The Springfield football team heads into Friday’s 7 p.m. homecoming game with Pope John Paul II with a number of things on its plate.
The Bulldogs are looking to bounce back from a 47-6 loss to St. Martin’s while also beginning District 10-2A play in their first home game in two weeks. It’s also the Bulldogs’ first district game in two seasons after Springfield’s league season was wiped out because of COVID last year.
“Hopefully with it being a home game and with it being homecoming week and all the stuff that went on last week, hopefully we’ll be a little bit more motivated to put a better performance on the field this week,” Bulldogs coach Ryan Serpas said. “We’re going to game plan it up and just try to put the kids in the right spots to make some plays for us.”
The head-scratcher for Serpas and his staff is the team’s performance last week after turning in a sound effort in a 34-7 road loss to Pearl River two weeks ago.
“There was no quit in the kids and they were buying in, and I could see us being right there on the edge of being everything that I thought we could be,” Serpas said of the Pearl River game. “That was against a 4A team that was sitting pretty good in playoff position. Then we go against a 1A team (St. Martin’s), and it’s like we fell apart. I don’t know if you say we played down to the level of competition, because they’re a pretty good team as well, but I don’t know if those two teams played each other, I don’t think it’s a close game.”
Serpas said one of the sore spots coming out of last week’s loss was the play of the Bulldogs’ offensive and defensive lines.
“We tremendously underperformed, especially when I consider that the strength of our team,” Serpas. “We go into this situation, and we literally could not run the football. That’s what we’re trying to do, and I thought we had set the identity the week before.
“It was kind of disheartening,” Serpas continued. “There are some things that we’ve got to fix as coaches making sure we’re doing a better job of game planning and putting these kids in position to be successful. There’s a lot of things that were wrong, and it wasn’t just the line. There was some decision making with our quarterbacks and our linebackers. We just were completely out of position a lot of times, too. It was a total team letdown. There wasn’t one group that you could pin everything on. It’s just a disappointment all the way around.”
In last week’s game, freshman Luke Husser replaced senior quarterback Seth Grand, and Serpas said that could give the Bulldogs some options for the remainder of the season.
“It depends on how practice goes,” Serpas said. “We’re going to look at it and see. Seth has done a decent job this year, but Seth is a senior, and if we’re not seeing any growth or any improvement there, we’ve got a freshman who’s got three or four years (left) in the program, so if we need to make a move, now’s the time to do it if that’s what’s going to happen. I’m not saying we don’t go to some type of two quarterback system as well. They could both see playing time. I just think that the future is bright for Luke, and if he gets the opportunity, and if he proves himself in practice, I think it’s only going to be huge for him going into the next couple of years for our program.”
Pope John Paul II (3-3) is coming off a 53-8 loss to Franklinton.
“They’re physical and a very opportunistic team,” Serpas said.
One of the Jaguars’ key players is George Arata, whom Serpas said has lined up at running back, slot receiver, fullback and quarterback this season.
“We’ve got to definitely be aware of how they’re using him and where they’re using him and be able to identify wherever he’s at and know not only where he’s at but what do they like to do with him whenever they put him in that position.”
Serpas said the Jaguars run from a 4-2-5 scheme on defense, and things will be a bit different for his team after facing three man fronts over the past few weeks.
“It’s just getting the kids familiar, and honestly, I think block and 40 front is a little easier because with a 30 front, they come at all different angles,” Serpas said. “I think that’s some of our problem sometimes. We don’t block with our head up. We don’t finish out things. We’re kind of assuming where people of going to be instead of knowing where they’re going to be. It’s just a matter of getting those practice reps against where the guy’s going to line up and us being able to get to our spots.”
“We’ve got to figure out how we can be successful running the football,” Serpas continued. “We’ve got to try to find that key to get that run game going again.”