The new coach was a member of Mount Union's first national championship football team.
By PHIL NOVAK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
NEW MIDDLETOWN -- Joe Smith, defensive coordinator at Streetsboro the last two years, is the new coach of two-time defending Inter-County League football champion Springfield High.
"I'm very honored to be able to carry on the winning tradition of Springfield," Smith said at Wednesday night's board of education meeting. "It should be very exciting."
The 28-year-old graduate of Mount Union College, Smith, inherits a program that went 32-13 in the last four seasons under Doug Phillips, who recently became coach at Salem High.
Only one loss: The Tigers were 12-1 last season, with their only loss coming in the Division V regional final.
"From what I've gathered from the other coaches here, there are a lot of talented athletes on this team," Smith said. "They did lose a lot of seniors, but there are lot of quality kids who learned from those seniors and saw how they responded. They've showed the underclassmen how to be successful."
With only a handful of lettermen returning in the fall, Smith has the difficult task of continuing the Tigers' 19-game regular season winning streak.
"Of course there's some pressure, but hopefully I'll succeed," he said. "I like the challenge."
Smith said he plans to keep the team tough and hard-nosed, and he will instill the values he learned as a player and assistant coach at Mount Union.
"I've played on championship teams all my life, whether it was high school or college, and I think that's helped me to the point where I know what needs to be done to duplicate that success," he said.
First title team: Smith was a senior on Mount Union's first Division III national championship team, in 1993. He also was a student coach the following season while completing his physical education degree and returned as an assistant coach in 1997.
A native of Logan, Ohio, Smith completed his master's degree in athletic administration from Ohio University. He will also be a physical education teacher at the elementary school.
Smith has been in coaching for almost seven years, including a stint as an assistant at Otterbein College, and a year as offensive coordinator at Streetsboro before switching to defense.
Smith's sister is Katie Smith of the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx and a member of the 2000 Olympics women's basketball gold-medal squad. She also was a former standout at Ohio State.