SPRINGFIELD – It’s still a couple of weeks away before the start of District 10-2A play for the Springfield football team, and coach Ryan Serpas said the Bulldogs still have some cleaning up to do.
At the same time, the Bulldogs may be starting to find a bit of a groove offensively. And they may be getting a bit of a boost with the return of quarterback Bryan Babb to the team.
Babb, who took all of Springfield’s first-team reps during 7-on-7 drills over the summer before transferring the week of the jamboree, returned to Springfield last week and was cleared by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.
That doesn’t mean the Bulldogs will be making a change at quarterback heading into Friday’s 7 p.m. game at South Plaquemines.
“We’ll see how things progress,” Serpas said. “As of right now, unless something dramatic changes at practice, I foresee RJ (Serpas) being the starter right now, and then Babb starting to take a couple series here and there, and we’ll kind of see how it goes from there.”
RJ Serpas has seven touchdown passes in the past two games, including four in last week’s 49-6 win over North Central -- two to Travon Washington, one to Noah Bonura and one to Bradlyn McKay.
“He’s definitely getting more comfortable back there,” Ryan Serpas said of RJ Serpas. “It’s one of those things where he got kind of thrust into that role early on. Most people don’t understand the magnitude of what it takes to play that position until you actually get out there and have to play it. I think that as time has gone on, he’s definitely looking more comfortable doing it, and he’s making better reads and doing a good job of making plays whenever the opportunity’s there.
“It’s a combination to, of whenever we’re getting down into the red zone area, teams get more aggressive and are trying to stop our run game, so they’re going to commit more guys to the box, which is going to only open up the passing game and give us those one-on-one contests that allow us to be more successful as well," Coach Serpas said. "It’s more also just being able to take whatever the defense is going to give us at that point too.”
Given that success, Ryan Serpas said the Bulldogs aren’t in a hurry to get Babb back into the fold.
“He’s missed about six weeks of playing time, so the offense isn’t quite the same offense that it was when he left," Ryan Serpas said. "And not being a part of it for six weeks, so there’s a re-learning process he’s got to go through, then he’s got to pick up on all the subtle adjustments that we’ve made over the past six weeks as well to get up to speed to where we’re at right now.
“I’m real happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish offensively, so he can add a dynamic to our offense that we haven’t had the last six weeks, but it’s going to kind of depend on when he’s ready, and his timeline is going to be based off of what he shows us in practice and everything,” Ryan Serpas continued. “We’re not trying to rush him into the situation. It’s not a dire situation where ‘hey, you’ve got to go out there and be successful for us right now.’ It’s more ‘hey, the offense has been doing a pretty good job. As soon as you’re able and capable of understanding the things that we’re doing on that side of the ball, those opportunities are going to start coming for him.”
At the same time, Ryan Serpas said Babb’s arrival will only help the Bulldogs down the stretch, adding experience and depth at quarterback with Tyler Ratcliff also in the fold.
“We’re not holding anything against him,” Ryan Serpas said. “We’re happy that he’s back with us, and I think it’s only going to make us a stronger team whenever we hit our stride in district the more that he’s learning and capable of being able to help contribute.”
South Plaquemines (1-4) is coming off a 21-12 loss to Amite and has just 22 players on its roster. Ryan Serpas, however, said the Hurricanes have a trio of talented players in Dontavius Johnson, Isaiah Jason and Dallin Sylve.
“They don’t have a whole lot of players, but they’re a very scrappy, athletic team,” Ryan Serpas said. “They have three kids at least that I see athlete-wise that could play for any team and be stars on any team that we’ve played so far this season. Those kids are the heart and soul of their team, and it’s definitely now a one-man show over there like say a Pearl River was. It’s going to be a team contribution, and they’re going to try to get their athletes in space and try to get their athletes in space and dare you to do certain things offensively and defensively, and I think we’re going to have our hands full.”
Ryan Serpas said Johnson, Jason and Sylve have one thing in common.
“They don’t fall on first contact,” Ryan Serpas said. “They’re explosive and whenever they get a crease, just that explosion, you see that burst of speed that they display is something that is going to be hard to defend. We’re going to have to make sure that whenever we have our opportunities to tackle those guys that we don’t allow them to get into the open field and make big plays on us.”
The Hurricanes base out of a 5-2 defense, with Johnson and Jason playing in the secondary.
“They play kind of off and back coverage-wise, so I think their defensive ends do a great job of squeezing down hard and really kind of bringing that edge pressure to kind of get the ball out of there in a hurry,” Ryan Serpas said. “That’s something we’ve definitely got to be aware of is how their defensive ends play.”
Ryan Serpas said he’s been impressed by the Hurricanes’ closing speed on defense.
“One thing that really stands out to me when I watch film on them is they’re great tacklers,” Ryan Serpas said. “They’ll be in space, and just one-on-one tackling for them looks great. That’s something that we’ve been trying to preach as a team – become better tacklers – and when you put on the film and watch them tackle, it’s impressive.”