Springfield Central basketball has big shoes to fill after two players go off to college
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The Springfield Central Golden Eagles are known for their powerhouse football program with four state finals appearances in the last four years and winning three titles in the process, but does all that success affect their basketball program?
“That’s the thing about losing leaders…Someone has to step up and step into that role,” said Springfield Center head basketball coach Bill Watson.
Those leaders include Josiah Williams, who left school early to play at Boston College, and coach Watson’s son, ‘Pop’ Watson, an All-American quarterback who is at Virginia Tech.
“We lost ‘Pop’ and Josiah…two of the better players in western Mass. and in the state,” Watson explained.
Despite both of them wanting to play basketball this season, Watson said that’s not in their best interest.
“The whole goal is getting them to college and that is more important than getting some wins,” Watson explained.
Watson told us those are some large shoes to fill.
“I’m up, I’m pacing. We got younger guys and we need to teach them the system,” Watson noted.
One of those younger players is Dwayne Early, a tenth grader who plays on both the football and the basketball teams. He told Western Mas News that being a Golden Eagle athlete comes with high expectations.
“The goal is always to win states. That is the culture at central. It is win it all or nothing,” Early added.
Watson told us building that type of culture is intentional.
“I’m not one of those guys that says ‘Oh, it’s not about winning.’ No, we want to win,” Watson said.
He said the life lessons the players learn through sports translates off the court.
“Success is graduating with great grades. Success is going to college and coming back and contributing to our community,” Watson said.
Meanwhile, Early said his coach’s ability to connect with players off the court is what makes him special.
“It’s great. He teaches us right from wrong…leads me in the right direction,” Early explained.
Watson told us they actually won the Western Mass. championship in 2021 and 2022, but he said their goal this year is to win a state championship to add another banner to the gym.
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