Saturday, Apr 19, 2014
Springstead

Springstead's Kemp Springfield bound

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It's been no secret over the past few decades that Springstead relies heavily on its rushing attack.

While a long line of power running backs and option quarterbacks have garnered the headlines as they chewed up the yardage, the guys in front of them certainly played a key role in the Eagles becoming one of the steadier programs in the area.

In recent seasons, left tackle Will Allen attracted the most attention. A 6-foot-7, 290-pound frame can do that for a young man.

Allen signed this past school year with the University of Albany, a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) school.

But he was not the only big body on the left side of the Springstead offensive line, creating space for quarterback Tyler Mahla, fullback Daniel Wright and others.

Nor he is the only one who will continue his playing career at the college level. Ethan Kemp made sure of that when he signed with Division III Springfield College.

Kemp, listed at 5-foot-11, 278 pounds during the 2012 season, was a three-year varsity starter at offensive guard for the Eagles, specifically at left guard as a senior.

An All-County selection as a junior, he continued getting the job done for Springstead last fall as the team got off to a school-record 9-0 start and won a district championship.

In February, he was one of a handful of Eagle players who went to a recruiting fair in Lake Wales.

He spoke to roughly 20 schools, and said he "just got good vibes" from the folks at Springfield, a school based in Springfield, Mass.

"They actually took the time to talk to me and get to know me," Kemp said.

He would eventually pay a visit to Springfield, as well as the University of the Cumberlands, a NAIA school in Kentucky.

"When I went up (to Springfield), I got to meet a lot of players and coaches, and up in Cumberlands I didn't meet any of the team," Kemp said.

"They have a really good sports medicine program, which I'm pretty interested in. That's something I want to do."

The choice of Springfield was the realization of a goal to play in college. He started playing during his three years at Challenger K-8, and has kept on going to this point.

Before graduating, he finished out his prep athletic career by advancing to the Class 3A FHSAA Finals in track and field, competing in shot put and coming in 14th with a toss of 46-3 1/4.

He paced the county in that event with a 48-3 1/2, earning an All-County nod, and captured a county championship with a 47-3.

It was a nice bounce back after he had missed his junior season of track due to knee surgery.

"It was exciting to go to states. Since my freshman year I wanted to go," Kemp said. "It was the best way to go out."

Now he'll start anew for the Pride, who went 8-3 in 2012 and won the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III Northeast Bowl Championship game.

Springfield has made five NCAA Division III tournaments and captured five ECAC championships under longtime head coach Mike DeLong, starting his 33rd year.

The Pride, much like Springstead, have become something of powerhouse on the ground, pacing D-III in rushing seven times and finishing second three times.

So Kemp has a chance to make the same kind of impact he had during his time with the Eagles.

"First I've got to pass a conditioning test," Kemp said. "And after that, try to get a starting position and be a starter for 3-4 years."

cbernhardt@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5288

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