Springstead set for spring classic

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

For Springstead, the 2015 season was without a doubt below standards. Going 4-5, the Eagles finished under .500 for just the second time in the past 13 years.
However, three straight victories to end the regular season plus an undefeated junior varsity slate left Springstead optimistic for the future.
On Thursday night, the Eagles travel to Anclote for a 7 p.m. spring classic, the culmination of the past few weeks of practice.
“It’s going good. Good tempo. The guys are working hard. We’ve got a good group of guys. Things are going along swimmingly,” Springstead head coach Mike Garofano said. “We need to really have a good spring game to carry over into summer training and build off what we did last season.”
Though the fourth-year head coach doesn’t plan to reinvent a team that has long relied on a disciplined option offense, it will be interesting to see if there are any stylistic tweaks on that side of the ball. Garofano, a longtime defensive coordinator with the Eagles prior to becoming headman, will take over calling the plays on offense.
“It’s a nice, refreshing challenge. Kind of gets the juices going again to do something new,” Garofano said. “I felt I have a firm grasp on the offense we’ve been running and I know from a defensive standpoint what gave us problems. I know what I like to run and where I want to go with the offense.
“We’ll see (Thursday) night. I could play things close to the vest or I could decide to open up and let it rip.”
Springstead has some experience in the backfield. Jordan Wright will be a senior in the fall, entering his third year starting under center. Last season he completed 55-of-112 passes for 863 yards, throwing eight touchdowns against two interceptions.
Leading rusher Dominique Walker transferred to Central, but the versatile and athletic Randy Morgan returns after a sophomore campaign in which he rushed for 465 yards and four touchdowns, and caught 24 passes for 308 yards and two scores.
“He’s a dynamic runner, a home run hitter,” Garofano said of Morgan. “Anytime he gets the ball, he’s a threat to score. Demetrius Barry, same way. He’ll handle our fullback duties.”
Middle linebacker Zack Lawrence is back in the fold after missing much of his junior season due to injury, hoping to stabilize a perennially stingy defense that struggled in his absence.
Barry (64 tackles, three interceptions in 2015) and linebacker Kevin Rivera (55 tackles as a sophomore last year) are also expected to be key playmakers on that unit.
Garofano said his club has mostly worked on typical fundamentals, but added, “One point of emphasis is coming together as a team and putting the team in front of yourself.”
As for the spring exhibition, Garofano isn’t taking it lightly. It may not count in any standings, but that doesn’t seem to be changing his approach.
“I want to see us be physical up front. I want to see us control the line of scrimmage. I want to see a clean game on offense,” Garofano said. “Defensively, I want to see us fly around and hit people, make plays, create turnovers and hopefully get a defensive score.
“Winning the game and winning convincingly; that’s what I’m looking for. I want to build momentum going into the offseason. I want to win every game I play and I hope the kids feel the same way.”
Follow Chris Bernhardt Jr. on Twitter @cpbernhardtjr.

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