CANTON, OHIO (WKBN) – Although the season ended on a disappointing note, the Springfield Tigers had a season to remember in both their school’s football program and the hearts of the community.
The Tigers won their first undisputed MVAC championship and appeared in the state championship for the first time in school history.
Despite a 48-14 setback to the Anna Rockets in the OHSAA Division VI State Championship, the 14 senior players have set a great example for the underclassmen in both their great work ethic and focus. That foundation is something the Tigers can use moving forward with a good nucleus of starters returning next season.
“For these seniors, I give a lot of credit to these guys that worked in the off-season, all summer and through all 15 weeks. And we talked about it today, I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow? What a great atmosphere these guys have created and have set the environment for our football team,” Coach Sean Guerriero said. “I love them, I wouldn’t want to be with any other kids.”
“Anything we have asked these kids to do, they have,” he added. “Their attitude toward practice, sometimes in the past, I’m thinking I can’t wait to pack it up, but with these guys, I felt like I was in week three or four. Again, I can’t give enough credit for their attitudes and the effort they gave. This group is going to be missed.”
Guerriero admitted that it was hard emotionally in accepting the runner-up trophy following the game.
“It’s hard to prepare for things of that nature,” he said. “For us, we have been going for 17, 18 weeks and we are going to have to take a step back and see the accomplishments that we ended up making this year.”
“What an experience for our team and our community,” he said of making it to the state championship. “I know it didn’t end up the way we wanted it, but I appreciate everything from our seniors.”
The whole atmosphere surrounding the team was highlighted by a big send-off Thursday night and a large supporting crowd at the game. Many in the stadium supporting the Tigers were not just from the Springfield community but from the whole Mahoning Valley.
“That part was just crazy for me. The send-off that we had at our school on Thursday, pulling out and our community has been fantastic. I was almost in tears on the bus,” Guerriero said.
“It’s great to have, not just our community, but people from other schools and teams that we play during the season come out and support us, especially at 10 a.m. on a Friday. It was great support,” senior captain Chris Thompson said.
“I’m proud of our kids and how they have responded throughout the season,” Guerriero stated. “For us, this is a season that made school history.”
“Every year, we talk about making the playoffs, winning the league and going to state, and this group made that come true,” he recognized the senior again. “These guys (underclassmen) are going to have a hard time keeping the level that these seniors did. They set the bar really high. Hopefully, we will be back for this next year.”
It was a great experience for the younger guys,” Thompson remarked about the younger players on the team. “I’m sure that they are all looking forward to next season. We played our tails off all year.”