With three players out on defense, sophomore end Jackson Heims stepped up with 14 tackles and senior tackle Robert Owens had 12 to often stuff the Elks’ running game.
The flashy stuff, though, that was for the offense. Whatever Springfield play-caller Chris Wallace dials up for Brown can be a touchdown. Throw it deep or throw it short, it’s all worked this season. The catch-and-run was the big play Centerville couldn’t stop.
Brown shrugged his shoulders and said, “We just rep it in practice. And whatever we get, we got to take it to the house.”
Schondelmyer, who threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns, didn’t hesitate when Brown was open on two such plays for touchdowns. The first was a 25-yard crossing route on which Brown ran away from the defense for a 28-7 halftime lead. The second was a 60-yarder that he caught short, made a move up the sideline, then cut across the field, outrunning the Elks and getting key blocks from Daylen Bradley and Duncan Bradley. Brown had six catches for 177 yards.
“Great blocking by the receivers,” Schondelmyer said. “And when you give him space he’s going to do his thing, and that’s what happened.”
Total team effort, though, is what the Wildcats thought of the entire night. And Centerville coach Brent Ullery didn’t see any weaknesses in the team that beat his team for the second time this season.
“Springfield did a heck of a job and they executed when they had to execute and they limited their mistakes,” Ullery said. “They played a really good game and they’re really good team, and that’s what you see this late in the playoffs.”
The Elks played this deep in the playoffs for the first time since 1991. Their offense had come to life in the playoffs because of improved quarterback play by sophomore Braylon Newcomb who took over because of an injury to Drake Wells. And they had senior Nic Bruder making plays on both sides of the ball and in the return game.
Two early drives for scores put Centerville in an early 14-0 hole. But Newcomb threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Bruder on third-and-9. The two connected again for 18-yarder to cut the Springfield lead to 28-14 early in the fourth quarter. But that was it.
“I’m proud as heck of our kids and how they fought,” Ullery said. “They’re flat out fighters. What these seniors have done for our program will echo much later than this season.”
Springfield’s other big play came the first time the Elks were put in poor field position. Robert Owens came up the middle to block a punt out of bounds at the Elks’ 6. Three plays later Schondelmyer threw a 6-yard touchdown to Daylen Bradley for a 21-7 lead in the second quarter.
After talking about the important things that happened in the game, Douglass reflected on why his team is playing so well.
“The hard work and their dedication to listen to the coaches,” he said. “We harp on them a lot about paying attention to details, doing the extra things, lifting weights on Saturday. They’re going to have to lift tomorrow, they’re going to have to lift Monday.”
And, if this season ends the way Douglass thinks it will, the Wildcats will have two more Saturdays and Mondays in the weight room.