Spring Grove adapting to plenty of changes: 2022 football preview

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

After making slow but steady progress in York-Adams Division I over the previous few years, Spring Grove catapulted itself toward the top of the standings last year.

So, the question heading into the 2022 season is this: Can the Rockets maintain their standing?

There is optimism in Papertown that the answer is yes, but it certainly won’t come easily.

If graduating nine all-stars from last year’s squad wasn’t enough, the Rockets also are under new leadership this season, with Will Thompson as the new head coach.

Thompson, who compiled an 11-14 record in three seasons as the head coach at Francis Scott Key High School in Carroll County, Maryland, seems to be off to a good start. During Media Day earlier this month, his players in attendance had a favorable first impression of their new mentor.

Spring Grove's coach, Will Thompson at Media Day for the local high school football teams in York on August 2, 2022.

More: New Spring Grove High School football head coach ready for 'challenge' that awaits him

“Change can be scary,” Spring Grove senior quarterback Andrew Osmun said. “But as soon as coach Thompson got hired, we talked on the phone and I realized that we were in good hands. If we all buy into the process, everything is going to be just fine.”

Big role on offense: Osmun, who has already committed to play next year at Fordham University, will be looked on to shoulder a lot of the offense this season. Thompson is installing a quick-tempo, no-huddle type of system that will rely on Osmun to be both quick and efficient.

Spring Grove's quaterback safety, Andrew Osmun at Media Day for the local high school football teams in York on August 2, 2022.

Part of that installation has to do with the fact that Zyree Brooks, a 2,000 yard rusher a season ago, graduated.

“It’s going to be more of a committee than just one guy,” Thompson said. “So it’s going to take us all being on the same page and united together. We might have a game where Andrew does it, and it might be Logan (Altland)’s game the next.”

The Rockets will employ a 3-4 defense, where linebackers will be looked on to swarm to the ball.

Thompson has been nothing but impressed so far with what he’s seen from  the players in the program. He is well aware of the pitfalls of taking over a program but has not seen any so far.

Spring Grove's wide receiver and corner, Logan Altland at Media Day for the local high school football teams in York on August 2, 2022.

“My first impression is that all of these kids are dedicated and that they work hard,” Thompson said. “They want to continue to have the program rise to a high and consistent level. And the guys have bought into the philosophy and have helped me transition to where we are and where we need to be.”

Thompson’s first three nonleague contests will give a barometer on where the Rockets are before beginning league play. Battles against playoff teams from last year — at Waynesboro, at Kennard-Dale and vs. Shippensburg — will likely go a long way toward determining if the Rockets can contend for a Division I and District 3 title.

Following is a capsule look at the Rockets: 

► Team: Spring Grove Rockets.

► Coach: Will Thompson, first season.

► 2021 record: 10-2 overall, 5-1 in York-Adams League Division I.

► Key losses (Division I All-Stars in bold): Zyree Brooks (RB), Darien Osmun (OLB/P), Hayden Emory (OT), Brayden Merrill (S), Cameron Braxton (G), Austin Crites (DE), Andrew Zeigler (MLB), Justin Godman (TE/DB), Logan Herbst (C).

► Key returners (Division I All-Stars in bold): Andrew Osmun (QB/S/K), Lane Hersh (G), Kyle Lillich (OT), Michael Hershey (DT), Logan Altland (WR/CB), Teague Connover (RB/LB), Cowan Ruhland (QB/DB).

► 2022 schedule (Division I games in bold): Aug. 26 at Waynesboro; Sept. 2 at Kennard-Dale; Sept. 9 vs. Shippensburg; Sept. 16 vs. Central York; Sept. 23 at Eastern York; Sept. 30 at Northeastern; Oct. 7 vs. Red Lion; Oct. 15 vs. York High at noon; Oct. 21 at Dallastown; Oct. 28 at South Western.

Spring Grove's Andrew Osmun passes the ball during PIAA District III, Class 5-A first-round football action against Twin Valley at Spring Grove Area High School in Jackson Township, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Spring Grove would win the game 33-6. Dawn J. Sagert photo