NEW MIDDLETOWN — It’s been quite a 2019 for Springfield High School senior Evan Ohlin on the fields and the courts.
Last March, the Tigers’ boys basketball team, with Ohlin at point guard, advanced to the Division III regional final. Springfield (21-6) missed a trip to state with a tough 46-43 loss to Richmond Heights at the Canton Fieldhouse.
This fall, Springfield was the Mahoning Valley’s only unbeaten football team in the regular season, sweeping the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference.
In the postseason, the Tigers continued their best season in school history by adding four more wins before falling to Anna, 48-14, in the Division VI state championship game Dec. 6 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
Ohlin was a starter at defensive back and wide receiver as the Tigers (14-1) outscored their opponents 583-174.
Ohlin admitted he, at first, did not appreciate the enormity of the Tigers' run.
“It took a while before I realized we had [rewritten] history here at Springfield,” Ohlin said.
Monday, Ohlin and seven other football players were back on the court getting ready for basketball.
“I was a little gassed, wasn’t too bad,” Ohlin said of shifting gears.
Because of their deep football run, the Tigers’ first three basketball games were rescheduled. Springfield will play its first game Saturday at Struthers Fieldhouse in the JBL Hoops Showcase. The opponent will be Neshannock.
The Tigers took last Saturday off, then met with head basketball coach Steve French on Sunday to review and walk through plays.
“Saturday was a day of relaxation because we knew basketball was coming up right away,” Ohlin said.
Monday, they hit the court.
“It’s a little bit of a change because we’re [running] up and down during basketball in order to be fast,” said Ohlin of the difference in practicing. “We’re getting there.”
To Ohlin, the main change in preparation is time devoted to study.
“What’s different is there is probably more time involved with football — watching film every day,” said Ohlin, who begins his third season as varsity point guard. “With basketball, it’s still very involved, but with football I feel you have a lot more time invested.”
Ohlin also was a sophomore when he became a starting defensive back. He played some at wide receiver that season and became a starter on offense as a junior.
Of his two varsity sports, he doesn’t have a favorite.
“I guess it would be whatever season is in,” Ohlin said.
He said it’s starting to sink in how remarkable his past two varsity seasons were.
“It didn’t at first [but we now realize] we did something very special, not only for us, but I think for our whole community and the Mahoning Valley,” Ohlin said.
He credited sophomore Beau Brungard “for exceeding our expectations. He had to fill [big shoes] from his older brother, Brannon. He played lights out this year.”
So did the offensive line.
“Our line, giving him time, I feel was a big part of our success,” Ohlin said of left tackle Zeke Worsencroft, left guard Sean Thompson, center Brady Brungard, right guard Chris Thompson and right tackle Corey Hatton.
In August, the football players weren’t sure, Ohlin said, how far they could go when they were training.
“We didn’t know how good we were going to be. We still had to find our identity,” Ohlin said.
In the opener, Springfield edged archrival South Range, 23-20, in overtime.
“I feel we found our identity then,” Ohlin said.
In the rest of the regular season, only one team (McDonald, 38-21) came within 17 points of the Tigers.
Western Reserve, the other strong team in the MVAC this season, lost to Springfield, 35-14.
Beating their main league rivals handily boosted their confidence.
“They are good every year,” Ohlin said of the two sets of Blue Devils. “Last year, we lost to McDonald, our only loss, and we missed the playoffs.”
Springfield opened the playoffs with a rematch against Western Reserve, rolling to a 34-7 victory.
Despite the difference in scores, Ohlin said it was tougher the second time.
“They would have an idea of what we were doing,” Ohlin said of the quick rematch.
Undefeated Gloucester Trimble gave Springfield its biggest scare in the regional, a 20-19 victory.
“That was a dogfight, very physical,” the 6-foot-2, 177-pounder said.
The Tigers cruised past Mogadore (35-21) and undefeated East Knox (42-14) to earn the state berth.
The latter game was played at Orrville.
“The stands were packed,” Ohlin said. “It was really a lot of fun, playing some different teams from across the state — very different environment.”
Ohlin said winning that game to become one of two teams still standing “was indescribable, playing for the state championship before what felt like our entire town.”
After 14 straight games on Fridays at 7 p.m., Springfield and Anna kicked off at 10 a.m.
One of the highlights for Ohlin was staying in a hotel in Canton the night before for an early wakeup call.
“That was really fun, being with all my teammates,” Ohlin said.
He said there was “pressure when we first stepped out on the field — we had never been in a stadium like that before.
“It was crazy just seeing all our fans, the atmosphere. The home stands were huge. They had Christmas decorations up. It was very special.”
Ohlin isn’t ruling out playing football or basketball after he graduates next spring. He is considering majoring in nursing, perhaps at Youngstown State University. His mother, Donna, is a nurse and his inspiration.
This year, his favorite class is psychology, taught by Mary Lynn Smercansky.
“It’s very interesting,” he said of trying to understand emotions and how sleep affects the body.
His favorite teachers include varsity football coach Sean Guerriero (health and physical education) and Paul Butto, his fourth-grade teacher who used to play quarterback at recess.
“He just taught us to run, let it fly and us run underneath it,” Ohlin said of Butto.
Ohlin is a teacher’s aide for Guerriero.
“He’s made a huge impact on my life.”