FORT MILL --
Although falling to York Middle School in the championship game, Springfield Middle School’s seventh grade football team stayed undefeated throughout the regular season.
With a record of 7-0, the Mustangs made school history by winning all of their conference games, as well as all of their preseason games.
“We have not only made the kids understand the concept that football is not a one-man sport, but also no matter what, their attitude will determine how well they play in a game,” head coach Melvin Billingslea said.
Another first for the Mustangs this season was the lone girl on the 44-student roaster. And this girl was no bench warmer: Co-captain Samantha Tuipulotu started on the offensive line.
“Getting the team to work together all the time was a challenge, but we learned to never expect the win,” Tuipulotu said. “You have to want the win in order to get it.”
Tuipulotu lead the team with the help of her other captains – twin brother Ben Tuipulotu, Vinnie Catan, Dylan Lee and Gunner Brewington.
Unfortunately, Brewington, who played quarterback, was injured at the beginning of the season and was unable to play for the remainder of the season.
Ben Tuipulotu took his place as starting quarterback, working hard to help lead his team to the rest of their wins.
“It was great to be with friends and a coach who worked us hard and never gave up on us,” Ben said.
Throughout the season, the Mustangs felt this record-breaking season helped them develop on and off the field.
“Everyone got better throughout the season. It helped us build respect for our coaches and one another and kept us out of trouble,” Catan said.
The team would have never achieved its success without the help of the parents, the players said. Since middle school sports are no longer funded by the school district, parents must fundraise throughout the year to pay the team’s expenses.
The team has had a pasta sale and has sold spirit wear to help fund this season. Also, different restaurants in the community have donated to the team.
“The fundraisers allowed us to get the team new uniforms this year and the parents paid for trophies for everyone on the team,” said team mom Barbara Catan.
As the season ends, the team still plans to fundraise in the spring with a team car wash and by selling spirit cups.
“We came together as a team and as long as we work hard, anything can happen,” Ben Tuipulotu said.
Although the team fell short in the championship game, the players plan to use what they learned this season and come back even stronger next year.