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Area squads are forced to tackle intense schedule

Think Hurricane Jeanne was fast?

She has nothing on Citrus, Crystal River and Lecanto teams that will play three games in eight days.

Friday night, Citrus is at Hernando, South Sumter at Crystal River and Leesburg at Lecanto. Two days and then Monday it's Central at Lecanto, Springstead at Citrus and South Lake at Crystal River.

Four days later on Oct. 8, everyone is back at it again. The first game of the three is the lone district contest for most squads (Leesburg at Lecanto is not), so that is where the focus lies. Preparation for Monday will wait until Saturday.

"(Citrus) is not really going to be on our minds at all until Saturday," Springstead coach Bill Vonada said. "As soon as that game got canceled (Sept. 10), those preparations went in a folder on the shelf."

IMPROVING: The Pirates have not started the season 0-2 since 1984, when Crystal River went 2-8 after opening with losses at North Marion, 21-0; and at Pasco, 25-10.

"We're getting better," Crystal River coach Craig Frederick said. "We knew going into this season it would be a struggle at the beginning. We just need more game time. That's all they need, and they'll get it the next two weeks. We'll just have to wait and see how we survive that. With so much inexperience, it'll be a big test."

After last week's 17-10 loss to Central, the Pirates face the district's toughest opponent. It could leave Crystal River 0-3, which hasn't happened since Tom Hybl's 1982 squad went 4-6. FOCUS, FOCUS: Lecanto junior running back Richard Chaney rushed for 151 yards on 25 carries and scored the Panthers' lone touchdown. Coach Bob LeCours said the Panthers are making progress, but they need to stop hurting themselves with penalties.

"As a coach, you always look to be 3-0," LeCours said about the 0-3 squad. "No, it's not where I thought we'd be this point in the season, but this is where we are and this is where we've got to work from right here."

This week, LeCours is concerned about the homecoming distractions. "The football game is the pinnacle," he said. "We're going try to work hard to keep focus this week."

WELL-RESTED: Citrus did not play last week because Spruce Creek closed school in preparation for Hurricane Jeanne. Citrus is coming off its first win against Crystal River in eight years. Coach Rik Haines wants to make sure overconfidence is not a problem.

"Maybe it's good we did not play," he said. "We haven't done anything yet. We've just won one game."

He said the Hurricanes will have to play better than they did against Crystal River to win at Hernando, whom he says looked like Citrus did against Central in its loss to Pasco last week. Haines said it will be a tough two days to catch up, going in pads Wednesday when they usually just play in T-shirt and shorts.

_ DAWN REISS and JOHN SCHWARB,

Times staff writers

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