HS Football: Springfield opens practice with great expectations

Wildcats have 15 starters back from playoff team

Moses Douglass had fun as Springfield pulled off several dramatic wins last season, but he didn’t plan to enjoy them as a spectator. An ankle injury in a Week 2 game at Princeton kept him on the sidelines for the rest of what could have been a breakout year.

After months of anticipation, Douglass started what he hopes will be a breakout season Monday in Springfield’s first practice. It was the first day football teams statewide were permitted to practice by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. All other fall sports begin practice Tuesday.

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Douglass, a junior defensive back, had seven tackles in Springfield’s season-opening win over Dublin Coffman before sustaining the injury a week later.

“It made me think about some things that I had never thought about, like how the game could be over just like that,” Douglass said. “It makes me grateful to be out here. I’m 100 percent right now, so I’m going to go out there without any worries. I’m ready to eat.”

Douglass holds offers from more than a dozen schools, as do teammates Leonard Taylor, Isaiah Gibson and Cameron Hoelscher. They’re among the 15 returning starters the Wildcats will depend on to build off of last season’s 7-4 record.

A few players who transferred to the school in the offseason could have starting roles, including Caleb Johnson and Tyler Carter. Johnson had 882 receiving yards last year for Trotwood, and Carter was the backup quarterback for Wayne.

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Douglass said there was a notable difference in offseason workouts and weight training.

“We’re confident and we’ve been working harder,” Douglass said. “We know how to win now, so we’re working on a different level.”

His father has also seen the difference. Maurice Douglass is entering his fourth season as the team’s head coach and said he was impressed by the performance of the upperclassmen in 7-on-7 passing scrimmages at Fairfield and the University of Dayton in July.

“I’m excited,” Coach Douglass said. “It was a great summer. We’ve got 26 seniors, and most of those guys have played all four years. We’re going to lean on those guys.”

Springfield struggled with 2-8 and 3-7 records in 2014 and 2015, and Douglass said it’s time for the seniors to prove themselves.

“They had to learn early and get beat up a little bit as freshman and sophomores, and now it’s their time,” Douglass said. “This is the biggest group and the best group by far since we’ve been here.”

Douglass watched over several position groups in Monday’s practice and kept an eye on how his son was doing.

“He’s bigger, stronger and faster than he was before,” Douglass said. “I can’t believe that he’s a junior.”

Moses Douglass said he noticed a difference in the amount of surveillance by his father compared to previous seasons.

“I think he trusts me more now,” Douglass said. “Freshman year he was on me all the time, sophomore year he was on me a little bit, but now he’s not talking to me much.”

Springfield has two-a-day practices for nine of the next 10 days. The Wildcats will scrimmage Winton Woods in Cincinnati on Aug. 18 and will open the season with a road trip to Lancaster on Aug. 25. They’ll play at Evans Stadium the next three weeks, starting Sept. 1 against Princeton.

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