“We’re excited for the opportunity to take a step in the direction we want to go,” said Springfield coach Maurice Douglass. “This is what you play the game for to try to get an opportunity to take it to Canton. This is the first week and we’re excited about having a team that we know a lot about.”
The Wildcats have finished as state runners-up in each of the past two seasons. Springfield fell Lakewood St. Edward in back-to-back state championship games. Springfield advanced to the state semifinals in 2019 and 2020.
After starting the season 3-5, Springfield has won back-to-back games against Miamisburg and Northmont. They’ve lost four games by eight points or less, but none of that matters now, Douglass said.
“Everybody is brand new and it’s all 0-0 right now,” he said.
The Wildcats are playing one of their biggest rivals in the playoffs for the second time in four seasons. Springfield beat Wayne 31-19 in 2020.
Springfield lost to Wayne 27-22 in Week 4 in one of the wildest finishes of the season. Trailing 21-14 late in the fourth quarter, Springfield recovered a Wayne victory formation fumble, scored on a 72-yard TD pass from senior Aaron Scott to Jayvin Norman and took the lead on Scott’s two-point conversion pass to Da’Shawn Martin with 26 seconds remaining.
Wayne’s Jussiah Williams-West returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown to give the Warriors a 27-22 victory.
Wayne is led by junior quarterback Tyrell Lewis, who led the Greater Western Ohio Conference in passing (2,075 yards) and tossed 21 touchdowns. Lewis directs the GWOC’s top offense. The Warriors led the conference in yards (331.2) and points (29.9) per game.
Springfield counters with the GWOC’s top defense in yardage allowed (197.9 per game) and second-ranked unit in points allowed (16.7 per game).
“We’ve got to do a better job of getting off blocks and tackling in the open field,” Douglass said. “I didn’t think we tackled great that game. We let their quarterback off the hook a few times when we had an opportunity to get him on the ground and because of that he was able to elude us and make some plays downfield. We’ve got to know the importance of the moment. We’ll be better prepared this time around.”
The Wildcats are no stranger to playoff preparation. They’ve competed in 16 playoff games over the last three seasons.
“Our upperclassmen have done a good job of leading by example with what’s going to happen this week,” Douglass said. “They understand the urgency of it.”