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Prep football: Springfield next for record-setting McClain, Fairfield

JuTahn McClain seems to be growing in stature every day since his stirring effort on opening night.

The Fairfield High School junior running back soared to 437 all-purpose yards and a school-record seven touchdowns in a 49-21 football win at Centerville last Friday, and it was a performance that even McClain found a little hard to comprehend.

“It was overwhelming,” he admitted. “I was playing for the team, really. I wasn’t looking to break the record. I was just looking to beat Centerville. And I couldn’t have done it without my team. I’ve got to thank my team. It all came together.”

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How about these numbers for the 5-foot-10, 185-pound McClain … 17 carries for 184 yards and three touchdowns, five catches for 106 yards and three touchdowns, and three kickoff returns for 147 yards and a 92-yard touchdown.

“I was just playing football, playing the sport I love,” McClain said. “I really don’t pay attention to the numbers.”

College coaches are paying attention. McClain already had offers from Kentucky, Louisville, Rutgers and Cincinnati. Since the Centerville game, he’s added offers from Michigan, Maryland, Purdue, West Virginia and Pittsburgh.

Fairfield coach Jason Krause said he usually waits until after Game 3 to start sending out game film. But in the wake of McClain’s record-setting outburst, Krause opted to begin that process last weekend.

WEEK 1 COVERAGE

» Fairfield 49, Centerville 21

» Springfield 20, Lancaster 14

“I actually talked to Michigan on Friday night on the way home, and I talked to them again on Saturday. That’s when they called and offered,” Krause said. “I probably talked to 30 schools (Monday).”

McClain is trying to take the increased recruiting push in stride, but that’s not easy for a high school junior.

“I can’t even describe it,” McClain said. “I’ve always wanted to be in this position since I was young, and I’ve always wanted to make my mom proud. That’s what I’m doing, and I’m going to keep on doing it.”

The Indians have very high hopes for the 2018 season and will continue their victory quest Friday night when Springfield comes to Fairfield Stadium.

The Wildcats, who opened the year with a 20-14 win over Lancaster, know all about McClain.

“The running back is a special guy, as you can tell by scoring seven touchdowns against a good Elk team,” Springfield coach Maurice Douglass said. “If you let the little man get to the edge, it’s over. There’s not too many guys that are going to catch him.”

Springfield’s Michael Brown-Stephens stiff-arms a defender during the Wildcats’ 20-14 victory over Lancaster at Evans Stadium in Springfield last Friday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

Douglass is expecting Fairfield to utilize tight end Erick All more this week. The Michigan commit had no catches and was only targeted once against Centerville.

Krause said All’s perimeter blocking was a big part of McClain’s success.

“The reason Erick All is one of the best players I’ll ever coach, in my opinion, is because he’s selfless,” Krause said. “He didn’t question or was concerned for one second about his catches. He had more fun blocking for JuTahn and setting him loose. Our perimeter blocking was fabulous that night with our wide receivers, and Erick kind of led that charge.

“That’s what makes me love this team. I think that’s kind of how we all are right now. Hopefully it stays that way.”

Krause said he couldn’t have predicted McClain would cross the goal line seven times — the old school record was five, shared by Dave Botos (twice), Pat Pennington (twice), Earl Haynes and Curtis Knight — but it wasn’t exactly surprising.

“I expected him to be explosive, and I know what he’s capable of,” Krause said. “I thought it was important to manufacture touches in different ways for him just because of his abilities. He’s got the ability to play out in space, he can run between the tackles, and he’s got great speed.

“After you put up those kind of numbers in Week 1, people are going to pay attention to you. Expectations are high for you. You have to go a little harder every day and make sure it wasn’t a one-hit wonder.”

Senior quarterback Jeff Tyus was very good against Centerville as well, completing 12-of-16 passes for 179 yards and three TDs with no picks.

“It all starts with the quarterback,” Krause said. “He took care of the football and got it where it needed to be. He really did a nice job a couple times under pressure of getting something out of nothing. He picked up a couple offers this weekend as well, Division II schools.”

Springfield is loaded with explosive athletes and should provide a formidable challenge for the Indians.

Senior wide receiver Michael Brown-Stephens (Minnesota) and senior safety Moses Douglass (Kentucky), the coach’s son, have made college commitments. Maurice Douglass said he’s got five seniors and five juniors with NCAA Division I interest.

The Wildcats use a multiple offense that includes the spread and the I-formation.

Senior quarterback Raheim Moss (6-4, 205) ran 12 times for 128 yards and a score while completing 5-of-7 passes for 124 yards and a TD against Lancaster, while junior Tavion Smoot (5-11, 240) had 22 rushes for 95 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Te’Sean Smoot rotated in at quarterback.

Moss is also an outside linebacker. Douglass said senior defensive end/offensive tackle Isaiah Gibson (6-4, 294) has numerous offers and will announce his commitment Sept. 19.

“It’s a tough team to play. You don’t see many teams that are as multiple offensively as they are,” Krause said. “It’s a very, very athletic, explosive team. It reminds me of the teams Maurice Douglass had at Trotwood.”

Douglass, in his fifth season at Springfield, wouldn’t go quite that far.

“This is my best team since I’ve been here, but that doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “The last two years we’ve had a winning season, but not like the teams I had at Trotwood.”

Douglass said the Lancaster game wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. Springfield had three touchdowns called back and totaled 136 yards in penalties — the Wildcats won the yardage battle 440-116.

“It ought to be a really good matchup with Fairfield,” Douglass said. “I think it’ll be a better matchup this week for us. Lancaster was running the Wing-T and playing hide and seek. This game will be more of what we’re used to going against — a spread team with a good run game and an offensive line that’s big and physical.”

Friday’s game

What: Springfield (1-0) at Fairfield (1-0), 7 p.m.

Where: Fairfield Stadium, Ohio 4 and Stadium Drive, Fairfield

Series: First meeting (Note: Springfield South beat Fairfield 51-8 in 1963 and 42-0 in 1964)

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