RUN LIKE THE WIND — Springville-Griffith Institute junior varsity football player Jake Smith is pictured during a recent game against Salamanca.
SPRINGVILLE — Springville-Griffith Institute’s junior varsity football team has continued what Coach Eric Hodges called its “rollercoaster season.”
On Saturday, Oct. 20, before taking on the Maryvale Flyers, the Griffins had a record of 3 – 4, after losing two straight games by a combined 5 points, with a 7 – 6 loss to Olean and a 12 – 8 loss to Dunkirk.
“We prepped all week [in practice] to make a point that our record was not the record we should have been at,” Hodges said.
The Griffins rebounded, by beating the Maryvale Flyers 34 – 28. That win evened Springville’s record to 4 – 4 and ended the team’s two-game losing skid. On the Griffins’ first drive, the boys were faced with third and 2 on their own 42-yard line, when Quarterback Devin White-Kearns pulled the ball on a basic triple option play and took off, for a 58-yard touchdown run, to open the game.
“With the triple option, Devin has about 1 second to read the defensive tackle, on what he’s going to do,” Hodges said. “If the defensive tackle attacks the quarterback, Devin has to give the ball to our fullback and, if the D-tackle crashes on the fullback, Devin will fake the handoff and run to an outside hole, usually the B gap.
“Devin’s touchdown really shows why [Varsity Head] Coach [John] Sopko and I run and support option,” he added. “The crashes on our fullback and Devin keeps the ball and all I see is this mush of all 11 Maryvale defenders, in the middle of the field, biting on [fullback] Pat O’Brian and there goes Devin, 58 yards up the field, to open the game. I don’t think there was a defensive player within 30 yards of him.”
On the Griffs’ next possession, Tommy Schweikert took a counter and bounced it to the outside, en route to a 88-yard touchdown.
“I’ve said it since day one: if Tommy can get to the outside for a brief second, the only player on the field that can catch Tommy is Tommy,” Hodges said, about his running back’s speed.
Finding himself untouched on a 73-yard touchdown run, Schweikert helped push the Griffins to a 18 – 8 lead, going into halftime. After a season-high 194 total yards, during last week’s game against Olean, Schweikert hit a season high again this week, with 243 yards rushing.
“The offensive line played a big part in our offensive output,” Schweikert said. “Devin White-Kearns made good reads all game, Jobe Flemming, Jake Smith, Devin Pazzutti and Pat O’Brian all blocked and carried out their fakes.”
O’Brian scored the Griffins’ fourth touchdown of the game, on a 43-yard touchdown run on a basic triple option give to the fullback. He ran over two Flyers and outran a third, in the process, finishing with 112 yards rushing, on the day. O’Brian has been the team’s starting fullback and middle linebacker, all season.
“Pat has been key contributor for us all season, offensively and defensively,” Hodges said. “We had him focus all week on running low and it paid off, on Saturday.”
The offense racked up a season-high 538-yards in the win, while scoring at least 30 points for the third time this year.
“Maryvale had a great group of athletes and by far the biggest team, height and weight-wise, we have competed against all year,” said Hodges. “Some games, this season, our offense wasn’t executing and our defense was keeping us in a lot of games. Against Maryvale, our offense just gashed Maryvale, with big gains all afternoon.”
Pazzutti broke his four-game streak of having 14 tackles. He ended it with having 16 tackles, 9 of those being for loss.
“I said it last week and I’ll say it again: Devin is a force on defense. He just doesn’t let anyone outside of him and makes a lot of impact plays,” Hodges said. “For an outside linebacker to have 9 tackles for loss, that just shows his body of work and how he plays the position.”
Pazzutti also took a reverse 67 yards for a touchdown, in the game. O’Brian added 11 tackles and Jake Morogue filled in at outside linebacker and had 8 tackles.
“I was really impressed with Jake,” Hodges said. “He made some good reads and was really flying to the ball.”
On the defensive line, Josh Ball had 8 tackles and an interception. He also sees action at middle linebacker, from time to time.
“Josh is a bigger guy, who asks to run the ball all week in practice,” Hodges said. “When I saw him reach up in the air and snag it, I was not surprised, because he is an all-around athlete. However, it only took one guy about half the size of Josh to tackle him, so, of course, I had to give him a hard time for that,” Hodges added, with a laugh.
The Springville defense held Maryvale to less than 100 yards rushing, in the game.
“Our first team defense held them to just 8 points. Our defensive front was really plugging holes and our [line] backers were scrapping very well,” Hodges said. “With the kind of talent this team has, when they do that, this group is going to win a lot of games, in the near future.”
The recent win puts the S-GI JV team at 4 – 4. On Thursday, Oct. 25, the team took on Williamsville South, in an attempt to finish the season with a winning record.
“They worked hard all week and, most importantly, they worked together as a team,” Hodges said.
“I had three goals going into this game: first was to win, second was to have the team work together and third was to have my entire team play on both sides of the ball and they did, for a substantial amount of time. Thursday is our last game of the year and we’re going to have fun because that is what football is: fun.”