Posted: Saturday, October 10, 2015 10:30 pm | Updated: 10:49 pm, Sat Oct 10, 2015.
SPRING – Despite losing five defensive starters and head coach Sam Parker to suspension, the Spring Lions prevailed against the Klein Bearkats Saturday afternoon at Klein Memorial Stadium 35-7.
The convincing performance, bolstered by two defensive touchdowns, improved Spring’s record to 5-1 (2-1 in district) and served as a salve for the still-fresh wounds caused by last week’s fracas against the Westfield Mustangs. Interim Spring head coach Kurt Sloan was able to find the silver lining in his team’s post-brawl performance.
“We had five starters out on defense,” Sloan said. “So we had a lot of kids that hadn’t got to play a lot, and they played four quarters. It was good for us in that it’ll make us stronger when it’s over with.”
Absent was Parker’s steady hand on the offensive tiller, and Sloan pointed to that as a cause for the Lions’ slow start, in which Spring didn’t score an offensive touchdown until 25 seconds remained in the first half.
“His play-calling is almost automatic,” Sloan said. “So it takes us a little longer to get in the groove, play-calling wise. That’s his thing, and he’s great at it.”
It didn’t make a difference Saturday, as the Lions rolled, putting up 267 total yards, 180 of it on 24 rushes, good for an average of 7.5 per carry. More surprising, though, were the 17 passes from junior quarterback Eric Spencer, Jr., which Sloan indicated were designed to spark the receiving corps.
“We’re really wanting to spread it out to our receivers, get them in the game and get them involved early,” Sloan said.
The Bearkats benefited from some strong early production out of their receivers, most notably junior wide receiver Austin Trammell, who nabbed 64 yards on four passes from senior quarterback Nick Kohler. Klein head coach Shane Hallmark was impressed with his receiver’s first-half performance, but acknowledged that the Spring defense limited him later.
“Austin plays well every week for us,” Hallmark said. “We get him the ball, and things can happen, but unfortunately we just didn’t get him the ball enough. Credit to them. They changed the way they were playing defensively, and took some of the things away that we were getting early in the game.”
One thing Klein had early in the game that was taken was production from the quarterback position. Early in the second half, Kohler – who was 7-of-11 passing – was shaken up on a play and replaced by junior quarterback John Hogg, who completed only one of his nine pass attempts. Hallmark said he was headed to check on his starting quarterback after the game.
“[Kohler] kind of got sandwiched and got pushed in the back, and a helmet went into his jaw,” Hallmark said. “I’ll be going to the emergency room to check on him later. He went to get x-rays, and hopefully it’s not too bad.”
Hallmark indicated that a lack of in-game reps might have hampered Hogg when he subbed in for Kohler.
“[Hogg] played okay,” Hallmark said. “He’s got to get his eyes downfield and throw the football. He was thrown into the fire a little bit. John’s a good player, a good athlete, but his lack of game experience may have hurt him a bit today. I think he can do it, but we’ve just got to get him going.”
The quality of play for both sides was marred by an ugly accumulation of turnovers, with Spring giving the ball up three times and Klein turning it over four times. Hallmark lamented that losing the ball so frequently felt all too familiar.
“[It’s the] same thing that happened last week,” Hallmark said. “We turned the ball over on stupid mistakes. You can’t fumble snaps and you’ve got to secure the football when you play big, strong opponents like we’ve played. I feel sorry for our defense, because they’re playing pretty dang good, and they didn’t give up a very lot today.”
Hallmark indicated that his first priority was to boost his team’s confidence after the loss, as Klein prepares for District 15-6A juggernaut Klein Collins next week.
“We’ve got to get their heads back up,” Hallmark said. “You lose two games in a row like we had, games that we felt were winnable, you’ve got to get their self-confidence back somehow and get their minds right before you can move on anything else. No yelling or screaming, just ‘hey, we’ve got to limit the mistakes and fix this.’”