Springfield football team looking to create ‘atmosphere of competition’
LAKEMORE — With a roster full of inexperience, Springfield football head coach Kevin Vaughn said his team is using the preseason to go “back to basics” a bit.
“We’re replacing seven two-way players, so that’s seven players on each side of the ball. That means we will be young, but at the same time we have a lot more depth this year because our numbers are better. It will be interesting to see how the season begins and plays out,” he said. “It makes us want to really hone in on the basics and stick to the fundamental philosophy of what we try to do and just get good at those schemes and the way we go about things. With the lack of experience, it’s hard to move on to the next step if we haven’t accomplished step one. So we’re really centered on getting good at the basics of what we want to do and becoming confident in it.”
Last season, Springfield finished with a 2-8 overall record, but Vaughn said the record isn’t necessarily an indication of how his team played and improved as the season progressed.
“I thought the season went well, regardless of the win-loss record,” he said. “We competed at an adequate level.”
One key for this season, the coach said, is that the team’s quarterback, Chad Baker, is returning for his junior season.
“I think we’re looking for improvement from him,” Vaughn said. “I think he did a pretty good job managing the position as a young player, but with 10 games under his belt as a sophomore, you can already tell he feels more comfortable with being a leader and directing the offense on the field. We expect good things out of him.”
With so many new players set to start on offense this season, Vaughn said Baker will have to step up and show even more leadership.
“We’re replacing the entire offensive line, and we’re replacing our entire backfield as well,” he said. “Chad understands what we need of him. He’s going to be a definite benefit because of what we have returning, and he’s someone we can build our offense around.”
The only other returning player on offense, Vaughn stated, is junior tight end Nick Wodzisz.
“He’s been injured or dealing with some illnesses throughout camp, so we’re still trying to see how he is coming along,” the coach said. “He played last year as a sophomore, for about 10 games, and he did get bigger and a little bit faster, and I think with those attributes, he’ll get a little more confident. We think he’ll be able to contribute the way we need him to.”
According to Vaughn, just about every position on the field aside from quarterback is up for grabs this year.
“We have 21 juniors, but the majority of them don’t have experience,” he said. “We’re trying to create an atmosphere of competition. We’re lining up two people at each position and having them duke it out to figure out the best combination we can put on the field. By the same token, we’re trying to limit two-way players this season, because we have so many juniors and sophomores, we’re trying to limit the responsibility we put on them.”
The one senior on the team with playing experience this season, the coach said, is D’Artanyan Stanard.
“Last year, he played guard for us,” Vaughn said. “But this year, he’s repping out on offense at fullback, and on defense he’s repping out at middle linebacker. I think he’ll be contributing more on the defensive side of the ball, but he does a good job at both.”
Vaughn said the team’s defense will be “based off of two players.”
“They’re both returning starters and they’re both juniors,” he said. “One is Larry Boso. Larry will be playing the outside linebacker position for us. The other is Shane Robinson. Last year, he played safety for us, but he will be the other outside linebacker for us. They are both very similar players — they’re both tall, rangy kids who move well. We’re looking to use their stature and their upfield speed as a foundation for what we want to do with our defense.”
Springfield will open the regular season Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. at Ellet High School. The team’s home opener is slated for Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. vs. Canton Central Catholic.
“We need to limit mistakes and execute,” Vaughn said. “We need to develop team leadership. If we can do those things, and continue to work hard, I think we’ll see growth and head in the direction we want to as a football team this year.”
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