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Local Sports

  • Koetter candidate for Buccaneers job

    TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are searching for their fourth coach in seven years after deciding Lovie Smith wasn’t the answer to making the franchise relevant again.

    General manager Jason Licht said Thursday that offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is a strong candidate to fill the vacancy after working with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston this season. Licht stressed the Bucs also will explore options outside the organization to try to transform the last-place team into a playoff contender.

  • Added bonus for Pirates

    Keshon Hopkins wasn’t in the Crystal River basketball team’s plans to be a key contributor this season.

    It wasn’t for the 6-foot-2 converted forward’s lack of ability. Quite the opposite, since his potency around the rim and status as the lone Pirate senior make him a premium asset for a young and somewhat under-sized Crystal River boys squad.

  • The strongest survives

    LECANTO — For the past six years, the county crown in girls weightlifting sat comfortably with Citrus High School. It wasn’t until last season, a one-point win over Lecanto in the county meet, that competition was visibly at it’s stiffest. Then on Thursday night at Lecanto High School, the Hurricanes were dethroned. 

    Has the tide completely turned? Perhaps not, but waves were certainly made with a 10-point Panther win to bring the county championship back to Lecanto after years of Citrus dominance.

  • No love for Lovie

    TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired coach Lovie Smith on Wednesday night.

    Smith went 6-10 this season and 8-24 over two years in charge of the team. The announcement came as a surprise to many because Smith’s job was not considered to be in danger.

  • Leaving her mark

    David Pieklik: Correspondent

    On and off the field, Megan Houpt is a study in consistency.

    There’s the 4.5 grade point average, participation in student government and numerous other after school activities. And on the soccer pitch for Lecanto, she’s virtually an impenetrable wall, defending attack after attack to near perfection.

  • Purdue QB Appleby to Florida

    GAINESVILLE — Purdue quarterback Austin Appleby is transferring to Florida.

    A fourth-year junior who graduated last month, Appleby announced his intentions on his Twitter page late Monday. He would be eligible to play for the Gators next season under the NCAA’s graduate-transfer rule.

  • Winston’s progress gives Buccaneers hope for upcoming seasons

    TAMPA — Jameis Winston stood in the middle of the Tampa Bay locker room, talking about why the team has a promising future.

    The Buccaneers (6-10) tripled their victory total from a year ago, and the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft was the biggest reason why.

  • Trio of Tigers named AP 4A All-State football

    Three Dunnellon High School football players garnered AP Class 4A All-State honors on Tuesday for their impressive contributions to a squad that finished a perfect 10-0 in the regular season and won its first playoff game since 2003.

    Javonte Johnson was selected to the first team offense as an offensive lineman, while senior linebacker Zahid Hujurat and junior defensive end Jarod Hamm made the second team.

  • Center of attention

    C.J. Risak

    Correspondent

    A limited bench, limited further by an early-

    season injury to a key player. If the Citrus girls basketball team was to continue its success — the Hurricanes have dominated their district the past four years — it would have to find a way.

  • Newton, Panthers beat Bucs in finale 38-10, clinch NFC’s No. 1 seed

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton had a wide smile after the game on Sunday, knowing that if any team hopes to prevent Carolina from reaching the Super Bowl, they’ll have to go through Charlotte.

    “It’s extremely big,” Newton said of the Panthers securing home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

    Newton ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more, and the Panthers