Springfield seniors get one last hurrah under Guerriero in Penn-Ohio game
BEAVER TOWNSHIP — What started with the Springfield Little Tigers football program years ago will come to a head Thursday in the Penn-Ohio All-Star Classic.
Six Springfield players will take to the field representing team Ohio at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa. to play their last game together after a historic run of success over the past few seasons.
Beau Brungard, Nick Slike, Bo Snyder, Zeek Worsencroft, AJ Stallsmith and Aaron Groner helped lead the Tigers to three straight state semifinal games, as well as back-to-back state championship appearances in 2019 and 2020.
“I feel fortunate enough to have had those guys in our program for the past four years,” said Springfield head coach and Ohio team coach Sean Guerriero. “To be able to come out here and get eight more practices and one more game with them, it’s special to me because we have accomplished so much.
“I think it’s a good way to close out their careers to be able to represent Ohio and come out and still be able to showcase what they can do and what the team can do.”
Of the roughly 30 players chosen to represent the Ohio team, six are from Springfield, the most from any single school on the team. West Branch had four players chosen, and South Range and Valley Christian each had two players selected.
“That’s not a fluke,” Stallsmith said. “Everybody out here deserves to be here. They’re athletes. We got five great guys who have contributed to the success of our team over the past few years and they’re out here now because they deserve it.”
This group of Tigers wanted to end their careers with at least one state championship on their resumes, but they’ll settle for the opportunity to take to the field one last time before they each go their separate ways.
“We didn’t end the season the way we wanted to, but just to get out there one more time and enjoy some football with my brothers — there’s nothing better than that,” Stallsmith said.
They’ll each get to line up in their respective positions that they played for Springfield, with some playing both ways, according to Guerriero. Worsencroft and Stallsmith will be in the trenches up front, with Groner lining up at tight end and linebacker. Brungard will reprise his role at quarterback, with Snyder joining him in the backfield, while Slike will play out wide.
With the Springfield coaches in charge of the Buckeye squad, Brungard said they’ll be running almost the same system and plays that they did with the Tigers.
“It’s just kind of simplified,” he said. “The new guys have to learn a whole new offense in a week-and-a-half. That’s not easy. So it’s been simplified down, but it’s still really good and the guys have been working hard at it.”
For players like Brungard and South Range’s Dylan Dominguez, the Penn-Ohio All-Star Classic represents the last time they’ll play high school football before making the jump to the collegiate level. Brungard and Dominguez are both headed to YSU in the fall and will begin fall camp later this summer ahead of the start of their freshman season.
“It just sharpens the skills — get the pads back on and get that feeling of just what football games are like,” Brungard said. “Whether it’s throwing or cutting or just getting under center, it just helps sharpen the skills and get you prepared for the fall.”
However, for others, it’ll be the last time they play on the gridiron for the rest of their lives.
“You’ve been playing with guys for so long, that just when you think it’s over, you get to come back out and play with them again and have a good time,” Brungard said. “So the past week, we’ve really been enjoying it, just practicing together and playing like we used to. It’ll be fun to get out there and play again.”