SNAP IT BACK — Springville-Griffith Institute senior player Bobby Fisher recovers a fumble, during a game against Eden. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — Just before the Springville football team walked out of their locker room on the evening of Sept. 13 for a bout with Dunkirk, senior Bobby Fisher brought his team together to say a few words. Fisher, one of the team’s four captains, said he had to get something off of his chest.
“It’s time to get nuts, boys,” Fisher said to his team, as they stood in a circle around him. “We’re a brotherhood. Nothing can change that. This game is for us; nobody else. This is our game. We want our paycheck and it’s long overdue. Let’s go.”
Springville was coming off a 20-12 loss to Eden, which yielded 259 yards on the ground and 3 rushing touchdowns, in week one. Those words didn’t just echo inside the four walls of the locker room, but throughout the minds of the 32-man roster. Fisher led a defense effort with seven tackles and one sack that held the visiting Dunkirk Marauders to 73 yards of total offense.
“Bob has emerged and shown himself to be a vocal leader and a vocal presence and willing to follow it up with his actions,” said Springville head coach John Sopko.
“That was certainly acknowledged by the rest of the team last week, with his words and spirit, while letting it be known that failure was unacceptable.”
When Fisher isn’t speaking out as team leader, he’s playing everywhere, for Springville. He is the Griffs’ most versatile player, according to Sopko. The 6-foot-2-inch, 215-pound senior has played a number of different positions, during the past two years.
As a junior, Fisher started solely on defense, as an outside linebacker, but got work playing inside linebacker, as well. When injury struck on the offensive line, Fisher filled in at guard, making one start against East Aurora.
In addition, Fisher was the team’s fullback in its power running game package. As a senior, Fisher takes on additional roles. Assistant coach Rob Valenti, who coaches the defense angle at Springville-Griffith, converted Fisher to the defensive line to put his hand in the dirt as a defensive end.
“Bob brings a lot to the table for us,” Valenti said. “One: He’s a great kid. Two: He’s a smart kid; he’s intelligent, his grades are through the roof. He always understands where we’re going. Three: He’s an athlete. He has that ability, at the high school level, to put his hand in the dirt at D-end, but he also has the versatility to play linebacker, as well. That’s exciting for a coach because you can go through different packages and schemes with versatile players.”
His ability to play linebacker was on display a season ago, when Fisher made all-league on a defense that ranked near the top of Section VI.
Through the team’s first two games of this season, Fisher leads the team with 19 tackles. Against Dunkirk, with the Marauders facing a second and eight from midfield, Fisher sacked Dunkirk’s quarterback for an 11-yard loss to end the first half of play.
The combination of Fisher and Brandon Ball, who plays defensive end opposite Fisher, has created a “terrific” one-two punch, according to Sopko.
Last year, Springville used Ball and Tyler Studd at the defensive end positions. The two of them combined for 22 sacks. Studd’s 13 sacks led all of Section VI, on his way to being named an All-WNY honoree. Sopko added that he thinks that Fisher’s transition to defensive end will bring another elite combination to the defensive front seven.
Most of the teams that we faced last year couldn’t handle both of our defensive ends,” the coach noted.
“With Brandon being our strong side guy this year, Bob can complement him. He has a great athletic frame to just pin his ears back and get the quarterback or stop the run, by dominating the C gap.”
Offensively, he is listed on the roster as a tight end, but that didn’t stop him from getting the hand-off as a running back against Dunkirk and scoring the game-deciding touchdown on a 2-yard plunge.
No matter where Fisher lines up this year, the coaching staff said they were confident his versatility and his voice will be important to Springville’s success, for the rest of the season.