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Springstead-Hernando rivalry doesn’t disappoint

The expected defensive battle goes to double overtime, with Adrian Cabrera coming through for the Eagles.
High school football teams from around Tampa Bay were in action Friday night. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]
Published Oct. 5

SPRING HILL — There’s no rivalry game that Springstead circles on the calendar with more anticipation than the one with Hernando.

The Leopards have remained the Eagles’ oldest rival and on Homecoming night Friday, both teams had more on the line than county bragging rights. For the Eagles, there was a chance to reach 6-0; for the Leopards, they’d be above .500 for the first time this season.

Like Springstead’s previous game against Pasco, this was another grind-it-out defensive battle. The Eagles took a 7-0 lead into halftime and eventually prevailed 19-16 in double overtime. They received a trophy afterward for winning the first annual Glory Days Burger Bowl.

It became apparent in the first half that Springstead would ride the legs of running back Anthony Alexis, who scored on a 1-yard dive play that gave the Eagles the initial 7-0 advantage in the first quarter.

Hernando (3-4) still lacks that go-to offensive playmaker and was hindered by fumbles and negative plays. The Leopards did not complete a single pass in the opening half.

But they started to find their groove in the run game in the third quarter, as quarterback Maurice Holland ripped off a 36-yard run that helped set up the team’s first score. Running back Kev’on Williams burst off right tackle and went 35 yards to pay dirt to tie the score at 7 with 9:39 left in the quarter.

Springstead attempted to end the game in regulation on a field-goal attempt but the snap was high.

“All the games are important now because of strength of schedule and everything else,” Springstead coach Mike Garofano said. “These guys showed some resolve. There was a lot of pressure on the guys. The hold, the kick and the bobble (at the end of the fourth quarter) ... they overcame that adversity and were able to make it happen in overtime.”

After trading touchdowns in the first overtime, Hernando went ahead 16-13 on a field goal. That’s when senior linebacker Adrian Cabrera, who had been out since the third game of the season with a shoulder injury, ended up scoring the winner on a 10-yard run.

"I was on the sidelines shaking, just waiting to get in,” Cabrera said. “Coaches said when I get out there to let the pitbull out and I went there barking, growling and couldn’t wait to be back on the field with my brothers. It was a long three weeks away, but I’m just ready to get it rolling again here.”

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