No one felt the heat of potentially losing his starting position with the Springfield High School football team more than Leonard Taylor.
A super-sized 6-feet-6 and 238 pounds, Taylor has been a two-way regular at quarterback and defensive end since his sophomore season. All that preseason conjecture of shifting Taylor to tight end on offense? Forget about it.
“He’s our best (QB) out there,” assured coach Maurice Douglass, who will lead the Wildcats at Lancaster in Friday’s season opener. “Going on the road in a hostile environment, for the benefit of our team we need (Taylor) out there first. I don’t know of too many quarterbacks who have led their teams to the playoffs who come back and don’t get their spot back.”
These are good times for Taylor and the Wildcats. Coming off a 7-4 season that included a spot in the Division I, Region 3 playoffs, Springfield appears loaded for an encore season. Key to that will be the talented Taylor. Uncommitted, he has multiple offers and appears to favor Kentucky and Oklahoma.
“We’re excited about this season,” said Douglass, in his fourth year with the Wildcats. “Our running backs are good. Our quarterback situation is good and we’ve got good linemen.”
This is the first game of a two-year, home-and-home series with Lancaster and apparently will be the first time the teams have played. Located southeast of Columbus in Fairfield County, the Golden Gales are led by Rob Carpenter, in his 20th season as coach.
Carpenter starred as a running back at Miami in the mid-1970s and played 10 years in the NFL with the Oilers, Giants and Rams. His sons Bobby (Ohio State), Johnathan (Cincinnati), George (Marshall) and Nathan (Ohio) Carpenter have extended that rich football legacy.
Leaning on the wing-T offense, Lancaster was 6-5 last season, dropping a D-I, Region 4 playoff opener 52-7 to Wayne.
Missing in Springfield’s backfield are 2017 grads Danny Davis (Wisconsin) and Shane Ramey (Toledo), who combined for more than 2,700 yards of quick-strike offense. Senior quarterback Tyler Horner, a transfer from Wayne, also will be called upon.
“We got to be ready for a slugfest,” Douglass said.
Last season Springfield opened with a 22-20 defeat of visiting Dublin Coffman.
• Shawnee is paired against Dayton City League member Thurgood Marshall for the second straight season. That’s the only Springfield-area game on Saturday, 7 p.m. at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium.
Shawnee defeated Thurgood 31-6 at home to begin last season, then absorbed setbacks to eventual playoff teams Tippecanoe (7-4), Clinton-Massie (10-2) and Indian Lake (11-1).
• Greeneview (9-3) has a new season-opening opponent in visiting Cross County Conference member Arcanum. This is the second time Trojans coach Jason Schondelmyer has led Arcanum after starting the varsity program at Tri-Village.
Greeneview’s three losses last season were to CHCA (12-1), Mechanicsburg (12-1) and D-V state runner-up Coldwater (13-2).
AREA SEASON OPENERS
7 p.m. Friday unless otherwise noted
Arcanum at Greeneview
Cedarville at Mechanicsburg
Graham at West Liberty-Salem
Grove City Christian at Catholic Central, 7:30 p.m.
Kenton Ridge at Northeastern, WIZE-AM (1340)
London at Urbana
Marion Pleasant at Greenon
Southeastern at Northwestern
Springfield at Lancaster, 7:30 p.m.
Tecumseh at Fairborn
Triad at Indian Lake
Shawnee vs. Thurgood Marshall at Welcome Stadium, 7 p.m.