Hernando Christian has decided to drop down to six-man football after a lower-than-expected turnout during the spring necessitated a move away from the traditional 11-man game.
Athletic director Mike Drummond said the Lions had only 13 players last season, and seven of them graduated.
"We just felt like this was the best option for HCA at this time with the numbers that we have," he said. "We didn't want to drop the program altogether, but we didn't have the numbers to play 11-man football."
Drummond said Hernando Christian will compete in the Florida Christian Association of Private and Parochial Schools and will play a 10-game schedule this fall. Six-man football will allow the Lions to host games on campus, and they will be able to field a varsity team as well as a middle school team. Mike D'Ambrosio will transition from 11-man to six-man football coach.
"Our goal is to eventually go back to 11-man football as the enrollment numbers go up," Drummond said.
Nature Coast's Smith to sit
Heading into Friday's spring game against Tampa Catholic, Nature Coast will be without a potential starter on the defensive line.
Rising senior Josh Smith was penciled in to start next season, but a left knee injury has him shelved indefinitely. On the first day of working out with pads, Smith suffered what coach Mark Nash described as an "odd" injury. After twisting his knee, a bone chip became lodged and doctors have yet to decide how to treat it.
"While he was in there, Josh showed a lot of progress," Nash said. "The doctors are saying he'll be out 6-8 weeks regardless of what treatment he receives, so that's a good sign."
The stout lineman (5-11, 270) has the potential to be a good run-stopper. Smith played little last season but hopes to be ready to break out in his senior campaign.
"It's kind of bad because we lost every game last season. We didn't have me and some other players last season, so that just killed some of the guys' spirits to come out here. Last season was the first time I've been on the bench since I was in sixth grade." - Hudson rising senior running back Kyrie Rodriguez on the reason the Cobras' practice numbers are low. Hudson had 18 players practice Wednesday evening.
Number of the day
33 Fivay football players who were on the Falcons' weightlifting team this spring. Fivay has averaged close to 60 players at spring practices, and the majority of players are multisport athletes who also participate in baseball and track and field.
Time to kick off
Want to catch a glimpse of the future of North Suncoast football before the 2011 season starts? Check out a spring game or two where all of the area's young up-and-comers will be looking to make a name for themselves against local competition.
Nature Coast and Hernando get things kicked off Friday. The majority of teams play their spring game next week.
All games at 7 p.m. unless noted.
Hernando at Crystal River
Tampa Catholic at Nature Coast, 7:30 p.m.
River Ridge at Fivay
Pasco at Zephyrhills
Anclote at Gulf
Sunlake at Mitchell
Ridgewood at Hudson
Tarpon Springs at Wesley Chapel
Wiregrass Ranch at Land O'Lakes
Pinellas Park at Springstead
Dixie Hollins at Central, 7:30 p.m.
What they're saying
Every day, we pose a question to our readers on our Facebook page. Next up: Which football player has the best nickname? (We've had Lockdown and Manchild, so the bar is high, people.)
What's your call? Go here, become a fan and give us your thoughts.
Compiled by staff writer Bryan Burns and correspondents Derek J. LaRiviere and Andy Villamarzo.