Football Friday: Springfield upholding Linebacker High tradition

SPRINGFIELD >> There’s no mistaking that Springfield is the Linebacker High of Delaware County football.
Adam Krauter. Mike Dougherty. Tyler Morrissey … the list goes on and on. And if you’re lucky enough to be a starting linebacker at Springfield, there’s no question that you’ve earned the job.

This year’s fearsome four are seniors Tom Becker, Nick Gorman, P.J. Johnson and Ricky Sterling.

“I think it’s a privilege to be a starting linebacker at Springfield,” Gorman said. “You’ve got to have the intensity. It’s a mindset.”

And you better be ready to go beyond the call of duty.

“You have to step up and be a leader if you want to be a linebacker on this team,” Sterling said. “You don’t want to ruin that tradition.”

“It doesn’t come without putting in a lot of work,” Johnson added. “There’s a tradition of great linebackers that holds it down.”

Becker is the new kid on the block… sort of. While he’s been bros with Gorman, Johnson and Sterling for as long as he can remember, Becker made a name for himself the last three years at Bonner-Prendergast, earning All-Catholic League AAA first-team and All-Delco second-team honors in 2014.

Becker reached out to Krauter, the 2014 Daily Times Player of the Year who is playing ball at Kutztown, when deciding whether he should transfer to Springfield.

“I was a little worried about the whole situation,” Becker said. “I asked him some things, like how are the coaches and how is the team. I was worried about the season and how it was going to be. Just some things I was thinking about because I was so new here. Krauter told me everything I needed to know. He said the coaches are great, the team is great, the school is great. The linebacker coach, Phil Plank, is a great guy. He knows his stuff. I couldn’t be happier here.”

Becker’s linebacker mates were thrilled, too, upon learning that he would be wearing the blue and gold in 2015.

“We tried to get (Becker) in here a couple of years ago,” Sterling said.

Becker fit in just fine from the get-go.

“He made all of the linebackers better,” Johnson said. “We’ve been friends with him for years, so it was an easy transition.”

Despite the linebackers’ strong play all season, the Cougars found themselves digging out of a whole after six weeks.

They were sitting at 2-4, trying to recover from losses against Marple Newtown and Garnet Valley, which effectively took them out of the hunt for the Central League title. In order to save their season, the Cougars needed to win the rest of the way. They blew out an improving Lower Merion program. Then, last Friday night at Conestoga, the Cougars gutted out a 14-12 decision over a Pioneers team that a week earlier had handed Marple Newtown its first defeat of the year.

With their season on the brink of failure, the Cougars responded. Now, with two games to go in the regular season, they have a shot … and that’s all they could ask for. If they can beat Harriton and Penncrest, teams that own a combined 2-14 record, Springfield will likely qualify for the District One Class AAA tournament. The Cougars currently occupy the eighth and final spot.

“We know we’re a lot better than 4-4. We’re going to make moves in the playoffs if we can get in,” Sterling said. “I think being ranked so high in the Super 7, the first one that came out, it kind of boosted our egos and that hurt us. … I like that we will be a low seed if we get in. That gives us a little bit of a chip on our shoulder.”

The reality of the situation is that the Cougars have to fight for their lives just to get in, but with this core of linebackers leading the way, they should be in good shape.

“We’re a few plays here and there from being 6-2 instead of 4-4,” Johnson said. “It keeps us motivated. It’s just that stuff that we can build on to get better.”

“Our defense,” added Gorman, “has played its heart out all year.”

If you throw out the Garnet Valley game, the Cougars have allowed 20 more points on just two occasions. They’ve held their last three opponents — Marple Newtown, Lower Merion and Conestoga — to a combined 29 points.
“For some of us this is the last time we’re ever going to play football,” Johnson said. “That just gives us that fire to play our heart out every game.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply