SPRINGFIELD -- The Springfield football team didn’t get a win last week against Pearl River, but Bulldogs coach Ryan Serpas said the team’s effort is plenty enough to build on heading into Friday’s 7 p.m. game at St. Martin’s and beyond.
“We’re just trying to right some of our wrongs again and build on what we were able to do positively last week,” Serpas said. “Hopefully, now that we’ll be more against a team that I don’t think will be able to out man us … If we can play with the same intensity that we played with last week, I think we’ll be in a great situation.”
Serpas said he was particularly pleased with the Bulldogs’ play on the offensive and defensive lines against Pearl River.
“Coming into the season, I really thought the strong point of our team was our offensive and defensive line,” Serpas said. “Throughout the season, we’ve struggled at times to be able to run the ball and do some things that I thought we were going to be really good at, so that’s been a point of emphasis we’ve tried to get to the last few weeks. When I watched film from last week, it was almost like our kids had an ‘Ah, ha!’ moment. They’re (Pearl River) rotating bodies in left and right, and we’re just driving them off the ball on the offensive and defensive line. I really think that we kind of found an identity right there with the things that we’re doing, and I think that that’s going to be something we can build on.”
Sophomore running back Jatorius Buggage continued his solid season, rushing for 185 yards and a touchdown on 41 carries against the Rebels.
“Jatorius has had a really good year, and it seems like he’s getting better and better,” Serpas said. “As a matter of fact, he’s getting more patient as a runner as well. He’s allowing some of those guys to get in front of him, and instead of trying to outrun some of his blocks, he’s allowing those blockers to get in front of him and set up blocks, so he can make bigger and better runs. I was pleased with our effort in our run game, and the things that I thought we were going to be able to do great coming into the year finally started to kind of click for us. Our big guys up front did a great job. It’s a very good thing to see, especially whenever you’re going against a 4A school like that. We’re a 2A school, and they’re throwing different bodies at us constantly. It didn’t matter who they threw in front of us, we were just driving them off the line.”
St. Martin’s (1-3) is coming off a 49-26 loss to Country Day, and Serpas said the teams will have similar numbers in terms of the size of their rosters.
“I really think that we’ll have the advantage up front, but they do have a special player that they’re trying to get the ball to,” Serpas said. “Their little running back (Harlem Berry), who is a freshman, has had a couple of tremendous games already this season, so he’s definitely going to be a load for us to try to tackle again. But then again, we played against a similar type kid last week (Pearl River’s Brian Jenkins), so we’re trying to preach those same things to our kids - -gang tackle, keep him boxed in and get to the football, try to get 11 hats to surround the ball. He’s still going to be able to do some things to us at times, but if we can avoid the big plays … and limit him to what he’s trying to do, we’ll be OK.”
Serpas is hoping St. Martin’s defensive scheme will work to the Bulldogs’ advantage.
“They’ll throw a 30 front at us, which we kind of welcome, especially with our big maulers up front, but they do slant and bring kids from different angles, and that’s something that we’ve got to make sure that we’re picking up on,” Serpas said. “But if we do that, I think we should be fine up front. They do have a couple athletes that we need to be able to account for, but I really think that offensively we should have a good night.”
Serpas is also hoping a good outing against St. Martin’s will springboard the Bulldogs into the start of District 10-2A play next week.
“We’re playing as good a ball as we’ve played all year long right now,” Serpas said. “As a team, we’re starting to jell. I’m seeing a lot of positives, and I see things are heading in the right direction. You never expect to be playing your best ball Week 1. There’s always going to be mistakes and things like that. You always want to kind of find your stride toward the middle of the season, and I think that’s where we are. We’re kind of finding our stride, and we hope to make a little run and finish strong here.”