Rick O'Brien: Springfield (Montco) takes another shot at Suburban One

After nearly 20 years, the Springfield Spartans have returned to the Suburban One League. Team captains are: (from left) center Eamon Henry, tight end Billy Dahm, guard Phil Ianozi,and tackle Noah Earland. Springfield will compete in the Suburban One's American Conference. The Spartans went 11-1 and won the Bicentennial League title last season.
After nearly 20 years, the Springfield Spartans have returned to the Suburban One League. Team captains are: (from left) center Eamon Henry, tight end Billy Dahm, guard Phil Ianozi,and tackle Noah Earland. Springfield will compete in the Suburban One's American Conference. The Spartans went 11-1 and won the Bicentennial League title last season.
Posted: September 20, 2012

It has been almost two decades, but the Springfield (Montco) football team has been down this challenging road before.

The Spartans, a Class AA team, competed in the Suburban One League Freedom Division, made up mostly of Class AAAA schools, for most of the 1980s and in the early 1990s. They switched to the better-fitting Independence League in 1995.

Springfield, which last was in the Bicentennial Athletic League, returns to Suburban One League play, this time in the eight-team American Conference, on Friday against visiting Cheltenham, one of the conference's five Class AAAA schools.

"We'll see how we do this year," said Chris Shelly, the Spartans' eighth-year coach. "The one thing I know is that we're not going to back down to anyone. We're going to fight, scratch, and claw in every game."

In 1994, its last season in the Suburban One, Springfield went 1-4 in league play. From 1991 to 1993, as a member of both the Suburban One and Independence, it went 4-11 in the Suburban One.

"We're just going to go after it and see how many games we can win," said Shelly, a 1988 graduate of the Erdenheim school. "I'm cautiously optimistic."

In its 3-0 start this season, Springfield has outscored opponents by 112-19.

"We're happy with that record, but we know what's in store for us in the next seven games," said Shelly, 42.

The team's offense, averaging 37.3 points, is ignited by a trio of halfbacks: Jhalani Johnson, Martin Worgan, and Brendan Doyle.

Also in the mix are quarterback Chris Stone and fullback Malik Ball.

Carving out space for Johnson and company are 6-foot-3, 235-pound center Eamon Henry, a third-year starter; guard Phil Ianozi (6-0, 218); tackle Noah Earland (6-4, 180); and tight end Billy Dahm (6-4, 185).

Of Earland, who doubles as a defensive end, Shelly said: "He epitomizes what this team is all about. He's undersized, but he's got a lot of heart."

Johnson, a 6-2, 170-pound junior, has carried 28 times for 377 yards and three touchdowns. Stone (31 for 188, four TDs), Doyle (18 for 168, three TDs), and Worgan (22 for 154) are next in line.

Joining Earland in keying Springfield's multiple-scheme defense have been tackle Ianozi; linebackers Dahm, Ball, and Worgan; cornerback Doyle; and safety Matt Krewson (four interceptions).

The Spartans are bidding for a return to the playoffs. Last year, when they posted an 11-1 record and claimed the Bicentennial title, they fell to West Catholic, 28-7, in the PIAA District 1-12 Class AA subregional final.

Continued success. Central Bucks South, overcoming the departure of three stellar skill-position performers from an 8-4 group, has cruised to a 3-0 mark. It has triumphed by a combined 142-28.

"We're playing defense pretty well," Titans coach Dave Rackovan said. "That's something we've really tried to emphasize."

Quarterback Matt Johns, now at Virginia; halfback Dan Brown (Lehigh); and wideout Chris Veal graduated.

Taking over for Johns, senior Jon Pileggi has completed 30 of 37 passes for 419 yards and three scores.

"He's been unbelievable," Rackovan said. "He goes through his reads, knows where to go with the ball."

Josh Adams, a sophomore running back, is the early favorite for rookie-of-the-year honors. The 6-1, 182-pounder has rushed 45 times for 596 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Said Rackovan: "We thought he'd be able to step in and be a good player for us, but we didn't know he'd have the maturity to do what he's done."

C.B. South's offensive line is anchored by senior tackles Tyler Paradysz (6-1, 220) and Mike McDermott (6-1, 210).

The playmakers on defense include linebacker Jon Mullin, strong safety Bobby Mallon, cornerback Tommy Dibrino, and free safety Steve Veal.


Rick O'Brien: Inquirer State Football Rankings

Last week's rankings in parentheses. Area teams in bold.

Class AAAA

1. North Allegheny (1) 3-0

2. La Salle (2) 3-0

3. Easton (3) 3-0

4. Downingtown East (4) 3-0

5. Gateway (5) 3-0

6. Upper St. Clair (6) 3-0

7. Central Dauphin (8) 2-1

8. St. Joseph's Prep (NR) 3-0

9. Central Catholic (10) 3-0

10. McDowell (NR) 2-1

Class AAA

1. Bishop McDevitt (1) 3-0

2. Erie Cathedral Prep (2) 3-0

3. Archbishop Wood (3) 2-1

4. Montour (4) 3-0

5. Berwick (5) 3-0

6. Central Valley (6) 2-1

7. West Allegheny (7) 3-0

8. Mars (8) 3-0

9. Thom. Jefferson (NR) 3-0

10. Pottsgrove (10) 3-0

Class AA

1. Aliquippa (1) 3-0

2. Jeannette (3) 3-0

3. Wyomissing (4) 3-0

4. Grove City (6) 3-0

5. Imhotep Charter (7) 3-0

6. Seton-La Salle (8) 3-0

7. South Fayette (9) 3-0

8. Mount Carmel (2) 2-1

9. Pen Argyl (NR) 3-0

10. West Catholic (10) 1-1

Class A

1. Clairton (1) 3-0

2. So. Columbia (2) 3-0

3. Rochester (3) 3-0

4. Dunmore (4) 3-0

5. Bishop Canevin (5) 3-0

6. Line Mountain (6) 3-0

7. Sharpsville (8) 3-0

8. Old Forge (NR) 3-0

9. Bellwood-Antis (9) 3-0

10. Monessen (10) 3-0

- Rick O'Brien


Contact Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019 or robrien@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ozoneinq. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone

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