The Springfield Wildcats reached the midway point of the regular season with a second straight dominant performance, blanking Lebanon 28-0 on Friday at Evans Stadium.
How does it feel to be 5-0, a feat unparalleled in the 11-year history of the new high school? That was the question quarterback Raheim Moss faced after the game.
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"It's a blessing," Moss. "It's just about how hard we work. It's just about effort, going hard 100 percent in practice, just making each other better and getting the job done."
Moss threw two touchdown passes in the first half to set the tone for the Wildcats, who beat Lebanon (3-2) for the second straight season. His 37-yard pass to Larry Stephens gave Springfield a 7-0 lead with 4:48 left in the first quarter. It was the third touchdown catch of the season for Stephens.
"There's really no pressure with the great line up front," Moss said.
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With 10 seconds left in the first half, just as it appeared Springfield might be content to head to the locker room with a 7-0 lead, it extended its advantage to 14-0 on a 56-yard pass from Moss to Jeff Tolliver, who caught a short pass over the middle and broke free for the score. It was the sixth touchdown of the season for Tolliver but the first receiving touchdown.
"I put it right there on the money," Moss said. "He turned around and looked, caught it and ran for it. It was a great play by my boy. We called the play out because Jeff is a fast, athletic guy, and we thought he could beat the safety, and he did."
Moss played most of the game with a limp after twisting his ankle in the first half.
"I'm pretty hurt, but I'm going to get better," he said.
Lebanon had a great chance to tie the game in the second quarter. It had a first down at the Springfield 2-yard line. After an incomplete pass on first down, quarterback Kyle Short was stopped at the 1 on second down.
A fumbled snap on third down moved the ball back to the 2. Then on fourth down, Springfield defensive tackle Isaiah Gibson, who announce his verbal commitment to the University of Kentucky earlier in the week, caused a fumble. Springfield recovered the ball to end the threat.
"If you're a big-time ballplayer, you're supposed to make big-time plays," Springfield coach Maurice Douglass said, "and that was a big-time play."
After a scoreless third quarter, Springfield put the game out of reach in the final minutes of the fourth with a 4-yard touchdown run by Tavion Smoot and an interception return for a score by Tavion Smith.
Springfield won its first three games against Lancaster, Fairfield and Hudson by a combined 13 points before routing Centerville 49-6 last week. This was its first home game since the season opener. With four games remaining against teams with winning records, the Wildcats know they have a long way to go, but they're enjoying the 5-0 start.
"It feels good for our kids to receive some of the awards of their hard labor," Douglass said. "If you sow good seeds, you'll reap good seeds, and they've been sowing some good seeds this season. In this offseason, they did a good job of buying in and working and doing what we asked them to do. Those guys who have been doing that awarded for it."