Douglass: Springfield has ‘nothing to be ashamed about’ after second straight state runner-up finish

St. Edward sacks Springfield quarterback nine times in Division I state final

CANTON — The action continued after the final whistle of the Division I state championship game Friday. There was a minor skirmish between Springfield and Lakewood St. Edward in the handshake line. It ended fast as teams headed to opposite sides of the turf at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

Then it was time for Tim Stried, of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, to hand out the trophies. For the second straight year, Springfield High School accepted its trophy first: a runner-up trophy that likely will stand right next to the 2021 runner-up trophy at the high school.

Few schools can claim two straight runner-up trophies. They just don’t stand out as much as the state championship trophy. One day, the Wildcats will look at them with pride. On Friday night, after a 28-14 loss to St. Edward, they accepted the trophy with disappointment.

Douglass reminded them of what it meant, telling the seniors who took the trophy from Stried, “You have nothing to be ashamed about.”

At the same time, Douglass was already looking ahead and planning for a return to the title game. He talked to the team before the trophy presentation and told it, “We’ve got work to do. We weren’t good enough.”

The Wildcats (13-2) competed better in some ways against St. Edward this year than they did in a 23-13 loss in 2021 even though they lost by four more points. Springfield trailed 16-0 in that game and then 23-7.

This time, Springfield took the lead first. It got a fourth-down stop on the first drive by St. Edward and then drove 39 yards in eight plays, scoring on a 1-yard run by Jayvin Norman.

That would be Springfield’s last score until the third quarter. St. Edward answered with a quick touchdown drive, moving 65 yards in six plays in just over two minutes and scoring on a 24-yard pass from Casey Bullock to Kyan Mason.

In the second quarter, Bullock scored on a 6-yard run, and Marvin Bell scored on a 1-yard run.

St. Edward led 21-7 at halftime. Springfield couldn’t get the running game going. It gained 27 yards on 21 carries in the game. It also had trouble protecting quarterback Bryce Schondelmyer, who was sacked nine times.

“They did a good job controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides,” Douglass said, “and we picked the wrong night to show our youth. The young linemen that we have they did a great job most of the season, but tonight they seemed like they were a little starstruck. You’ve got a freshman and three sophomores. But I think they’ll get better from this game. They’ll learn a lot from it.”

The offense rallied in the second half. Schondelmyer engineered an 18-play, 70-yard drive in the third quarter, capping it with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Daylen Bradley with 18 seconds left in the quarter.

Schondelmyer completed 21 of 30 passes for 206 yards. Anthony Brown was his top target, catching eight passes for 83 yards.

“It was just an unbelievable experience,” said Schondelmyer, who played the last three years at Arcanum before transferring to Springfield. “The whole week, everything was awesome. Obviously, we came up short. It’s going to be tough to look back at the film and look at things I could have done differently to maybe have a different outcome. But it was a blessing to be a part of it. I’m so happy these guys accepted me.”

Down 21-14 after the Bradley touchdown, Springfield’s hope didn’t last long. St. Edward answered with a 10-play, 78-yard drive. Bell ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 8:06 left in the fourth quarter.

Bell finished with 170 yards on 24 carries. Bullock gained 101 yards on 17 carries and completed 8 of 13 passes for 102 yards.

St. Edward (15-1) won its sixth state championship. All the titles have come since 2010. It’s the 12th program to win six or more state championships.

“It didn’t always come easy,” St. Edward coach Tom Lombardo said, “but I think weathering the storms and everything they had to learn early prepared us to be playing our best ball in the playoffs, and I think we played one of our best games tonight.”

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