Bellbrook finished 12th in Division II, Region 8 last season, but could make a playoff push this year. Since bumping up to Division II the Eagles have yet to taste the postseason. Their last trip was in 2004 (D-III).
Defensively, Bellbrook should be among the Miami Valley’s top teams.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
OT Sam Longo (6-5, 270, Sr.), LB Cody Fyffe (5-11, 200, Sr.), DE Stephen Goehring (6-0, 210, Sr.), SS Brian Seger (6-0, 180, Sr.), LB Zac Rogal (6-2, 195, Jr.), OG Gates Thruston (5-11, 230, Jr.), QB Jay Bucher (6-4, 210, Jr.).
2007 Record: 5-5
Bellbrook finished 12th in Division II, Region 8 last season, but could make a playoff push this year.
The Golden Eagles are led by one of the best players in the state in Longo who had racked up 40 Division I scholarship offers. Over the summer, he committed to Ohio State roughly a week after receiving an offer from the Buckeyes after an impressive performance at their camp.
Longo explained his strengths and weaknesses on the football field.
“I think I’m aggressive and I come off the ball hard every time,” he said. “I finish my blocks hard and I go to the whistle which I think is the most important thing. I think I have a good work ethic on the field and in the weight room.
“For weaknesses, I just want to work on everything and improve on everything. I broke my wrist the first game of the season last year and had to adjust to that. So, I just want to work on my explosion and staying low and finishing my blocks even better.”
Longo knows the road to the playoffs won’t be easy for a somewhat inexperienced Bellbrook squad this season. However, he’s confident the team can get there if things fall right.
“We lost a lot of seniors and a lot of them were stars,” Longo said. “We’re kind of light on starting experience, but you never know until the first game. I think we have a chance to be good. Everyone has been showing up for weightlifting and has been working hard. We’re a tight-knit group and we’ve bonded. We have a chance to win our league championship and that’s our goal always.”
Head coach Kevin Basinger agrees with his star player’s assessment.
“We lost a number of talented players on offense, but very talented players will fill in,” Basinger said. “Our defense will be strong and have to carry us for a while at the beginning of the season. Players will need to step up their play to keep the tradition of the program moving forward.
“Our expectations are always to compete for our league title and the state playoffs. We have a number of challenges this season to overcome. However, the kids have worked extremely hard in the winter and spring workouts and we are expecting great effort during the season.”
In addition to Longo, Bellbrook has a host of returning starters that were heavy contributors last season. At the top of the list is Fyffe who led the team in tackles with 123. He can plug the hole and make plays sideline to sideline.
Other players to keep an eye on include: Goehring (62 tackles, 5 sacks), Seger (89 tackles), Rogal (72 tackles) and Thruston (strongest player on the team). Bucher takes over the reins at quarterback and is expected to be a two-year starter in the role.
Basinger gave his thoughts on Bellbrook’s schedule, as well as the difficultly of Region 8 if the Golden Eagles are able to qualify for the postseason.
“I think our schedule is difficult,” he said. “Last season we had seven of our opponents make the playoffs. Our first three games are always going to be very difficult challenges because we play against two Division I teams (Miamisburg and Xenia) and Kettering Alter who is always in the playoffs. We like to play those types of games at the beginning of the year; we find out very quickly what type of team we are going to be.
“Region 8 is very tough – Cincinnati Anderson won the state championship last year. There are a lot of great teams.”
8/29 @ ARCHBISHOP ALTER (KETTERING)
9/5 @ XENIA
9/26 @ VALLEY VIEW (GERMANTOWN)
10/3 @ EATON
10/17 OAKWOOD (DAYTON)
10/24 @ MILTON-UNION