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S-GI hosts second annual alumni football game

SPRINGVILLE — The second annual Springville-Griffith Institute alumni football game was held Saturday, Sept. 29 at Pop Warner Field.

The game was a part of S-GI’s homecoming celebration weekend and included an alumni tent that was set up for Springville’s game on Friday, against Pioneer Central School.

According to alumni member Mark Nugent, getting S-GI’s alumni back together is important, because “Coach [John] Sopko has really embraced the past dominance of S-GI football and he is teaching it to his players. Hopefully, by us getting together every year for this, we’ll show the kids how special it is to wear that purple jersey.”

On Saturday, more than 25 alumni players showed up for the game. According to Nugent, the turnout was evidence of how much an event like the alumni game means to them. “To get a turnout like we did was fantastic,” he said. “Eric Orton flew in from Wyoming [and] Rick Belscher came up from North Carolina. That says how important it was for all of us to be a part of Springville football. Growing up in a small town, this whole community was one big family.”

Halfway through the alumni game, Sopko brought out the varsity team, so the current S-GI football players could meet the alumni players. The alumni players announced their positions and graduation years. “That was a great thing,” Nugent said. “It was good that we had a chance to meet each other. These players are going to be just like us someday, 30 or so years out of high school: old, gray hair, no hair or out of shape. We still know the importance of coming together every year, to get a little taste of what it was like to play on this special field, in this special town.”

Organizers said that the alumni football match is planned to be an annual event.

Saying that, overall, he believed Saturday’s game was a positive one for the S-GI football program, Nugent said, “You know, there is a book called ‘Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten.’ GI alumni like to say, ‘Everything I need to know, I learned playing Springville Griffins football.’”

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