SPRINGFIELD -- Sometimes, change means you get better.
Sometimes, it just means you're different. But for Springfield football Rick Taylor, a change in plans has already paid some early-season dividends. The Cougars put a restructured defense on the field, did not allow Academy Park a snap inside the 21-yard line, and emerged 17-0 winners yesterday.
""I'm pleased, I'm pleased,'' said Taylor, with a look of contentment. ""We changed our entire defense from last year, and three weeks ago we didn't look very good doing it. But, it's a learning process, and I'm happy with the defensive effort we had today.'' Junior linebacker Jim Maglio led the defensive attack with two sacks, a handful of tackles, and a key fumble recovery that halted one of the Knights' longer drives midway through the fourth quarter. Trailing by 10, AcademyPark put together a seven-play series that began on its 13-yard line. Quarterback Tim Flynn connected with running back Jeremy Klein for a 32-yard catch and run, during which Klein used his arm as a leg a few times to scamper for an extra 20 yards. After a first down, the Knights were across the 50-yard line and threatening. That's when three Cougar defenders collectivly bashed James Carmichael as he tried to turn the corner, forcing the ball loose and allowing Maglio to scoop it up and essentially put the game on ice. ""When you pressure people a lot, you force turnovers,'' said Taylor. ""We had four today, we picked off a couple of passes and a couple of fumbles. If you pressure them, it forces that issue and they're going to turn the ball over.'' Springfield's first pick of the afternoon came courtesy of linebacker Brian Pieri, who stepped in front of a pass at the Cougar 46-yard line and returned it six yards. The INT pumped life into Springfield's offense, which looked stagnant over the first four drives, producing just three points on a 30-yard Pat Kane field goal late in the first quarter. No one felt the lift more than quarterback Chris Fox (10-for-15 for 124 yards, TD) and receiver Kane. The duo hooked up three times during the drive, the last one being an 11-yard dart to the end zone that Kane easily snagged for a touchdown.
On the Cougars' final drive, Marty Brown went six yards around the left end to give Springfield a dominating 17-0 lead with 2:40 to go. Taylor had mixed reviews for the Cougars' offense. ""I wasn't real pleased,'' said Taylor. ""We did some things real well, and then we had some breakdowns. But that has a lot to do with some of the inexperience we have in the line. But, we did get effort.''
Springfield will have plenty of time to make improvement. Its game next Saturday with William Tennent has been cancelled because of a scheduling mixup. ""Just out of the clear blue,'' Taylor said. ""That leaves us with a hole in the schedule, so we have an open date.'' But to pull some positives out of it ... ""It will give a couple banged-up kids a chance to get healthy,'' Taylor said. ""That doesn't hurt. And, it gives us two weeks to prepare for Marple (Newtown).'' FOOTBALL
Springfield 17, Academy Park 0
Academy Park 0 0 0 0 -- 0> Springfield 3 7 0 7 -- 17>
S -- FG Kane 30
S -- Kane 11 pass from Fox (Kane kick)
S -- Brown 6 run (Kane kick)
TEAM STATISTICS APSPR
RUSHING -- Academy Park: Klein 5-10, Carmichael 10-60, Smart 2-1, Flynn 9-(-28). Springfield: Brown 22-76, Tedesco 2-2, Kane 2-0, Fox 2-(-5).
PASSING -- Academy Park: Flynn 2-8-2, 44. Springfield: Fox 10-15-1, 124.
RECEIVING -- Academy Park: Klein 1-32, Smart 1-12. Springfield: Kane 5-66, Keith 2-35, Brown 1-10, Maglio 1-9, Dorrian 1-4.