Alphonso Townsend is optimistic this is the year Spartan football reverses the trend.
In his third season at the helm as head coach, Townsend said he feels all the signs point to the Spartans producing more wins and reversing the losing trend.
The Spartans have not posted a winning season since 2017 and went 3-7 last year. Despite the record, the Spartans did make the postseason and that is one of the positives Townsend is taking from last year.
“As far as the football program I think it is on the rise,” Townsend said. “We are heading in the right direction. This is really my first group. When I came in I had the (Andre) Griffin group. This group is kind of my group. We have some young talent that is not only in the ninth grade but in the seventh and eighth grade with some good talent coming up. I can’t speak enough about my middle school program. They did an excellent job last year. One of them won the championship and one was in the championship game so the program is moving in the right direction.”
“We did make the playoffs and we won some games and we lost some games that we should have won. I think that this off-season we have been fighting through some adversity that we faced.”
Townsend said attendance has been positive in the off-season with a solid core of seniors providing leadership.
“We have been building and getting better in the off-season each day and each week,” Townsend said. “Our motto this year is to just finish and then the kids have been working hard in the summer. We did good in all three of our 7 on 7s.”
The seven-on-seven competition this summer was especially important to the Spartans because of the offense switching to more of a spread offense. The past couple of years the offense has been inconsistent and Townsend is hoping the change will highlight some of the team’s talent and speed.
“We are going to go to a spread offense this year,” Townsend said. “Aiden Howard is going to be the quarterback. We have some experienced linemen with seniors James Evans and Josh Wells, who is coming back to the offensive line. We have some skilled players in Aaryion Manley and a couple of other guys that we are hoping have a huge season for us.”
Townsend added that another reason for the switch in offense is due to the teams the Spartans face and he wants to see an uptick in scoring. Last season, the Spartans scored 181 points last year. As a team, Lima Senior rushed for 1,036 yards and 1,149 yards passing.
In five of their games, Lima Senior scored 14 or fewer points.
As the quarterback, Howard passed for 1,130 yards and seven touchdowns and showed improvement as the season progressed.
“We are going to playbook a little more and hope we can compete better,” Townsend said. “This should help us with our running games.”
Townsend points out that the key to having successful scoring will start up front with the line.
“We also need to minimize the penalties and errors that we know we shouldn’t make.”
Like the offense, Townsend is making a scheme adjustment on defense and going to a 3-3-5.
“We just want to get more speed on the field and be more consistent,” Townsend said. “Like a coach told me, it doesn’t matter what scheme you run; it is all about the preparation.
“We are not a huge team this year but we are going to try and use our speed and athleticism against opponents instead of being bruisers like we have in the past.”
In six of their losses, the Spartans surrendered 40 or more points. As a team they gave up an average of 24.1 points a contest.
Lineman Anthony Mosley, an all-TRAC performer and part of a second team, All-Ohio selection, spearheads the defense.
Last season, the Spartan standout recorded 87 tackles and 13 sacks.
“He is one of the most highly recruited players in the area,” Townsend.
Back at the linebacker position is Kameruan Smith and the Spartans will break in two new cornerbacks in CJ Reid-Tisdale and Zion Jackson.
“They both have done a tremendous job during the summer,” Townsend said. “Anchoring the defensive backfield will be Kelly Shurelds and Manley.
Townsend said the defense’s top priority is to shut down the run and then go from there. The Spartans gave up an average of 132.6 yards on the ground and 123.4 yards through the air. Overall, the Spartans yielded 256.5 yards a contest to the opposition.
“I am confident this group is going to get the job done,” Townsend said. “They have been doing it all summer and coming in busting their butts and really working hard.”
Townsend adds that there is still plenty of work to break in the relatively young squad and said the expectations are to finish strong in the last season of the Three Rivers Athletic Conference as well as to make the playoffs.
“My expectations for the team are to just keep getting better each and every day and each week. I can’t be prouder for these kids and my staff.”
Coach: Alphonso Townsend
Years at school, Record: 3rd 4-11
Last year’s record: 3-6
Returning Letterwinners: Aaryion Manley (Sr.), Anthony Mosley (Sr.), James Evans (Sr.), Jemiel Hall (Sr.), Josh Wells (Sr.), Kameruan Smith (Sr.), Kelly Shurelds Jr. (Sr.), Tierre Scales (Sr.), Zion Jackson (Sr.), Aiden Howard (Jr.), Jaevion Anderson (Jr.), Kenyon Durr (Jr.), Zavion Garner (Jr.)
Promising Newcomers: Kaden Hampton (Jr.), R ata-Geon (CJ) Reid Tisdale (Jr.), Chase Sanders (Jr.), Sumarion Doughty (Jr.), Cam-Ron Nicks (Jr.)
Season Outlook: We are replacing a lot of senior depth and leadership with the team we have. We are looking to play fast and explosive on both sides of the ball. We are looking to bring the Lima Senior football culture back into winning ways.
August 19 – Bowsher
August 26 – at Rogers
September 2 – Dunbar
September 9 – at T. St. John’s
September 16 – Oregon Clay
September 23 – at TCC
September 30 – at Whitmer
October 7 – at Fremont
October 14 – at T. St. Francis de Sales
October 21 –Findlay
All games begin at 7 p.m.