Coach: Bill Vonada (12th season, 55-56)
Class: 4A, District 5
Stadium: Booster Stadium, 3300 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill
Playoff history: 1993, 1996, 2004, 2005
Last appearance: Lost 31-12 to New Smyrna Beach
* * *
Building blocks of a good season
1. Leadership, of course: One thing coach Bill Vonada prides himself on is building character. And despite the loss of 15 starters from last season's 7-3 team, Vonada said he has a higher percentage of the guys who understand the importance of the Springstead way. "I wish I knew what it was," Vonada said. "I'd bottle it."
2. Phil Lakin: Perhaps no one personifies the Springstead way this season more than Lakin. The 6-foot, 215-pound lineman is a show-up, get-the-job-done kind of guy. The three-year starter is willing to do his job and sacrifice for the team.
3. Linemen: With heavy losses, the line provides the group with the most experience. It will be critical in helping the skill players buy time to make plays. The line is not made of stereotypical giants, rather sound, hard-working linemen such as John McCloskey, Mitch Fischbach and Patrick Mentry.
* * *
123s Three potential pitfalls
1. Maturity: There's a lot to acclimate to once players step into more prominent roles, including game speed and situations. "Some of these guys have seen and practiced against it, but not a whole lot of guys have experienced it in a game," Vonada said. "We're going to see some great teams out of the gate."
2. Defense needs to step up: Plenty of pressure falls on the linebackers and defensive backs. Vonada said the key will be run defense. A lot of those tackles will need to come from the linebacking corps, which lost four of five starters. "If you look at our schedule for high school football for the most part you better stop the run," Vonada said. "You can do all the 7-on-7 you want, but if you can't stop the run you won't have to worry about the pass."
3. Crunch time: Vonada's messages are often cliche, but he believes in them. He talks about taking it "one game at a time" but realizes the defining moment will be how this team responds in a tight game. "How do we respond before the play and how do we respond after the play?" Vonada said. "... How do we respond to success? Sometimes teams put everything on one game and then they collapse."
* * *
Extra credit The X-factor
Health: With so many new faces, the Eagles need stability. A string of injuries could mark the demise of Springstead's season.
* * *
Opposing coach's quote
"They are well-coached and well-disciplined. They are a team that plays hard for Coach Vonada. When you look at them on film you want your team to understand that's the way you should play. I think everyone that plays Springstead sees they play hard to the whistle. ... I think they will surprise some people." - Hernando coach John Palmer
* * *
D; Springstead is coming off a strong campaign in '08 that could only be replicated with a bunch of returning starters. But the search for so many new guys makes this a rebuilding year. And with games against Hernando, Nature Coast and Land O'Lakes to start the season, the Eagles will have their confidence tested early and often.