Experience is on the Springfield Spartans' side entering the 2013 season. With 10 starters returning on both sides of the ball, the Spartans are hoping continuity will pay off despite a 3-7 mark last season that included a forfeit win after Ellet used an ineligible player in a 63-6 triumph.
Experience is on the Springfield Spartans' side entering the 2013 season.
With 10 starters returning on both sides of the ball, the Spartans are hoping continuity will pay off despite a 3-7 mark last season that included a forfeit win after Ellet used an ineligible player in a 63-6 triumph. Head coach Kevin Vaughn and his staff have 18 seniors on the team, the most in program history.
"The biggest factor for us is experience," Vaughn said. "We have the entire defense back except for one guy and the same offense except for one guy up front."
Multiple three-year letter winners will populate both the offense and defense and with more players and experience, Vaughn is confident his team is well-equipped to hold up throughout the season.
One of the returning players is senior quarterback Chad Baker, who is facing stiff competition from sophomore Aaron James.
Both players have looked good so far, Vaughn said, and the competition is also strong at the receiver position. Senior Shane Robinson is the team's top returning pass catcher and heads up a group that goes six deep.
"There is a lot of skill and depth at wide receiver. We don't have a huge amount of speed, but they are all good at running good routes and finding soft spots in defense and they have good hands," Vaughn added.
One element of the team that will change is the offensive philosophy.
Skip Turkovich arrives at Springfield having called plays at Carrollton and Marlington. He also comes armed with a philosophy significantly different than what the Spartans have used in recent years.
"We will have a new spread system with a new offensive coordinator who has been with some very successful programs and we hope that helps us put points on the board," Vaughn said.
Turkovich's offense employs some of the same general concepts as the Spartans' old offense, but is more wide-open and demands more reading of the defense and quick reactions from the quarterback. Turkovich has "plenty of leeway" with the offense, Vaughn added, and has approached his players with a fresh point of view.
"When you have a new coach in the system who doesn't have any ties, he's basing everything in terms of starting and playing on hard work and who's picking up the new system the best," Vaughn said.
GETTING IN SHAPE
The new offense will also necessitate good conditioning and fitness from players and Vaughn pointed an improvement in the time and effort invested in the offseason strength and conditioning program as a hopeful sign. He spoke at last year's postseason banquet and publicly addressed what he felt was a lack of involvement in the program the previous winter.
Page 2 of 2 - This offseason, more players have taken part in team activities and Vaughn is encouraged by that trend.
"We share a lot of kids with our winter and spring sports and if I could, I'd have every one of them be a three-sport athlete," Vaughn, also the school's athletic director, said. "In spite of that, we've had outstanding effort and participation in the weight room this offseason."
Along with players' improved effort in the weight room and the new offense, the program will also have better facilities this season. Although the district's new high school and junior high, located adjacent to the football field, won't open until after winter break, the new athletic fieldhouse is slated to open this fall.
The fieldhouse will contain the home and visitors locker rooms and an athletic training room.
"It's a beautiful facility and an added bonus for us. The kids are happy to be in it and take a lot of pride in it," Vaughn said.
Reach Andy at 330-899-2872 or andy.harris@TheSuburbanite.com.
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