The Southern Ohio Spartans lost their first postseason appearance in franchise history 47-0 to No. 1 seed Cincinnati Hawks in the Northern Frontier Football League playoffs on Saturday.
The downfall for Southern Ohio was its depth, as the team only had 16 players attend the contest. Spartans’ coach Michael Parker was tasked with trying to field a competitive team, which meant getting creative with personnel groupings and substitutions.
Despite the setback, Parker is still proud of his players commitment.
“We didn’t travel well, and we went up there and didn’t do to well,” Parker said. “But the ones that did go, I’m just proud of their efforts and the commitments they showed to the team.”
In its second year of existence, Southern Ohio finished with a .500 record for the first time in franchise history while earning its first playoff birth.
“Making the playoffs as a second-year team is an accomplishment in itself,” Parker said. “This is my first year of coaching the Spartans but from what I’ve heard, not to many second-year teams make the playoffs or make a quick turn around. We won three more games than they won last year.”
With the improvements from year one to two, it’d be easy to count on the Spartans as perennial playoff contenders next season. However, past accomplishments are not a good barometer for future successes in semi-pro.
According to Parker, in the semi-pro league, it’s hard to carry momentum over from one season to the next. There are to many variables at stake in a small-market league, with a small-market team.
One of Parker’s main goals for the next campaign is to develop a consistent practice schedule, which he found to be a very difficult chore during his inaugural season with the Spartans.
“The better teams in this league practice,” Parker said. “Practice puts you in the position to correct mistakes. It puts you in the position to gain timing with the offense. And just build the team atmosphere, period. We didn’t do to good at practicing this year.”
After all of highs and lows of of this past season, Parker is proud of the men he went to battle with on Saturday.
“Just the guys that showed up at that game Saturday, only having 16 guys trying to complete a 60-minute game is challenging anywhere,” Parker said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them. There aren’t any words to express how I proud I am of them. We knew in the beginning the odds were against us anyway. But they still decided to show up, and give 100 percent and try to win the game. It didn’t come out the way we wanted but those 16 players helped build a nucleus for next year.”
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.