Spring Grove High football team excited for chance to prove it belongs with top D-I teams

Spring Grove sophomore quarterback Andrew Osmun, right, runs in a touchdown against York High last season. Osmun will look to lead the Rockets to a 2-0 start on Friday against York High.
  • The Spring Grove football team is coming off a 31-14 opening victory vs. Northeastern.
  • The Rockets next take on perennial York-Adams Division I contender York High.
  • The Rockets are coming off a 2-8 season in 2019 with no wins in Division I.

It's hard to call a 2-8 season a success, but for the Spring Grove High School football team, the 2019 campaign may have been a blessing disguised as a struggle.

With a young roster that featured a freshman at quarterback in Andrew Osmun, the Rockets didn't win a game in York-Adams League Division I last season. They did, however, learn some valuable lessons about how to prepare and perform. They are hoping those lessons will help them see the number in the win column rise in 2020.

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“That kind of made everyone push themselves harder,” Osmun said. “That sparked an energy to work harder and be better than the next guy. Last season was kind of a wake-up call that we gotta get ready and work harder.”

Different vibe: There is a different vibe to the Rockets' program this season. Players are working harder in practice and now expect to win games, despite the lack of success on the scoreboard a year ago. Coach Kyle Sprenkle credited much of that positive vibe to the talented junior class, of which linebacker Darien Osmun is a member. Sprenkle said the juniors have become leaders on the team and changed the outlook.

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“This year we’re just different,” Darien Osmun said. “This year, we’re bigger, faster, stronger.”

Spring Grove junior Andrew Osmun, right, runs the ball against York High last season. Osmun and the Rockets look to move to 2-0 this year against the Bearcats on Friday after a 2-8 year in 2019.

Good start: One week into the new season, the Rockets' newfound effort and outlook has already produced results. Spring Grove picked up a Week 1 road win, 31-14, at Northeastern — a team that reached the District 3 playoffs a season ago. It was a sign that the message Sprenkle and the Rockets' coaches have preached all summer is sinking in.

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“We were expecting big things as a coaching staff because we knew our guys were getting ready,” Sprenkle said. “For them to go out on Friday and for the message to come true for them is rewarding for us as a program. The kids are bought in, the coaching staff is bought in and they know the effort it takes each week.”

York High looming: That effort will need to be even more intense this week when York High comes to town. Last season, the Bearcats rolled the Rockets, 49-19, but Spring Grove has a different mentality headed into this match-up. 

York High has become a perennial power in D-I and is used to playing in the marquee game of the week, and the local media coverage that comes with it. The young Rockets will get their first taste of big-game pressure on Friday, but Sprenkle believes his team can tune out the outside noise and lock in to the task at hand.

Spring Grove head coach Kyle Sprenkle.

“It’s a little bit different for us because we’ve been at the very bottom the last couple seasons, and now to get some of the attention we’re getting; it’s well deserved for our players, but our focus has to continue to be laser focused,” Sprenkle said. “We just continue to preach that. If they continue to stay laser focused, I’m excited for their future.”

Working to be great: The future of the Rockets' program appears to be bright, but to reach the goals the team has they need to continue the hard work that put them in the position to compete against the top teams in D-I.

Spring Grove gets the chance on Friday night to prove it belongs with the teams at the top of the division, such as York High. Their coaches have shown them what needs to happen to leave with a win, so now it's up to the Rockets to make it happen with the bright lights shining on Papermakers Stadium on Friday.

“Ultimately, we try to put them in the best position to make them successful, but it comes down to them,” Sprenkle said. “You can’t coach effort. The kids understand we’ll praise them when they’re doing a good job, but we’re also going to rip them as well if we see them slacking in any aspect because the expectation is for them to get better and work toward greatness. We got a lot of work (to do) to get there, but if you want to be a champion you gotta continue to strive toward getting greater every day.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.