PUSH THROUGH THE CROWD — S-GI Player Ethan Benz carries the ball past the offense, during the Griffins’ game against Alden at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Nov. 3.
The Springville-Griffith Institute varsity football team’s season came to an end on Saturday, Nov. 3, with a 42 – 7 loss to Alden during the Class B final at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Griffins came into the game on a five-game winning streak and were looking to upset the top-seeded, undefeated Alden Bulldogs.
S-GI fell behind early 21 – 0 and was never able to get back into the game, as Alden defeated the Griffs.
The Griffins came up short on the goal line in the second quarter and failed to get in the end zone. The score would have cut the lead to 14 – 7 but Alden stopped the Griffs and never looked back.
Coach John Sopko said he knew how important that drive was to his team’s success.
“A touchdown there certainly would’ve changed the game, but we didn’t get it done,” he said. “We rallied the kids and told them to keep playing the game.”
PROTECT THE BALL — S-GI’s Chris Phinney is shown holding tight to the pigskin, as an Alden player tries to take him down.
Junior Ethan Benz called it an “honor” to play with the rest of his team at Ralph Wilson Stadium during the final.
“Playing in the stadium was a cool experience, especially knowing who else has set foot on that field,” he said.
This was the first time that the Griffs had played at Ralph Wilson Stadium since 1997 and Sopko said that he hopes that this is the first of many trips back to that stadium.
“Our goal, this year, was to make the playoffs and we were able to accomplish that,” he said.
“Now, we want to build off of that and make playing at the stadium an every-year thing, like it was in the early 90s here.”
Chris Phinney said that playing at that stadium was always in his mind, growing up.
“I used to always tell my mom that I wanted to play in the NFL and play in the [Ralph Wilson] Bills Stadium, one day. On Saturday, I finally got my chance and it was a dream come true.”
Springville scored its lone touchdown of the game on a 15-yard run by quarterback Bill Dickinson in the third quarter. Springville totaled 196 yards rushing in the game, as Dickinson had 70 yards of his own. Ethan Benz ran for 61 yards and Phinney ran for 44 yards.
CARRY ME THROUGH — S-GI’s Bill Dickinson is shown running the ball down the field during the Alden game. Photo by Joe Valenti.
Phinney and Bobby Fisher led the way for the Griffs defensively, as each were in on nine total tackles. Benz said that the players were upset with the defeat, but know that they gave it their all.
“The loss was very disappointing to everyone on the team, since we hadn’t lost in five weeks, but we had a lot of confidence coming in,” he said. “We played until the very last snap of the game, just like we have in every game, this season.”
Phinney said this season was important, because the players were so close.
“This is the toughest group of guys I’ve ever been around; the resiliency we showed was amazing,” he said.
“The time we spend together is so special, because it brings us closer together as a team. The coaches always have us out doing fun stuff together and I’ve really grown to love our coaches, like family.”
The Griffins finished the 2012 season with a 5 – 5 record and were the champions of Class B south.
Sopko said that he thinks the best is yet to come, for the S-GI football program.
“This was year three of the rebuild and, for the third straight season, we’ve reached our expectations,” he said.
“Next year, we will look to build on this season and making it to ‘The Ralph.’ We now expect to make it there and our goal will be to win a game there.”