Springfield looks to continue recent success vs. Centerville

Wildcats, Elks meet Friday in Division I regional semifinals

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield High School football program has advanced to the Division I Sweet 16 — the regional semifinal round — for the fifth straight season.

This year, the Wildcats will face one of their biggest rivals — Greater Western Ohio Conference foe Centerville — with a trip to the regional final on the line.

However, Springfield coach Maurice Douglass isn’t trying to overhype the moment.

“It’s just a game that’s on the schedule for us to go to the next level,” Douglass said. “It’s just Week 13. I look at them as weeks, not as opponents, because it’s always about us. If we handle what we’re supposed to handle, then the game will be fine. If we don’t and we get outside and worry about other things than what’s important now, then we’ll be in trouble. Centerville just happens to be the opponent for Week 13.”

No. 2 seed Springfield (10-1) plays third-seeded Centerville (10-2) in a D-I, Region II semifinal game on Friday night at Northmont’s Premier Health Stadium in Clayton.

The winner will face either fourth-seeded Perrysburg (11-1) or eighth-seeded Olentangy Liberty (7-5) in the D-I, Region 2 final at 7 p.m. Nov. 18, at a site to be determined.

Douglass, however, isn’t looking past Friday’s game.

“We’ve got to take care of today on Friday night,” Douglass said. “You’ve got to pay attention to detail.”

The Wildcats have won five straight games against the Elks, including a 38-10 road victory in Week 8. Friday’s game will be the first time the two teams have met in the postseason.

The Elks have won four straight since falling to Springfield, averaging 30.5 points per game. Centerville is in the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 1991.

“Our kids are extremely humble right now and they have been all season,” said Elks coach Brent Ullery. “They’ve been great at adapting, learning and handling adversity. It’s been phenomenal to watch them adapt and get better each week.”

Centerville sophomore Braylon Newcomb, filling in for injured junior Drake Wells, has rushed for 246 yards and seven TDs in playoff victories over Northmont and Marysville.

“He’s reeled off (four) wins in a row,” Douglass said. “He’s really confident. … They’ve got a well-balanced offense and we’re going to have to play our A-game on this one.”

Springfield has won six straight games this season since falling to Fairmont on Sept. 23. The Elks know they’ve got a big test coming up against the Wildcats, especially their high-powered offense that’s averaging 36.6 points and 400.7 yards per game. The key will be keeping the game in front of them by not allowing big plays, Ullery said.

“We have a tremendous amount of respect for (Springfield),” he said. “We’ll have to play one of our best games to give ourselves a chance.”

Springfield, which has advanced to the state semifinals each of the past three seasons, isn’t looking too far ahead in its quest to get back to Canton.

“We’re just playing for each other and playing for the community,” Douglass said. “When you win, you’re not doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for the community. You have an opportunity to galvanize this city like no one has ever done before.”

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