High School Football: Wildcats finally ready to focus on season opener

With the preseason finally in the books, the Springfield High School football team is ready to shift its focus to Week 1.

The Wildcats beat Moeller 28-9 on Friday night at Springfield High School in its final tune-up before they travels to Hilliard Bradley on Aug. 30.

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“It was good for our program,” said Springfield coach Maurice Douglass. “We just wanted to show people that we’re a new Springfield. We’re not the old Springfield. It doesn’t matter who you bring in here — St. X, Moeller — we just want to be ready for those teams.”

The varsity portion of the scrimmage saw the Wildcats leading the Cincinnati powerhouse 21-3 — including two TD passes from sophomore Te’Sean Smoot to senior Larry Stephens and a rushing touchdown by Bryce Walker — when the starters left the game midway through the third quarter.

“I think our guys came out tonight and did a good job of doing what we do,” Douglass said. “We ran the ball, threw the ball. We’ve got an opportunity to be a really good team this year.”

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While the Wildcats were impressive in their preseason finale, they understand the victory doesn’t count in the standings. They’ve got a week to prepare for Hilliard Bradley, which has won the Ohio Capital Conference Cardinal Division title and advanced to the playoffs each of the last three seasons.

“We’re 0-0,” Douglass said. “It all begins next week. We’ve got to have another good week of practice and have our kids do a good job preparing in the classroom and the weight room.”

Next week, senior running back/linebacker Tay’veon Smoot and wide receiver/linebacker Jordan Howard are both expected to return to the lineup after missing most of the preseason recovering from knee injuries. Smoot was the Wildcats’ leading rusher last fall with 863 rushing yards and four TDs.

The Jaguars return six starters on defense, including 6-3, 240-pound senior defensive end Chris Mayfield, who is committed to play college ball at Michigan State.

Offensively, Bradley returns three starters, including quarterback A.J. Mirgon, who played slot receiver a year ago. Mirgon brings more of a dual threat style, Douglass said.

“Defense is going to be what we hold our hat on,” he said. “We want to be the best defense in the state. We’ve got to prepare every week mentally and go out and do the little things.”

Stephens, a Toledo commit, was pleased with the team’s performance, but is taking nothing for granted this fall.

“It’s a good start, but now we’ve got to get ready for the season,” Stephens said. “We’re back to 0-0. Nothing is proven. We’ve got to keep working, keep grinding. Every week is a new week.”

The Wildcats' quest for Week 15 starts next Friday. They were recently named the top team in Division I in the Cox Media Group Ohio high school football power rankings.

“Now we can focus on Bradley, focus on their strengths,” Douglass said. “We’ve been working on it all summer, but now we get to really, really focus on it.”

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