Battle of I-12 Jaelyn Kennard Seth Grand

Albany defender Jaelyn Kernard (73) pressures Springfield quarterback Seth Grand (5).

Springfield football coach Ryan Serpas isn’t dwelling on last week’s loss to Albany, but he’s not forgetting it, either.

Instead, he’s hoping it’s a learning experience for his team in the early stages of the season.

“We definitely look at as one we let slip through the cracks for us,” said Serpas, whose team travels to face Slaughter Charter at 7 p.m. Friday. “But it’s also early on in the season. That’s not our Super Bowl game. That’s just the next game to try to get prepared for. We’ve got higher goals than just beating one team. We’re trying to host a home playoff game and win a round or two.”

What stung the Bulldogs (1-1) most in the 36-14 loss to Albany was big plays, with Seth Galyean returning the opening kickoff 73 yards for a touchdown.

Additionally, J.J. Doherty hit Sidney Binion on a 65-yard touchdown on third-and-11, and Galyean caught a 60-yard TD pass, getting behind the defense just before halftime after the Bulldogs cut the lead to 22-8.

“Those are two scores right there that we think had we not given those up in those situations, it’s a different ball game,” Serpas said. “We came out in the second half and played a 14-14 ball game. We really feel like had we not had those huge mistakes early on, we not only had momentum, but we win that game.

“We had a lot of mental breakdowns last week, and it’s unfortunate that we made some of those mistakes,” Serpas continued. “They were magnified because not only were they just big plays, they ended up being scores for them. We couldn’t overcome that.”

Serpas said his team may have also gotten caught up in the Springfield- Albany rivalry a bit.

“We had kids who started cramping up on the second play of the first quarter, so they were a little bit overexcited and the build up of it and just our intensity. I think our kids really wanted the game but forgot about the mental aspect of it and trying to stay calm and doing your job,” Serpas said. “It’s mental errors. It’s nothing that they did that we didn’t coach for or prepare for. It was just mentally, we just didn’t execute. This week, we’re watching film. Now we’re going back and we’re trying to make sure that we don’t have those same mental mistakes and we understand our jobs and we do a better job of executing.”

Serpas again spoke highly of running back Jatorius Buggage, who ran for 101 yards on 22 carries, with 80 yards coming in the second half.

“I think he almost kind of single-handedly at one point took the whole team and put them on his back,” Serpas said. “That’s tremendous for a sophomore to do. That speaks to the amount of talent that kid has and the future we expect him to give to this program. Not only did he do that running the ball offensively, but he came in and played a good portion of the second half on defense as well and did a great job. We really expect great things from him, and we think that he’s going to continue to grow as a player moving forward.”

Serpas also praised the play of the Bulldogs’ defensive line against Albany.

“We’re expecting those guys to continue to get better as we go as well,” Serpas said.

Slaughter Charter is coming off a 24-20 win over Centerville.

“They’re very athletic, something I really wasn’t expecting a lot,” Serpas said. “They have a good quarterback who’s an athlete, and then they have about three good wide receivers and one good running back that they don’t mind giving the ball to any of those guys at all times. There’s not one key guy that you are defending against. It’s an entire field that you have to defend, which makes it more difficult on us. We’re watching the film. We’re doing our due diligence on trying to make sure our kids understand their keys and job responsibilities this week, that way we don’t have those same breakdowns that we had last week.”

Serpas said the Knights are aggressive on defense.

“They’re a little smaller up front, so they like to use their athletes to try to get up in your face and just be aggressive,” Serpas said. “We’ve got to take advantage of their aggressiveness. Hopefully we can do that, and hopefully break some big plays ourselves this week.”

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