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BROOKSVILLE, FL - Running Back University is alive and well at Nature Coast Technical High School.

The Sharks over the years have branded themselves as Hernando County’s go-to-school for running back development and the A-list names of rushers to come through is quite impressive. From former Western Michigan tailback Tevin Drake to former Florida A&M speedster De’Shawn Smith to current NFL’er Matt Breida, Nature Coast has produced some solid running backs.

Now the Sharks have Christian Cromer as the next in line of talented tailbacks to lead the way and with an offer from Army already on the table, he should have plenty of suitors his junior season. Cromer rushed for over 1,500 yards in 2021 and could have his eyes set on 2,000-plus this fall, but Sharks head coach Cory Johns said that it’s not all about stats for his bulldozing back.

“I wouldn’t say anything less than 2,000 is a disappointment,” Johns said. “(Christian) Cromer is unselfish. So if he gets 1,500 and we win, he won’t care and neither will I. For us it’s about winning, not stats.”

Handing off the ball to Cromer will be sophomore quarterback Jackson Hoyt, who has made a name for himself on the diamond in baseball. Already a University of Florida commitment, Hoyt brings an element to the team as the signal caller and could bring a little bit more balance on offense for Nature Coast.

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“Jackson Hoyt is a phenomenal kid,” Johns said. “Works his butt off. Is very athletic, throws well on the run as well as in the pocket. Best thing about Jackson is his decision making. To this point he doesn’t turn the ball over and that is key.”

Last season, Nature Coast went through some growing pains and it showed through district play as the Sharks ended up finishing second to Zephyrhills in Class 5A, District 9. Now in a new Class 2-Suburban, District 11, Nature Coast, joined by Anclote, Central, Weeki Wachee and Hudson, feels it should be able to compete for a district championship and beyond.

“The district is the district. I wouldn’t say we have a rivalry with anyone but Hernando and Springstead,” Johns added.

“I don’t know a lot about the other teams as most of them got new coaches this off season. I am looking forward to seeing what we got. Winning the district is a goal. Always will be. Everything we do, we do it to win. Love these kids and can’t wait to see what all this hard work gets them this season.”

Andy Villamarzo can be reached at andyvillamarzo@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @Andy_Villamarzo.