Springfield’s triple option presents unique challenge for Union football

The Union College football team faces Springfield at 4:30 Saturday at Frank Bailey Field. 

The Union College football team faces Springfield at 4:30 Saturday at Frank Bailey Field. 

SCHENECTADY — They don’t call this Week 3 — as in triple option — for nothing.

The Union men’s football team will face such an offense at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday when they host Springfield at Frank Bailey Field.

The Dutchmen are riding back-to-back wins to start the season by a combined 110-27 score and face an opponent that is coming off a 495-yard performance in the ground game that ran over Rowan for a 46-24 victory.

Total passing yards for the Pride that day: 0.

So anyone with some triple option background before coming to Union was a candidate to serve extra duty on the scout team this week, head coach Jeff Behrman said on Wednesday.

“We located some guys who played in a similar system in high school and are comfortable in that system so that we could simulate it the best we can,” he said. “Every week, you’re doing pretty much the same thing no matter who you’re playing, as far as the scout team, but moreso in a week like this.”

Against Rowan, Springfield (1-1) found a soft spot with its fullbacks, and Tim Callahan and Patrick Ladas combined to run for 266 yards on 33 carries.

It took halfback Isaiah Cashwell-Doe’s 54-yard run at 9:40 of the fourth quarter to finally put away Rowan, though.

The teams traded scores in the first half, Springfield took control with an 18-0 third quarter and Cashwell-Doe delivered the knockout punch.

Mohonasen graduate Ryan Deguire contributed 81 yards on six carries to help the Pride average 8.5 yards on the ground.

“They’re a triple option team, they’ve been running that forever and they’ve got really good personnel for it,” Behrman said. “That ball can get out three different ways, so it’s assignment football when we’re on defense.

“Against Rowan last week, they took advantage of how the defense was playing them.”

Two games in, the Dutchmen are still sorting out exactly what they have to work with, after canceling last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They have been dominating while doing that, and senior running back Ike Irabor’s ability and senior quarterback Will Bellamy’s connection with senior wide receiver Andre Ross Jr. are proven commodities that have reliably shown up in the first two games.

Meanwhile, first-year receiver Robbie Tolbert had three touchdown catches by early in the third quarter in last week’s 62-13 demolition of Worcester State.

“Honestly, we’re still trying to figure that out,” Behrman said. “We’ve gotten some early-season answers on personnel, and then you formulate and mold the system based on what guys can and can’t do, so you focus on that. That’s always a priority to have as a coach, and we’ve had some nice surprises.”

Reach Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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