The Blue Devils didn’t last long in the 2008 postseason, but that isn’t
going to ensure that anyone will take them lightly this fall. In fact,
after Brookville posted a perfect 10-0 regular season last year, head
coach Mike Hetrick knew he would be coaching a marked team.
* Players To Watch – RB/S Ryan Ekberg (5-10, 180, Sr.); RB/LB Jason Stone (5-10, 190, Sr.); RB/CB Matt McIntosh (5-11, 175, Sr.); OL/DL Cameron Dunn (6-0, 190, Sr.); OL/DE Jamie Riggs (6-2, 190, Sr.); TE/OLB Kyle Hopkins (6-1, 185, Sr.).
* Outlook – The Blue Devils didn’t last long in the 2008 postseason, but that isn’t going to ensure that anyone will take them lightly this fall. In fact, after Brookville posted a perfect 10-0 regular season last year, head coach Mike Hetrick knew he would be coaching a marked team.
“We bring that up every day,” said Hetrick, who is in his ninth year at the post. “We know we’re circled on 10 teams’ schedule.
“That’s going to make it tough on us but, of course, we wouldn’t want it any other way because that means we’ve been successful.”
Brookville was pretty good in 2007 as well, as the Devils made the playoffs and finished with a 7-4 mark. However, the end result was the same – a loss in the first round of the Region 16 playoffs. Therefore, there are a few wounds to lick.
However, the team could be a top contender again this season and should be considered a power in Region 16.
The Blue Devils lost seven starters on each side of the ball but enough talent returns to Hetrick’s squad for them to be considered dangerous once again.
But does the accomplished coach consider his team to be a contender?
“I probably couldn’t say we are,” Hetrick said. “We might have the potential to sneak up on some people, though. Our JV team was undefeated last year. I just don’t know how many of those kids can really impact us right away.”
The Devils earned the No. 3 seed in the regional playoffs last season but that turned out to be a bad position as they ran into eventual state champ Kettering Alter in the first round. Now the rebuilding is underway beginning with looking for replacements for quarterback Braden Kidell and leading rusher Josh Doles, who rambled for more than 1,100 yards as a senior.
Brookville should be fine at deep back as Ekberg and Stone are primed for big senior seasons and McIntosh also is capable of making plays on the ground. Ekberg gained 559 yards, averaged 5.4 per carry and found the end zone 10 times last season while Stone put up 637 rushing yards, a stout average of 8.5 per pop and scored eight times. Stone also used his speed to turn six receptions into 120 yards.
“We run the wing-T, but we will break out of it quite a bit,” Hetrick said. “We are predicated on the run but we threw it pretty well last season. The most important thing is we want to distribute the ball to three or four guys and keep the defense guessing.”
The QB situation, though, is still in flux. When asked if he has a signal caller in mind for the season, Hetrick said, “Not yet.”
“We’re looking for leadership more than anything from whoever wins that job,” he said. “I’ll be watching to see who can best handle themselves and the pressure. And we need a guy who can throw and who does a good job of ball handling back there.”
On defense, The Blue Devils return four starters including Ekberg and McIntosh in the secondary. Ekberg was a ball hawk at safety last season with 48 tackles and a pair of interceptions.
“We feel good about our secondary,” Hetrick said. “Those two guys are going to help us a lot on the back end but we are looking for good play from some others.
“We need to have solid linebackers in our 4-4 defense. That’s one of our big concerns. And another big challenge is getting production from our front four because we don’t have a lot of beef up front.
Brookville had to end a fantastic season with a 35-7 loss to Alter but Hetrick said he views that as a positive as well.
“I think it gave our kids confidence, especially knowing they went on and won the whole thing,” he said. “We played them tough. It was 14-7 right before half. And it helped because our kids know where they need to be now. I hope it’s a motivator for them.”
Even with Coldwater out of the equation, Region 16 still has Alter – and several other capable teams.
“Historically it’s been a pretty tough region,” Hetrick said. “We’ve sent several undefeated teams to the playoffs over the years. We’re expecting a pretty rough road.”
The schedule includes six home games but the Devils have back-to-back roadies in the middle of the season and at the end. The Week 6 encounter with former Division IV power Dayton Oakwood away from home could prove to be telling. Oakwood made the regional semis of the Region 16 playoffs last year before finishing at 8-4.
Aug. 28 – Lewisburg Tri-County North
Sept. 4 – Carlisle
Sept. 11 – Camden Preble Shawnee
Sept. 18 – Eaton
Sept. 25 – at New Lebanon Dixie
Oct. 2 – at Dayton Oakwood
Oct. 9 – West Milton Milton-Union
Oct. 16 – Bellbrook
Oct. 23 – at Franklin
Oct. 30 – at Germantown Valley View