Springfield has unfinished business in Canton

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield High School football team has unfinished business in Canton this weekend.

The Wildcats beat Cincinnati Moeller 28-24 last Friday night to advance to the Division I state championship game for the second straight season.

“It feels great, but the job is not finished,” said Springfield senior linebacker Tawfiq Jabbar, who had a key interception late in the game in last week’s victory over the Crusaders.

Springfield (13-1) will face two-time defending state champion Lakewood St. Edward (14-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

“We’re glad to win, but we want the ring,” said Wildcats senior wide receiver Daylen Bradley. “We’re not satisfied until we get the ring, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

Last year, the Wildcats lost to the Eagles 23-13 in their first-ever state final appearance.

Now that they’re headed back to Canton, the Wildcats want nothing more than to bring home an elusive state title ring.

“It felt like the team last year was happy to get there,” Bradley said. “This team, we feel like we want to win it. We want to get there and win it. Our mindset is going to be different. We’re not going to play around in the hotel. We’re going on a business trip.”

Springfield is seeking the first state in Clark County history and the sixth for the Greater Western Ohio Conference. However, no GWOC team has ever won the D-I state title — Trotwood-Madison won the D-II title in 2011 and D-III title in 2017 and 2019, while Lebanon (1998) and Piqua (2006) each won the title in D-II.

The GWOC is 0-5 in D-I state finals. Wayne lost four times in the state finals, including three (2010, 2014 and 2015) to St. Edward, while Springfield lost to the Eagles last season.

“We got there and didn’t finish,” said Springfield senior wide receiver Anthony Brown. “This year, I feel like we’re better as a team in general. I feel like we should come out and win.”

Springfield has won nine straight games since falling to Fairmont in Week 6, averaging 38.5 points per game in those victories. In five playoff victories, the Wildcats are allowing 6.5 points per game.

While Springfield is seeking its first state championship in football, St. Edward is seeking its second straight title and sixth since 2010. The Eagles have won five straight state final appearances with their last state final loss coming to Cincinnati Elder in 2003.

“We know they’re a powerhouse,” Brown said. “We know we’ve got to come in with our head ready to go. I’m looking forward to playing them for sure.”

St. Edward (14-1) has won 10 straight games since falling to Massillon Washington 31-28 in Week 5. The Eagles haven’t allowed more than seven points in five playoff victories.

St. Edward’s resume includes a 6-0 victory over Moeller, as well as victories over both D-II state finalists — Toledo Central Catholic and Akron Archbishop Hoban.

“They’re obviously a great program,” said Springfield quarterback Bryce Schondelmyer, who will be playing in his first state final after moving from Arcanum. “The last 10 years they’ve been dominant going into Canton and winning. It’s going to be a challenge. It’s going to be a game very similar to (Moeller). We’re going to have to be gritty again and we’ll pull through. I’m confident.”

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