Springwood heads to Banks Academy

Published 6:30 am Friday, September 11, 2020

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In week three, the Springwood Wildcats struggled against rival Chambers Academy for their second loss of the season, losing 53-0.

For head coach John Gartman, the loss showed how far the Wildcats need to go before becoming an elite program like the Rebels have become.

“We have a long way to go before we get where we want to get as far as the quality of team that we want,” Gartman said.

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Three weeks into the season, the Wildcats are starting to build some continuity.

“We’ve had some minor injuries since we’ve started, and that’s kind of impeded our progress a little bit,” Gartman said. “I would like for us to be a little farther ahead than we are now, but it is what it is. Guys are finally getting a little healthier, so hopefully, we can start building some continuity.”

Some of the minor injuries that the Wildcats have been forced to endure this season have changed up their practices and schemes. In week two, the Wildcats practiced believing star running back OJ Tolbert would miss the game. He played, which changed up that dynamic. The Wildcats are once again in that situation, as two starters were forced to leave the Chambers game due to injuries.

“We’re doing okay,” Gartman said. “We had to sit some guys out early in the week, but they’ve improved throughout the week, so they’ll play on Friday.”

Those injuries and the lack of depth to practice and scrimmage against have slowed down the Wildcats’ progress this season, but Gartman believes his team will show up more in the remainder of the 2020 season.

“I think we’ll be a better team than we’ve shown these first three games,” Gartman said. “We really haven’t had a lot of time to gel. I think we’ve got a higher ceiling than we’ve shown.”

The Wildcats have shown promise moving strictly from under center to adding in shotgun plays, which is something Gartman wanted to continue from the end of the 2019 season.

“We do the same stuff basically that we do under center, but when we get in the gun, it gives us the ability do some reads that I like to do. It also gives you another point of attack, especially if you run your quarterback, which we’ll try to do with Cooper [Champion]. It kind of gives you an extra gap.”

The Wildcats travel to Birmingham to take on region opponent Banks Academy, who is new to AISA this season.

The Jets played eight-man football in 2019, winning six of their 10 games in their inaugural season. In 2020, the Jets are 1-2 with a win against Cornerstone Christian.

“They’re athletic,” Gartman said. “They’ve got a lot of skill guys, a lot of guys that can make plays. I think a big point of emphasis for us is going to be preventing big plays and make them earn everything they get. I think we’re going play very disciplined on offense.”

The Jets run a multitude of offensive schemes, running plays from the shotgun, I-formation and even the split back.

“They throw a lot of different things at you, so we’ve prepared for all of it,” Gartman said. “The main thing is we can’t let them get loose in space.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT. The two teams will play at Mountain Brook’s field.