By Larry Jacobson
• Seven winning seasons in the last nine years.
• Six playoff berths in the last seven.
• A 23-6 regular season record over the last four.
• A 42-23 mark over the last eight.
If you had to pick the Jackson area football team those numbers described, which would it be? The Grass Lake Warriors…? The Lumen Christi Titans…? How about Michigan Center? Maybe even the Leslie Blackhawks?
While those four programs have certainly enjoyed both regular season and playoff success over the years, the above statistics belong to a football program that keeps churning out competitive, tough-minded and gritty squads year after year: The Springport Spartans.
Since 2000, the Spartans have had only 3 seasons when they won fewer than four games, yet they remain often forgotten when it comes to playoff picks or power polls. Most of that lack of recognition probably stems from the fact Springport heads west come playoff time and therefore out of the area. And they’ve yet to win a postseason matchup – going 0-7 in the playoffs. But it’s not the Spartans fault their playoff path generally leads through some of the state’s most vaunted small-school programs like Mendon, Gobles or Sand Creek.
The Spartans keep knocking on that door – and here’s betting that one of these days they finally kick it in.
Springport opened up the 2013 season by knocking off Vandercook Lake 37-21, a reminder that if the Spartans were in the Cascades Conference they would more than hold their own.
This weekend they draw Jonesville and the Big Eight Conference race is off and running. The Spartans may not win the league, but the boys in blue and white will keep on trucking – just as loads of their fans motor right along with them – most likely to another winning season.
Who knows what area teams will reach the playoffs this year, but I’d be surprised if a little school to the west wasn’t one of them. Rock on, Springport Spartans – rock on.