When the triple option is run with the precision that would make a car manufacturer envious, it is quite the powerful, unstoppable offense.
Just ask Depew.
Springville gained yards in chunks during the first half to build a three-score lead and continued to pick up first downs and touchdowns when it needed it most to hold off a Wildcats’ comeback bid and remain unbeaten with a 44-28 triumph Friday night.
An estimated 1,500 at Pop Warner Field watched Springville, the News’ No. 3 Small School, earn a berth into next week’s Section VI Class B semifinals where the Griffins will face defending champion Cheektowaga. The Warriors were tested early but pulled away from Lewiston-Porter, 44-26.
Ian Baker rushed for 196 yards and four touchdowns on 34 carries and also bullied his way into the end zone four times on two-point conversions, as Springville amassed 383 yards on the ground to win this clash between two senior-laden squads.
Because each team had so much experience, one assumed this playoff contest would be a close, battle of wills. The Griffins’ will to run won out as they extended their winning streak, which dates back to last season, to 12 straight games.
“The kids prepared well all week,” said Springville coach Eric Jantzi, who led North Tonawanda to a state Class AA title back in 2009. “This is the first time we’ve run” our offense “in a playoff atmosphere. Not turning the ball over and executing the way we did was a pretty big deal.”
Battering ram: Running behind a line that got solid push all night, Baker seemed like one, especially during a first-half in which he rushed for 114 yards. He kept gaining yards off quick-hitting handoffs. Depew had trouble stopping it, so the Griffins kept running it.
He gained 27 yards rushing on the opening drive, capping it with a 1-yard TD run. He gained 39 yards on four rushes on Springville’s second possession of the game, which was capped by Colin DeWitt’s 27-yard scoring run. He then rushed for 18 yards on a 30-yard drive he ended with a 1-yard TD that made it 22-0 early in the second quarter.
Unsung heroes: Springville’s offensive line of Pat Hannon, John Domes, Josh Ball, Parker Rice, Austin Coon and Greyson Louth, with an assist from tight end Jerry Weeks.
“They push and push, it’s like standing behind a brick wall,” Baker said. “It’s unbelievable to see how far and how long they push (the other team) back.”
The mystery of the triple option: Springville and its fans won’t argue that running is fun. Baker got to have lots of fun Friday, getting the chance to carry the rock 34 times. But that’s just the way things worked out based off the quarterback’s read. The game plan wasn’t to give the ball to one running back more than the other.
Thus the reason it’s hard to stop this type of offense.
“With the triple option we don’t know if I’m going to get it or if it’s going to be a pull,” Baker said. “It depends on how the defense is going to prepare for the triple option. You stop one thing we have two more things to go off of it.”
Clawing their way back: Depew failed to get anything going until its final possession of the second quarter. That drive was set up by a blocked punt which gave the Wildcats the ball at Springville’s 45.
Five plays later, quarterback Jon Wolf connected for the first of his three touchdown passes, finding Anthony Russell for a 28-yard strike with 2:20 to go in the first half. He completed the two-point conversion pass to pull Depew within 22-8 at halftime.
Depew further refused to go quietly into the night as Matt Poblocki scored on the first offensive play of the third quarter, taking a handoff 68 yards for the touchdown. It was a 22-14 game 24 seconds into the second half.
Calm retorts: The Griffins burned more than six minutes off the clock on their first possession of the third quarter, capping it with a 1-yard TD run by Baker.
After Depew pulled within a score again, Springville marched back down the field and put up another TD to stay ahead. The Griffins did it one final time after the Wildcats pulled within 36-28 with 3:53 left. Taking advantage of a short field due to an unsuccessful onside kick, Depew went 43 yards in seven plays, capping it on Barker’s 1-yard run with 1:20 left.
Records: Springville 8-0. Depew 4-4.
Next: Class B semifinals for Springville. Depew’s season is done.