Tigers tango with Carey
NEW MIDDLETOWN — The Springfield football team has a goal each year to practice on Thanksgiving.
While some may step onto a football field at this time of the year for their annual Turkey Bowl with friends, the Tigers always want the opportunity to play and practice with a purpose.
After a 43-27 win over Mogadore last Saturday at Salem’s Sebo Stadium in the Division VI, Region 21 championship game, the Tigers got what they were hoping for. But, this season, the Tigers are driven by something much bigger.
They want a state championship.
“When you talk about the kids and us playing in the state game, obviously we’ve lost two and they want to win one,” Springfield coach Sean Guerriero said. “They have a chip on their shoulder and they want to prove that we can do it. That comes from our seniors. I think they do a great job of motivating our kids and keeping them in line. Even our scout team is getting better because we’ve been playing so long, so they are starting to give the varsity kids better looks and it’s just a positive thing to keep it going this long.
“The seniors played in the first one and we got our butts kicked and then last year, it was obviously a close game that could’ve gone either way. But I think these kids are really motivated to try and get this one.”
Two years ago, the Tigers made a run to the state championship after a perfect regular season and then fell to Anna 48-14 in the championship. Then, just a year ago, the Tigers went through the season undefeated yet again, but suffered a heartbreaking loss to Coldwater in the state title game, 38-35.
Now, the Tigers are out to prove those two years weren’t flukes, and they are hoping to finally break through for the big one.
In order to do so, Springfield (13-1) will have to get through a tough Carey (13-1) team that, like Springfield, has won every game since dropping its season opener.
The Tigers lost to South Range 41-21 back on Aug. 20, while Carey lost to Hopewell Loudon 30-15 that same night.
According to Guerriero, the Blue Devils are a team that has a lot of size up front, and they utilize it. They’ll line up in double-tight ends and stack I’s, and he expects them to try and eat the clock and keep Springfield’s high-powered offense off the field.
But, with the type of offense and defense the Blue Devils run, Guerriero feels as though the Tigers will have a style that Carey hasn’t dealt with this season.
“I don’t think they have played anyone that can do what we can do,” Guerriero said. “I mean, we can come out in double-tight, two-back, but I also feel like we can go 5-wide. I feel like with the teams that we saw, their opponents tried to pack it in and match their physicality. But, I think that we can attack them and do some things in different ways.”
To combat Carey’s physicality, size, and hard-nosed running style, the Tigers could utilize their slew of athletes that have scored a total of 589 points this season.
That offense has been led by senior quarterback Beau Brungard, who has passed for 1,759 yards and 22 touchdowns, while also rushing for 1,607 yards and 30 touchdowns. He’s done it all for the Tigers and rushed for 252 yards and four touchdowns last Saturday, but the amount of athletes that Springfield has makes him even more dangerous.
“He’s such a great athlete and people talk about his running ability but I think he’s throwing ability, to me, is underestimated and he throws a lot of great footballs,” Guerriero said. “We have the athletes around him too which I think has made it so unique. We’ve had the kids around him where he doesn’t have to do it all by himself. I know it seems like he does but we have a lot of different athletes where we can spread the ball around. You can’t just put eight guys on Beau and say we’re gonna forget about everyone else.”
The Tigers are looking to head back to the state title game for the third time in just as many years and they’ll try to do so on Saturday at Euclid’s Community Stadium.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.