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May the best quarterback win at Nature Coast

The Sharks gain Weeki Wachee 1,700-yarder Vaughn Sykora, but he’ll have to battle two-year starter Fabian Burnett, a threat to pass and run.

BROOKSVILLE — Let’s get this straight right off the bat: There is no quarterback controversy at Nature Coast Tech.

Yes, Vaughn Sykora left Weeki Wachee to attend Nature Coast, his zoned school, for his senior year. Sykora threw for 1,785 yards and 21 touchdowns this past fall. But that doesn’t mean coach Cory Johns is going to change the playbook and become “Air Sharks.”

“(Sykora’s) parents called me and asked about him transferring here,” Johns said. “I was honest with them. I said, ‘Look, Fabian (Burnett) is a two-year starter and last year he threw the ball 104 times and carried the ball 125 times and did not turn it over once.’ That’s going to be very hard for me to get away from.

“All I told them was that if he comes, I will let him compete. If he’s better and proves it, then he will play. I can’t guarantee anything.”

Johns said both Sykora and Burnett will get reps at quarterback. Burnett has been slowed a bit this spring with a hamstring strain, but is still practicing. The fall season is a long way away, but Johns said even if Burnett remains the starting quarterback, Sykora could be used on certain plays.

Related: RELATED: Three playoff quarterbacks who check many boxes

Burnett was a dual threat for the Sharks as a junior. He threw for 1,041 yards and rushed for 760. And that was with senior Mike Weston (2,893 yards, 34 touchdowns) getting most of the carries in an 11-2 season.

Weston is graduating, but Burnett doesn’t expect much to change in the upcoming season.

“The offense is going to be the same,” he said. “I’m getting (running back) Lenkel (Smith) back and (running back) Kinyatah (Morgan) back. And I think the offensive line is going to be better than last year. Everybody said we lost Mike and we won’t be the same, but I’m want to show everyone that we can still roll without Mike. We’re still here."

Quarterback Vaughn Sykora, who threw for more than 1,700 yards last season, transfers in from Weeki Wachee. (ALLIE GOULDING | Times)

Aside from quarterback, running back and fullback will be interesting to watch. Isaac Edwards looked to be the natural replacement for Weston. He gained 340 yards last year and impressed coaches. But in conditioning drills a few weeks ago, Edwards injured his knee and is no longer practicing.

That makes the speedy Morgan the main ball carrier this spring. He gained 377 yards as a sophomore and also had five interceptions as a safety, which is his main position.

“Isaac and Kinyatah are both capable of being very good,” Johns said. “Both are about 5-11, 190 and they can fly. They aren’t 230 pounds like Mike, but a lot of those runs for 25 yards that Mike got, those guys are going to score. Of course, some of those runs where Mike got 8 (yards) they might get 4. I’m interested to see how it goes.”

Related: RELATED: Mike Weston is the North Suncoast Offensive Player of the Year

Johns said one concern is that Morgan will not get as many carries because he will also be playing safety.

At fullback, Jesus Torres is graduating, which leaves another offensive hole to fill. Junior Anthony Treppen and senior Anthony Houston will get looks at the position this spring.

And then there is the offensive line. The unit is graduating Logan Wellman and Isaiah Heeke, and sophomore Jonathan Haley is moving out of the area. Johns said some defensive linemen will likely play offensive line as well.

Nature Coast hosts Lakeland George Jenkins on May 24 for its spring game.

Contact Rodney Page at rpage@tampabay.com. Follow @RodneyHomeTeam.

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