SPRINGFIELD >> Max Perry wasn’t worried after the first quarter of his senior season ended in a scoreless tie.
The Springfield Township quarterback remembered the first game of his junior season had started the same way, and his team had come out roaring in the second quarter of that game. With Perry leading the way, the Spartans got in gear quick against visiting Lower Moreland Friday.
Perry threw a trio of touchdowns, ran for a score and nearly another as Springfield downed Lower Moreland 43-0.
“It was our first real game as a team, we have a lot of young guys, so it took a while to figure out what we needed to do,” Perry said. “Once we got that first score, we glued together and came through as a team.”
Friday also marked the season opener for the Lions, who are still in the process of rebuilding under second year head coach Justin Beck. While Beck is keenly aware restoring Lower Moreland’s program isn’t an overnight job, he still expects his team to compete this year.
The score didn’t flatter the Lions on Friday, but they still held Springfield scoreless in the opening quarter through their own effort. Beck was very complimentary of his senior captains and noted they’ve impacted the program not just with their play, but their work in the school to drum up interest.
There are some new names on the Lower Moreland roster this year and while wins aren’t going to be handed out, the coaches believe they can be as much a part of the restoration as anyone else.
“We were happy with what we got from our senior captains, they did a fine job and now we have to build around them,” Beck said. “We have some guys who can play but unfortunately we weren’t ready for this today. There are things I can do to put us in a better position.”
Few teams understand that struggle as much as Springfield. Just two falls ago, the Spartans had their varsity season cancelled a few weeks in due to a severe decline in numbers. They came back last year and have good numbers again this fall, but still aren’t playing a Suburban One League conference schedule.
Still, for the team’s veterans like Perry, this season represents an opportunity. They aren’t fighting to keep a team alive or facing varsity competition for the first time. Their preseason was spent working to become a more cohesive unit, find the young guys that could contribute, make them comfortable then start thinking about winning games.
“Our mentality is always the next play, to not worry if we mess up or anything but to just keep going,” senior tailback Carter Stepney said. “If we don’t get a play right, we work on it and get it right the next time.”
There’s about 10 seniors on the Springfield roster this fall so while it isn’t the most veteran team, the Spartans have higher goals for themselves this season.
“We expected to win, that’s really it,” receiver Wilson Krewson said. “Just work hard and stick to what we’ve been doing all practice, all week.
“We had higher expectations on ourselves to do more this year.”
Perry had an all-around excellent game on offense, throwing for 139 yards and rushing for 139. Stepney rushed for 80 yards and had probably the play of the day on a 43-yard screen pass touchdown just before the half where he broke about five tackles on his way to the end zone. Not to be outdone, Krewson hauled in five passes for 70 yards, including two TDs and had two interceptions on defense.
Springfield put up an absurd 34 points in the second quarter alone, and all in just 8:31of game time. The last three touchdowns – both Perry to Krewson passes and Stepney’s incredible run – came over the final 1:52 of the quarter.
“I can’t say I have done anything like that before,” Stepney said. “I was just determined to score. It was the end of the half and I felt we needed a big play to keep things going.”
Perry and Stepney, who are co-captains along with Paul Asman, both credited the Spartans’ offensive line play several times. Perry noted the linemen were great with their assignments and hit the right blocks every time, which gave him time to find receivers or anyone running the ball a hole to slip through.
“We have a lot of threats,” Perry said. “Our line, when they block, we can do anything on offense. We have a lot more guys who have played football before. Last year, it was the first time playing football for a lot of guys but this year they were ready to step up.”
Lower Moreland didn’t have JV last year, so this is trial by fire for a lot of the team’s key players. Beck still has plenty of confidence in them and said Friday was a first chance to learn how to recover when plays started to go against them.
“I can’t say enough in terms of what our captains have done to recruit and get kids out to play football,” Beck said. “Every school is dealing with it now, they may not have a freshman team or a JV team, but our captains went out and got us guys who should be playing football. Now it’s our job as coaches to get them to be football players.”
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