High School Football: Springfield seeks second straight state berth

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Highlights: Springfield beats Dublin Coffman in regional final

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Coach Maurice Douglass knew how fast things could change during a season taking place in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. He and the Springfield Wildcats experienced it firsthand last Friday 30 minutes before they got on a bus for the trip to Northmont.

A positive COVID-19 test resulted in the cancellation of that game, and that’s how No. 3 seed Springfield (7-1) advanced to the Division I, Region 2 championship game at home at 7 p.m. Friday against No. 4 Powell Olentangy Liberty (8-1).

“We told the kids we’ve got to go home,” Douglass said. “There was nowhere to go.”

It’s not how Springfield wanted to advance. It wanted to avenge its only loss: 38-35 at Northmont in overtime on Sept. 18.

“For us, (the loss) was a great wake-up call,” Douglass said. “It got our attention and let us know what’s important: the importance of team and not individuals. You had a lot of individual play and a lot of guys saying, ‘Me, me, me,' instead of ‘We, we, we.’ That game got them back on track."

The second chance never came. Northmont, the No. 2 seed, saw its undefeated season end with the forfeit. Entering this weekend, there have been 541 playoff games across the state, and there have been 27 forfeits (or just under 5 percent of the games).

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Northmont, a No. 2 seed, is the highest-seeded team to exit the playoffs because of a positive COVID-19 test. Twenty of the 27 teams to forfeit had double-digit seeds.

“I felt bad for those guys,” Douglass said, “for those seniors who had such a great season and the staff and all the work they put in and the community that supported them. Football brings the community together, and this just shows how quick it be gone.”

Springfield will play in the regional final for the second straight year. It beat Dublin Coffman 7-3 last season and then lost 31-24 to Elder in its first state semifinal appearance.

Olentangy Liberty reached the final four three straight years (2016-18) before losing 13-7 in the second round last season to Groveport Madison.

Olentangy Liberty avenged its only regular-season loss by beating the No. 1 seed Coffman 18-15 last week. It lost 24-17 to Coffman on Sept. 4.

The player to watch for Liberty is running back Aidan Kenley, who has rushed for 1,017 yards and 17 touchdowns. He had 57 rushing yards and 119 receiving yards against Coffman last week.

When Springfield’s game against Northmont was cancelled, Douglass went home and paid to watch the live broadcast of Olentangy Liberty’s game so he could scout the next opponent.

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“They’ve got a good system,” Douglass said. “It’s a well-coached group. They fly around with maximum effort continually throughout the game. They remind me a lot from an effort standpoint of Fairmont, but they’re running the spread. They run a 3-5-3 defense, which a lot of teams in Columbus run.”

If Springfield wins, it will play Lakota West (8-0) or Cincinnati St. Xavier (7-2) in the state semifinals at a site to be determined.

Springfield is one of three teams from Clark and Champaign counties alive in the postseason. Here’s a look at the other games:

Saturday’s games

Division V, Region 20

No. 11 seed Mariemont (6-3) at No. 7 Shawnee (5-2): Shawnee outscored Madison and Blanchester 57-6 in the first two rounds, earning a regional semifinal matchup against the team that upset No. 6 seed West Liberty-Salem 25-0 in the second round.

Last week, Shawnee beat Blanchester 23-6 behind 167 passing and 39 rushing yards by Drew Mitch.

The winner of this game will play No. 1 Roger Bacon or No. 4 Versailles in the regional final.

Division VI, Region 24

No. 3 Frankfort Adena (8-0) at No. 2 Mechanicsburg (8-0): Mechanicsburg routed Paint Valley 55-7 in the regional quarterfinals and has outscored its first two playoff opponents 89-7.

Adena has yet to give up a point in the playoffs, blanking Rockford Parkway 37-0 and Minster 28-0.

The winner plays No. 1 Coldwater (8-0) or No. 4 West Jefferson (7-1) in the regional final.

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