suspension reduced.

"I think we have a viable argument, and I think this will help them make a fair judgment," he said.

Cassell's absence is a bigger hit to the Leopards because of a slew of injuries that have decimated Hernando's lines.

Browning said he has "hit rock bottom, depthwise."

DEE-FENSE: Hernando's Dee Brown continued to man his middle linebacker position in the second and third quarters last Friday, although he was removed from the offense after twisting his right ankle on a running play.

Brown, who likely will wear extra support on the ankle this week, was not completely effective on defense, Browning said, after Brown missed some tackles.

"I don't think he was as effective as he has been," Browning said, "but he made some key stops when he has too."

Brown said he felt fine playing defense, but had to adjust his pursuit angles to compensate for his reduced ability to make sharp cuts.

Browning eventually was compelled to re-insert Brown on offense even though Hernando held a 14-0 lead for most of the game and won 21-0.

With the Leopards backed up to their own 2-yard line in the third quarter, Brown carried for 2 yards to allow his punt team more room to operate, and later rushed for a 3-yard touchdown.

"I tell you, I wanted to keep him out, but when the score stayed 14-0, I wanted to punch another one in and get a little breathing room," Browning said.

The cadence of the Leopards offense was palpably different with Brown on the field, even if he was just blocking or acting as a decoy.

"I thought he came back in the second half and got the offense cranked up a little bit," Browning said.

"We also made a couple of adjustments and went to a couple of different things, and we moved the ball.

"But you have to admit it," the head coach said. "I'm sure his presence means a lot. There's no doubt about that."