With two weeks of the Springfield College football season already in the books, there are already plenty of storylines to keep up with. At 1-1, the Pride has had a bit of a mixed bag so far in 2012.
Pride open with 21-17 loss to Bridgewater State
The home opener against Bridgewater State was seen by 2,250 fans including a vocal contingent of incoming freshmen and transfers as part of New Student Orientation and the game did not disappoint. Springfield and BSU battled for four quarters with the Bears taking the 21-17 win.
Trailing 14-0 at the half, Springfield battled back with 17 unanswered points in the third quarter to take a 17-14 lead after three. Mike Davis rattled off an impressive 34-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 14.
“Mike brings a combination [of speed and power],” said Coach Mike DeLong of the senior tailback. “He’s a very versatile runner. Not only does he have great speed but he’s shifty and is tough to bring down in the open field.”
BSU took their final lead on a Caleb Gelsomino touchdown run with 11:30 to play in the game. The first half scores however are what undid Springfield in the end. The first scoring drive should have ended but some discipline issues kept the Bears rolling.
“Very inopportune penalties,” said DeLong. “There were a couple situations there where we kept drives alive with penalties on third downs. We have to tighten up on that.”
Springfield runs to 36-2 win over Husson
As has been the custom at Springfield, the losing streak stayed at one. The Pride bounced back with a thunderous 36-2 win on the road at Husson College in Maine.
“I think we were more consistent [against Husson],” said DeLong. “As we move forward – both offensively and defensively – we we’re beginning to settle down a little more and be more consistent.”
Unfortunately one negative that came out of this game was an injury to starting quarterback Austin Bateman in the early going. With Bateman down, the Pride turned to sophomore Rob Merckling.
Merckling played admirably — carrying 13 times for 65 yards while also tossing a touchdown pass — and showed poise on the field despite his inexperience.
“Rob did a great job of running the offense in what was really his first varsity game experience. He settled down after the first series and really did a good job running the offense.”
Davis continued his solid season with 93 yards and a touchdown while Andy Bean (82 yards, touchdown) and Joel Altavesta (116, touchdown) also ran the ball successfully.
The Pride outgained Husson 538-129 in total yardage from scrimmage with Husson only registering nine first downs in the game.
New Faces making an Impact
College football is typically a game dominated by older players but sometimes you get freshmen and sophomores and even some juniors who just have that little something extra that makes them hard to keep off the field. Springfield’s defense has three such players in sophomores linebacker Mike Dublin and defensive end Max Nacewicz; and junior safety Sam Weiss.
Dublin is currently tied with Joe Knaub for the team lead in tackles with 14 on the season while Weiss has been big with two fumble recoveries for the Pride.
“Sam is beginning to settle in as a free safety and again, he didn’t have a lot of experience but he’s settling in,” said DeLong. “Very sure tackler when he comes up and he’s physical. Sam’s playing real well right now.”
Nacewicz has also settled in nicely to his role on the defensive line as an athletic pass rusher who gives their defense that little something extra.
“Max is a very gifted athlete, he’s both fast and strong and he’s got good size. He’s also relentless in how he plays.
“If you can rush the quarterback without having to blitz it means a great deal to our defense.”
Wide Receivers not forgotten
If there is one thing you can be sure of when it comes to a Mike DeLong football team, its that they are going to run the ball right down your throat. However, despite the run-heavy nature of the offense, the wide receiver position is certainly not one that gets lost in the shuffle.
“Both of those guys [Phil Baier and James Poggio] are playing real well now both as receivers and as blockers out on the flank, they’re doing a great job,” said DeLong. “They keep the defense honest with the fear that we can put it over their head.”
Merckling found Baier in the end zone against Husson for the team’s first passing touchdown of the season.