Even though Kettering Alter appeared due for a championship, it’s doubtful any of their followers will ever forget the 2008 campaign. Head coach Ed Domsitz wants his team to repeat as winners of the Greater Catholic League North Division, but there is good reason to believe the Knights can repeat as Division IV state champs as well.
Kettering Alter (13-2)
* Players To Watch – RB Cody Taulbee (6-1, 230, Sr.); OL John Endres (6-1, 255, Sr.); OL Ryan Cronin (6-2, 240, Sr.); DE John Doncaster (6-2, 210, Sr.); DT Andrew Bonnano (6-0, 205, Sr.); LB Cody Conley (6-1½, 200, Sr.); OLB Chris Bockrath (6-1, 190, Sr.); SS Cody Byers (6-2½, 210, Sr.); NT-DB (5-10, 200, Sr.); OLB/DB Nolan Plate (6-0, 170, Sr.).
* Outlook – Even though the Knights appeared due for a championship, it’s doubtful any of their followers will ever forget the 2008 campaign, a most interesting season for the ages.
Alter had to forfeit its first two games of the season against Kettering Fairmont and Bellbrook but wiped out the next eight foes by an average score of 46-6. Then, behind superstar seniors – quarterback Austin Boucher and running backs Chris Borland and Justin Hall – Alter proceeded to plow through Region 16. The Knights dumped Coldwater in the third round and eventually took down traditional power Steubenville in the Division IV state championships at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.
The 21-6 victory represented the program’s first-ever football state title and was extra sweet factoring in that the Knights were nipped by Big Red in the 2006 D-III state finals – not to mention the 59-52 loss to Coldwater in triple-overtime in the 2007 regional quarterfinals.
Of course, head coach Ed Domsitz wants his team to repeat as winners of the Greater Catholic League North Division, but there is good reason to believe the Knights can make another deep run in the postseason with all the top players in tow.
Taulbee appears capable of handling much of the running chores, Conley is the team’s leading tackler from a year ago and Byers is a Division I college prospect with sub-4.6 speed and the ability to make lots of plays in the secondary.
The defense is especially stout with Bockrath and possibly Plate able to flank Conley and oxen like Doncaster and Bonnano up front. Armstrong could play nose guard or even in the defensive backfield.
Byers, a Wisconsin verbal, could be shifted over to play QB now that Boucher is at the University of Toledo, but the coaches are hoping junior Zane Pitzer can claim the role.
“He’d be our quarterback if we had to start today,” said Domsitz, who is entering his 18th year at Alter but is tackling an offseason for the first time as the coach of the defending state champions.
Even though some positions still are not set, Domsitz believes his team made important offseason strides at its three-day team summer camp.
“They’ve done a good job with everything we’ve asked them to do,” he said. “We’ve had 98 percent attendance in the weight room and we talk all the time about the importance to doing the work and focusing on all the details.
“We’ve got strength, we’ve got quickness and for the most part we’ve got talent in every area of the field. The key element we’re looking for now is chemistry. Some coaches say they can tell what they have in August but I never know until we have a crisis or two and I see how we handle that.
“Last year was a great example of that because we had two forfeits and then we never broke stride. But I’m not sure of what kind of chemistry we have until I see it.”
The mentality on the sideline is sure to remain. With Domsitz at the helm, the Knights have always tried to employ a mix of looks on offense and to get after people on defense.
“We’re an attack defense,” he said. “We’re going to come after you. We’re not a sit-back-and-react type of defense or strictly a read defense. We want to disrupt plays and make things happen on that side of the ball.
“On offense, my philosophy has always been to stay with what you believe in. We’ll run some option, some power, and try to have a good mix. We’ll run wishbone, we’ll run shotgun. To what extent we’ll do any of those remains to be seen.”
Domsitz also believes in loading up the schedule, and the state champs are going to afford several very good teams a shot to knock them off. Week 1 the Knights travel just down the road to face Division I foe Kettering Fairmont. The schedule also has four D-III schools as well as Division II Dayton Carroll, which has enjoyed recent success.
Even with a bull’s-eye affixed to the back of the Knights’ jersey, Alter is able to counter with a wealth of tradition and the well wishes of proud alumni.
“We have former players come back and visit with us all the time, and that’s a plus,” Domsitz said. “We have a tradition of great football and we really play on that. Tradition can be a bit of a burden but we look at it as a motivator.
“We don’t think we should shy away from that, having a target on your back.”
Aug. 28 – at Kettering Fairmont
Sept. 4 – at Bellbrook
Sept. 11 – Washington, D.C., St. John’s College HS (at Springboro High School)
Sept. 18 – at Hamilton Badin
Sept. 25 – Cincinnati McNicholas
Oct. 2 – Dayton Carroll
Oct. 9 – at Franklin Bishop Fenwick
Oct. 16 – at St. Bernard Roger Bacon
Oct. 23 – Cincinnati Purcell Marian
Oct. 30 – at Dayton Chaminade-Julienne