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Steinbrenner: Fernandez setting tone with some huge hits

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 20, 2013 at 08:28 PM
LUTZ -

Danny Fernandez was a baseball player first. Football was just something he watched on TV.

That all changed when Fernandez turned 10 and gave football a try.

"Once I started playing, I fell in love with it,'' Fernandez said. "It was great. I could hit somebody and not get in trouble.''

At 5-foot-8, 155 pounds, Fernandez doesn't strike the most imposing figure on a football field, but the senior defensive back more than makes up for it with attitude.

"I've always been one of the smaller guys on the team, so I've felt like I've got something to prove, not just to other teams, but to my team,'' he said. "I've always had a chip on my shoulder that I've got to go out and hit hard or I'm going to get hit hard.

"I like to set the tone.''

That attitude serves him well on the Steinbrenner High football team, one of the newest schools in the county. Fernandez and his teammates had to overcome the newbie label and all that it implies.

They took their lumps the first season when the team, made up of players from various schools, played a mixture of junior varsity and varsity games.

"The first season was kind of tough, but once we got through that first offseason, we really started to bond,'' he said. "The week after our last game, we were in the weight room. We were together throughout the entire summer. After a year of being together, we were pretty close.''

The team chemistry was evident last season when the Warriors finished a full varsity schedule 5-5, including victories against East Bay, Lennard and Middleton. That spurred the team to hit the weight room even harder.

"This offseason we put all our time to try and get better,'' Fernandez said. "It's been fun, it's been a lot of fun. Everyone had been working so hard, so once we played the spring game and got that win, that good win, it felt great.

"Our hard work paid off so we want to work harder to see where this take us.''

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