Road to the state final: Looking back at Springfield’s season

Wildcats will play St. Edward on Friday on Division I state championship game

Springfield High School’s 2022 football season began with disappointment. The Wildcats traveled to Parma to play Cleveland Saint Ignatius on Aug. 20 only to have the game cancelled because of a lightning storm.

Everyone saw a beautiful sunset. That was about it. The cancellation hurt even more because at that point Springfield did not have a game scheduled in Week 2.

Athletic Director Mike Dellapina did find a game a week later, and there have been many happy days for Springfield in the last 14 weeks, with one exception.

Here’s a look back at the 14 games the Wildcats played en route to the Division I state championship game. The Wildcats (13-1) will play Lakewood St. Edwards (14-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Canton.


Credit: Name Test

Credit: Name Test

Aug. 27: Springfield 29, De Smet 22

INDIANAPOLIS — Anthony Brown sprinted 69 yards after a catch for the go-ahead score with five minutes remaining as the Wildcats held on to beat St. Louis (Mo.) De Smet Jesuit at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory Academy.

» PHOTOS: Springfield vs. De Smet

The Spartans, however, drove to Springfield’s 1-yard line in the final minute, but De Smet quarterback Christian Cotton’s pass with 16 seconds remaining flew out of bounds. The Wildcats took victory formation, kneeling on the ball to seal the victory.

”We believe that we’re one of the best defenses out there,” said Wildcats coach Maurice Douglass. “(De Smet) was a very, very good team with a lot of skilled perimeter guys. When it mattered, we stepped up. I’m excited about that.”

Sept. 2: Springfield 41, Trotwood-Madison 0

SPRINGFIELD — Aaron Scott intercepted two passes. He returned the first one 27 yards for his first career touchdown.

“I was happy my teammate put me in a position to get to the ball,” Scott said. “It was in the air a long time, and I took it to the crib.”

» PHOTOS: Springfield vs. Trotwood-Madison

“I’m happy for him,” Douglass said of Scott, “because we were on him this week about working hard on every play like they’re coming at you on every play. They came at him, and he made plays when he had the opportunity.”

Bryce Schondelmyer completed 15 of 22 passes for 235 yards in his first home game at Springfield.

“It was awesome,” Schondelmyer said. “This atmosphere, I’ve never played in a game like this.”

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Sept. 9: Springfield 21, Wayne 7

SPRINGFIELD — Schondelmyer led the Wildcats on three first-half touchdown drives and to a victory on the opening night of Greater Western Ohio Conference play.

“There’s a lot of differences – obviously I’ve never played in an atmosphere like this,” Schondelmyer said pointing to the stands that had been full. “And then everything happens a lot quicker. There’s things you can get away with at the smaller school level that you can’t get away with here.”

Schondelmyer had an all-state season as a junior leading Arcanum to an 8-3 record. He threw for 3,278 yards and 45 touchdowns. He came to Division I Springfield (3-0) to compete at a higher level and show college coaches what he could do against stronger competition. On Friday he completed 21 of 29 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns.

“He came in with a leader mindset,” said Brown, who is committed to Kentucky and caught seven passes for 108 yards. “I think that was the biggest thing for him, and all he had to do was get comfortable in the offense and do what he does.”

Credit: Name Test

Credit: Name Test

Sept. 16: Springfield 49, Beavercreek 17

BEAVERCREEK — Schondelmyer threw six touchdown passes at Miami Valley Hospital Stadium.

But it wasn’t the type of performance Douglass was expecting from his undefeated Wildcat squad.

» PHOTOS: Springfield vs. Beavercreek

“We played terrible,” Douglass said. “I’m glad we got the win, but we played terrible. We didn’t play very well on defense. We shouldn’t have let that team score seven points. They scored a touchdown on the first series. We weren’t focused the whole day and you get that result.”

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Sept. 23: Fairmont 24, Springfield 21

SPRINGFIELD — Sophomore quarterback Brock Baker scored on a 15-yard run late in the fourth quarter to lift Fairmont past Springfield. The Wildcats came in ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press state poll.

Senior running back Drew Baker rushed for 115 yards as the Firebirds improved to 4-2 and 1-2 in the GWOC.

» PHOTOS: Springfield vs. Fairmont

Springfield lost at home for the first time since Week 2 of the 2019 season. The Wildcats had won 18 straight home games, including regular season and the playoffs.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Sept. 30: Springfield 54, Springboro 14

SPRINGFIELD — There’s bouncing back from a difficult loss and then there’s the here-we-come-GWOC message that Springfield sent Friday night.

The Wildcats did whatever they wanted against a hot Springboro team and Schondelmyer wowed the homecoming crowd with five deep touchdown passes in a victory to reassert themselves as the team to beat in the Greater Western Ohio Conference.

Last week, the Division I 10th-ranked Wildcats (5-1, 3-1 GWOC) lost 24-21 to Fairmont.

“Oh yeah, we bounced back for sure,” said Schondelmyer, who threw for a career-high 492 yards. “In football, you’ve got to wait a whole week, so we’ve just been thinking about that loss. And we came out here and played great.”

Their thoughts for now, at least until they start preparing for No. 6 Centerville, will be about the night Schondelmyer and his receivers had, the best rushing night of the season and a defense that kept Springboro’s offense off the field.

Schondelmyer threw touchdown passes of 60, 37 and 33 yards to Brown. He also hit Daylen Bradley for 52 yards and Da’Shawn Martin for 45 yards. The touchdowns represented 227 of the passing yards. The Wildcats also played most of the game without Shawn Thigpen, who left after being injured on a reception.

Oct. 7: Springfield 38, Centerville 10

CENTERVILLE — The Springfield football team has learned something about itself the last two weeks in blowout victories against Springboro and Centerville after losing 24-21 at home to Fairmont.

“We’re gritty,” running back Jayvin Norman said. “We hate losing. Our coaches hate losing. We got back in the lab.”

“Sometimes it takes that,” coach Maurice Douglass said. “You humble yourself and realize that you’re not as good as you think you are, and you have to work to be special. In the last two weeks, we’ve done a really good job of paying attention to detail in practice. We’ve had really good spirited practices.”

» PHOTOS: Springfield vs. Centerville

That led to a 54-14 victory at home in Week 7 against Springboro and a 38-10 victory at Centerville in Week 8 on Friday.

With two games to play, Springfield (6-1, 4-1) and Springboro (6-2, 4-1) share first place in the Greater Western Ohio Conference.

Oct. 14: Springfield 39, Miamisburg 0

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield High School football team had a little bit of extra motivation heading into Friday’s Senior Night game against Miamisburg.

The Vikings handed Springfield its only regular season loss a year ago — and the Wildcats’ senior class didn’t forget.

“We took the L to them last year so we just wanted to come back and get our revenge,” said senior linebacker Jaivian Norman.

Schondelmyer went 25-for-31 for 353 yards and three touchdown passes as the Division I fourth-ranked Wildcats routed Miamisburg.

Oct. 21: Springfield 55, Northmont 21

CLAYTON — The Springfield Wildcats wanted to hoist the Greater Western Ohio Conference championship trophy after beating Northmont. It was nowhere to be found, though the prize will find its way to the high school eventually.

Instead, the Wildcats settled for waving a Springfield flag before huddling with coach Maurice Douglass on the turf at Good Samaritan Stadium. This was a hard-earned outright title in one of the toughest leagues around, and Northmont made Springfield work for it for a half. Then the Wildcats turned a 27-21 halftime lead into a rout with 28 unanswered points in the third quarter.

» PHOTOS: Springfield vs. Northmont

The fourth quarter was played on a running clock.

“We had a heart to heart at halftime,” Douglass said. “Coach (Conley) Smoot talked to the defense about staying focused and playing with a clear mind. When we play with a clear mind, we are a very hard team to handle. We didn’t have school today, so we broke our normal routine, and they can’t handle that. It took them 24 minutes to find out what they needed to do.”

Springfield (8-1, 6-1), ranked fourth in the state in Division I, lost only to Fairmont in the regular season. After that loss, it outscored its final four opponents 186-35.


Oct. 28: Springfield 35, Olentangy Orange 7

SPRINGFIELD — In video games, the circle button lets players execute the spin move. In real life, Brown used his instincts to spin away from a defender Friday and sprint toward the end zone.

“You don’t even practice it,” Brown said. “It’s God given.”

Brown’s move came on his third touchdown catch in a victory against Olentangy Orange. That 56-yard touchdown helped propel fourth-ranked Springfield to a rout in the first round of the Division I, Region 2 playoffs.

“The corner was biting down real hard,” said Brown, a University of Kentucky recruit who has 14 touchdown catches, “so I knew he was going to be to my outside. When I made the spin move, I was going to go inside and score.”

» PHOTOS: Springfield vs. Olentangy Orange

The Wildcats (9-1), the No. 2 seed in the region, won their first-round game for the fifth straight season. They will stay at home for the second round and play No. 7 seed Fairmont (8-3), which beat No. 10 seed Wayne 24-20 on Friday.

Nov. 4: Springfield 21, Fairmont 0

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Wildcats didn’t dance in front of their marching band after their in the first round of the playoffs. They didn’t play well against Olentangy Orange despite the lopsided score, and coach Maurice Douglass let them know as they gathered around him after the game.

In the second round of the playoffs Friday, the Wildcats had their fun with the band. The players sprinted from the handshake line to the end zone and celebrated a 21-0 victory against Fairmont, the only team to beat them in the regular season, in the second round of the Division I, Region 2 playoffs in Springfield.

The same D.J. Khaled song that always plays after a Springfield victory accompanied the celebration.

“All I do is win, win, win, no matter what,” the song goes.

Asked how Springfield played, Douglass said, “Better. It was a better performance. They did a better job paying attention to detail. We showed them what we did against (Fairmont) in the years prior to this year.”

» PHOTOS: Springfield vs. Fairmont

Springfield blanked Fairmont 17-0 in the 2021 regular season. This game was much more similar to that game than Fairmont’s 24-21 victory at Springfield on Sept. 23. The Springfield defense let the Firebirds sniff the end zone only once in the fourth quarter with the Wildcats already leading 21-0.

Springfield outgained Fairmont 286-115. Fairmont averaged 4.3 yards per carry and 200.2 yards per game on the season but was limited to 2.4 yards per carry and 101 rushing yards in this game.

Linebacker Jaivian Norman led the defense with 14 tackles and 2½ tackles for a loss.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Nov. 11: Springfield 42, Centerville 14

CLAYTON — Douglass enjoyed the big plays on offense and special teams. He loved how his defense stifled most of what Centerville wanted to do. Then he smiled and talked about senior leaders and what it all meant.

“Anthony Brown and Javian Norman, it’s a part of their testimony,” he said. “We’re going to go to four straight regional finals because we won this, and then they’re going to win the state this year. This is Week 13, next week is Week 14. Going all the way, baby.”

» PHOTOS: Springfield vs. Centerville

The Wildcats took a big step Friday on their way to the goal that eluded them last year when they lost in the state final. The Wildcats, playing in their fifth straight semifinal, rolled to a 42-14 victory at Northmont and will face Powell Olentangy Liberty (8-5) next Friday in the Region 2 final.

Liberty defeated Perrysburg (11-2) 14-3. A win would put Springfield in the state semifinals for the fourth straight year.

“It means a lot to come out here and give your all even though the weather is very bad and you got guys beat up,” said Norman, a linebacker. “But they came out here they put their body on the line for us. That means a lot.”

Nov. 18: Springfield 35, Olentangy Liberty 7

LONDON — The Springfield High School football program hoisted the Division I, Region 2 championship trophy for the fourth straight season.

Schondelmyer went 26-for-29 for 278 yards and two touchdown passes and rushed for another touchdown as Springfield beat Olentangy Liberty to win the Region 2 championship game on a frigid Friday night at London’s Bowlus Field.

The standards, however, have changed for the Wildcats. They’ve got bigger goals.

“It’s a great accomplishment, but I want to kick the door in and win state,” said Brown, who caught nine passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.

» PHOTOS: Springfield vs. Olentangy Liberty

The Wildcats won their eighth straight game and improved to 12-1 overall. They advanced to play Cincinnati Moeller (13-1) in a rematch of last year’s state semifinal game at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at Piqua’s Alexander Stadium. The Crusaders beat Lakota West 38-20 in the D-I, Region 4 championship game to advance.

With the victory, Springfield became the 25th program in Ohio history to advance to four straight state semifinals, according to the OHSAA unofficial record book.

Nov. 25: Springfield 28, Moeller 24

PIQUA — The Springfield Wildcats are headed back to Canton.

The Wildcats rallied a seven-point halftime deficit to beat Cincinnati Moeller 28-24 in a Division I state semifinal game on Friday night at Piqua’s Alexander Stadium, advancing to the state final for the second straight season.

“I’m just excited for the city of Springfield to do things that this community deserves,” Douglass said. “That’s what I’m happiest about. We’ve got one more. We’re going to get this one. It’s our turn. It’s our turn. It’s Springfield’s turn.”

» PHOTOS: Springfield vs. Moeller

Springfield (13-1) advanced to face Lakewood St. Edward (14-1) in the D-I state final at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. The Eagles beat Gahanna Lincoln 31-7 in the other state semifinal at Mansfield’s Arlin Field.

Schondelmyer went 17-for-29 for 250 yards and four touchdowns. Brown and Thigpen each had two TD receiving TDs.

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