High School Football: Springfield ‘locked in’ for rematch with Fairmont

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield High School football team learned a lesson the last time it played Greater Western Ohio Conference rival Fairmont.

The Firebirds beat the Wildcats 24-21 in Week 6, snapping Springfield’s 18-game home winning streak.

It was exactly the wake-up call the program needed, said Wildcats coach Maurice Douglass.

“It was a lesson for us to be humble,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t realize that you’re not being humble. … The sense of urgency wasn’t there. I think that was the big thing — the urgency in practice. We had slid by the week before (against Beavercreek), going through the motions. (The loss) got our attention.”

The Wildcats (9-1) haven’t lost since, winning five straight games and outscoring their opponents 221-52.

“Everybody has been locked in, doing extra work after practice,” said Wildcats senior linebacker Jaivian Norman. “We needed that loss to bring us together.”

In their final home game of the season, Springfield will face the Firebirds (8-3) again in a D-I, Region 2 quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Friday at Springfield High School.

“This could be my last high school game, so I’m going to put all my effort into it,” Norman said.

The matchup is a battle of two differing styles of play. The Wildcats lead the Greater Western Ohio Conference with more than 3,400 passing yards. The’yre led by senior quarterback Bryce Schondelmyer, who leads the GWOC with more than 3,357 yards and 35 touchdown passes. The Wildcats top two targets — seniors Anthony Brown (53 catches, 1,123 yards, 14 TDs) and Daylen Bradley (65 catches, 980 yards, 10 TDs) — rank first and third in the GWOC in receiving.

The Firebirds are a run-heavy team who lead the GWOC with more than 2,300 yards rushing. They’re led by senior running back Drew Baker, the GWOC’s leading rusher with 1,285 yards and 14 TDs.

“It’s going to be one of those battles won up front and every man must do his job,” Douglass said. “You’ve got to trust your brother that he’s going to do his responsibility and I’m going to do mine. It’ll be one of those tough ones. I’m excited about it and I know our kids are excited about it.”

The Wildcats defense hasn’t allowed more than 22 points since its season-opening win against St. Louis De Smet Jesuit in Week 2. They know they’ll have to be focused against the Firebirds’ running game.

“This is smashmouth football right here,” Norman said. “You have to tackle on every play. It’s what you want as a defensive player.”

Springfield is seeking its second straight trip to the D-I state final. They know they can’t look past Fairmont in the last home game for their senior class.

“They’ll be a little more gassed up for that as well,” Douglass said. “If getting an opportunity to go the Sweet 16 doesn’t motivate you, then what will?”

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