Springwood is ready for the season opener

Published 11:00 am Thursday, August 17, 2023

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Springwood opens their season this week with a road game against Calhoun County High School in Georgia. 

The two teams have never faced each other, so there is no familiarity between them. Calhoun County finished with an undefeated record last season. They did not have the benefit of playing in the playoffs because Georgia does not currently have a playoff system for 8-man football. 

Springwood did not have a game before region play last season. Head Coach Joey Burch wanted to get a game on the schedule to prepare for their region opponents. 

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“We were looking for some big competition,” Burch said. “I think we found it. They’re big, athletic, fast. It’s gonna be a challenge.”

Springwood will have several new players that will have to be major contributors this season. There’s always a learning curve for new players, but Springwood has used the spring and summer to get those players acclimated to the team. The Wildcats got most of those players in live action when they faced Lafayette Christian for their spring game. 

Last season, Burch felt like mistakes hindered his team from winning in the state championship game. 

“Our goal is to win a championship, and in the championship game we just made too many mistakes,” Burch said. “We had tons of penalties, we had some mental errors where we were running the wrong plays.” 

The coaching staff’s main focus this week has been to limit the mental errors because they believe the athleticism is there. Burch is hoping to get rid of some of those mistakes early on this season. 

“That was the whole goal,” Burch said. “We want to get all our mistakes out of the way, and work on our timing and things like that.” 

Going into the season, Springwood planned on running a balanced offense. Springwood has pivoted to being more run heavy this week against Calhoun County. 

“What we saw on film with them is, the way they’re lining up, I think we’re going to have to be more run oriented,” Burch said. “You always want to take what they give you, and early on they’re gonna give us the run.” 

Springwood’s offense will rely on the strength of their offensive line this week. 

Burch feels comfortable with the group of guys he has on the line. 

CJ Johnson will be a focal point of the offense as the starting running back. This is Johnson’s first season with Springwood after transferring from Opelika High School. 

Calhoun County will be a run first team on offense. Their offense will feature the triple option, which can be tough to defend with just eight defenders on the field. 

“We’ve got to take care of all three phases of that,” Burch said. “We’ve gotta get somebody on the dive and the quarterback especially playing them, and then the pitch.” 

Simulating the triple option is tough in practice, it’s even tougher on an 8-man football team. Springwood has had better participation this year than in the past. Their scout team has been able to simulate the triple option. 

“That has been probably the biggest thing that we’ve improved on was our depth,” Burch said. “We’re able to, this year for the first time in several years, have a good scrimmage. Our scout team guys have come along, and they’re going to help us on Friday nights.” 

With the way Alabama’s weather has been the past couple of weeks, the biggest struggle for Burch and other coaches in the area has been practice. 

“The practice time we feel like has been limited,” Burch said. 

Burch has been impressed with his players’ work ethic in the film room. All of the kids have been active on Hudl preparing for the season. With the latest documentary that came out, Burch joked about not wanting his kids to have Johnny Manziel’s work ethic in the film room.