High school football: Springfield ready for slugfest with Fairmont

Highlights: Springfield vs. Wayne on Sept. 10, 2021

GWOC showdown takes place Friday night in Kettering

The Division I fourth-ranked Springfield High School football team knows what to expect against rival Fairmont — a tough, physical contest.

“You’re going to come out of there bruised up,” said Springfield coach Maurice Douglass. “Fairmont has a great defense and (coach Dave Miller) is a great defensive coach. His guys play with great discipline — offensively, defensively and on special teams. He brings a bunch of energy, and we’re going to have to match that. It’s homecoming, and we don’t want to be a homecoming date. We’ve got to take care of business.”

The Wildcats (4-0, 2-0 Greater Western Ohio Conference) travel to Fairmont on Friday night in search of their fourth straight victory against the Firebirds.

“I’m excited for our kids to be in the position where they can go out and do something even more special than what they’ve done before,” Douglass said. “I’m happy with where we’re at. We’ve battled through some tough games, some adversity.”

They’ll face another test against Fairmont (4-1, 1-1), which is looking to bounce back after a 15-14 loss at Springboro last week.

The game features the top two defenses in the GWOC. Each unit allows 10 points per game. The key for Springfield through its first four games has been stopping the run, Douglass said.

“(Defensive coordinator Conley Smoot) does a good job with those guys making sure they know their assignments inside and out based off of the different formations they give you,” Douglass said. “The guys are just hustling.”

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The Wildcats are led by junior linebacker Jaivian Norman, who leads the team with 36 tackles and 4.5 sacks.

“He’s playing lights out for us right now and leading our group from the second level,” Douglass said.

Springfield senior defensive tackles Jokell Brown and Tywan January have caused havoc on the inside all season. Brown has 29 tackles and 2.5 sacks, while January has 28 tackles and one sack. Douglass said they’ve also done a great job mentoring freshman defensive end Jackson Heims, who ranks fourth on the team in tackles with 21.

This week brings a stout test in the form of Fairmont’s run-heavy triple option offense. Firebirds running back Drew Baker leads the GWOC with 906 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

The Wildcats must play disciplined to stop the Firebirds run game, Douglass said.

“All three phases have to be working together,” he said. “Everybody has to be honed in because they’re going to run the same three plays over and over and over, it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to be ready for a bloody nose type game.”

The key will be getting the Firebirds off schedule on first and second down, Douglass said.

“They get you in third-and-short and if it’s fourth-and-2, they’re going for it,” he said. “You have to be assignment sound on defense to get them off the field.”

Friday’s Games

Kenton Ridge (3-2) at Shawnee (3-2): The Clark County rivals will meet for the first time since 2019 after last year’s game was cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols. Two years ago, Shawnee beat the Cougars 35-20.

Northeastern (4-1) at West Jefferson (5-0): The Jets have won three straight since falling to Riverside in Week 2, allowing just 7.6 points per game in those victories. They’ll face the Ohio Heritage Conference North Division’s top offense in the Roughriders, who are averaging 43.4 points per game.

Catholic Central (4-1) at Madison-Plains (1-4): The Golden Eagles have won the last three matchups by a score of 180-8. The Irish last beat Madison-Plains in 2017.

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Bellefontaine (4-1) at Tecumseh (3-2): The Arrows are seeking their second straight victory against the Chieftains. Last season, Tecumseh outlasted Bellefontaine 35-34, beating their longtime Central Buckeye Conference rivals for the first time since 2012.

Greenon (2-2) at Cedarville (0-5): Knights senior Trevor Stewart rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns and senior Clay Hough caught three TD passes in Greenon’s 48-14 victory over Triad.

North Union (4-1) at Northwestern (0-5): The Warriors are 0-2 against the Wildcats since they joined the CBC Mad River Division in 2019.

Greeneview (1-4) at Southeastern (1-3): The Trojans beat the Rams 35-14 the last time they played in South Charleston in 2019. Greeneview has lost four in a row since a season-opening victory against Middletown Madison.

West Liberty-Salem (1-3) at Fairbanks (4-1): Tigers sophomore running back Gabe McGill rushed for 212 yards and a TD against Cedarville last week, eclipsing the 200-yard mark for the second time in three weeks.

Mechanicsburg (5-0) at Triad (2-3): The Indians have the top defense in the OHC, allowing 10.4 points per game. Mechanicsburg has won 14 of its last 15 games.

Graham (3-1) at Urbana (0-5): The Falcons have won back-to-back games against their Champaign County rivals. Urbana last beat Graham 45-6 in 2018.

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