Man arrested for breaking into car

BROOKSVILLE –
Jonas Anthony Brooks Jr. was arrested Saturday for burglary of a vehicle and possession of a controlled substance.

Sheriff’s deputies said Brooks, 19, entered an unlocked, red 1998 Pontiac Trans Am parked behind a residence at 7472 Mead Drive in Spring Hill.

Once inside, deputies said Brooks rummaged through the center console and stole a prescription bottle containing six 30mg of morphine pills, a brown wallet, cigarettes and miscellaneous documents.

Brooks was taken to the Hernando County Jail and held on $7,000 bond.

1A-8 WRESTLING

BROOKSVILLE –
Mike Lastra hasn’t forgotten what it was like during the first few years of building his fledgling Nature Coast program.

That’s why what the Sharks accomplished Saturday at the Hernando High gym, finishing as the runner-up in the Class 1A, District 8 Tournament to Gulf High, meant so much.

“It’s exciting,” said Lastra, the lone head coach in team history. “I remember four years ago we were the laughing stock. We were last in every tournament. Just for the kids to buy into what we’re selling them and to believe in what we’re telling them, that’s exciting.

“Things are looking good for us. We were really close to Gulf. We wanted to catch up to them. We just didn’t come through in the end.”

The Buccaneers, three-time defending district champions and the overwhelming favorite coming in, finished in first with 233 points, but Nature Coast was a relatively close second at 196.5.

Host Hernando edged Dunnellon for third, 116-5-116, and a total of 20 Hernando County grapplers (13 from Nature Coast, seven from Hernando) advanced to next weekend’s Region II Meet at Palm Coast-Matanzas High.

Sharks: everyone in

The Sharks could boast that every single one of their wrestlers who competed placed in the top four, securing a regional berth.

Only at 215, where Keith Dodson remains sidelined with a knee injury, did no one from Nature Coast make it to at least the consolation finals.

However, only senior Scott Cronin earned a first-place ribbon, going 4-0 at 125 with four pins. He folded Joey Trent from The Villages in 1:42, Spencer Silver of Anclote in 29 seconds, Hernando’s Jared Young in 5:43 and Pasco’s Luis Hernandez in 2:47.

A year ago at this meet he finished second, and duplicated that the following week in regionals. This time, as he climbed in 96 career wins, he left with no regrets.

“This is my goal. I wanted it bad, so bad. I really did,” Cronin said. “I worked my (butt) off. Now I’m going to go for a regional championship.

“…It’s a really good feeling. Last year I was kind of disappointed. This year I wanted to go through districts doing the best I could and I did.”

“Scott, he’s on a tear,” Lastra said. “He hasn’t lost a match on the mat since the Gulf Duals (in December). He can win the whole thing. He definitely has a shot. He can definitely cause some damage. We’re looking for him to be our first state placer.”

Carter Bolesta (135), Mitchell Lambert (140) and Jeff Gilbert (189) all finished second in their weight classes, as did freshman 103-pounder Sean Nguyen. His 8-6 decision over Tony Ruggiero of Wesley Chapel earned him a spot in the championship final and a regional berth.

“Sean wins the most improved wrestler on our team,” Lastra said. “Every time he steps on the mat, he gets better. He’s going to be a stud.”

Gilbert dropped his final, 7-5 to Crystal River’s Robert Brass, in part because he suffered a shoulder injury. Lastra didn’t think that ailment would prevent Gilbert from wrestling at regionals.

Robert Anthony (119), Brenton Nuby (152), Carlos Carasquillo (160) and Greg Jarque (285) all came in third. In fourth place were Tyler Forand (112), Steven Richardson (130), Luke McCarty (145) and Peter Holloman (171).

“We’re going for a top-three finish in the region next week,” Lastra said. “We’re going in with 13 kids. If we can push 4-5 to states and have all the other guys win some matches, we’ve got a real legitimate shot at second.”

Tale of two Pritzs

Hernando’s two championship finalists came from the same family: brothers Daniel Pritz (145) and Zach Pritz (152).

The senior Daniel garnered his third district title with relative ease, going 3-0 with two pins. He needed just 1:30 to take down Michael Manseau of Trinity Catholic, then 3:42 to beat Pasco’s Trevor Drake.

In the final, he won via technical fall, 18-2, over Wesley Chapel’s Nick Popolillo. That improved his record to 35-1 this season, as he looks to become a three-time state placer and possibly more.

“I could have had a little more offense in my last match,” Pritz said. “I was just tilting and stuff. I was kind of playing it safe at the end there.

“…I have a lot more confidence than I ever have. I don’t think anyone can beat me. That’s my attitude every time I wrestle.”

His brother, a sophomore, can feel better about himself, as well. In what was by far the most entertaining final, the younger Pritz fell to state-title contender Ladarious Jackson from Gulf, 7-5.

“In the beginning (of the season) he got tech falled (by Jackson),” Hernando coach Bill Combs Sr. said. “The last one was a little bit closer. Now he was two points away. He’s putting the pressure on. (Jackson) needs to be worried now.”

Joining the Pritz boys at regionals from the Leopards will be third-place finishers Young, David Ayers (135) and Dakota Raney (189), along with fourth-placers Nicholas Pascullo (215) and Austin Neff (285).

“For a young team, I’m very happy,” Combs said. “I think the heavyweight end did really good.”

Final Class 1A, District 8 Team Standings
PL Team PTS
1. Gulf (GUL) 233.0
2. Nature Coast (NCT) 196.5
3. Hernando (HER) 116.5
4. Dunnellon (DUN) 116.0
5. Pasco (PAS) 75.5
6. Crystal River (CR) 70.0
7. Wesley Chapel (WC) 52.0
8. The Villages (VIL) 51.0
9. Trinity Catholic (TC) 37.5
10. Anclote (ANC) 36.5

Class 1A, District 8 Individual Finals Results
103 – Swartsel (GUL) pin Nguyen (NCT), 0:36
112 – Carpenter (GUL) dec. Gamez (PAS), 9-7
119 – Ayers (GUL) pin Patterson (DUN), 1:44
125 – Cronin (NCT) pin Hernandez (PAS), 2:47
130 – Hoppel (TC) pin Richardson (DUN), 1:46
135 – O’Connor (GUL) pin Bolesta (NCT), 4:07
140 – Jackson (DUN) dec. Lambert (NCT), 6-2
145 – D. Pritz (HER) tech. fall Popolillo (WC), 18-2
152 – Jackson (GUL) dec. Z. Pritz (HER), 7-5
160 – Mesagno (GUL) maj. dec. Delgado (DUN), 11-1
171 – O’Connell (DUN) pin Ritter (GUL), 5:38
189 – Brass (CR) dec. Gilbert (NCT), 7-5
215 – Palasky (GUL) pin Jordan (PAS), 2:41
285 – Kruse (GUL) pin Linton (ANC), 0:39

Class 1A, District 8 Individual Consolation Finals Results
103 – Sorrick (ANC) pin Ruggiero (WC), 2:14
112 – Varqulish (CR) dec. Forand (NCT), 11-4
119 – Anthony (NCT) dec. DeAugustino (PAS), 10-5
125 – Young (HER) pin Surber (CR), 5:18
130 – Isom (GUL) dec. Richardson (NCT), 7-0
135 – Ayers (HER) maj. dec. Jimenez (TC), 18-7
140 – Thompson (CR) pin Baxter (GUL), 3:13
145 – Gough (VIL) maj. dec. McCarty (NCT), 14-3
152 – Nuby (NCT) pin Williams (WC), 1:53
160 – Carasquillo (NCT) dec. Carpenter (CR), 7-1
171 – Wulff (VIL) pin Holloman (NCT), 2:10
189 – Raney (HER) pin Karr (GUL), 2:25
215 – Bowers (VIL) dec. Pascullo (HER), 3-2
285 – Jarque (NCT) pin Neff (HER), 0:38

Hernando’s Class 1A, District 8 Individual Results
Wgt Name W L Pins Pl
103 Kahler, Andrew 1 2 0 –
119 Weston, Spencer 1 2 1 –
125 Young, Jared 3 1 3 3rd
135 Ayers, David 3 1 1 3rd
140 Ulloa, Michael 0 2 0 –
145 Pritz, Daniel 3 0 2 1st
152 Pritz, Zach 1 1 1 2nd
160 Bronson, Robert 0 2 0 –
171 Day, Blaine 1 2 1 –
189 Raney, Dakota 3 1 3 3rd
215 Pascullo, Nicholas 0 2 0 4th
285 Neff, Austin 2 2 2 4th
TOTALS 18 18 14

Nature Coast’s Class 1A, District 8 Individual Results
WGT Name W L Pins Pl
103 Nguyen, Sean 1 1 0 2nd
112 Forand, Tyler 2 2 2 4th
119 Anthony, Robert 3 1 2 3rd
125 Cronin, Scott 4 0 4 1st
130 Richardson, Steven 2 2 1 4th
135 Bolesta, Carter 2 1 1 2nd
140 Lambert, Mitchell 2 1 1 2nd
145 McCarty, Luke 3 2 2 4th
152 Nuby, Brenton 3 1 1 3rd
160 Carasquillo, Carlos 2 1 1 3rd
171 Holloman, Peter 2 2 1 4th
189 Gilbert, Jeff 2 1 0 2nd
285 Jarque, Greg 3 1 3 3rd
TOTALS 31 16 19

Between the Lines 274756

Capone’s host WPBA Qualifier

SPRING HILL – Capone’s Billiard Lounge, 10463 County Line Rd., Spring Hill, FL 34609, is hosting the 2009 Florida State Championship on Dec. 5-6. The event serves as a Women’s Professional Billards Association (WPBA) Qualifier for the 2010 US Open, and in addition to the $500 entry Fee, a minimum of $400 will be added to the purse.
All ladies are welcome to participate in the event, regardless of professional or amateur status. No membership fee will be collected by the Ladies Spirit Tour.
Players who wish to be eligible to win the paid qualifier spot, must be active “player members” of the WPBA and proof of active membership is required. WPBA dues through a WPBA sanctioned regional tour for $25. If a player chooses to pay at this event, $35 will be collected and forwarded to the WPBA.
For additional information, contact Rocky McElroy at Capone’s at 352-688-9965.

Hernando Lacrosse Club to hold free clinics

BROOKSVILLE – The Hernando Lacrosse Club would like to invite any new or returning players out to five free open clinics. The clinics will be held from 6-8 p.m. at Veteran Memorial Park every Tuesday in December (8, 15, 22 and 29) as well as a Saturday clinic set from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. or Dec. 12t.
Coaches will be on hand for our boys’ teams, youth (4th-6th grade) middle school (7th-8th grade) and high school programs.
We also will have coaches for our girls’ high school program to talk about the up coming season that begins in mid-January.
For additional information, visit www.hernandolacrosseclub.com or contact Greg Longo at 352-200-6111.

Bombers 12-Under baseball team to hold tryouts

BROOKSVILLE – The Brooksville Bombers, a 12-Under traveling Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) baseball club, will be holding open tryouts for the spring 2010 season at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5, Saturday, Dec. 12. and Saturday, Dec. 19 at Anderson Snow Sports Complex fields.
Players must be born on or after May 1, 1997 to be eligible. There will be 2-3 available roster spots.
The Brooksville Bombers are coming off a successful fall season going 20-9-1.
The team will begin play in late January and play a 40-game schedule, and will be going to Cooperstown, NY for a week-long tournament in the summer of 2010.
For more information, contact John Hrobuchak at 352-238-9840 or email BrooksvilleBombers@tampabay.rr.com.

Senior softball players sought

SPRING HILL – The local Senior Softball League, or SSIL (senior softball invitational league), plays Tuesday and Thursday mornings beginning at 9 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park in Spring Hill. Anyone interested in joining our league is welcome to come and tryout on those days. We also have a website: http://home.roadrunner.com/~ssil or a domain name; www.ssil-softball.com.
The site contains schedules, player stats, box scores, ground rules, bylaws and listings for up coming events.

Spring Hill Youth Wrestling returns

SPRING HILL – Spring Hill Youth Wrestling season runs Dec. 1 until March 18. Practices will be held Tuesday and Thursday nights at Springstead H.S. Grades K-3 will practice 6-7 p.m. Grades 4-8 will practice 7-8 p.m.
For more information, contact SHS Head Coach Swensen at 352-797-7010.

Game officials needed

BROOKSVILLE – The West Central Officials Association is looking for new and experienced football officials to work Pasco and Hernando County middle school, junior varsity and varsity contests for the 2010 season.
Tampa Bay Area Sports Officials are also seeking new and experienced flag and tackle football officials to work youth games in Hernando, Pasco and Hillsborough Counties for the 2010 flag and tackle seasons.
For more information with either association, contact Gary Stanley at 813-989-9387 or online at goldenwings57@yahoo.com.

Hernando Havoc seeks players

BROOKSVILLE – The Hernando Havoc, an under-11 travel ball baseball team, is looking for experienced players.
For a tryout, contact Steve DelGatto at 352-442-1750 or email at delgatto5@earthlink.net.

Free vessel check

HERNANDO BEACH – The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is offering free vessel safety checks.
The auxiliary will come to your boat wherever you keep it.
Contact Jackie at 666-7239 to set up an appointment.
For more information on the auxiliary visit online at http:/a0701508.uscgaux.info.

Rotary Club of Brooksville Golf Tournament

BROOKSVILLE – The 32nd annual Rotary Club of Brooksville Charity Golf Tournament will be held at the Brooksville Country Club at Majestic Oaks, 23446 Links Dr., on Dec. 9.
The cost is $75 per golfer and sponsorships are available for $75. This is a fundraising event to help fund the Brooksville Rotary charitable activities.
For sponsorships and golfer registration information contact the Brooksville Rotary at 796-1143 or Jerry Sheffield at 799-2265.

Learn to scuba

SPRING HILL – Learn to scuba at the Hernando County Family YMCA. Classes begin Dec. 1 and run Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-9:30 p.m.
This course includes six class and pool sessions for ages 12 and older in good physical health and comfortable in and under the water.
There will also be classes from 8:30 a.m-4:30 p.m. for ages 10 and older, plus open water dives on Thursday and Friday in the Gulf of Mexico or Rainbow River at $20 per day.
Upon completion of the classes persons will be certified as Open Water Scuba Diver, recognized worldwide.
The cost is $120 for YMCA members and $140 for non-members, plus $60 for use of scuba equipment.
Personal equipment, mask, fins and snorkel are not included, but can be purchased at a discount from instructors: Jack Farrell at 727-861-3483 or 800-633-1633 and Mark Butler at 352-214-1171, who are YMCA, PADI and NAUI instructors.
For additional information, contact Olivia Matles at the YMCA at 352-688-9622.

Registration for area adult baseball league

BROOKSVILLE – The Pasco-Hernando Area Senior Baseball League (PHASBL) is seeking players and teams for its winter 2009-10 season.
The league, comprised of players, aged 18 and older, is planning a 10-game schedule on Sundays, beginning Dec. 6.
PHASBL was originally conceived as a 30+ league, but the minimum age was lowered to 18 in order to give more players a place to play.
Discounts, up to $150, are available for early registration. To register or to get more information, contact Conrad at 683-1692 or online at conradbaseball@bellsouth.net.

Central DECA Clubs host Bowl-A-Thon

BROOKSVILLE – Central High School’s DECA Club will be hosting a Bowl-A-Thon at Spring Hill Lanes on Saturday, Dec. 5. Check-in begins at noon followed by bowling at 1 p.m.
The cost is $20 per bowler and includes three games of bowling, rental shoes and lunch.
DECA is a marketing organization for high-school students. Proceeds from this event will benefit DECA President Michelle Venezia’s campaign for National DECA President. Corporate lane and advertisement packages are also available.
To sign-up contact Gino Ortiz at CHS at 797-7020 or online at ortiz_e@hcsb.k12.fl.us, or Nick Catroppo at 352-585-6527 or ncatroppo@gmail.com.

Girls fast-pitch softball travel ball tryouts

SPRING HILL – Team OverDrive, formally the Spring Hill Shockers, has new coaches and a new look. Tryouts are being held at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 1-2 at the Anderson Snow Sports Complex for girls 9-14 years of age for 10, 12 and 14U teams.
Team OverDrive is a local team looking for players who want to be a part of a team that values hard work and discipline, along with team building and having fun.
For more information, contact Melissa Varela 352-410-8138 or email her at manhattie67@yahoo.com or visit the team Web site at www.overdrivefastpitch.com.

Brooksville Bulldogs seeking players

BROOKSVILLE – The Brooksville Bulldogs, who sponsors 11-year-old and 12-year-old Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)/USSSA baseball teams, is seeking a few quality baseball players to round out their spring roster.
For information on the teams and tryout dates contact Bruce Price at 1-813-714-1054 or by e-mail at bruce67price@hotmail.com.

Bombers seek additional players

BROOKSVILLE – The Brooksville Bombers Under-11 travel ball team is seeking a few more players for its spring program. The Bombers are an Under-11 Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team based out of Hernando County.
Players interested should contact Coach Shawn Laferty at 813-267-8530 or contact him online at claferty5@yahoo.com.

Air ambulance business is in a stall

BROOKSVILLE –
Bart Gray walked away from a windfall of money that could have sustained him for the next five years.

The 32-year-old wished to start his own international air ambulance company, so he accepted a buyout that was far less lucrative. He agreed to it because it wiped away the no-competition clause with his former company.

Gray bypassed financial comfort for the chance to start his own business right away.

All that was missing was the certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. It is required for all aircraft-charter businesses.

The application was filed April 6, at which time an FAA representative told him, “Get everything ready.”

Gray bought a hangar and office building at Runway Drive in the Airport Industrial Park. He hired a pilot, chief flight nurse, mechanic and sales representative. Global Jetcare was about to become a reality.

He was ready to sign the lease for an aircraft that would cost him $20,000 per month.

But it has been more than three months and Gray still has not seen the first FAA inspector. There are nearly 70 applicants ahead of him. Based on what he’s recently learned, the office isn’t moving very fast.

“We are currently evaluating our resources in order to determine if and/or when we can support your application for certification,” wrote FAA manager Diana L. Frohn in a letter dated May 14. “We will respond to you within 30 days from the date of this letter to inform you of our resource evaluation results.”

Fifty-eight days have passed and Gray still hasn’t heard his phone ring.

The FAA did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. Messages were left with offices in Orlando, Washington D.C. and New York.

Gray’s licenses are up to date. He has a staff ready to begin work. His business would be ideal for military nurses, pilots, medics and mechanics returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

He is running out of money. He also is running out of hope that Global Jetcare will ever get off the ground.

He thought twice about renting the aircraft back in April.

“If we had gotten that plane, we already would’ve been done,” he said. “We’d be out of business.”

Gray has written more than a dozen letters and made many more calls to the FAA office in Orlando. He always makes sure to ask where he is on the list.

An assistant manager recently responded with more assurances.

“It doesn’t matter,” he told Gray. “It depends on who is ready first.”

That was fine with Gray.

“I’m all for that,” he said. “I’m ready to go.”

His pilot, Chris Frank, was at the office with him Friday morning. He was dressed in a T-shirt, cargo shorts and flip-flops.

He collects an income, but he hasn’t been in the air a single time since he started working for Global Jetcare.

“Each day is money lost,” he said.

Gray has turned to U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville.

Her chief of staff responded by contacting the FAA. She wanted to know the reasons for the delay.

The agency’s explanation was short and direct. There have been too many budget cutbacks. It was working hard to keep up with the backlog of applications.

Some inspectors have retired. Others have accepted buyouts. As far as Gray knows, there are two inspectors who have to wade through all of the certification applications, plus oversee at least five flight schools. Their area stretches from Jacksonville to Sarasota, he said.

A newly hired inspector must be trained, which could take more than three years, Gray said.

The certification process itself takes three months. If Gray receives a phone call that an FAA inspector will visit him and his hangar by Aug. 1, he would not be able to transport patients and make money until Nov. 1 at the earliest, he said.

Mike McHugh, the director of the Hernando County Office of Business Development, also has written a letter to the FAA on Gray’s behalf.

Global Jetcare was designed to transport sick and injured patients from one hospital to another worldwide, Gray said.

If someone is vacationing in Barcelona, Spain, and falls and breaks a hip, that person could then call on Gray’s company for a plane transfer back to the United States.

Traveling insurance would cover the transportation and medical costs, he said.

Gray also would coordinate inter-hospital transfers. If someone in New England gets sick and wants to be treated by a specialist in San Francisco, Global Jetcare would provide that service.

Gray was looking to have six full-time employees and 12 working part-time.

Cassie Smedile, a spokeswoman for Brown-Waite, confirmed her office has filed two inquiries. The congresswoman is still waiting on a reply for the second.

“We’re trying to help as best we can,” Smedile said. “It’s good for the community to have this business running. We certainly do think this is an important endeavor.”

Reporter Tony Holt can be reached at 352-544-5283 or wholt@hernandotoday.com.

‘Rachel’s Law’ provides uniform standards for police informants

BROOKSVILLE –
Larry was in trouble.

Soon after leaving a drug dealer’s house, deputies pulled him over for a traffic violation.

They found cocaine.

But instead of going straight to jail, Larry was brought to the sheriff’s office. A detective offered him a deal: Work for us and we’ll give you a break.

Faced with three felonies, Larry agreed. He called the dealer, Brock Shade, again. A rendezvous was set up. Around 9 p.m., Larry met up with the detectives in a church parking lot, not far from Shade’s house in Da Mac Estates, north of Brooksville.

Larry was patted down to make sure he was drug-free. His car was also thoroughly searched for contraband. Satisfied, detectives wired Larry with a receiver about the size of a cigarette box. He was given $30.

At Shade’s house, the cash was exchanged for powder cocaine. Larry returned to the church and the drug was turned over to detectives. His work was done.

Larry’s name is fictional. His role in dismantling one of the largest drug rings in the county’s history is not.

As a confidential informant, Larry was one of a handful of people detectives used to gather intelligence and buy drugs during a months-long investigation in 2007. Shade was determined to be a top lieutenant in the ring that had ties to Polk County cop-killer Angilo Freeland.

Both Brooksville police and the sheriff’s office use people like Larry on a regular basis to assist in their investigations. Both agencies have protocol and procedure for their use, but up until recently there was no statewide standard.

“Rachel’s Law,” which goes into effect today, changes that. It’s named after Rachel Hoffman, 23, a confidential informant who was shot to death during a police-authorized drug buy in 2008.

The law requires police to inform a potential informant they do not have the authority to change the outcome of pending charges. Only judges and prosecutors can do that. Candidates also have the right to consult an attorney before agreeing to a deal.

Police also have to weigh the candidate’s background, including their maturity level and their history with substance abuse.

Neither of Hernando County’s agencies could foresee major changes to their existing policies. Both embraced the push for increased security.

“We’ve always had that high on our priority list,” said Police Chief George Turner.

At the sheriff’s office, confidential informants are assigned numbers for report purposes and their true identities are kept in a locked file cabinet.

When it comes to screening potential informants, Capt. James Walker at the sheriff’s office said there is “quite a review process.”

“We look at the totality of circumstances,” he said.

Candidates also have to sign a waiver, acknowledging that they don’t work for the sheriff’s office and that they cannot engage in any illegal activity while on the job.

They also cannot coerce or threaten anyone to commit crimes they are not already doing or capable of doing.

As Turner points out, confidential informants are not altruistic citizens trying to do a good deed. They’re usually in it to work off serious criminal charges.

But, Turner said, “information is power. And in this business, we need all the information we can get.”

Reporter Kyle Martin can be reached at 352-544-5271 or kmartin@hernandotoday.com.

Monte Ketchum catches quickly

A year ago, it was over.
The dreams Monte Ketchum may have had of continuing his baseball career had died with his passion for the game he played since the age of 4.
A bad experience with the now former head coach at St. Johns River Community College caused the 2006 Hernando High grad and Hernando Today Player of the Year to quit altogether.
Monte Ketchum
Hernando County’s former Player of the Year, Monte Ketchum, has regained his hitting stroke back at St. Johns Community College this spring.

The son of Brooksville’s Monte and Tracy Ketchum with the sweet left-handed swing left St. Johns after his freshman season for Santa Fe Community College.
He spent the year playing softball, sandwiched by a couple of summers of Dixie baseball, but his serious days on the diamond had basically come to an end.
“I thought I was done,” Ketchum said. “I was just going to go to school. Then I started to miss (baseball) real bad. I knew I couldn’t walk-on. So I figured maybe it was over.”
Three weeks away from his first semester at the University of Florida, already settled into a Gainesville apartment, a familiar face from his prep past reached out and changed everything.
It wasn’t over. Not with longtime Hernando coach Donnie Whitehead beginning his first year as an assistant at St. Johns, under first-year Head Coach Ross Jones.
St. Johns offered Ketchum a new scholarship, a new opportunity, a chance to start over again and move forward.
Now Ketchum, a 20-year-old, 6-foot-1, 200-pound first baseman, began the week leading the Vikings with 14 home runs to go along with a .310 batting average and 44 RBI.
“The main thing was just allowing him to have some fun again,” Whitehead said. “He always enjoyed the game of baseball. For whatever reason, his first year he got burned out on baseball.
“We made some changes to his swing and allowed him to relax and play the game.”

Change for the worst

It was changes to his classic power stroke that led Ketchum down a dark road under the previous St. Johns coach, Mike Robins.
According to Ketchum, Robins altered Ketchum’s swing in an attempt to turn him into a “slap hitter” and it resulted in just a .207 average, two homers and 28 RBI.
Ketchum rejected a scholarship offer to return as a sophomore, heading to Santa Fe, where he had originally planned to attend and walk-on out of high school before Robins gave him a full ride.
“He took the love of the game out of it for me,” Ketchum said. “It just wasn’t fun anymore. I didn’t want to go through another year for him.
“It was pretty hard. I played my whole life. But I was so burnt out by that time, I didn’t care.”
He has plans to become a doctor or chiropractor, and began working toward that goal as simply a college student. Re-enter Whitehead.
“That was the only reason I went (back to St. Johns),” Ketchum said. “If it wasn’t for Whitehead, I wouldn’t have come here.
“He’s coached me for five or six years. He’s spent countless hours with me hitting in the cages. He’s helped me out so much all these years. The only time I ever felt bad about not playing is when I was talking to Whitehead, because he put so much time in with me.”
Whitehead was an assistant under Tim Sims during Ketchum’s four-year stint (three varsity seasons) at Hernando.
He replaced Sims as headman the season after Ketchum graduated, before accepting a job with his old friend Jones last summer, paving the way for Ketchum’s return.
“It means everything in the world to me,” Whitehead said of Ketchum coming back. “Monte is the type of kid you want to see succeed. He hasn’t even begun to tap into his potential. He’s more polished than he was coming out of high school.
“He’s the type of the kid that’s a character guy. He’s got leadership qualities. He’s a great guy to be around.
“…He’s got enough respect for the game that he didn’t want to leave it on a sour note. This was a chance for him to get back into the game and be in a comfortable environment.”
That environment includes a familiar roommate, former Hernando pitcher Kyle Neal. Also, former Hernando assistant Jesse Parkin is part of the St. Johns coaching staff.
“It’s pretty relaxing having them around all the time,” Ketchum said. “It’s not like a regular college when you don’t know anyone.”

Bright future

Less than a year removed from being completely out of baseball, Ketchum, considered a sophomore with two years left of eligibility, now has legitimate aspirations of playing for a Division I program.
Though neither he nor Whitehead would reveal specifics, they confirmed that bigger schools have shown interest.
“The sky is the limit,” Whitehead said. “He’s got to take a little more pride in his defense. He’s got to work as hard on defense as on offense. But as far as being a pure hitter, he has unlimited power potential.
“He’s still learning to hit, learning how to use the whole field, not pull everything he sees. Once he gets all that down, the sky’s the limit. He can play in the SEC, ACC, he could be playing pro ball. He’s that kind of hitter.”
So goes this tremendous turn in fortunes for the Hernando County product, a religious person who thanked God for this opportunity he can appreciate now more than ever.
“It gives you a different perspective,” Ketchum said. “I’m having more fun this year. It’s helped me do better. I don’t get as down on myself. I had it taken away from me. I’m just glad to be back playing.
“…I just want to play as good as I can. I try not to put a number on home runs. Just try to do as good as I can. Hopefully I’ll hit some more before the end of the year.”

BY THE NUMBERS: MONTE KETCHUM (THRU 04-04)
YR AB H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG
2007 121 25 07 01 02 28 .207
2008 DNP
2009 158 49 05 02 14 44 .310
TOTAL 279 74 12 03 16 72 .265

Sports writer Chris Bernhardt Jr. can be reached at 352-544-5288 or cbernhardt@hernandotoday.com.

Hernando Oaks Expects To Rebound

Brooksville –
Hernando Oaks, one of the larger subdivisions in Hernando County, received another economic hit last week when one of the development entities filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court.

Hernando Oaks LLC is responsible for the commercial development, golf course and clubhouse of the gated subdivision, which is located on U.S. 41, about two miles south of Wiscon Road.

The commercial node was slated to be farther south, toward Powell Road and U.S. 41.

The bankruptcy filing does not affect the residential portion of Hernando Oaks, which is home to some 313 people. That part of the development is overseen by a separate entity: Hernando Oaks II LLP.

Despite this latest move, project and county officials remain optimistic. County Commissioner Dave Russell said “it’s not all doom and gloom.”

“Eventually, that project will be built up because it is a viable project,” Russell said. “It’s just been a victim of the downturn in the economy.”

While the bankruptcy filing will force Hernando Oaks LLC to reorganize, the other development entity remains solvent, Russell said.

Hernando County, he said, has a good track record of successfully completed subdivisions, and he believes Hernando Oaks “will pull through.”

County Commissioner John Druzbick agreed that there is no reason to panic. The move affects only one of the development entities of Hernando Oaks and, by its very nature, Chapter 11 is simply a reorganization.

Druzbick said he has been in touch with homeowners in Hernando Oaks and none have expressed concern.

Hernando Oaks, he said, maintains a strong, active homeowners’ association and neighbors are in-tune with developments.

“They’re excited about how things are going there,” Druzbick said.

Druzbick said the builder remains confident and, “until I hear anything further, I still believe it’s a viable project.”

The move comes only about one month after Hernando Oaks II LLP, the developer of Hernando Oaks, asked the county to call the bond against the general contractor, Priority Developers Inc., because the latter failed to complete infrastructure improvements and was in default.

This is the latest in the Hernando Oaks saga, which started with so much promise when the project was approved back in 1999. The subdivision currently has about 313 homes. The project was originally envisioned to have six phases and contain 975 homes.

In October 2006, a bond in the amount of $5 million was issued guaranteeing the installation and completion of the infrastructure on the project, including roadwork, storm drainage, sewer and other work.

This year, Hernando Oaks notified the county that Priority failed to complete the infrastructure and was insolvent and unable to finish the work.

In October, Hernando Oaks gave county officials its engineer’s completed site work certificate of cost estimate, showing that the value of finished work on the project was $3.4 million, leaving about $1.6 million in unfinished work.

Reporter Michael D. Bates can be reached at 352-544-5290 or mbates@hernandotoday.com.

Nine County Gridders Feted by FACA District 8

BROOKSVILLE –
On Monday night at Nature Coast Technical, the Sharks filled a huge void.
For the first time its five-year existence, the Sharks finally had some representatives voted on to annual Florida Athletic Coaches Association (FACA) District 8 football meeting.
The 10th ranked Sharks, who tied the school record with their eighth straight win last Friday against Hernando, saw four players and a coach named to FACA Senior All-Star team.
Springstead, which improved to 6-2 with a win Friday over Ridgewood, was a stride behind with four selections.
The 29-member schools that comprise District 8 could not decide on a District Most Valuable Player, settling instead on a co-MVPs.
Groveland-South Lake’s mammoth offensive tackle, Jon Harrison (6-foot-4, 290 pounds, 3.90 grade point average) and East Ridge’s elusive tailback Jeremy Wright (202 attempts, 2,038 yards, 19 touchdowns) tied for top honors. The assembled coaches voted three times, but could not unlock the tie between the duo.
As District 8 co-MVPs, both Lake County players have the inside track on berths in the North/South Senior All-Star Game to be played Dec. 23 at Bryant Stadium in Lakeland.
Any of the 24 senior FACA District 8 selections, however, may be selected to play in the all-star contest representing the expansive five-county (Hernando, Pasco, Citrus, Lake, Sumter), 29-member school district.
On Monday night, 16 schools were represented (only attending FACA member head coaches or a representative could nominate or vote for players) including: Groveland-South Lake, Clermont-East Ridge, Wildwood, The Villages, Bushnell-South Sumter, Land O’Lakes, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills, Spring Hill-Springstead, Brooksville-Nature Coast, Brooksville-Central, Crystal River, NPR-River Ridge, Hudson, Shady Hills-Bishop McLaughlin Catholic and Brooksville-Hernando.
North Suncoast coaching no shows included: Brooksville-Hernando Christian Academy, Lecanto, New Port Richey-Ridgewood, Dade City-Pasco, Inverness-Citrus, New Port Richey-Gulf, NPR-Mitchell, Leesburg, Eustis, Tavares, Mount Dora, Umatilla and Mount Dora Bible.
Participating coaches voted on two all-star squads beginning with the Senior All-District Team.
Another All-District squad was selected including all underclassmen. But in that balloting no non-senior players cracked that select group.
Each all-star squad had 24 allotted positions (including 11 players on offense, 11 on defense, plus one place kicker and one punter) as only the top vote getters were honored.
Also, each classification selected a Player of the Year and a corresponding Coach of the Year.

Sharks rule

The Sharks, who had never before had a player voted on to the FACA District 8 Senior All-Star team, was paced by Class 3A’s Coach of the Year, Jamie Joyner, 3A’s Player of the Year Michael Fields, along with Chad Dampier, D.J. Williams and Britt Langley.
What did it mean for Joyner to receive COY?
“It’s humbling,” explained the fifth-year skipper. “Especially when you look around and see the class that’s in the room. It’s really an honor. What this really means is I have a great coaching staff that works its tail off and we have players that not only put in the effort, but also perform as well. The real credit belongs to the assistant coaches and players.”
Springstead High’s 11th-year Head Coach Bill Vonada agreed with Joyner’s selection?
“Jamie has done a real good job building the program there.”
On Dampier, “He’s kinda been a behind the scenes guy,” described Joyner of his 6-foot-1, 250-pound offensive guard. “He’s done everything we’ve asked to prepare for football season. Last year, he was kinda our sixth man up front. He was the only guy with any real experience coming in. It’s great to see him get his time to lead.”
Three members of Shark defense highlighted the squad.
D.J. Williams enters his ninth game with 51 tackles, including seven for a loss, plus 10 hurries.
On D.J. Williams, “As a sophomore he played great,” commented Joyner. “Then he was hurt for most of his junior year. He finally got back on track this year. He’s a tremendous leader. He loves to do all the dirty work that linemen do. He’s the guy that keeps blockers off our linebackers, so they can make plays. It’s good to see the coaches show some respect for one of our guys in the trenches.”
Langley journeys to South Lake this week behind a team-best 93 tackles, two sacks and five hurries.
On Langley, “Michael (Fields) is the face our defense. (Alfredo) Lindo is our emotional leader. D.J (Williams) is the personality, but Tadd (Govedich) and Britt (Langley) are our quiet assassins. I mean, you never see them and then wham they make the tackle.
“When was the last time you saw a 100-meter champ lead any team in tackles? That’s Britt,” exclaimed Joyner. “Every year, he’s elevated his game. This year, he put the defense on his back. He’s one determined young man.”
Fields enters the South Lake game with 32 tackles, five passes defended and three interceptions. He’s returned two fumbles and one interception for touchdowns this season.
On Fields, “He’s better than he was during his All-State year (when he registered 10 INTs),” said Joyner. “Nobody knew about him last year. This year, no one is throwing toward him. He’s a ball hawk back there at safety. He’s the face of our defense. What’s overlooked is how physical he can be.
“He’s a tremendous athlete,” added Joyner. “If we were a passing team, I’d have no problems throwing the ball 10-12 times his way during the game. He’s a tremendous competitor.”

Eagles: four picks

Springstead was represented by wide receiver Ben Noury and three members from Mike Garofano’s defensive unit: lineman Stan Miele, linebacker Nate Schafer and safety Domnique Roberson.
Noury collected 29 passes for 470 yards and three TDs, besides rushing for 320 yards and adding three scores.
On Noury, “He’s a four-year starter,” described Vonada. “He caught our eye at a very young age. He does whatever we ask him to do, no hesitation. This year, he’s become more of a leader. Definitely, his strength is his versatility. What I like most is he is so cool under pressure. And when the game’s on the line, he wants the ball.”
The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Miele has collected 53 tackles, two sacks and caused two fumbles.
On Miele, “His strength is his motor,” smiled Vonada. “It’s always going. We throw the word relentless a lot when we describe Miele. If he starts left, there’s no hesitation for him to finish on right and be in on the hit. If he makes a mistake, he does not succumb to that mistake.”
Schafer leads the Eagles with 102 tackles, 2½ sacks and two hurries.
On Schafer, “He’s one of those guys that has great ability,” pointed out Vonada. “Now, we’ve complimented him with some more players. He’s a guy who arrives game ready. He recognizes things a lot better this year because of his devotion to film study.”
Roberson has swiped three passes, caused two fumbles and scored twice on defense.
On Roberson, “First and foremost, he’s a playmaker on defense,” described Vonada. “He’s a throwback to how we used to prepare for games. He comes into games totally focused. He’s a visualization guy. And most importantly, he’s a young man with character. We’re fortunate to have a lot of characters guys this year.”

Sports Editor Tony Castro can be reached at (352) 544-5278 or online at acastro@hernandotoday.com.

2008 FACA District 8 Senior All-Star Team
Offensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
QB – Denzel Smith S. Sumter 6-2 200
TB – Jeremy Wright E. Ridge 5-10 185
FB – Brandon Rose The Villages 5-8 155
WR – Ben Noury Springstead 6-1 175
WR – Alex Sampson Zephyrhills 5-11 175
TE – Hunter Newton Hudson 5-9 185
OT – Jon Harrison South Lake 6-4 290
OT – Akeem Marsh Wildwood 6-7 295
OG – Michael Bellamy S. Sumter 6-2 285
OG – Chad Dampier NCT 6-1 250
CT – Kamran Joyer W. Chapel 6-3 307
PK – Alex Spock Land O’Lakes 6-1 195

Defensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
DL – Christian Renner Land O’Lakes 6-1 265
DL – Montana Barnes S. Sumter 6-1 200
DL – Stan Miele Springstead 6-2 255
DL – D.J. Williams NCT 5’10” 238
LB – Sean Raymond Wildwood 6-2 230
LB – Nate Schafer Springstead 5-11 200
LB – Collin Robinson Land O’Lakes 5-11 215
LB – Britt Langley NCT 5-9 180
CB – Michael Fields NCT 6-1 140
CB – Demetrice McCray Wildwood 6-0 170
SS – Domnique Roberson Springstead 6-2 165
PT – Alex Spock Land O’Lakes 6-1 195

District 8 CO-MVPs
Position Player School HT WT
OT – Jon Harrison South Lake 6-4 290
TB – Jeremy Wright E. Ridge 5’10” 185
Coach of the Year: Jamie Joyner – Nature Coast Technical

District 8 Players of the Year
Class 1A MVP – n/a
Class 1B MVP – Jeff Pope, Bishop McLaughlin
Class 2A MVP – Michael Bellamy, South Sumter
Class 2B MVP – D’Andre Mitchell, Wildwood
Class 3A MVP – Michael Fields, NCT
Class 4A MVP – Jon Harrison, South Lake
Class 5A MVP – Alex Spock, Land O’Lakes
Class 6A MVP – Jeremy Wright, East Ridge

District 8 Coaches of the Year
Class 1A – n/a
Class 1B – Marty Williams, Bishop McLaughlin (4-4)
Class 2A – Inman Sherman, South Sumter (8-1)
Class 2B – Matt Thompson, Wildwood (7-1)
Class 3A – Jamie Joyner, NCT (8-0)
Class 4A – John Benedetto, Land O’Lakes (6-2)
Class 5A – n/a
Class 6A – Bud O’Hara, East Ridge (8-1).

All-Star Game Coach Nominations:
John Benedetto – Land O’Lakes

2008 FACA District 8 All-Star Team (seniors and underclassmen)
Offensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
QB – Denzel Smith S. Sumter 6-2 200
TB – Jeremy Wright E. Ridge 5-10 185
FB – Brandon Rose The Villages 5-8 155
WR – Ben Noury Springstead 6-1 175
WR – Alex Sampson Zephyrhills 5-11 175
TE – Hunter Newton Hudson 5-9 185
OT – Jon Harrison South Lake 6-4 290
OT – Akeem Marsh Wildwood 6-7 295
OG – Michael Bellamy S. Sumter 6-2 285
OG – Chad Dampier NCT 6-1 250
CT – Kamran Joyer W. Chapel 6-3 307
PK – Alex Spock Land O’Lakes 6-1 195

Defensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
DL – Christian Renner Land O’Lakes 6-1 265
DL – Montana Barnes S. Sumter 6-1 200
DL – Stan Miele Springstead 6-2 255
DL – D.J. Williams NCT 5’10” 238
LB – Sean Raymond Wildwood 6-2 230
LB – Nate Schafer Springstead 5-11 200
LB – Collin Robinson Land O’Lakes 5-11 215
LB – Britt Langley NCT 5-9 180
CB – Michael Fields NCT 6-1 140
CB – Demetrice McCray Wildwood 6-0 170
SS – Domnique Roberson Springstead 6-2 165
PT – Alex Spock Land O’Lakes 6-1 195

2007 FACA District 8 Senior All-Star Team
Offensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
QB – Tate Humphrey Mitchell 5-10 190
RB – Byrone Arline Ridgewood 6-0 230
FB – Sean Scott Hudson 5-8 190
FL – Jerome Harrison Land O’Lakes 6-3 170
SE – Tyrone Hendrix Mitchell 5-9 160
TE – Nick Castellano Land O’Lakes 6-4 205
OL – John Karakaris Ridgewood 6-5 290
OL – Randy Foucha Wildwood 5-11 200
OL – Tom Doman Mitchell 6-0 235
OL – Reis Morrison Zephyrhills 6-5 230
OL – Raleigh Bamberg Land O’Lakes 6-3 257
PK – Eric Karcinski River Ridge 5-9 160

Defensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
DL – Mike Williams Wildwood 6-1 207
DL – Travis Tindell Hudson 5-10 250
DL – Joe Robinson Land O’Lakes 6-2 220
DL – Taylor Rotunda Hernando 6-3 235
LB – Ben Perry Ridgewood 5-11 230
LB – Raymond Rauch Wesley Chapel6-0 190
LB – Nick Pauliot Hernando 5-8 200
CB – Allyn Williamson Ridgewood 5-10 150
CB – Ely Payne Land O’Lakes 6-4 175
SS – Aaron Jackson Ridgewood 5-10 190
FS – Frank Downie Ridgewood 5-10 170
PT – Lance Babcock River Ridge 6-5 175

District 8 MVP
Position Player School HT WT
RB – Byrone Arline Ridgewood 6-0 230

All-Star Game Coach Nominations:
John Benedetto – Land O’Lakes

District 8 Players of the Year
Class 1A MVP – n/a
Class 1B MVP – n/a
Class 2A MVP – Yourhighness Morgan, South Sumter
Class 2B MVP – Tory Davis, Wildwood
Class 3A MVP – Travis Tindell, Hudson
Class 4A MVP – Byronell Arline, Ridgewood
Class 5A MVP – Tate Humphrey, Mitchell
Class 6A MVP – n/a

District 8 Coaches of the Year
Class 1A – n/a
Class 1B – n/a
Class 2A – Wade Beal, Mount Dora (6-4)
Class 2B – Robert Lindsey, Wildwood (7-4)
Class 3A – Tom McHugh, Pasco (6-5)
Class 4A – Chris Taylor, Ridgewood (9-2)
Class 5A – n/a
Class 6A – n/a

2007 FACA District 8 All-Star Team (seniors and underclassmen)
Offensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
QB – Tate Humphrey Mitchell 5-10 190
RB – Byrone Arline Ridgewood 6-0 230
FB – Sean Scott Hudson 5-8 190
FL – Jerome Harrison Land O’Lakes 6-3 170
SE – Tyrone Hendrix Mitchell 5-9 160
TE – Nick Castellano Land O’Lakes 6-4 205
OL – John Karakaris Ridgewood 6-5 290
OL – Randy Foucha Wildwood 5-11 200
OL – Tom Doman Mitchell 6-0 235
OL – Reis Morrison Zephyrhills 6-5 230
OL – Raleigh Bamberg Land O’Lakes 6-3 257
PK – Alex Spock (11th) Land O’Lakes 6-1 185

Defensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
DL – Damon Evans Eustis 6-2 190
DL – Quinton Willis Tavares 6-4 240
DL – Rhode McPherson South Lake 6-0 205
DL – Cameron Pope Pasco 6-2 295
DL Chris Harris Umatilla 5-10 240
LB – Kendall Smith South Sumter 6-0 207
LB – Greg Lloyd East Ridge 6-3 215
LB – Josh Linam Tavares 6-3 235
CB – Michael Floyd Zephyrhills 5-10 170
CB – Lannie Graham Land O’Lakes 5-10 170
SS – Terry Mobley South Sumter 5-10 165
FS – Curtis Dewberry East Ridge 6-1 192
PT – Lance Pemble Leesburg 6-3 185

2006 FACA District 8 Senior All-Star Team
Offensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
QB – Joe Weatherford Land O’Lakes 6-4 200
RB – DuJuan Harris Central 5-7 180
FB – Richard Kelly South Sumter 6-0 240
FL – Matt Shepherd Leesburg 6-1 170
SE – Develyn Robinson Land O’Lakes 6-0 175
TE – Chris Doran Hernando 6-3 215
CT – Lee Smith LandO’Lakes 6-0 220
OG – Justin Blake Leesburg 6-1 280
OG – Hudson Harrison Eustis 6-4 230
OT – Bo Massey South Sumter 6-1 288
OT – Josh Guthrie South Lake 6-5 320
PK – Kody Stump Sumter Sumter6-1 170

Defensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
DL – Damon Evans Eustis 6-2 190
DL – Quinton Willis Tavares 6-4 240
DL – Rhode McPherson South Lake 6-0 205
DL – Cameron Pope Pasco 6-2 295
DL Chris Harris Umatilla 5-10 240
LB – Kendall Smith South Sumter 6-0 207
LB – Greg Lloyd East Ridge 6-3 215
LB – Josh Linam Tavares 6-3 235
CB – Michael Floyd Zephyrhills 5-10 170
CB – Lannie Graham Land O’Lakes 5-10 170
SS – Terry Mobley South Sumter 5-10 165
FS – Curtis Dewberry East Ridge 6-1 192
PT – Lance Pemble Leesburg 6-3 185

District 8 MVP
Position Player School HT WT
LB – Kendall Smith South Sumter 6-0 207

All-Star Game Coach Nominations:
Steve Moser – Eustis
Cliff Lohrey – Central

District 8 Players of the Year
Class 1A MVP – Ontario McCaleb, Fort Meade
Class 1B MVP – Stephen Johnson, Hernando Christian Academy
Class 2A MVP – Kendall Smith, South Sumter
Class 2B MVP – Kelvin Jackson, Wildwood
Class 3A MVP – Josh Linam, Tavares
Class 4A MVP – DuJuan Harris, Central
Class 5A MVP – Joe Weatherford, Land O’Lakes
Class 6A MVP – Greg Lloyd, East Ridge

District 8 Coaches of the Year
Class 1A – Mike Hayde, Fort Meade (5-4)
Class 1B – Steve Johnson, Hernando Christian Academy (5-5)
Class 2A – Inman Sherman, South Sumter (9-1)
Class 2B – Robert Lindsey, Wildwood (4-5)
Class 3A – Tom Fisher, Zephyrhills (8-1)
Class 4A – Cliff Lohrey, Central (7-2)
Class 5A – John Benedetto, Land O’Lakes (8-1)
Class 6A – Bud O’Hara, East Ridge (7-2)

2006 FACA District 8 All-Star Team (seniors and underclassmen)
Offensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
QB – Joe Weatherford Land O’Lakes 6-4 200
RB – Jeff Demps South Lake 5-9 170
FB – Richard Kelly South Sumter 6-0 240
FL – Matt Shepherd Leesburg 6-1 170
SE – Develyn Robinson Land O’Lakes 6-0 175
TE – Chris Doran Hernando 6-3 215
CT – Lee Smith LandO’Lakes 6-0 220
OG – Justin Blake Leesburg 6-1 280
OG – Hudson Harrison Eustis 6-4 230
OT – Bo Massey South Sumter 6-1 288
OT – Josh Guthrie South Lake 6-5 320
PK – Kody Stump Sumter Sumter6-1 170

Defensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
DL – Damon Evans Eustis 6-2 190
DL – Quinton Willis Tavares 6-4 240
DL – Rhode McPherson South Lake 6-0 205
DL – Cameron Pope Pasco 6-2 295
DL Chris Harris Umatilla 5-10 240
LB – Kendall Smith South Sumter 6-0 207
LB – Greg Lloyd East Ridge 6-3 215
LB – Josh Linam Tavares 6-3 235
CB – Michael Floyd Zephyrhills 5-10 170
CB – Lannie Graham Land O’Lakes 5-10 170
SS – Terry Mobley South Sumter 5-10 165
FS – Curtis Dewberry East Ridge 6-1 192
PT – Lance Pemble Leesburg 6-3 185

2005 FACA District 8 Senior All-Star Team
Offensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
QB – Jarrod Fleming South Sumter 5-11 173
RB – Ricardo Gillard Villages 5-10 165
FB – Seth Metz Springstead 5-9 190
FL – Carlos Everett South Sumter 6-4 200
SE – Richard Jackson East Ridge 6-4 200
TE – Caz Piurowski Land O’Lakes 6-7 250
CT – Chris Bender Center 6-0 245
OG – Demsey Tavo Mitchell 5-10 235
OG – John Walsh Ridgewood 6-2 275
OT – Chris Sibilia Springstead 6-3 275
OT – Russ Hughes Land O’Lakes 6-3 220
PK – Danny Green South Lake 5-11 185

Defensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
DL – Caz Piurowski Land O’Lakes 6-7 250
DL – Mike Willis Tavares 6-5 240
DL – Brandon Ward South Sumter 6-5 210
DL – Mark Revelia Wesley Chapel6-0 230
DL Chris Harris Umatilla 5-10 240
LB – Chris Patrick East Ridge 6-2 215
LB – Kadero Terrell Eustis 6-3 230
LB – Joe Brandau Mitchell 5-9 185
CB – Bryan Thomas Zephyrhills 6-3 190
CB – Lannie Graham Land O’Lakes 5-10 170
SS – Andrew Ortiz Springstead 6-1 195
FS – Richard Chaney Lecanto 6-1 190
PT – C.J. Hnilicia Ridgewood 6-0 180

District 8 MVP
Position Player School HT WT
WR/CB – Bryan Thomas Zephyrhills 6-3 190

2004 FACA District 8 Senior All-Star Team
Offensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
QB – Ian Wald Springstead 6-0 185
RB – Carl Robinson Wildwood 6-2 185
FB – Nathan Toole Hudson 6-2 215
FL – Charles Dodson Umatilla 6-0 165
SE – Jeremy Flowers Central 6-0 180
TE – Izryal Webb Citrus 6-2 195
CT – Khalil Madani Wesley Chapel6-3 300
OG – Lee Shaver East Ridge 6-3 315
OG – William Wilson Springstead 6-0 255
OT – Danny Tolley Wesley Chapel6-6 305
OT – Colin Roddy East Ridge 6-2 275
PK – Justin DeMutiis Springstead 5-7 150

Defensive Selections
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL HT WGT
DL – Ryan Pace East Ridge 5-11 190
DL – Jerry Carter Pasco 6-3 275
DL – Casey Smith Mitchell 6-1 225
DL – James Jones Leesburg 5-11 225
LB – Scott Mays Land O’Lakes 5-10 208
LB – Pedro Jasso South Sumter 6-0 225
LB – Daniel Harris Central 5-10 195
CB – Joe Burnett Eustis 5-10 185
CB – Joe Huggins East Ridge 5-10 180
SS – Nate Youngblood South Sumter 5-10 180
FS – Fabian Wilson South Sumter 5-11 170
PT – John Heiser Wesley Chapel6-1 175

District 8 MVP
Position Player School HT WT
RB/CB – Joe Burnett Eustis 5-10 185

2003 FACA District 8 Senior All-Star Team
Offensive Selections
POS PLAYER SCHOOL HT WT
QB – Drew Weatherford Land O’Lakes 6-3 210
RB – Dante O’Neal Pasco 5-9 160
RB – Dontrel Lewis Umatilla 5-9 275
FL – Johnny Peyton Pasco 6-5 180
SE – Josh Hladky South Lake 6-1 175
TE – Jordan Hoolihan River Ridge 6-1 200
C – Seth Fabin Wesley Chapel6-3 285
OG – Daniel Cerf Zephyrhills 6-1 245
OG – Casey Martin South Sumter 6-3 260
OT – Drew Noe South Sumter 6-4 300
OT – Charles Gonyea Springstead 6-0 255
PK – Mike Hibbert Central 5-11 175

Defensive Selections
POS PLAYER SCHOOL HT WT
NG – Daniel Cerf Zephyrhills 6-1 245
DT – Jesse Sheffer South Sumter 6-1 265
DT – Rob Kennedy South Lake 6-1 245
DE – David McLeod Umatilla 6-0 185
DE – Chuck Emerson Wesley Chapel5-11 170
LB – Luke Leininger South Lake 6-2 215
LB – Darnell Craig Central 6-2 200
CB – Rod Roberts Hernando 5-9 180
CB – Derrick Johnson Eustis 5-11 180
SS – Josh Faust Umatilla 6-3 190
FS – Chris Bunch Crystal River 6-3 180
PT – Gabriel Montelongo Wesley Chapel6-2 185

District 8 MVP
POS PLAYER SCHOOL HT WT
QB – Drew Weatherford Land O’Lakes 6-3 210

Top Offensive Players
POS PLAYER SCHOOL HT WT
QB – Drew Weatherford Land O’Lakes 6-3 210
WR – Johnny Peyton Pasco 6-5 180

Top Defensive Players
POS PLAYER SCHOOL HT WT
FS – Chris Bunch Crystal River 6-3 180
DT – Daniel Cerf Zephyrhills 6-1 245

2002 FACA District 8 Senior All-Star Team
Offensive Selections
POS PLAYER SCHOOL HT WT
QB – Ben Alford Pasco 6-2 185
RB – Tyrone Tomlin Wesley Chapel6-1 210
RB – Tim Gaynor Central 5-11 190
FL – Logan Payne Land O’Lakes 6-2 180
SE – Wes Reynolds South Lake 5-10 165
TE – Dustin Collins Land O’Lakes 6-1 190
C – Bobby O’Dell Land O’Lakes 6-3 305
OG – Clay Styncomb Umatilla 6-1 218
OG – Walter Truzack Hudson 6-1 245
OT – Joey Tuttle Land O’Lakes 6-3 235
OT – Carlton Medder South Lake 6-6 320
PK – Bobby Batista Central 6-0 200

Defensive Selections
POS PLAYER SCHOOL HT WT
NG – Doug Burden Zephyrhills 5-7 160
DT – Derrick Gentles Wesley Chapel6-6 265
DT – Shane Hand Zephyrhills 6-2 300
DE – Kirk Moats Pasco 6-2 210
DE – Adamm Oliver Ridgewood 6-4 240
LB – Ben Moffitt South Sumter 6-2 235
LB – Joel Maple Umatilla 6-2 190
CB – Sam Miller South Sumter 5-10 190
CB – Marcus Allen Pasco 5-9 165
SS – Earl Everett South Sumter 6-3 210
FS – Derek Henry Umatilla 6-1 170
PT – Ben Alford Pasco 6-2 185

District 8 MVP
POS PLAYER SCHOOL HT WT
SS – Earl Everett South Sumter 6-3 210
Top Offensive Players

POS PLAYER SCHOOL HT WT
WR – Logan Payne Land O’Lakes 6-2 180
OT – Carlton Medder South Lake 6-6 320

Top Defensive Players
POS PLAYER SCHOOL HT WT
SS – Earl Everett South Sumter 6-3 210
DE – Adamm Oliver Ridgewood 6-4 240

VA Clinic Expands At PineBrook

BROOKSVILLE – Up until recently, some mental health patients at the VA Community Clinic on Cortez Boulevard communicated with psychologists in Tampa via two-way television monitors.

“Obviously, that’s not ideal,” Leonard Orban, chief medical officer at the Brooksville clinic, said Friday.

A second psychologist, Guillermo Cadena, joined the clinic staff last summer, but space was so tight he was relegated to a file room.

Now Cadena, the other psychologist and support staff are seeing patients in a 1,100-square-foot suite in the PineBrook Medical Center. The medical center has housed the clinic for the last 10 years. The mental health division expanded into the suite in November.

The consultations via television are no longer necessary.

“It’s nice to have the whole team together in one space,” Cadena said. And, he added, “It’s more private.”

Officials will celebrate the new space with a ribbon cutting at 9 a.m. Friday, Dec. 11.

U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite will be on hand.

The Brooksville Republican pushed for funding for the extra space, as she did for the clinic’s first expansion in 2004, to ensure reasonable wait times for appointments as the county’s veteran population grows.

“The need is there,” Brown-Waite said in an interview last week.

In 2005, the Brooksville clinic had 19,773 visits. That number jumped to 23,909 in 2006 and climbed again to 26,000 last year.

Brown-Waite, whose 5th Congressional District has the second-highest number of veterans of any district in the nation, said “today’s warriors” need to be considered, too.

“We have to remember we have (military personnel) serving in Afghanistan and Iraq and they’ll be coming back and needing services,” she said.

Orban, the PineBrook chief medical officer, said the wait time for appointments is 30 days or less in most cases. Wait times to see a psychologist have dropped in the last two months since the expansion, he said.

In addition to a second psychologist, the clinic also recently added a fourth physician and a nurse case manager. Two more nurses and three additional clerks also will come on board soon, Orban said.

He also hopes to add a third psychologist.

Adding several staff members would have been difficult or impossible without the expansion, he said.

“We were packed to the gills,” Orban said.

The clinic had operated with roughly 8,000 square feet since 2004. Officials limited the most recent expansion to 1,100 square feet so as not to surpass a total square-footage of 10,000.

Expansion beyond that requires Congressional approval and oversight and must be included in the VA’s Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services, or CARES, program.

The program, established in 2004, acts as a guide for where the VA will invest in capital projects to provide additional medical services.

It can be a lengthy process, however, and Brown-Waite and other officials wanted to make sure the Brooksville Clinic got at least some extra space as soon as possible.

The Brooksville clinic is one of five community-based clinics under the auspices of James A. Haley Veterans Hospital that provide primary care and behavioral care services so veterans don’t have to travel to Tampa.

The other four clinics are in Zephyrhills, Lakeland, Kissimmee and Sanford.

New Port Richey has a larger outpatient clinic that provides more specialist services than the community clinics. Veterans from Hernando County visit that 40,000-square-foot facility for a full range of primary and mental health care and laboratory services, as well as access to an array of specialist services such as orthopedics, radiology and dermatology.

Brown-Waite said that she fielded many complaints about waiting times at the clinic after she was first elected in 2002.

Now she receives hardly any and said she plans to work with the VA to help it stay that way: Her office is currently compiling data on expected growth in Hernando and surrounding counties that Brown-Waite said will show a need for a new clinic in Brooksville.

It could be as large as 30,000 square feet and built by 2011, she said.

“My job is to convince the CARES Commission of that,” Brown-Waite said. “I think veterans will help me.”

If You Go

WHAT: Ribbon-cutting for the expanded Brooksville VA Community-based Clinic.

WHEN: 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 11.

WHERE: PineBrook Medical Center, 14540 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville.

CONTACT: 352-597-8287.

Reporter Tony Marrero can be reached at 352-544-5286 or lmarrero@hernandotoday.com.