SPRINGVILLE - With still fleeting hopes of making the class 8-player playoffs, the Springville football team knew their chances were slim after their heartbreaking loss at Midland two weeks ago.
But, how close they would actually get shocked everyone involved with the program after an impressive 36-14 triumph hosting rival Central City Friday, Oct. 25.
“It’s nice to have the Tractor Bowl trophy back,” said Oriole football coach Joe Martin, as he learned after the victory that his team would be the first one left out of the post-season finishing 17th (top-16 teams make the playoffs) in the final class 8-player RPI rankings.
“Winning the Tractor Bowl was one of our goals before the start of the season, but it was like third or so on our list. Our No. 1 goal was to make the playoffs, and to come so close to doing that and missing out really hurts. While it felt great celebrating with our fans and students getting the Tractor Bowl back and sending our seniors out with a win in their final home game, it really didn’t help ease the pain of being so close to our No. 1 goal.”
Springville did close the season playing some of their best football against a solid Central City team breaking a 6-6 first quarter tie by scoring four straight touchdowns to take control of the contest.
“We basically did everything and anything we wanted to Friday night,” Martin said. “The kids played really well and gave us a season that we’ll never forget. On offense, we gave the ball to Spencer (DeMean) and he really came through having one of his best games not only running with the football, but catching it, too. It helps when we’re playing Central City. All the kids on both sides know each other and this is almost like a game of friends vs. friends. All night long kids from both teams were helping each other up after tackling the other.
“I think the kids knew what skills each Central City player had better than I did, and that made for a pretty easy week of game planning.”
The Orioles struck first in the game when quarterback Kyle Koppes found DeMean open for a 30-yard scoring pass play in the opening quarter.
The Wildcats answered with a touchdown of their own when Isaiah Damm pounded into the end zone from one-yard out, but with the way the Springville defense was playing, Martin knew the visitors weren’t going to get too many more opportunities.
“Spencer was getting good jumps at the ball and Grant Gloeckner and Caleb Weber did a great job tracking Damm and slowing the Central City running game,” Martin said. “Our defensive backs made things tough on their passing game, too. Alex Koppes and Luke Menster did a great job of staying home and doing their jobs.”
Springville limited a potent Wildcat offense to a mere 161 total yards, with only 42 coming in the passing game.
The Orioles however, pounded out 246 rushing yards of their own with all three completions in the passing game going for touchdowns.
The hosts took a 14-6 halftime lead after Luke Menster found DeMean open for a three-yard touchdown pass before the hosts went right back to work in the third quarter as Koppes raced into the end zone from 26 yards out to give Springville a 22-6 lead.
After Jacob Hungate pounded past Central City defenders on his way to a seven-yard scoring run early in the final frame DeMean clinched the triumph hauling in a sensational 59-yard touchdown pass from Koppes.
“This was probably the best overall game we’ve had all year,” Martin said. “After we scored our second touchdown, we pretty much controlled everything, which was a nice way to close out Senior Night.”
Gloeckner led the Oriole defense making nine tackles while Alex Koppes, Weber and Hungate each added six more for the hosts.
Alex Koppes and Weber each picked off a Central City pass as well.
“We were half of a percentage point away from making the playoffs,” Martin said. “There is no doubt in my mind we are one of the best 16 teams in the state and deserving of a playoff spot. We beat a district champion HLV team by more than 30 points earlier this year and they’re in hosting a playoff game and we get sent home.
“It’s frustrating and disheartening when the kids play so well and do things the right way and miss out on a great opportunity by just that much, but it sure should be motivating for the kids coming back next year. I just wish I could do something for these seniors, because they’ve come such a long ways and have worked so hard. I really wanted this for them.”
The Orioles close one of their best seasons in school history with a 7-3 overall record and 4-3 mark in class 8-player district 3 play.