The 2021 season should be an interesting one in Hernando County. Area offenses will be debuting many new faces following the graduation of the likes of Dedric Hall and Contae Cason. On the defensive side of the ball, the opposite is true. Collectively, the county returns a strong group of linebackers. Here are some of the players to keep an eye on.
2022 LB Joseph Chavis – 5’10” 215 lbs – Weeki Wachee High School
Following his junior season, area coaches selected Chavis as the GC8 Defensive Player of the Year. When you watch through his film, you quickly see why. He is like a bull in a china shop. He is disruptive, physical, and violent. He finishes tackles with an emphasis. He plays very well downhill from inside, but moves well laterally also. He should have another great year for the Hornets. In 2021, Chavis had 80 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, and 2 interceptions in just six games.
2022 LB Samuel Sternberger – 6’2” 210 lbs – Hernando High School
Sam is a three-year starter at inside linebacker. His work ethic is outstanding and it has allowed him to really build on to his frame. He is a smart football player with a great motor and a nose for the football. He will lead what should be another tough Hernando defense. In eight games as a junior, Sam recorded 87 tackles, including 63 solo and 8 tackles for loss. His best game was in the playoffs against Jones where he had 12 tackles and 3 tackles for loss.
2023 LB Brady Nowlan – 6’2” 210 lbs – Nature Coast Tech
Brady is the lone underclassmen of this group. During his breakout sophomore year, Brady recorded 89 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, and 1 recovery during eight games. He also had 76 receiving yards and 2 total touchdowns. He is a student of the game who works his craft year-round. He reads plays quickly, and takes great angles in getting to the ball carrier. He moves well and is a consistent tackler. He has gotten stronger and put on some good size heading into his junior year, so I hope to see him become more physical this season.
2022 OLB Fabreyon “Chingy” Burnett – 6’3” 205 lbs – Nature Coast Tech
Following a sophomore year where he had a hand in 114 total tackles, Chingy didn’t play in many games as a junior due to an injury during the shortened Covid season. He bounced back by having a great off-season. Then he showed some versatility during the spring game against Countryside by starting at outside linebacker and receiver. He had over 120 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns in the win. You can expect to rarely see him leave the field as a senior. He has a great combination of size and athleticism. Opposing offenses will have a hard time running to his side of the field. He is also solid in coverage.
2022 LB Jordan Novomestky – 5’9” 190 lbs – Springstead High School
Jordan is one of those prototypical Springstead linebackers. He isn’t going to be the first kid off of the bus, but he will be the first one to the football. He is well-coached, disciplined, and fearless. This combination allowed him to get better each and every week as a junior. It also has him poised for a great senior year. In six games last season, Jordan posted 47 total tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 fumble recovery. He will be a strong leader for a scrappy Eagle defense.
2022 LB Peyton Chancey – 5’10” 180 lbs – Central High School
Coach Jim Pusateri was well-aware of the work that needed to be done at Central before he drove up to Brooksville for an interview this summer. He got the job, and now he will lead the Bears into another rebuilding year. While he certainly does have a lot of work to do, he quickly discovered that he has one player that he can rely on immediately. Peyton Chancey is a bright spot for the Bears. In five games last season, Chancey had 44 total tackles, 232 total yards, and 1 touchdown. Coach P will rely on the senior to once again contribute to defense, offense, and special teams. He is another one of those players who plays with a ton of heart and leaves it all on the field. He brings energy and displays fearlessness, and those are the types of characteristics his teammates will need to inherit in order to get the program back on track.
Film: Peyton Chancey – Hudl