Cincinnati Sycamore (9-2)
* Players to Watch – RB Bud Golden (6-0, 190, Sr.), WR Lamar Passmore (6-2, 195, Sr.), FS/WR Steve Hull (6-2, 180, Sr.), QB Casey MacClean (5-11, 175, Sr.).
* Outlook – The Aviators earned the No. 3 seed in the Division I Region 4 playoffs last year, but were knocked off at home by sixth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller 35-28.
Sycamore has a nice nucleus of players returning. The Aviators could push Colerain in the Greater Miami Conference and may be a team to watch in the playoffs. Six starters are back on offense and three on defense.
“I am pretty confident in our offense,” said coach Scott Datillo, back for his third season as the Sycamore head coach. “We have all of our skill position players returning. We do have to replace some linemen. My biggest concern is on the defensive side, where we have to replace eight starters. We have a lot of questions to answer there.
“We have enjoyed some success in the past and we want to build off it. Our job as coaches will be to hammer that into the heads of our team that other teams will be shooting for us. We are not going to surprise anybody.”
Golden rushed for 1,129 yards and scored 14 touchdowns last year. He had offers from a number of schools, including Illinois, Purdue, Cincinnati and Indiana. He is rated as Ohio’s No. 17 prospect in the senior class, according to Ohio High magazine.
“He is a big and powerful runner, but he is also elusive,” Datillo said. “He has very good vision. It is very rare that he gets hit solidly.”
MacClean returns after throwing for 1,631 yards and 17 TDs against 10 interceptions.
“He’s pretty accurate and he’s a competitor,” Datillo said of MacClean. “He probably has average arm strength. He really grew up as the season went on last year. He is very competitive and he wants to improve all the time. We think he can develop into a great senior quarterback.”
Hull keyed the defense with seven interceptions. Passmore, offered early by Ohio U., is the top threat at wide receiver.
“He is very big and athletic,” Datillo said. “He has got great speed and versatility. He is a big play type of guy.”
Sycamore opens at Glen Este, a perennial playoff contender.
“They are always good,” Datillo said. “They run the wing-T offense to death. It will be a big challenge for our young defense in that first game.”
In the GMC, most are looking at defending champion Colerain and Princeton as the teams to watch. Sycamore did not play Colerain last year. The Aviators’ lone regular season loss was to Princeton (24-14).
“Colerain, obviously, is one of the top high school football programs in the country,” Datillo said. “That’s not a slight to anybody else in our league, but probably the next best team would be Princeton. I think they should be pretty strong. Those two teams are always very athletic and very fast. They have marquee players who are being recruited and they are highly visible in the media.”
Aug. 22 at Cincinnati Glen Este
Aug. 29 at Springboro
Sept. 5 Cincinnati Roger Bacon
Sept. 12 Hamilton
Sept. 19 at Cincinnati Colerain
Sept. 26 at Fairfield
Oct. 3 Liberty Twp. Lakota East
Oct. 10 at Cincinnati Princeton
Oct. 16 Cincinnati Oak Hills
Oct. 24 Mason