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Winslett makes his debut as Central's kick return man

Central lineman Willie Winslett took a page from the Buccaneers' Todd Washington when he returned squib kicks 12 and 13 yards _ bowling over a couple of opponents in the process _ in the second half of the Bears' 40-6 loss to New Smyrna Beach on Friday.

The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Winslett normally starts on the offensive and defensive lines.

But he was pressed into additional special teams duty against the Barracudas.

"I told him last week we were going to put him back there, because we needed to make a wedge," Central coach Steve Crognale said.

"We try to rest our starting offensive line on special teams, but I told them that because it was a state playoff game, nobody was going to rest. They were going to play.

"That's why our front line was pretty much on the front line, and I put Willie there because he was the second line in that wedge and we wanted to get the ball outside of our 20 and we did that.

What did Crognale think of Winslett's running ability?

"He's a great athlete," the coach said. "I knew he could do it. That's why I put him there."

Winslett enjoyed the experience.

"Coach gave me my chance," he said. "So every chance I got, I got as many yards as I could."

NOW WHAT: Many of the Bears seniors lingered on the field following their last game, crying, hugging and wondering what life would be like without another high school season for which to prepare.

Even the ones who should play in college next fall.

"This has been my life for four years," said center T.J. Hedick, who is being recruited by schools including South Florida and Central Florida, and who will make an official visit to Army.

"It breaks you up a little bit. Usually, the season is over and you hit the weight room and get ready for the next season. Now it's just ... final."

Winslett, who is being recruited by schools such as Florida, Miami and Auburn, and has been offered a scholarship by Georgia Southern, found it hard to think about college for a while.

"Every year, I never thought about my senior year," he said. "It came up so soon and now it's over. At the beginning of every season it seemed like it was so far away. And then the next thing you know today was it."

HEAD HURTS: Central defensive back Todd Joa suffered a concussion following a head-on collision with New Smyrna Beach backup quarterback Brian Jones near the Central sideline late in the third quarter.

Joa, who recovered a fumble earlier in the game, stayed on the sideline until the final few minutes of the fourth quarter, when he was taken from the field in a golf cart.

FINAL SCORE: Quarterback Chase Evans scored Central's only touchdown on a 3-yard run with four minutes remaining in the game.

The run capped a 12-play, 73-yard drive, the Bears' longest of the game.

But what should have been a satisfying moment turned painful when Evans took a helmet to the chest.

He fell to his knees and clutched at his stomach as he reached the sideline.

Evans was asked how it felt to get into the end zone.

"To tell you the truth," he said, "it hurt."