November 29, 2017 06:42 PM
(ABC 6 News) – On Friday, the Spring Grove Lions claimed their first state high school football championship in school history—and it was worth the wait.
“It’s an amazing feeling right now,” Lions head football coach Zach Hauser said. “It’s kind of hard to put into words. I’m just so happy for these guys and the coaches and all the time they’ve put in over the years.”
Before Friday’s 9-Man Prep Bowl against Nevis, the Grand Meadow Superlarks had proven to be the Lions’ nemesis on the football field—the Superlarks won five consecutive Section 1 9-Man Championships over Spring Grove (the Lions have lost nine games over the past six seasons, all to Grand Meadow).
“I have two older brothers and they both lost to Grand Meadow in the section championships a few years back,” Lions senior tight end and defensive-end Sam Sanness said. “It feels great to finally get over that hump and be at the top.”
In 2017, Spring Grove changed the script. In this year’s Section 1 9-Man Championship, the Lions topped the Cleveland Clippers in a thrilling comeback, 36-35—ten games after the Lions opened the season with a 52-51 comeback win over Cleveland to open the season.
“We worked for it,” Sanness said. “We got up every Monday, Wednesday, Friday at six and go lift weights and do speed work. We worked extra hard this year.”
“We were very well-conditioned,” Lions junior quarterback Alex Folz added. “This is one of the most-conditioned linemen groups we’ve ever had. They’re able to go through four quarters of keep grinding and grinding and that’s what wears down teams and that’s what allows these teams to continue pushing through.”
On Friday, the Lions pushed their way through the Nevis Tigers, topping Nevis in the Class 9-Man Prep Bowl, 32-0.
“I can’t say enough good things about the group that we got to work with this year,” Hauser said.
Folz, the heart and soul of the Lions offense throughout the entire season, led the Lions with 308 total yards in the Prep Bowl (196 passing, 112 rushing) and four touchdowns (3 passing, 1 rushing).
“It’s amazing what he can do out there,” Lions senior running back Cullen Patterson said. “I don’t know what else to say, there’s no words for it.”
Compared to the previous five seasons when they just fell short of a state football tournament berth, the difference for the Lions in 2017 wasn’t if they’d win—it was about when they’d win.
“They’d say ‘rings on three, one two three rings’ (after workouts during the summer),” Hauser said. “This group had that ultimate goal from last year. They did everything they could to make that happen.”
Updated: November 29, 2017 06:42 PM
Created: November 29, 2017 04:54 PM
Copyright 2017 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company