Heading into last week’s game with St. Thomas Aquinas, the Springfield football team had designs on winning a district championship.
Now the Bulldogs, who are No. 28 in the LHSAA’s Class 2A power rankings, could be battling to keep their season going past Week 10 heading into Friday’s 7 p.m. game at Northlake Christian.
“I’ve kind of told the kids that we’re on the edge of the playoffs right now, and I think if we lose this game come Friday night, probably most likely, we’re going to fall out the playoffs, and if we win, we’ll continue our season …” Bulldogs coach Ryan Serpas said. “We’re just in a situation where we’re trying to survive the circumstances that we’re in and if we can manage to do that, we’ll continue our season. If we can’t overcome it, then I think we’re going to have an early end to our season.”
Those circumstances involve six Springfield players who were suspended for Friday’s game for their roles in a skirmish at the end of the St. Thomas Aquinas game. Four Bulldog players were ejected from the game, but after officials reviewed video of the incident, the number grew to six.
“They did a review from the video that I sent them that I thought cleared all my guys, but it turns out they added to it,” Serpas said.
“We’re definitely going to have some other kids that need to step up and fill roles that these other kids had previously taken on all year long, so we need a complete team effort … to be able to get the job done come Friday.”
If there’s a bright spot for the Bulldogs (4-5, 1-1) coming out of last week’s game it’s that they were able to get their ground game going, rushing for 134 yards against STA, including a 13-carry, 108-yard effort from Koby Linares, who had three touchdowns.
“I thought that our running game was very good,” Serpaas said. “We got that established back. It’s something we had struggled with the last week or two, and I thought that we did a good job executing.”
On the flip side, Serpas lamented his defense’s ability to stop the Falcons after STA didn’t punt in the game. The Bulldogs stopped the Falcons once on fourth down on an incomplete pass to the end zone in the second quarter but lost a fumble in the end zone, which the STA recovered for its first touchdown of the game.
“Defensively, we’ve just got to figure out a way to make stops,” Serpas said. “You go all night long and only have one stop all night long, that’s not going to win you ball games. And then we’re going to be missing a lot of those guys who were out there on defense, so now it’s trying to get new bodies in position to make plays.”
The Bulldogs will face a Northlake Christian team coming off a 28-9 win over Pope John Paul II.
“They’re a scrappy bunch of kids,” Serpas said. “They play tough …”
The Wolverines are led by RB/SS Blain Gros, whom Serpas said is similar to some of the playmakers the Bulldogs have seen during the season. He said Northlake will give the Bulldogs multiple offensive looks.
“They’ll go from a spread look to a wildcat, tackle-over set from play to play, so it’s just something we’ve got to have our kids ready and prepared for mentally and physically,” Serpas said.
“It’s just something that we’ve got to be ready for their shifts. Whenever they put him in the backfield, we’ve got to kind of understand what they’re trying to do and where they’re trying to go with the football and be aggressive getting downhill to make tackles.”
Serpas said the Wolverines work out of a 4-4 defensive scheme.
“They just have a solid defensive group,” Serpas said. “All of their kids do a good job of rallying to the football and just being hard, tough-nosed guys,” Serpas said.
Heading into the game, Serpas said the team’s approach isn’t complicated.
“We’re just being realistic with them where we stand at and what we’ve got to accomplish and what has to happen on Friday night,” Serpas said. “Just tell them, ‘Hey, this is the circumstances which we’ve been dealt, and we have to make the best of it.’”