Already secure in Springfield High School football lore, the Wildcats are chasing another cherished memory: The 2010 team.
That was the Trey DePriest-led squad that recovered from a season-opening loss at Hamilton, bulled through the rest of the regular season at 8-2 and went two games into the Division I, Region 3 postseason. The 9-0 regional semifinal loss to then-unbeaten Hilliard Davidson still stings.
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Those Wildcats shared the Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division title with eventual D-I state runner-up Wayne. It also would be the end of the Rick Robertson coaching era following a successful run at North and three more seasons at the combined Springfield, including two playoff teams.
The current Wildcats have a way to go to surpass the success of that 2010 team, but all its stars seem aligned to do just that. Springfield (6-0) faces another major GWOC crossover test on Friday at Northmont (5-1).
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Both teams are in contention for a D-I, Region 3 playoff spot, as are other GWOC members Fairmont (5-1), Miamisburg (5-1) and Wayne (4-2). Only the top eight advance and that includes all the D-I Columbus-area powers.
Northmont’s coach is former South head coach and Shawnee grad Tony Broering. The Thunderbolts’ offensive coordinator is former South head coach and North assistant Tom Adams.
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The Springfield/Northmont winner could vault past current Region 3 leader and defending D-I state champion Pickerington Central (6-0) in computer points because Central plays Lancaster (3-3) in Week 7. Springfield defeated visiting Lancaster 20-14 in the season opener.
The Wildcats are at their offensive best and the defense has been in shut-down mode, outscoring Centerville, Lebanon and Xenia a combined 112-13 the last three games. That hasn’t gone unnoticed. Springfield improved to No. 8 in this week’s D-I Associated Press state poll.
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Tavion Smoot (552 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns), Jeff Tolliver (440, 6 TDs) and quarterback RaHeim Moss (888 passing yards, 357 rushing yards) provide a thrill-seeking backfield.
When teams commit to stopping that trio, Michael Brown-Stephens (13 catches, 354 yards), Larry Stephens (9-217) and Jordan Howard (9-173) are big-play receivers. All average more than 19 yards per catch and Brown-Stephens, a University of Minnesota commit, is at 27.2.
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Springfield’s defense, led by Moses Douglass (41 tackles), Xzerious Stinnett (36), Zack Breslin (35) and C.J. McDavid (32), has allowed a GWOC-low 51 points.
That adds up to the best team coach Maurice Douglass has had in four seasons at Springfield. Weeks 8-10 will determine if Springfield will earn its first conference title since that 2010 team and a postseason nod. The final two regular-season games are at home, playoff-worthy matchups against Wayne (4-2) and Fairmont (5-1).
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