By Loyd McIntosh, For The Tribune
SPRINGVILLE — The red hot Oneonta Redksins rolled over the Springville Tigers Friday night, 53-22.
Springville (0-5) came into the out-of-region, inter-classification contest with a new hurry-up, no-huddle plan on offense and looked to keep Oneonta’s defense on its heels. However, the undefeated Redskins were too much for the Tigers. The Redskins, 5–0 and ranked No. 4 in the state among 4A schools, took advantage of mistake after mistake by the Springville offense en route to a 31-point win.
The game seemed to start on a good note for Springville as the defense forced the Redskins potent offense to punt after their opening drive stalled on the Tigers’ 47-yard-line. With senior quarterback Asa Morrison working from the shotgun, the Tigers’ sped-up offense opened their first drive from their own 18-yard-line and quickly began moving the ball downfield.
Morrison looked crips in the first series, completing his first three passes of the game to three different receivers, Noel Cox, Jake Isbell, and Baylor Sandlin. However, Springville’s opening drive stalled on their own 43-yard-line, forcing the Tigers to punt. This is where the trouble began.
The snap to quarterback/punter Morrison was high and slow, allowing Oneonta’s Jacob Handley to break through the line and block the punt. Star running back Da’marion “Fluff” Bothwell, playing on special teams, scooped up the ball for an easy 20-yard touchdown return, his first of many end zone visits on the night.
The blocked punt is emblematic of the Springville dichotomy that has plagued Head Coch John Clements all season long – moments of brilliance unraveled by sloppy and costly mistakes. The Tigers committed six turnovers Friday night, three of them coming on snaps to Morrison that flew over his head to be recovered by Oneonta.
Following the game, Clements had some choice words about his young squad’s performance, challenging his players to punch back when their opponent lands a shot and to build on what they do best.
“I think that we challenged somebody to fight, and once we got in that fight, we started second-guessing ourselves,” Clements said. “I don’t know what else to say, and I don’t know what else to do, but at some point, we’ve got to decide if we’ve had enough.”
The star of the game was “Fluff” Bothwell, a six-foot, 205-pound battering ram of a running back with the best nickname in high school football. Fluff found himself in the end zone more times than the Springville ground crew while racking up more than 300 yards in a punishing display of strength and speed.
“You have to give credit to Oneonta because they have a really good football team, and they play the way you’re supposed to play,” Clements said. “They play like they’re trying to hurt people. That’s what this game is. It’s not a contact sport. It’s a collision sport.”
Up next for Springville is a trip down I-20 to take on the Moody Blue Devils, another undefeated team laying waste to everyone in its wake, in a key Region 6 matchup. Clements knows his squad has its work cut out for them but wants them to not focus on what the front of their opponent’s jersey says during practice next week.
“I’m going to tell them that they’re playing someone else in another color. I don’t care if it says Moody, Lincoln, Leeds, or Southside,” Clements said. “I have one rule around here – just do your job. That’s what I’m going to tell them. I don’t care who we’re playing, where we’re playing them at, and I don’t care what their record is. We have more Springville issues to worry about than other people.”
Despite the tough loss and the key mistakes, Clements wanted to call out his team’s kicker, Payton Griffin, who he believes has performed admirably under difficult circumstances.
“I’m proud of Payton. He’s somebody who came to our team late, he’s worked his butt off to get kicks where we want them kicked and he did that tonight,” Clements said. “He was perfect on all of his extra points, he’s putting in tireless hours, and he’s putting in tireless hours practicing kicking, sometimes by himself. So, yeah, I’m proud of Payton.”
Springville will travel to Moody High School on Friday, September 30. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.