One of the marquee games in Week 9 of high school football in the Miami Valley pits Wayne against Springfield on Friday night in Huber Heights.
Both teams are 6-2 on the season, and both would be in the playoffs in Division I, Region 3, if they started today.
Coach Jay Minton’s Warriors are fourth in the region with a chance to pick up a huge allotment of computer points if they can close the season with wins over the Wildcats and Trotwood-Madison, a Division III powerhouse.
»WEEK 9: High school football schedule
After back-to-back undefeated regular seasons, this has been a different type of campaign for Wayne.
The Warriors were blown out by Pennsylvania powerhouse Pine Richland in their opener and lost to Centerville in Week 6 before beating Beavercreek and Fairmont on the road the last two weeks.
“I think we’re more battle-tested now than in previous years when we’ve just kind of cruised through ‘em, so I look at the positive on that,” Minton said. “It takes a toll on you, so I guess you give and take a little bit.”
Friday night will be Senior Night for the Warriors, including star receiver L’Christian “Blue” Smith.
The Ohio State commit goes into Week 9 second in the GWOC in receiving yards with 779 and tied with teammate Steven Victoria for fifth in the league with 45 catches.
Smith admitted he has mixed emotions heading into what could be his last home game for the Warriors depending on how the computer points shake out.
"I’m happy and at the same time I’m sad,” Smith said. “My last regular season guaranteed game on this field, so I just want to go out with a bang. I’ve had a lot of memories here. I’ve played with a lot of great players, man, so it’s just continuing my legacy. Hopefully we can get the job done.”
In Springfield, Wayne will face a familiar foe very much in need of a win.
The Wildcats, also playoff participants last year, are eighth in the region this week but can move up in a hurry if they beat Wayne and Fairmont (currently sixth) in the last two weeks of the season.
“Every year since (coach Maurice Douglass)’s first year up there they’ve gotten better,” Minton said. “I think they’re just progressing each year, and they’ve always got some really good athletes. Their athletes are sensational. I think that’s what you see in them. Every year they get more comfortable knowing the expectations of Mo and his staff.”