Saturday, November 12, 2016
By BRIAN DZENIS
Photos by William Lewis
Springfield’s run as one of the area’s surprise teams came to a close Friday night. The Tigers lost the turnover battle and the game to Kirtland, 35-13, in the Division VI Region 21 semifinal at Fitch Falcon Stadium.
Coming into the year without dual-threat quarterback Graham Mincher, there were some questions about how viable Springfield could be. The Tigers answered those questions with a 9-3 season.
“We came into the year young and we had a young quarterback, I don’t think anyone thought we would have performed as well as we have this year,” senior lineman Russell Seymour said. “I’m really proud of the seniors, their leadership is what go us to this point.”
The Tigers began the year 1-2 before going on an eight-game winning streak. Those wins included an overtime upset against Division V one-seed South Range, and four victories by less than three points.
“I knew we had a good core group coming back, I knew we had a good senior group coming back and I knew they wouldn’t give up,” Springfield coach Sean Guerriero said. “I didn’t know that we would be in the second round [of the playoffs] and do the things we did, but I give all credit to the seniors, they definitely taught our team how to practice and be disciplined.”
Springfield took itself out of the game with three first-half turnovers.
“When you turn the ball over that much, you don’t give yourself a chance,” Guerriero said. “It was just bad timing I guess, to have three in a half was bad on our part and we haven’t done that in the past.”
The Hornets score on its opening drive with Gaige Ward’s 29-yard touchdown run. The Tigers’ Luke Snyder fumbled on the ensuing drive, leading to the Hornets’ Dylan Fulco finding Joey Torok for a 25-yard touchdown pass.
Springfield repeated its fumbling performance on the next drive, this time quarterback Brannon Brungard lost the ball after a sack. On the next play, Torok took the ball 52 yards for his second touchdown.
A Brungard interception in the second quarter set up a touchdown for Hornets’ fullback Brett Diemer. Diemer is listed on the roster as an offensive lineman and wears No. 62, but proved to be effective with the ball in his hands, rushing for 54 yards.
Brungard, a sophomore, had to win the starting job in the summer, but has made himself an essential piece with the Tigers.
“He’s proven himself. He’s made good decisions,” Guerriero said. “He’s put us in the right place, so for a sophomore, I think he was fantastic.”
Down 28-0 at the half the Tigers flipped the script a little bit.
The Tigers recovered a Kirtland fumble and a muffed point. The latter of the two set up Frankie Centofanti’s rushing touchdown to break the shutout. Centofanti rushed for 82 yards Friday night.
“We always knew that you can’t stop fighting, the boys have to come out and give it your best and we did that tonight,” Seymour said. “We had a slow first half, but we came out and really wanted it in the second half, but it wasn’t there tonight.”
Fulco threw his second touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter.
Brungard’s final pass of the season was a 7-yard touchdown strike to Jake Ford in the final three minutes of the contest.