Springfield will get to Canton a day earlier than last year to prep for state final

Wildcats get rematch with St. Edward on Friday

The Springfield Wildcats football team will leave a day earlier than last year for the Division I state championship game, traveling by bus to Canton and staying overnight before playing Lakewood St. Edward at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The Wildcats will watch the Division II championship game on Thursday between the No. 2 Akron Archbishop Hoban (14-1) vs. No. 5 Toledo Central Catholic (14-1) at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

Springfield coach Maurice Douglass talked about his team’s travel plans and more on Tuesday in a teleconference call featuring all 14 coaches in the state championship games. Last year, Springfield left at 11 a.m. on the day of the game, which also started at 7:30 p.m. on a Friday, and spent the night in Canton after the game, touring the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

“We’ll be at the stadium just to see the atmosphere for kids who haven’t been there before,” Douglass said. “Our kids will be able to relax and unwind and not have to worry about getting up there on the bus.”

No. 4 Springfield (13-1) plays No. 1 Lakewood St. Edward (14-1) in a rematch of the 2021 championship game, which St. Edward won 23-13.

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Douglass thinks the experience of playing in the state championship game a year ago will help.

“Last year, the kids were in such awe of being there,” Douglass said. “I don’t think we came around until halftime. This year, we will have a much better approach and more focus.”

Springfield will release students from school three hours early Friday so they can travel to Canton. A crowd of 7,148 watched Springfield play St. Edward last season.

The Wildcats beat Cincinnati Moeller 28-24 on Friday to advance. St. Edward beat Gahanna Lincoln 31-7 in the other semifinal.

St. Edward seeks its sixth state championship and fourth under coach Tom Lombardo, who was asked Tuesday for his scouting report on Springfield.

“I remember the receivers, and they’re all back,” he said. “They’re something when you watch them on film. Then, of course, (Bryce) Schondelmyer coming in, you can see why he was the player of the year in Division VI. He’s an accurate passer and has great pocket presence and runs their system extremely well.

“On defense, their corners are back. The linebacker’s back (Jaivian Norman), who’s super quick. The D-end (Jackson Heim), who’s a sophomore now, played in the game last year and started, I think, as a freshman. They’re extremely talented, super quick off the ball, and they’ll get in your grill.

“Their numbers on offense speak for themselves. You throw for 4,500 yards and put up 40-some points a game. The numbers that their receivers have, you can see why they’re recruited the way they are. It’s quite a challenge. No question about it.”

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