Springwood prepares for first state title game in 12 years

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, November 16, 2022

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The Springwood Wildcats are preparing to play their first state championship game since 2010 against Evangel, who lost to the Wildcats earlier this season.

Springwood hasn’t won a state championship since 1985, and the Wildcats will have the opportunity to win one under first year head coach Joey Burch.

The Wildcats weren’t even sure if they were going to field a team this year, but they were able to play in the AISA 8-man league and reach the state championship.

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The Wildcats have made four appearances in the state championship since their 1985 title, but they’ve fallen short all four times.

Springwood will take on Evangel, who the Wildcats beat on the road 52-32.

The Wildcats were unable to practice on Tuesday due to the weather, but they watched film and will have a day of practice on Wednesday.

“The gym is unusable, and we don’t want to get wet today,” Burch said.

“We’ve turned into a pretty physical football team, so we feel like we don’t need to beat each other up. We’re doing a lot of mental work right now. This week will be a normal week. I told the kids to not think about it as a championship week. We’re going to run up to Opelika and practice on their turf field tomorrow. We’ll get used to that.”

Although Springwood beat Evangel earlier this season, Burch wants to ensure his players don’t get complacent, especially since they were in Evangel’s position a week ago.

“We have to remind our guys that’s how we felt last week,” Burch said.

“We want to go out with the same game plan. We’re going to swing the game in our momentum real quick. I hope we have that mindset, and I think we will.”

Both Springwood and Evangel have changed as teams over the season, and Burch is prepared for a new challenge.

“I think they’ve utilized their speed a little more than when we first met them, and that’s going to be something we have to counteract,” Burch said.

“I think they’re getting their key athletes the ball in space a little more. We’ll have to defend that a little better.”

Burch has the opportunity to give the Wildcats their first state championship in 37 years, and he’s excited for the kids.

“We’re just trying to build the program back up, and it’ll be a great experience for the kids,” Burch said.

“As you go through life, a lot of things could be taken from you like your job. They can never take a state championship away from you. It’s something special. The bond you build with your players is a special bond.”

The Wildcats will play Evangel in Montgomery at the Cramton Bowl at 11 a.m. EST on Thursday.