Reviving Wildcats football a challenge

It’s a given that Maurice Douglass will be approved as the new head football coach at Springfield High School.

What isn’t so sure is how quickly he’ll be able to jump-start a program that has flat-lined.

Eric Gillespie thought he had the answers as the head coach. But after back-to-back 1-9 seasons in 2012-13 there only remained questions. He resigned soon after last season.

A late appointee, Adam Taylor, wasn’t retained following a 2-8 effort in 2011.

Each football program and supportive community has its unique circumstances that affect, well, everything. A large Division I school such as Springfield isn’t alone in fielding win-challenged football teams.

But it wasn’t always like that, as loyal Wildcats fans remember.

No one is better able to reflect on what it takes to field a football winner at Springfield High School than former head coach Rick Robertson.

“When we left we were ranked in the state and made the playoffs and had beaten Centerville, Wayne and Northmont,” said Robertson, who resigned from Springfield following the 2010 season to become the head coach at Oakwood.

“I don’t think he’s stepping into the abyss like some people think he is.”

Of course, none of those three previous teams had an anchor like fullback/linebacker Trey DePriest to build around like Robertson had. Springfield was 9-3 in Robertson’s final year and shared a Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division co-championship with Wayne. The Wildcats are a combined 4-26 since.

Stopping that football free fall will be the immediate priority for Douglass, who should be approved by the board of education as the Wildcats’ next head coach on Thursday.

“We thought we left the program in great shape,” Roberson said. “I can’t think of what happened.”

Douglass honed his craft as a player in the NFL for a bruising decade. That may well be his final destination. At Trotwood he oversaw a program that became one of the state’s best. Each of the last four seasons has ended in a state championship game.

Leaving Trotwood for a college position or for Sunday work seemed his next step. Instead, his focus is reviving the Wildcats, just as he did with the Rams.

“I would think that the general consensus would be a surprise that he would leave for another school in the GWOC,” Robertson said.

“There’s a lot of promise in Springfield. Plus, his reputation will help. I enjoyed my time there and I wish nothing but the best for the kids.”

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