The 2016 football season was full of excitement for the North Springs Spartans, with a huge turnaround led by first year coach Dan Devine, who last coached at Alpharetta. The season featured a 6-4 record (in the regular season), as well as numerous milestones for players, such as running back Justin Ruiz surpassing 1,000 rushing yards in the season. This season also won the Spartans a Fox High 5 Sports Team of the Week title, and the Spartans’ first playoff berth in about a decade.
The Spartans were the fourth seed in the the region playoffs and played the number 1 seed, The Buford Wolves, on Friday, November 11, at Buford. Buford was the heavy favorite, coming in with a 9-1 record, with their only loss being against the reigning state champs, The Roswell Hornets. The Spartans did not worry about being the underdogs because they have been in that position all season long. Not only has the team been overlooked by college scouts, but also individual standouts, such as Ravion “Vegas” Hayden and Justin Ruiz. That did not discourage these star athletes, because, to them, it is all about the team. The team-centric gameplay that Coach Devine has implemented pushed the Spartans into the playoffs.
North Springs students and faculty alike were extremely excited. On the Wednesday before the Buford game, Mr. Hanson made a morning announcement to congratulate the team, as well as give the student body an opportunity to attend the game by offering them a bus ride to the game from North Springs to Buford to cheer on their Spartans.
While it was very exciting to just be in the playoffs, the playoff run did not last as long as the Spartans hoped, losing to Buford in a somewhat lopsided affair. Despite the 45-7 loss, the Spartan Pride did not diminish, and neither did the hope for success in the future. While many key seniors will be graduating this school year, such as Ravion “Vegas” Hayden, Rees Viersen, Justin Ruiz, Amir Atwood, Cortez Roberts, Josh Vinson, and Antonio Suarez, the team still has a strong core that is returning including: Nate Hardin, Jalen Willingham, Graylon Stokes, Jalen Delaney, Zahzee White, Javon Millard, and TJ Faust.