Tgers are ITCL’s last hope

The Inter-Tri County League nearly had its three playoff teams eliminated after just one week of playoff action.

Fifth-seeded Lisbon lost a heartbreaker after a game-winning field goal from St. Thomas Aquinas. Top-seeded South Range was handed an upset from No. 8 Garfield.

Springfield did not want to end its season and the ITCL’s final year as early as the Blue Devils and Raiders. Trailing by 13 points against Columbia Station Friday night, the Tigers fought back and won 40-39 in double overtime.

“I’m obviously happy that we won and how we responded,” Springfield head coach Sean Guerriero said. “The kids fought back while facing a lot of adversity from the first half. But we talked after the game about how there’s more room for improvement. We have to get back after it.”

The second-seeded Tigers (9-2), riding an eight-game winning streak, will face No. 3 Kirtland (10-1) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Austintown Fitch High School in a Division VI, Region 21 matchup.

Kirtland won 21-0 over Dalton last Friday. The Springfield-Kirtland winner will face the St. Thomas Aquinas-Cuyahoga Heights winner for the title.

“We have to go back to the basics,” Guerriero said. ” Kirtland does a great job offensively. It will be a challenge for our defense. We have to be assignment sound, get to their blockers and control the time of possession. We also have to execute our game plan early. We can’t get down early to them like we did on Friday.”

The Hornets are looking to advance to the championship for the fourth consecutive season. Springfield hopes to have a good week of practice as it enters the second round of playoff action for the first time in the Guerriero era.

“We have to get better to continue this run,” Guerriero said.