AUBURNDALE — The Haines City Hornets opened Friday's Week One game against the host Auburndale Bloodhounds by successfully recovering an onside kick attempt. 

In a lot of ways, that was as good as it got for the Hornets (0-1), as the Bloodhounds (1-0) recovered and ultimately defeated their guests 42-0.

Auburndale, in its first regular season game under first-time head coach Kyle Sasser, overcame some sloppy play early and soundly earned a win behind a defensive effort that allowed just two first downs.

"I was happy with the effort but it's definitely Week One — you could tell," Sasser said afterward. "The effort was there with the kids and they know where to be. ... We're still young, we're still learning and we've got a long way to go."

Senior quarterback B.J. Bridges got the scoring started for Auburndale midway through the first quarter with a 40-yard touchdown pass to Cam Laguerre. That would be followed a punt returned for a touchdown by Merari McCullough — the first of two touchdowns for the junior — and a defensive touchdown by Kevin Senatus, who picked up a botched option toss and took it the other way for a score.

Merari's second score was followed by a rushing touchdown for Tadarius Thomas — the first of two scores for junior. Later, while still in the first half, a safety put the Bloodhounds ahead 36-0, meaning a running clock would drastically shorten the length of the second half.

For Sasser, who served as Auburndale's defensive coordinator in 2018 and is in his first stint as a head coach, the Week One had added significance.

"I'll remember it, that's for sure," Sasser said.

Haines City will head on the road again to take on Bartow in Week Two, while Auburndale will travel to Bradenton's Bayshore High.

Contact Steven Ryzewski at sryzewski@d-r.media.

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