By John Lohn, Delaware County Daily Times
September 11, 2010
Springfield suffered a sour loss in its season opener, battling 11-time defending Del Val League champion Interboro to the wire before dropping a one-point decision. The difference was a missed extra-point attempt, making the setback all the more difficult to accept. Yet, by pushing Interboro to the limit, the Cougars proved they could handle one of the big boys.
It was a huge step forward for a program that has struggled mightily for most of the decade, and there was a sense of confidence in Springfield’s play against Marple. Although the Cougars lost a pair of fumbles, one leading to a Tigers touchdown, they never panicked. The defense shined, led by inside linebackers Tyler Morrissey and Mike Dougherty, and the offensive line gave Craig and Allen the running room they needed.
It’s early in the campaign and Springfield is sitting at .500, but its performances over the first two weeks reflect a team that expects to win and could contend for a District One Class AAA playoff berth.
“This is the third year in a row we’ve played on this field and we talked about the last two years and not playing well,” Ellis said. “We didn’t play our best tonight, but still getting a win says something about where we are. We knew what we had to do. It just took us a while to get there.”
Springfield wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, driving 70 yards on the game’s opening possession. A 20-yard completion from Allen to Denzel Thompson handed the Cougars a first-and-goal situation and was followed by 4- and 6-yard runs by Craig, the latter going for a touchdown. At the 3:38 mark of the second quarter, Craig again found the end zone, this time from a yard out. A 9-yard run by Allen and a 28-yard scamper by Craig keyed the scoring drive.
Craig is the latest in a long line of standout running backs to come through Springfield, joining the likes of Chuckie Robinson, Marty Brown and Albert Grundy. Craig never saw any of his predecessors play, but he’s heard plenty of stories and a few comparisons.
“People have told me I run like Grundy and have the power of (Brown),” Craig said. “Marty’s jersey hangs in our locker room and I’ve heard a lot about what those guys did. It means a lot to be compared to them.”
With less than a minute remaining before halftime, Springfield appeared headed to the locker room with a two-touchdown edge. But a muffed punt return set up a short scoring drive by Marple, punctuated by Jamie Ridinger’s 1-yard quarterback sneak.
The Cougars answered on their first possession of the third quarter with Craig popping a 22-yard scoring run. However, on the ensuing kickoff, the Tigers’ Ryan White ran 88 yards for a touchdown. White was a bright spot for Marple, rushing for 78 yards and accumulating 127 yards in returns.
Springfield responded to White’s score in the fourth quarter with a 20-yard field goal by Brad Lord. That boot was set up by a 41-yard run by Craig. Through two games, Craig has run for 349 yards and scored all four Springfield touchdowns.
“This was a key Central League win,” Craig said. “We’re not some bad team anymore. We’ve built a program.”