High School Football: Wildcats ready to make another state run

The chase for the state championship ring remains the goal for the Springfield High School football team.

The Wildcats quest for a Division I state title begins Saturday when they travel more than 180 miles to face powerhouse Cleveland St. Ignatius at 7 p.m. at Byers Field in Parma.

Springfield advanced to the D-I state championship game for the first time in school history last season, falling to another Northwest Ohio powerhouse, Lakewood St. Edward, 23-13 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. The Wildcats have advanced to the state semifinals each of the past three seasons, but each time fell short of their ultimate goal.

Last year’s run was special, said senior wide receiver Anthony Brown, but the Wildcats are ready to make another run at Canton.

“I think it set the bar super high,” Brown said. “It’s making us come into this season more focused and ready to work.”

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After coming so close last season, the Wildcats know what to expect this fall, said junior Aaron Scott, a highly recruited cornerback with offers from both Ohio State and Oklahoma, among others.

“We’ve seen it, we’ve been there before so let’s get there again and win it this time,” he said.

The Wildcats know they won’t sneak up on anybody this season, said senior linebacker Jaivian Norman, an Eastern Michigan commit.

“We’ve got a target on our backs,” Norman said. “We’ve got to go out and show everybody we’re the same team we were last year even though we lost some key players.”

The team graduated several All-Ohio players from last year’s team including quarterback and Ohio Mr. Football runner-up Te’Sean Smoot (Jacksonville State), defensive lineman Tywan January (Tiffin), defensive lineman Jokell Brown (Tiffin), safety Delian Bradley (Harvard), VaSean Washington (Dartmouth) and Christian McMillan (Indianapolis).

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Springfield has 20 seniors this season, as well as several returning starters on both sides of the ball. They return several weapons at the skill positions, including senior wide receivers Brown, Shawn Thigpen and Daylen Bradley, junior wide receiver Duncan Bradley and junior running back Jayvin Norman.

Defensively, several key starters return, including Jaivian Norman and Scott, as well as senior safety Tyron Barnes, senior linebacker Tawfig Jabbar and sophomore defensive end Jackson Heims.

Credit: Name Test

Credit: Name Test

The Wildcats got a boost when several new players enrolled at Springfield this summer. Senior quarterback Bryce Schondelmyer, the two-time Division VI Offensive Player of the Year at Arcanum, moved to Springfield in the offseason. Junior safety Ty Myers, Jr. and junior wide receiver Da’Shawn Martin — who both played at Catholic Central the last two years — also joined the program.

The key to getting back to Canton will be staying in the present, Jaivian Norman said.

“We’ve got to take it week-by-week,” Norman said. “Let’s win each week and have fun doing it.”

That starts this weekend in Cleveland. Last season, Springfield beat St. Ignatius 24-20 in their season opener. St. Ignatius finished the season 8-5, falling to Medina 27-14 in a D-I, Region I playoff game.

With the road opener scheduled for Saturday, Wildcats coach Maurice Douglass believes it will remove some of the distractions that come with playing on Friday nights.

“We’ll be able to focus on football and taking care of what we need to take care of,” Douglass said.

After last season, Springfield’s players were given the option to purchase state runner-up rings; however, many of the returning players declined the opportunity, Norman said.

They’ve got a different ring in mind, he said.

“We want to get the real one this year,” Norman said.

Week 1

(All games start at 7 p.m. unless noted)

Friday, Aug. 19

Southeastern at Northwestern

Mechanicsburg at Kenton Ridge

Fairborn at Tecumseh

Shawnee at Valley View

Greenon at Cleves Taylor

Northeastern at Bethel

West Liberty-Salem at Graham

Triad at Benjamin Logan

Urbana at West Jefferson

Greeneview at Middletown Madison

East Clinton at Cedarville

Saturday, Aug. 20

Catholic Central vs. Hilltop at Van Wert, noon

Springfield at Cleveland St. Ignatius

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