Springfield football: Wildcats crush Hilliard Bradley to open season

One down, 14 to go.

That was the message coach Maurice Douglass had for his Springfield football team after the Wildcats mauled Hilliard Bradley 44-7 on Friday night.

"We're happy about the fact that we won, but we should have had 44 at half,” said Douglass, who is in his sixth year at Springfield. “That's our mindset. We'll take it. It's a good first game in a big stadium in front of a good fan base."

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Douglass knows what a state-championship team looks like, having taken Trotwood-Madison to four title games and winning one.

He also knows this team has a lot to work on after having 13 penalties for 164 yards accepted against them on a sloppy night for both squads that was befitting an opening game.

“I'm happy with our guys,” Douglass said. “One thing I know, we're in good condition, but we have to continue to get into better condition. Sometimes you have to force yourself to do the little things more, and I think when they're watching on film they'll see the things they can do better."

December in Canton is a long way off, but this season-opening matchup of 2018 playoff teams was no contest.

Springfield dominated the first half, bombing the Jaguars with a barrage of big plays to open up a 27-0 lead.

The Wildcats tacked on another touchdown early in the third quarter and cruised from there, outgaining their hosts 508-202 on the night.

Te’Sean Smoot started his sophomore season strong, completing 12 of 22 passes for 238 yards with a touchdown through the air and on the ground.

His top target was Larry Stephens, who caught six passes for 134 yards, while the running game revolved around the two-headed monster of Jeff Tolliver and Tay’veon Smoot.

Tolliver ran for 117 yards on five carries while Tay’veon Smoot added 67 yards on 11 carries in his first game back from a torn ACL.

The Wildcats drew first blood on a 1-yard run by quarterback Te’Sean Smooth. He snuck it in after Tay’veon Smoot and Jeff Tolliver did most of the heavy lifting on a 71-yard scoring drive.

Tay’veon Smoot converted a key third down early in the drive with a 15-yard run. That set up Tolliver’s 46-yard scamper in which he made to men miss in the backfield, stiff-armed another defender just across the line of scrimmage then raced down the sideline before being pushed out of bounds at the at the 2.

After forcing a three-and-out, the Wildcats wasted little time scoring again.

This time Te’Sean Smoot showed off his arm, finding Larry Stephens in the end zone with a beautiful rainbow throw from 29 yards out. That was the second long pass connection for the drive between Smoot and Stephens, who caught a post pattern for 30 yards to get it started.

After another three-and-out, Springfield needed only two plays to make it a three-score game, Te’Sean Smoot hit a wide-open Jalen Minney in the seam for 57 yards to get the ball down the the 4, from which point Tay’veon Smoot finished the job with his first touchdown run of the night.

He capped the scoring in the first half with a 50-yard run around right end, finding little resistance until he got inside the 5, at which point he ran over a Bradley safety and tumbled into the end zone with 9:25 on the clock.

The PAT kick was no good, but that was just about the only thing that went wrong for Springfield in the first half, aside from the penalties.

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The second half looked like it might go better for the hosts, who drove to the Springfield 10-yard line with the first possession of the third quarter.

They failed to convert a fourth-and-2, however, and the Wildcats wasted no time with the counterstrike.

Tolliver took an inside counter handoff, broke to the sideline and then outran a couple of defenders who appeared to have the angle en route to a 90-yard touchdown run.

Cole Yost made a 36-yard field and Christian McMillan scored on a short run from inside the 5 in the waning seconds to complete the scoring after Bradley got on the board with a touchdown pass from AJ Mirgon to Tayshaun Mayfield in the fourth quarter.

While Springfield has made the playoffs two of the last three seasons and shared the GWOC National East title with Wayne last year, the Jaguars entered as the three-time Ohio Capital Conference Cardinal Division champs and boasting three straight playoff appearances.

Both teams were in Division I, Region 3 last year, and both are in Region 2 in 2019.

The Wildcats return home next week to face Fairfield while Bradley plays Olentangy Orange on the road.

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