Springwood dominates in first region game.
Published 12:06 am Friday, August 25, 2023
On Thursday, Springwood kicked off region play with a road game against Southern Prep Academy. It was all Springwood on the road as the Wildcats trounced the Rangers in a 54-27 win.
The turning point in the game came when Springwood lined up for a kickoff with just over six seconds left in the first quarter.
At that point, Springwood led 21-13. Southern Prep failed to field the kickoff and Colt Pearson recovered the football on Southern Prep’s 11. After that play, Springwood scored 27 unanswered points to end the half. A lot of the credit on the kickoff belongs to Jacob Burton for kicking the ball away from the return team.
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“I can’t brag anymore upon Jacob Burton,” Head Coach Joey Burch said. “We got him out to kick, he’s a great soccer player. He can pinpoint that kick where we want it. On our kickoffs, we would just tell him to find the open field and Colt has great speed. That was a big turning point in the game.”
Springwood started off with the ball, and it took just one play for Luke Hudson and CJ Johnson to connect for the 52-yard touchdown pass.
Springwood leaned on their running back early and often on Friday night. In just the first half, Johnson had three rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown. In the first half, Johnson totaled more than 200 total yards. Johnson finished the game with five touchdowns.
“He kind of was bottled up, he had about 80-85 yards in the first game,” Burch said. “He didn’t have a lot of carries. I think at halftime he had four carries, and he was already at 150 yards. He’s getting the feel of how to run the ball and how to juke a little bit.”
On the next drive, Southern Prep’s fumble was recovered by Colt Pearson on Southern Prep’s 40 yard line. Luke Hudson connected with Greg Johnson for the 33-yard touchdown pass to give Springwood the 14-0 lead.
Southern Prep would fight back early on as they connected for the 47-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to seven.
Springwood was forced to punt on the next drive, and Southern Prep returned the punt 83 yards for the touchdown. Greg Johnson blocked the extra point attempt to keep the 14-13 lead with just 3:52 to go in the first.
Neither team scored on their next two drives. On their last drive in the first quarter, CJ Johnson scored again on the 53-yard touchdown run to give Springwood the 21-13 lead.
After Pearson recovered the kickoff, Luke Hudson rushed for the 5-yard touchdown to push Springwood’s lead to 15. Linus Wanniger recovered Southern Prep’s fumble on the next drive, and Springwood scored two more times before Southern Prep could get back near the end zone.
On the next drive, Southern Prep had their best shot at scoring. However, Dylan Reeves intercepted Southern Prep’s pass and returned it 99 yards for the touchdown to give Springwood a 48-13 lead at the end of the first half. Even though it was just the first half, that interception sealed the game.
“He took it to the house,” Burch said. “He just broke on the ball, it wasn’t even his man.”
Neither team scored in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Springwood went to their backups. Afterwards, Southern Prep scored two touchdowns. After each touchdown, the Rangers elected for onside kicks. Springwood’s sideline did not seem to take too kindly to the decision.
“Roland [Bell] and I are friends,” Burch said. “His point of view is that it’s his job to score. We had subbed out at that point. I wouldn’t have done it. I want to play younger guys and get them some reps. I’m sure he had some younger guys he could play as well.”
After the two onside kicks, Springwood put their starting offense back in. CJ Johnson put one last score on the board to cap it off.
“I thought we came out firing on all cylinders,” Burch said. “When we do that to somebody, we can’t just kind of take the foot off the gas pedal. We’ve got to learn to keep it because in 8-man football the score is never safe.”
Springwood’s starting defense only allowed Southern Prep to find the end zone once in the game. Overall, Burch was pleased with the defensive performance. Eli Johnson and Dylan Reeves each came away with an interception. Linus Wanniger also recovered a fumble. Greg Johnson did his best work rushing the quarterback. Johnson came up with multiple key sacks in critical situations.
Next week, Springwood will be back at home for the first time this season. Springwood will play Evangel Christian in a rematch of last season’s championship game.