SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) — Springfield High’s football team took to the gridiron on Friday with one less familiar face than a year ago; however, coaches, athletes and fans are choosing to remember the life of Jeff Wellington by the legacy he left.
Head football coach Maurice Douglass says Jeff’s talents were as great as his smile.
“Jeff was the number one or number two best athlete on the team. He’s one of those guys you can’t just get one person who can do all the things he was capable of doing,” Douglass said.
Jeff Wellington died in April of this year. Police say Wellington died after being shot at around 2:45 a.m. on North Limestone Street.
It’s a moment in which sports bring a community closer together. Douglass believes it’s helping the family and community heal.
“A type of healing for his family,” he added, “When they’re out there, a part of her is still with Jeff.”
Wellington’s mother spoke to the team at yesterday’s pre-game dinner.
Before Friday’s contest against Trotwood, Springfield football players showed the initials of “JW” on their helmets. The captains clinched onto Wellington’s #5 jersey.
Jason Gregory Jr. was one of Wellington’s cousins. He says being able to take the jersey onto the field is as if Jeff is on the field with them.
“Seeing them bring that jersey out, it’s going to make me sad, but then it’s going to be okay, I’ve got to really come out here and play for him. Let’s grind for Jeff. It’s time to shine on,” he said.
Treyvon Montgomery played football with Wellington for more than a decade. He says he remembers when they’d play football together even as kids.
“This year was our year. We were all seniors. We went through three rough years of football. We finally got on track our senior year, and he’s not here, but he’ll always be here at heart,” Montgomery said.
Coach Douglass says Jeff’s legacy left on the school will be one that doesn’t fade.
“The ability to encourage guys to go out and work a little harder. That’s what we want guys to remember about Jeff when we take the field tonight,” Douglass said.
Springfield lost Friday’s game to Trotwood, 34-6.