All season long on Fridays and sometimes on Thursdays, Springfield Wildcats coach Maurice Douglass has taken his players’ phones, put them all in a basket and asked the players to focus during film sessions.
» PLAYOFFS: First-round schedule
This week, with the team preparing for the playoffs, senior linebacker Jalen Minney sent a text message to all his teammates asking them to turn in their phones every day before practice to limit distractions. He also asked the starters to sit up front in film sessions. On Monday and Tuesday, the coaches had the players’ full attention.
“Nobody’s tried to hide their phones,” Douglass said Wednesday. “The basket’s been full.”
Douglass praised the leadership of Minney and said he’s a strong voice in the locker room.
“That’s huge,” Douglass said. “They’re holding themselves more accountable to be on time. They’ve done that throughout the year, but it’s even more pressing at this time.”
Springfield (9-1) won the Great Western Ohio Conference American Division title outright for the first time and earned the No. 1 seed in the Division I, Region 2 playoffs. The Wildcats face No. 8 seed Marysville (6-4) at 7 p.m. Friday at Springfield High School. The winner will play No. 4 seed Dublin Jerome (8-2) or No. 5 seed Springboro (9-1) in the second round.
» PLAYOFF PREVIEW: Douglass happy for seniors to get another home game
No. 7 seed Northmont (6-4) plays at No. 2 seed Toledo Whitmer (9-1), and No. 6 seed Perrysburg (8-2) plays at No. 3 seed Dublin Coffman (8-2) in the region’s other first-round games.
A year ago, Springfield was the No. 4 seed and beat No. 5 seed Fairmont 19-14 in the first round at Evans Stadium before losing 17-14 to No. 1 seed Davidson in London. Springfield was driving for the go-ahead touchdown when a penalty stalled the drive. It had to settle for a 44-yard field-goal attempt with two minutes to play, and it missed.
This will be Springfield’s fifth playoff appearance and third in four years. It has not advanced past the second round.
“We’re excited about the opportunity,” Douglass said. “Last year left a bad taste in our mouths, losing to Davidson.”
Douglass said the key to advancing in the postseason is avoiding turnovers and stopping the run. His team ranked second in the GWOC in rushing defense (104.6 yards per game).
» STATE POLL: Final ranking after Week 10
Marysville, which is making its eighth playoff appearance and first since 2013, made it to the postseason without beating a team that finished with a winning record.
“They’re predominantly a run team,” Douglass said. “They run the Wing-T offense, which we’ve seen some variations of that throughout the year with Fairmont and Beavercreek running forms of it, but it’s run more like Lancaster of last year. They’re some big country-fed guys. They’ve got some stout linemen and some big skill position players. It’s nothing we haven’t seen, but they’re going to be a force if we don’t beat them up front on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.”
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