Transition can be awfully rough moving from one coach to a new one. It’s a whole new philosophy and a different way of thinking that usually takes time to grasp. Not at , however.
The Cougars lucked out in getting Tom Kline to replace previous head coach Dan Ellis. Sure, it’s his first-ever job as a head coach, but Kline served an integral role on Ellis’s staff. He knows the players, he knows who he has back, he knows the Central League and, most importantly, his players know Kline and his system. He’s retained most of the previous coaching staff—plus he has a defense that returns eight starters from a team that reached the second round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs last year.
This program went 8-4 and grabbed a little taste of history last season, winning the first district playoff game in school history and coming awfully close to winning its second before tripping against Strath Haven.
The Cougars had a bonafide star in graduated tailback Matt Craig, but they return two players, not exactly like Craig but pretty darn close, senior linebacker Tyler Morrissey and junior linebacker Mike Dougherty. The two combined to make 310 tackles last season.
“We have the majority of our defense back from last year, so I think we’ll be a better defensive team than we were,” Kline said. “Our two inside linebackers are especially very good, Tyler and Mike. Morrissey is 6-foot-3, 230 pounds and he’s going to have an awesome year. I think there are a lot of people who know about him. He’s one of the best defensive players in the league. I thought he was last year. Dougherty has a great nose for the football and he’s going into his junior year, he has a great motor. He’s not as big as Tyler, but he plays off a sure desire for the ball.”
Offensively, senior quarterback Ryan Strain returns after throwing for 1,500 yards last season. Kline likes Strain’s competitive fire, and how he managed the offense while learning it week by week. Strain enters this year knowing the system.
“I’ve been telling the kids since I’ve come on board that we’ve made people aware of Springfield football,” Kline said. “We’re very excited about what happened last year. We played a lot of kids in those playoff games. We have kids who know what it’s like to play at that higher level. We came up six inches short [on a failed first down attempt] in the playoff loss to Strath Haven. We can’t let six inches dictate the outcome of our season.”
Springfield Cougars Facts
Coach: Tom Kline (first season).
Last year: 8-4 overall; reached second round of PIAA District 1 Class AAA playoff, losing to Strath Haven 28-21.
Key players: Ryan Strain (Sr. 6-foot, 180, QB), Tyler Morrissey (Sr. 6-foot-3, 230, TE/LB), John Ciurlino (Sr. 6-foot-1, 215, OT/DE), Vince Marra (Sr. 6-foot-1, 205 OT/LB), Mike Dougherty (Jr. 5-foot-10, 190, RB/LB), Cameron Durham (Jr. 5-foot-10, 175, RB/DB), Rob Murphy (Jr. 5-foot-9, 165, RB/DB), Nick Coyne (Sr. 6-foot, 260, OG/DT), Joe Lockley (Sr. 5-foot-11, 195, OT/DE).
Games to watch: At Interboro Sept. 2, At Haverford Sept. 23, Garnet Valley Oct. 21, Strath Haven Oct. 28.
Springfield Cougars Schedule
Sept. 2 at Interboro 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Harriton 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 Penncrest 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Haverford 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 Conestoga 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Radnor 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Upper Darby 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 Garnet Valley 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 Strath Haven 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 Marple-Newtown 7 p.m.