At the fulcrum of the Spartan's improving, but as yet seesaw, program will be senior quarterback Andy Bush. If the newly diversified offense manages to click, Bush will be experiencing a quality season.
No matter what occurs on offense, the Springfield defense will be called upon to clamp down more than ever before under Puchalski.
COACHING. Puchalski enters his third season as Springfield's coach. Previously, he was an assistant at the school for 10 years. The coaching staff is the same as last year. They are Mike Dmytryszyn (defensive coordinator), Bob Kreamer (offense) and Bobby Lester (special teams).
LAST YEAR. A record of 3-2 in the Independence League. Overall, the Spartans were 5-6.
LETTERMEN LOST (11). Jackson (running back-safety), Brian Hoefermann (linebacker-guard), Don Stiteler (center-tackle), Mike Thomas (guard-inside linebacker), Eric Carter (outside linebacker-split end), Dwain Patrick (split end-defensive back), Malcolm Davis (running back-defensive back), Jason Pyano (lineman), Joe Pyano (lineman), Steve D'Angelo (kicker) and Jason Mangler (kicker).
LETTERMEN RETURNING (9). Seniors Andy Bush (quarterback-defensive back), John Cafferky (inside linebacker-fullback), Brian Ross (tight end-defensive end), Anthony Nero (center-defensive end), Mark Ryan (offensive tackle- defensive tackle) and Destry Roye (defensive back-running back) along with juniors Bob Gregory (a fullback-inside linebacker, who presses 300 pounds), Chris Loscalzo (wide receiver-defensive back) and Chris Petersen (offensive tackle-outside linebacker).
NEW PLAYERS (21). Seniors Rob Garland (split end-defensive back), Paul
Allegretti (outside linebacker-offensive line) and Kjell Lucas (split end- defensive back), juniors Seth Graham (wide receiver-outside linebacker), Jeff Allen (offensive tackle-defensive tackle), Vince Pagnoni (offensive line- inside linebacker), Ryan Fitzpatrick (split end-defensive back) and Moises Maldonado (guard-defensive tackle), sophomores John Battle (offensive line- defensive line), Kaz Coleman (running back-defensive back), Mark Stokes (tight end-outside linebacker), George Allen (fullback-defensive back), Wes Carver (split end-defensive back), Rob Hunter (center-defensive tackle), Mike Madden (offensive tackle-defensive end), Shariff Riley (offensive tackle- inside linebacker) and Keith Polis (split end-defensive back), along with freshmen Brian Allen (fullback-outside linebacker, brother of Jeff), Jason Cooney (quarterback-outside linebacker), Dave Cevallos (outside tackle- defensive tackle) and David Peake (split end-defensive end).
SPECIAL TEAMS. Bush will be the punter, and Petersen is in line for kicking duties. Kickoff and punt returns will be handled by Roye, Loscalzo and Gregory.
OUTLOOK. "I think you're going to see more of a balanced team at Springfield, something that's a little more flexible," Puchalski said. ''We're going to look to throw the ball a little more, with a little more success."
SEASON OPENER. The Spartans host Jenkintown at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in an Independence League game.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Two seasons ago, Andy Bush made his varsity debut - a short varsity debut.
"It was good to get in there," he said of his one-quarter stint. "But I didn't get a chance to throw any passes."
Bush didn't throw too many passes last year, either, despite starting the whole season. That's the way quarterbacking life was like for the Spartans during the Sean Jackson era. An attack that featured the speedy running back was augumented by a pass only from time to time. Certainly, the aerial game was not an integral part of the Springfield attack.
But now, the offensive equation has changed. As the Spartans face their first season in five without Jackson, Bush will be asked to contribute a much healthier dose of passes.
"I think I did pretty well," Bush said of last season, when he completed 35 of 80 pass attempts for four touchdowns. "This year, we should have a lot of passing and more good running backs."
Bush pinpointed running backs Destry Roye, Bob Gregory and Chris Loscalzo as forming a triple threat. He also projected split end Rob Garland to be a major recipient of his passing.
Bush, a 6-foot, 170-pound quarterback who says he runs the 40 yards in 4.8 seconds, is taking the coming season quite seriously.
"I threw the javelin last year and usually play baseball," he said.
But he had to make some decisions as he pondered his football responsibilities.
"I gave up the javelin," he said. "It was hard on the arm.
"And there is no baseball. I (have been) lifting weights instead."
As a skill-position player, Bush has a weight regimen that consists of an emphasis on repetition and agility drills. By contrast, linemen go for fewer reps but heavier weight.
When Bush looks back, he sees one event that helped him gain confidence at the helm.
"We were down, 14-0, at the half to Harriton last year," he said. "But we pulled it out, 22-14. I threw a touchdown pass to (split end) Dwain Patrick."
"He is very intelligent," Springfield coach Dave Puchalski said. "And he throws a very good ball."