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Central League Preview and Team-by-Team Breakdowns

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Springfield-Delco

Springfield quarterback Jack Psenicska looks to pass during game against Upper Dublin November 17, 2017. (Gene Walsh – Digital First Media)

SPRINGFIELD >> Ben Konah was the Cougars’ back-up quarterback last year.

He didn’t see the field very often because of the emergence of Jack Psenicska, who was one of the most productive quarterbacks in Delaware County.

This year, Konah has a new role on the team. The hulking 6-2, 205-pound senior will line up either behind or next to Psenicska at running back.

Springfield running back Ben Konah.

“It’s kind of new, but it’s not a big difference for me,” Konah said. “It’s making me be able to understand how the (offensive) line works, before I run and get the ball, I know how the line is moving and I can calculate my route, personally, I guess. It’s really not hard or a big change for me. I’ve worked hard on my strength and agility and I want to get ready as best as I can.”

Springfield is aiming for its third consecutive Central League championship and fourth and five years. Last season, the Cougars’ only loss was to Unionville, a 35-25 defeat in the District 1 Class 5A final. For the third time in four years, the Cougars advanced to the final, but had failed to capture the program’s first district championship.

Many key players, including All-Delcos Ja’Den McKenzie (running back/linebacker) and Kyle Long (multi-purpose), have moved on to college and several starting spots were open in training camp. But not much else has changed at Springfield camp. It would be unwise to suggest that 2018 is going to be a rebuilding season.

“Last year there were a lot of two-and three-year starters, especially on the O-line and the D-line. It’s not a work in progress, but you’re replacing a lot of players from a team that won the Central League twice in a row,” Britton said. “I don’t think the expectation for this team is any different. This is what they were brought up to do. The first four weeks are so, it’s going to be able getting these guys experience. All of these first-year (starters) getting first-time cracks.”

Konah will split backfield duties with classmate Gio Dotscias, who served as back up for McKenzie last fall.

“We don’t need two senior quarterbacks,” Britton said of Konah, “and he’s a big kid. We can use him at running back and see what he can do.”

Pat Clemens, an All-Delco last fall, is the leader of the defense at linebacker. That unit also includes Jeff Biancaniello, who was outstanding last year. Over the last several season Springfield has possessed one of the county’s top defensive units. The Cougars will replenish their defensive line unit following the graduation of several standout players, including Derek Strain and two-time All-Delco Justin Shields.

“We had a great senior class last year and we’re trying to match what they did, trying to make our practices fun and at the time same time we’re getting better every day, making everything positive,” Clemens said. “I think the new guys are going to be able to step into the role. I think we will have to be consistent on every play and take no plays off. When you take plays off, teams are going to be able to beat us. We just need that consistent play all the way through, never stop giving it your all and never stop playing the way we know how.”

Springfield will benefit from having its starting quarterback returning for a second season. Jack Psenicska was excellent as a junior, throwing for 1,995 yards and 25 touchdowns. For most of the season in led the county in passer efficiency.

“Our line is going to be good — they’re going to get there and they will be ready for the season,” Psenicska said. “I think our skill positions could be the very best in the Central League. And, most importantly, I think our defense is always there. With a guy like Pat (Clemens), he’s a leader of our defense. He’s out here picking out every play we have. I think we will definitely have a very good defense again.”

Springfield wide receiver Jack Spence

OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH

Jack Spence >> Spence is one in a long history of great lacrosse players at Springfield, who aren’t too shabby on the football field, either. The Lehigh lacrosse commit and senior wide has all the tools to be the next Kyle Long-type receiver for the Cougars.
“We lost two great weapons in Kyle and Frankie (Durham) at receiver, but I think we’re reloading this year,” he said. “We have a lot of weapons still and we’re all just trying to get better this year. You can see it during practice, I feel like we’re more competitive out here this year than we were last year. Everyone wants to work hard.”

Springfield linebacker Pat Clemens

DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH

Pat Clemens >> The All-Delco linebacker registered 138 tackles last year. The senior is a three-year varsity starter.
“Leadership kind of comes with the position. I’m used to having pressure on me at all times,” he said. “I like being a leader for my guys, knowing that they can look to me for help because I know that I can give them the same thing back. I like feedback, I like when people can ask me questions. I just want to get better all the time.”

By Matt Smith, mattsmith@21st-centurymedia.com, @DTMattSmith on Twitter

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