High School Football: 5 things to know about the Springfield Wildcats


Springfield football made it to Week 11 last season. The Wildcats want to go deeper into the playoffs this fall, but first they have to put in the work this summer.

Here are five things to know about coach Maurice Douglass’ team after we visited the Wildcats during a summer practice session:

1. They should be deeper this year.

Douglass hoped making the playoffs in his third season at the helm would pay off with more kids going out for the team.

That has come to pass.

RELATED: Douglass says playoffs a step in the right direction

The coach said an additional 12-15 players from the sophomore, junior and seniors classes have been participating in offseason workouts who did not play in 2016. That could particularly pay dividends on the offensive and defensive lines, where Springfield was outmatched against some of its tougher opponents last season.

After fielding a squad of 61 last season, Douglass expects to have closer to 80 players this season (not counting freshmen).

2. There will be a new quarterback.

Leonard Taylor was quite a sight taking snaps as a 6-5, 260-pound quarterback last season.

He provided stability at the position in the second half of the year after throwing a game-winning hail mary touchdown pass in the closing seconds against Centerville, but Douglass expects someone else to take the snaps this season.

Senior Tyler Carter and sophomore Kendrick Holt (who started two games last season but threw too many interceptions) are going to compete for the job with Diante Lesperance potentially in the mix as well.

Lesperance is a senior who sat out last season after transferring from Wayne. 

3. Bigger things in store for a smaller Taylor?

Although Taylor did an admirable job under center, the team should benefit from its best player being able to concentrate on playing tight end and defensive end instead of learning the finer points of the quarterback position.

For his part, Taylor said he is happy to help the team any way he can.

A four-star prospect, he has slimmed down to about 240 pounds in the offseason as he continues to go through the recruiting process.

Tennessee, Wisconsin, Penn State, Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan and Kentucky are among the schools he is still considering.

4. Who will replace Danny Davis?

Many familiar faces return from last year’s playoff team, but Danny Davis is not one of them. The Wisconsin signee was the team’s biggest offensive threat, leading the 7-4 Wildcats in rushing (1,200 yards) and receiving (470 yards on 20 catches).

Douglass named a variety of candidates to pick up the playmaking slack, including Mike Brown, Nico Jones, Will Finch, Lesperance and Trotwood-Madison transfer Caleb Johnson.

Tavion Smoot, a 235-pound sophomore, is one to watch at running back for the Wildcats. 

5. There are college recruits galore.

Taylor is the highest-profile college football prospect on the Springfield roster, but he is far from the only one.

Linebacker Cameron Hoelscher has 10 offers, including Kentucky, while a couple of Big Ten teams (Purdue and Rutgers) could be close to offering.

Johnson has offers from Bowling Green, Toledo, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Akron, Kent State, EKU and Indiana State while Illinois, Purdue and Kentucky have also shown interest.

Lesperance said Cincinnati is among schools waiting to see how his senior season goes while Douglass said senior defensive back Quincy Scott is also on college radars.

Defensive back Moses Douglass (the coach’s son) and defensive tackle Isaiah Gibson give Springfield a pair of prospects getting major interest in the class of 2019, too.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Wright State vs. IUPUI: Everything you need to know about Friday’s game
Wright State vs. IUPUI: Everything you need to know about Friday’s game

Who: Wright State (21-8, 13-3) vs. IUPUI (10-17, 7-9) When: 11 a.m. Friday Where: Indiana Farmers Coliseum TV/Radio: ESPN3/106.5 ›› Looking at Wright State’s possible path to a championship Probable Wright State starters Grant Benzinger, 6-3, Sr. G, 14.5 Parker Ernsthausen, 6-11, Jr., F, 5.1 Mark Hughes, 6-4, Jr, G, 10.1 Loudon...
HS Roundup 2/21: Vine leads Bellbrook past CJ

Bekah Vine scored 19 points to help Bellbrook hold off a Chaminade Julienne rally for a 68-64 win in a girls Division II sectional basketball game on Wednesday. Vine led four players in double-digit scoring for Bellbrook. Maren Freudenchuss and Cassidy Hofacker each had 11 and Siera Ferguson tallied 10. Dallas Jones paced CJ with 15 points. Girls Basketball...
HS Scores 2/21: Wayne wins big, McBride scores 29 for Newton

Boys Basketball Tuesday’s Results Catholic Central 61, Fairbanks 54 Ponitz 92, West Carrollton 46: Smith (P) 20. Girls Basketball Sectional Tournament Division I Tuesday’s Games At Lakota East Lakota West 66, Colerain 13 Little Miami 52, Middletown 36 At Troy Tecumseh 64, Lebanon 58: Thomas (T) 29; White (L) 16. Fairmont 45, Butler 31 Wednesday&rsquo...
Dayton women win 16th straight game, clinch outright A-10 title
Dayton women win 16th straight game, clinch outright A-10 title

The University of Dayton women’s basketball team made it 16 in a row Wednesday night. The Flyers (22-4, 15-0) rallied from a controversial end of the third quarter to score a 71-66 victory over George Mason and clinch the outright regular-season Atlantic 10 title. Dayton’s Jordan Wilmoth tipped in a missed layup by Lauren Cannatelli just...
Freshman Kjerstad homers as Arkansas beats Arizona, 1-0
Freshman Kjerstad homers as Arkansas beats Arizona, 1-0

Four days after the Arkansas baseball team scored 32 runs, one off its all-time high, the Diamond Hogs had just one against Arizona. Get you a team that can do both. The lone run, a Heston Kjerstad home run in the fifth inning, was the only run of the game Wednesday night. It was the only one Arkansas needed, too, in its 1-0...
More Stories