Springfield seeks playoff berth
Despite sharing new league’s title, Tigers sat out the 2017 postseason
By Brian Dzenis
Springfield is capable of doing better than it showed in 2017.
Even after winning a share of the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference, the Tigers (7-3) fell just short of a playoff spot last year. Despite having same record as Columbiana — which included a shutout win against Columbiana — the Clippers took the eighth and final playoff spot in Division VI, Region 21.
Springfield returns a mostly intact roster for 2018, which has the Tigers looking beyond the regular season.
“I think we can win all of our games,” senior quarterback Brannon Brungard said. “South Range, McDonald and Western Reserve are some hard games, but I think we can do it. With the hard work we’ve put in, there’s more to come.”
Brungard will start for the third year in a row and the goal is simple: make the playoffs.
“I looking to get into the playoffs and making some noise this year,” Brungard said. “I just want to be a leader for my team and do everything I can.”
He threw for 1,194 yards and 16 touchdowns last year with just three picks and he rushed for 309 yards and three more scores.
Behind him in the backfield is returning leading rusher Luke Snyder, who at 5-foot-5, 175 pounds, his production exceeds his size.
“He runs downhill very well and carries people with him. A little brick house is what I would call him,” Springfield head coach Sean Guerierro said. “I’m glad he’s in our backfield and not anyone else’s right now. He’s another kid in our senior leadership group that I would say has done a good job in the offseason.”
Senior Zach Stouffer and junior David Duvall could also see carries.
The offensive line returns three starters in senior Ben Chaszeyka and juniors Corey Hatton and Chris Thompson.
After those three, it’s more of a rotation for the remaining two starting spots. If Guerierro had to pick a starting five, sophomore Brady Brungard and senior Chris Guillard round out the group.
Springfield has a weapon to replace in the graduated Brandon Walters and Austin Trebella at wideout. Juniors Evan Ohlin and Garrett Walker — a returning state qualifier in track — look to replace them. Senior Shane Eynon returns at tight end.
Defense should be a strength for the Tigers, who return eight starters.
Chaszeyka is the lone starter coming back on the defensive line and he’ll be joined by sophomore Michael Wagner and Hatton. Juniors Raymond Nespeca and Garrett Stallsmith should see some time.
At inside linebacker, Stouffer will start for the third straight year after consecutive seasons of at least 100 tackles.
“He’s the quarterback of our defense. He’s a great kid and a great leader,” Guerierro said. “He’ll run through a wall for you.”
Duvall is the other starting ILB. At outside linebacker, Eynon, Lindan Gardner and Snyder are in the mix.
Walker and Ohlin are returing starters at cornerback. Junior Johnny Slyke and senior J.T. Sandrock will play safety. Sophomore Mitchell Seymour also could see time in the secondary.
Sophomore Clay Medvec returns as the team’s starting kicker and punter.