“Brandon just opened things up for everyone last year,” Hemm said. “He always made a play.”
Now it’s Hemm who is turning heads.
Even with the tremendous loss of talent that also included Jafe Pitcock, Pete Rolf and Phil Collier, Hemm and Piqua are back in the midst of another dream season. The Indians are 5-1 and ranked No. 10 in the state in the D-II Ohio High/ONN Power Poll.
Last Friday the Indians made a statement by downing host Trotwood Madison 14-13. Coming into the season a lot people felt that the Rams would wrestle the D-II title away from Piqua. Not so fast.
“Last year was great,” Hemm said. “And I am looking for a repeat of that this season. I think things are going pretty well for us right now.”
The Indians have just reloaded and Hemm, like he was last season, is the oil in the engine. Against the Rams, Hemm accounted for 206 of the Indians 229 total yards. He carried the ball 18 times for 86 yards and completed 9-of-16 passes for 117.
Hemm also stars at defensive back.
“We had to replace a lot on the offensive line, but I think the guys are really starting to come together,” Hemm said.
Even though Saine deservedly got most of the headlines, it was Hemm who had people talking last year. People flocked to watch the future Buckeye, but often walked away discussing the quarterback. Now everyone knows what is coming from the Indians and they are still having a hard time bottling up the lighting quick QB.
In the opening game of the season Hemm did most of the offensive work against St. Mary’s, racking up 202 yards rushing and two touchdowns. As the season has worn on and the team around him has continued to mature, others are helping pick up the load and opponents are paying the price.
One of those players is Kendall Taylor who is rapidly becoming the battering ram at the goal line. Two weeks ago Taylor scored on a one-yard run against Miamisburg and he scored both Piqua TDs against Trotwood, each from inside the five yard line.
David Rolf has also made significant contributions on both sides of the ball.
Despite the emergence of new players, Hemm is still the man and Piqua coach Bill Ness is well aware of the senior’s importance.
“He’s an amazing guy,” Nees said. “We definitely feel good with him back there.”
Thus far the Indians are looking like a state contender again in wide open D-II. But before Piqua worries about the playoffs, there is plenty of work to do with games against Troy, Vandalia-Butler, Sidney and Northmont remaining. If the Indians come out of those four games perfect, they are a lock to host a playoff game.
The goal, though, is to be playing in Stark County come December.
“Maybe people didn’t expect us to be (5-1), but we expected it,” Hemm said. “We know we are capable of being 6-0, but we’re alright with 5-1. We just need to keep it going.”
Having Hemm handling the snaps helps.
“Justin is a special ball player,” Trotwood-Madison coach Maurice Douglass said. “He has a really good supporting cast around him, but he’s the thing that makes that team go.
“He gets done what he needs to get done. He’s just a winner.”