Tri-County Football Preview for 10/30/2020

The Villages (4-0) @ Wildwood (7-0) – 7:00 PM

Sumter County has a huge game taking place this week between two undefeated teams whose campuses are separated by just 7 miles. Bragging rights and pride will be up for grabs. By now, we are well aware of what the Wildwood offense is capable of behind the arms of Nate Mikell and Jonathan Harding. The defense is who is going to have to step up. The Villages will look to get the ground game going early and try to wear down the Wildwood defensive front similar to what South Sumter did in the pre-season game. The Buffalo have several talented running backs headlined by seniors Josh Marion and Corey Goldwire, and junior Ed Williams. If those guys get rolling, it could spell trouble for the Wildcats. Regardless of the outcome, this will be a great late-season test for both teams as they prepare for the post-season.

South Sumter (1-4) @ Bradford (4-4) – 7:30 PM

South Sumter’s difficult schedule doesn’t get any easier this week as they hit the road to Starke. The Tornadoes are another team that has been battling through a brutal schedule. Their four losses are to Baker County, University Christian, Suwannee, and Madison County. Since the 14-0 loss to Madison County on 10/2, Bradford has won three straight games. One key for South Sumter will be slowing down a very gifted ball carrier in Bradford senior Erric Smith. Smith has 1,067 out of the backfield this season and is averaging over 133 yards per game. South Sumter senior defenders Kode Lowe, Trevor Moffitt, and Austin Keefer are all playing great. They had 14, 13, and 12 tackles respectively last week against Lake Minneola. South Sumter will likely continue a running back by committee approach. They had eight players carry the ball last week for a total of 267 yards.

Nature Coast (5-0) @ Crystal River (2-2) – 7:00 PM

Crystal River has been making steady improvements each week, and as a result, they are coming off of back-to-back shutout wins. Senior defensive linemen Evan Louden and Daunte Gunter have been a big part of their recent success. This week, a shutout probably won’t be in the cards. Their opponent, the undefeated Sharks, are averaging over 40 points per game. Senior playmakers Kinyatah Morgan and Dedric Hall can score from anywhere on the field at any time. Against Lecanto last week, the duo both scored twice on the ground with Hall adding a pick-6 late in the game. Kinyatah has also made his presence felt all season on special teams. If you kick the ball anywhere near him, expect him to make you regret it.

Hernando (4-1) vs Springstead (1-2) – 7:30 PM

This is the second edition of the Glory Day’s Grill Burger Bowl. This game was an overtime classic last season, and I have a feeling this game could be just as interesting. Springstead got a late start to the season due to some necessary quarantining. The Eagles then debuted a lot of new faces against a very inspired Weeki Wachee team. The Hornets ended up picking up their first ever win against Springstead that night. Then Springstead gave Nature Coast what still stands as the Sharks’ best test of the season in a 15-3 loss which went down to the wire. Ball security plagued Springstead as they lost 3 fumbles and threw an interception against the Sharks. Then this past week, Springstead finally broke into the win column up in Inverness. The Eagles’ rushing attack got rolling and they tacked up 347 rushing yards in a 40-0 win over Citrus. Senior Jordan Smith and junior RJ Mariani both broke 100 yard rushing in the win. Since I am a former o-lineman, most of the credit should go to Springstead’s offensive line which is led by 6’6” 300 pound senior OT Gannon Lanning, 6’3” 350 pound senior OT Logan Crossley, and 6’2” 275 pound senior OG Scott Lydting. Springstead will have to slow down the area’s leading rusher, Contae Cason. His ability to make plays out of nothing could be the one thing to offset Springstead’s advantage in the trenches. Springstead will aim to control the ball and the clock. Multiple four yard gains is all it will take. Hernando linebackers Sam Sternberger and Anthony Talpa will have their work cut out for them. I’d expect them to have a great night statistically.

Lecanto (3-1) vs Citrus (1-4) – 7:00 PM

Citrus County has a pretty big rivalry game of their own going on this week. Lecanto needs to have a short memory and bounce back from that nightmare of a second half that took place at Nature Coast. The first half was physical and competitive. Lecanto took their opening possession to the Nature Coast one yard line before they went backwards, and then they held the Sharks to one score follow a big pass. After that, I’m just not sure what happened following the intermission. The Panthers imploded. They will probably use that lingering frustration as fuel against their county rival. The rebuilding Citrus Hurricanes are coming off of a 40-0 home loss to Springstead where they yielded 347 rushing yards.

Weeki Wachee (2-3) vs Tampa Bay Christian (1-2) – 7:30 PM

Weeki Wachee was able to fill the void left by the Central cancellation with Tampa Bay Christian. It was great to see Coach Cook secure a game for his kids so quickly. The Rams are a small school with low numbers, but they do have some talent. One player that junior LB Joseph Chavis and the Hornet defense will have to keep an eye on is senior ATH Jaedan Dunning. Dunning is 6’1” 170 pounds and seems to be the go-to guy for the Rams. Weeki Wachee is coming off of two losses by a combined 12 points, but I expect them to bounce back with a win over the private school.

Central (0-4) – Cancelled