Off and running: Springfield holds off Lancaster to win opener

Updated Aug 24, 2018
Contributing Writer
Springfield High School senior Michael Brown-Stephens stiff arms a defender during the Wildcats’ 20-14 victory over Lancaster at Evans Stadium on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Opening Night for the Springfield High School football team was kind of like a theater performance where the actors take the stage without a dress rehearsal.

The Wildcats were supposed to scrimmage Thurgood Marshall last weekend, but it was postponed, Springfield coach Maurice Douglass said. Entering Friday’s game against Lancaster, Springfield hadn’t played against another team in more than two weeks.

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Despite a barrage of penalties that saw three touchdowns called back, the Wildcats never trailed in the game and hung on for a 20-14 victory against the Golden Gales at Evans Stadium.

Senior quarterback Raheim Moss ran for 128 yards and one touchdown and passed for 124 yards and another score as the Wildcats racked up 440 yards of total offense, including 300 on the ground. Junior running back Tavion Smoot rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.

“We were happy to come away with a win,” Douglass said.

Freshman quarterback Te’Sean Smoot started the game at quarterback, splitting time with Moss throughout the game.

“We knew that having the young quarterback in there, he was going to make plays when we needed him to,” Douglass said. “Raheim was ready when his number was called. That’s what you expect from a senior.”

The game couldn’t have started any better for the Wildcats. On the Gales’ second play, senior Tavion Smith recovered a fumble to give Springfield the ball in Lancaster territory.

A few plays later, Tavion Smoot scored from two yards out to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead. Springfield drove the ball into Gales territory multiple times in the first half, but were unable to come away with a score.

Springfield’s first possession of the second half stalled near midfield, but a misplayed punt return by Lancaster saw Smith recover another fumble. A few plays later, Wildcats senior Jeff Tolliver found the end zone on a 21-yard run, but it was called back due to a holding call.

Springfield finally found the end zone on a 6-yard TD run by Moss, increasing the lead to 13-0 with 6:51 to go in third quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, Lancaster senior Noah Gruelich returned the ball 82 yards to give the Gales the ball on Springfield’s 13-yard line. Gales senior Curtis Young scored on the next play to make it 13-7.

Springfield’s next possession saw Moss find Larry Stephens from 11 yards out to extend the lead to 20-7.

The Gales pulled to within six at 20-14 on a 4-yard TD run by Lucas Gauerke with 2:45 remaining, but the Wildcats were able to run out the clock to end the game.

Springfield wracked up 15 penalties for 136 yards. It was essentially the first time Springfield had played a game with officials all season, Douglass said.

“With us having one under our belt, I think we’ll be a lot better next week,” he said.

Defensively, the Wildcats allowed just 116 yards, but even that was too many for Douglass, he said.

“The last drive we gave them a lot of yardage,” Douglass said. “Other than that, I was pretty happy.”

The defense has four new coaches on its staff this year, Douglass said.

“For our first time out, we’ll take that against a team that runs (a Wing-T offense),” he said.

The Wildcats travel to Fairfield, a 49-21 winner over Centerville in Week 1, on Friday.