Springfield football to finish things out despite playoff loss
SPRINGFIELD TWP. In any other year, a playoff loss for a high school football team in Ohio means the end of the season and for its seniors, the end of their careers.
Needless to say, 2020 is not like any other year before it and in that spirit, the Springfield Spartans are one of hundreds of teams across the state whose playoff demise last Friday was merely a loss before their next contest this coming Friday.
"We played next again Rittman, then week 9 at Crestwood, and we might play week 10 but we don't have a game scheduled," Springfield head coach Dave Bosko said. "It's been difficult, but overall in the grand scheme of things, it's been fun too. We got to play a playoff game at St. Vincent-St. Mary and overall it was a good experience despite the score and we're glad we got a chance to play in the playoffs."
There were quite a few scores similar to the 68-0 outcome when the Spartans and Irish met last Friday, as teams that ordinarily wouldn't qualify for the postseason took part due to the Ohio High School Athletic Association's decision to restructure the football season due to COVID-19.
A six-game regular season preceded the playoffs, with all teams eligible, and squads who have been eliminated from the playoffs can continue to play regular-season games up to Nov. 14.
For a program like Springfield, which began the season with a 26-man roster and has seen that number shrink due to injuries, being able to play two more games could bring valuable game experience for younger played.
"It has been a small roster and these kids are learning the game of football ... we're teaching them you finish what you start," Bosko said.
Each game helps shine a light on where the Spartans need to grow and where they've improved. With an 0-7 record, it's been a long year with some tough Friday nights.
One contest that won't be on the schedule is Streetsboro, which has already clinched the Metro Athletic Conference title, is undefeated and remains alive in the playoffs.
Bosko noted that the 70-man roster the Rockets have at their disposal compared to the Spartans' 23-man current roster and Streetsboro's strong chances to continue in the postseason left both schools in agreement that the game wouldn't take place.
One of the bright spots for Springfield has been senior receiver and linebacker Brysyn Frasheur, an athletic two-way player who has show big-play capabilities.
"He's our best weapon and he could play and start for any team we've played against," Bosko said. "I really think he can play at the next level."
Finding more playmakers like Frasheur is one need for the program, with a larger effort to grow, expand and revamp it from the youth level on up part of the bigger mission.
A move to flag football at the youngest levels within the district is one way the coaching staff is trying to inject fun and interest into Springfield football so that by the time those classes reach the high school level, more of them will still be playing the sport.
Asked how it would have felt if the OHSAA hadn't allowed teams to continue playing once they were eliminated from the playoffs, Bosko admitted it would have left a bad taste in the Spartans' mouths.
"We want to play like we play every week, do our best, play to win and do whatever we can do to make that happen (against Rittman and Crestwood)," Bosko said. "It would have been disappointing to not get to play more because we're excited to get a couple more games for our kids and we love playing football."
In a season full of challenges and uphill battles, putting on the uniform two more times is something the Spartans don't plan to take for granted. In the midst of a weird year, football is a welcome slice of normal regardless of what the scoreboard says.