Springfield hopes to keep Final Four streak alive

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield High School football program has another opportunity to make history.

The Wildcats are seeking their fourth straight trip to the Division I state semifinals, which could put them among the elite programs in Ohio history.

With a victory Friday against Olentangy LIberty, Springfield would become the 25th program in Ohio history to play in four straight state semifinal games, according to the OHSAA unofficial record book. There are more than 700 high school football programs in Ohio.

“We just want to keep creating more and more history for these guys,” said Springfield coach Maurice Douglass. “If they do what they’re supposed to do, they’ll be in the Final Four. It’s a tremendous honor, but it’s also something very tangible that you can grab. We’ve done it before. Now, we’ve got to finish the job this week and move on to next week.”

Springfield (11-1) will play Olentangy Liberty (8-5) in the D-I, Region 2 final at 7 p.m. Friday at London’s Bowlus Field.

The Wildcats are 14-3 in the playoffs over the last four years. They understand the Patriots are just the next team they have to beat along the path to their ultimate goal — a state championship.

“It’s another game and the stakes are just a little bit higher,” Douglass said. “It’s another game from the standpoint of knocking down the six (teams) that we have to try to conquer to get where we want to get to. The kids have done a good job of paying attention, watching film and doing the little things. They’re excited about the opportunity.”

Springfield has won seven straight games since falling to Fairmont in Week 6. They’ve outscored their opponents 98-21 over the past three weeks, including victories over Greater Western Ohio Conference rivals Fairmont and Centerville.

Douglass is seeking his 10th trip to the state semifinals, including his fourth trip with the Wildcats in nine seasons. Another victory would allow the Wildcats to practice on Thanksgiving morning for the fourth straight year.

“Everybody asks what they want for Christmas, I want to practice on Thanksgiving,” Douglass said. “I love practicing on Thanksgiving morning. I’ve been blessed to be able to do that quite a few times. This will be another tremendous opportunity.”

Springfield senior linebacker Jaivian Norman is one of a few players who will see action in their fourth straight regional final game. The program’s standards have risen since their first appearance in a regional final four years ago.

“It’s just instilled in us that we have to get back to this point every season,” Norman said. “We’re looking to get back here because it’s something that that class of 2020 started, our older brothers. They put their life on the line to get where they were at and we’re trying to do the same thing every year.”

They’ve also got another chance to galvanize the city again, Douglass said.

“I go to the (YMCA) every morning,” Douglass said. “To hear these older men and women say the things they say about what this team has done to bring them together, it’s a great honor.”

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