High School Football: Springfield eyes another state run

Springfield's Maurice Douglass, center, coaches against St. Edward in the Division I state championship game on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. David Jablonski/Staff

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Springfield's Maurice Douglass, center, coaches against St. Edward in the Division I state championship game on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. David Jablonski/Staff

Wildcats ‘hungrier’ after title-game loss last season

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield High School football program broke through another barrier last winter in its quest for a Division I state title.

The Wildcats advanced to the D-I state championship game for the first time in school history, falling to Lakewood St. Edward 23-13 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

The quest for the state championship begins Monday when practice starts across Ohio. The regular season begins Aug. 19 and continues for 10 weeks through Oct. 21. Sixteen teams in each region will advance to the state playoffs, which begin on Oct. 28. The state championships will be held again Dec. 1 through 3 in Canton.

While the program continues to make history, Wildcats coach Maurice Douglass said his team is laser focused on one thing — bringing the state championship trophy back to Springfield.

“(Last season) was over when we lost,” Douglass said. “That’s when it ended. It was over then. The focus since that last game has been getting back and finishing what we started. We were 10 points away from having the opportunity to do something (Springfield) has never done.”

The loss fueled the Wildcats growth in the offseason, Douglass said.

“It’s made them hungrier,” Douglass said. “They realize just off of the miscues alone we could’ve been 17 points up. It pushed them that much harder this offseason.”

The Wildcats graduated a strong senior class that went 42-8 during their careers, advancing to the three straight state semifinals and the school’s first-ever state runner-up finish last winter. The class included Mr. Football runner-up Te’Sean Smoot, the Division I co-Offensive Player of the Year who threw for 3,006 yards and 21 touchdowns and ran for 973 yards and 23 TDs in15 games.

“He’s going to be a tough one to replace,” Douglass said.

The Wildcats picked up a key piece when senior quarterback Bryce Schondelmyer, the two-time Division VI Offensive Player of the Year at Arcanum, moved to Springfield in the offseason. He threw for 3,278 yards and 45 touchdowns and rushed for 781 yards and 12 TDs for the Trojans last season.

“Bryce is a damn good football player,” Douglass said. “He’s not the Player of the Year in his division without putting up the numbers that he put up. … It may not look the same as (Smoot), but it’s still going to be effective.”

The Wildcats open their season at 7 p.m. Aug. 20 at Cleveland St. Ignatius. 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 D-I, Region I playoff game.

After last season’s win, the Wildcats will know what to expect in Week 1 this season.

“It’ll help out a lot because we can look at ourselves on what we did last year, see the mistakes we made against them and the things that are correctable that we didn’t take advantage of last season,” Douglass said.

The Wildcats don’t have a Week 2 game and will play Trotwood Madison — Douglass’ alma mater — in the home opener on Sept. 2.

Since taking over the program in 2014, the Wildcats have thrived under Douglass’ leadership. He’s gone 60-32 in eight seasons, including five playoff appearances and three Greater Western Ohio Conference championships. Springfield hasn’t had a losing season since 2015.

The goal is the same as always — bring the state championship trophy back to Springfield.

“I’m very proud of our coaching staff and the guys who’ve been with me the last nine years and trusting the process,” Douglass said. “The kids are seeing the progress we’ve made as a program and saying ‘I want to be a part of that.’ It makes it more fulfilling for the kids to know that when I come in this building, we are getting ready to battle for an opportunity to win a state title or at least make that run. It makes it that much more fulfilling.”

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