tampabay.com

Reliable ground assault provides Springstead with several options

By CHRIS WAGENHEIM
Published May 29, 2007


Springstead's 34-6 victory over Osceola on Friday wasn't your typical rout.

Sure, there were lots of points for the Eagles and not so many points for the Warriors, but it was how Springstead got down the field that made the game atypical.

With two able-bodied quarterbacks on the sideline, the Eagles could have let them open up and find receivers down field. But on Friday, the cannons stayed quiet in favor of a ground assault.

"We do believe in running the football. We believe that you have got to do both. We have three fullbacks that we wanted to look at carrying the ball, " coach Bill Vonada said. "I would have liked to have passed a little more, but by that time we scored on defense and scored on special teams. I am never going to be that guy that is going to try and get the big play in the fourth quarter while we're winning."

Linebacker and fullback Nick Jones said he wasn't used to seeing that much time on the ground but recognized its success. Jones was called on early to pound the ball up the middle. And he was part of two 17-play drives.

One of the able-bodied quarterbacks, Ben Noury, said his team doesn't typically rely on passing. It was easy for him to say that: He ran an option play 77 yards for a score.

"We usually don't have a heavy passing game, " he said. "My freshman year, I was a split end. I think I am equally good running the ball or catching the ball, so I couldn't say I am better in either one."

The Eagles' other quarterback, James Mahla, doesn't seem as mobile as Noury, but Vonada isn't worried about finding him a spot should he want to play Noury under center.

"We think Mahla does a great job. Noury just gives us another wrinkle, " Vonada said. "Mahla is so smart, we could put him in another spot, but we are going to have both of them ready to go."

As for the fall, Vonada will watch tapes to determine the hard workers on his team. Much like his ground attack Friday, Vonada is looking for athletes who can move their game forward even if it isn't all that pretty.

"We are going to look at some position battles. We are going to look at what receivers are blocking. Everyone loves that big wideout that is going to make the big plays, but I want to see which kid is going to block down field. I want to see which kids are going to give us the extra effort, " Vonada said. "Usually, if they are willing to give the extra effort doing the dirty work on the field, they will give the extra effort in the weight room, and they will continue to just grow and grow."