MVP Football Preview Excerpt:
A look at Division II, Region 8 and what to expect this season. We look
at the top teams, players and offer up our playoff predicitons. Who has what? And what will they do?
JJHuddle’s Region 8 Previews and Predictions
TEAMS TO WATCH
Trotwood-Madison (12-3, D-II State Runner-Up)
* Players to Watch – DB Bam Bradley (6-2, 205, sr.); DB Cameron Burrows (6-2, 190, jr.); OL L.J. Mosley (6-5, 311, sr.); QB Michael Simpson (6-3, 200, sr.); LB/TE Michael McCray II (6-4, 230, jr.); OL Matt Cash (6-4, 277, sr.); OL Clem Vingar (6-0, 280, so.); OL Jordan Ashe (6-1, 270, sr.); DE Trey Williams-Brown (6-3, 240, jr.); WR/CB Trai Mobley (5-11, 170, sr.); RB Isreal Green (5-9, 196, jr.)
* Outlook – The Rams made it to the state final last year after reaching the regional finals the year before. Expect another deep playoff run this season – if not a state title. As usual, Trotwood boasts an extremely talented roster. Simpson, a three-year starter at Chaminade Julienne, takes over at QB after throwing for 1,423 yards and 15 TDs last season. He also ran for six scores. Green (508 yards and six TDs) has big shoes to fill, taking over for Antwan Gilbert (Toledo) who ran for over 2,000 years each of the last two seasons. Cash, Vingar, Ashe and Mosley anchor a veteran and solid OL. Mobley (15 receptions, 238 yards, four TDs) and McCray (10 receptions, 110 yards, three TDs) are reliable targets. Defensively, Trotwood owns arguably the state’s top secondary. Bradley (94 tackles) owns over 20 offers (including Tennessee, Arizona, Michigan State, Penn State, Pitt and Missouri), while Burrows (65 tackles, six INTs) owns an Ohio State offer and is vying for the label of “No. 1 overall prospect” in Ohio for the Class of 2013. McCray (54 tackles, four fumble recoveries) already holds offers from Syracuse and Toledo. Williams-Brown (68 tackles, 18 TFL and eight sacks) is a D-I prospect too. Head coach Maurice Douglass is 58-42 in 10 years. Tough games include Dunbar, Wayne, Springfield, Troy and Piqua.
Kings (11-2, D-II R8 Finalist)
* Players to Watch – RB Jamire Westbrook (5-9, 200, sr.), QB Jensen Gebhardt (6-3.5, 200, sr.), WR/TE Nick Bird (6-4, 220, sr.), DE/OL Tommy Schee (6-3, 210, sr.), LB Sean Horan (5-10, 205, sr.), DL Brady Vanover (5-10, 230, sr.), OL Kennedy Cook (6-0, 245, jr.), DB/RB Nick Collado (5-9, 170, jr.), WR/DB Justin Crull (6-0, 175, jr.), OL Ryan Anthony (6-1, 255, jr.), LB Austin Copeland (5-10, 200, jr.), RB Brian Huffman (5-9, 180, jr.)
* Outlook – In 27 years head coach Andy Olds (111-34) has “never been part of a team that returned 18 starters off of an 11-2 regional final team”…until now. The Knights are loaded and competition in the offseason has done nothing but strengthen the roster and starting line-ups. Westbrook, who has nearly 5,000 all-purpose yards in his career, is one of the state’s top RB prospects and has committed to Miami (Oh). Horan and Vanover were co-Defensive MVPs last year. Kings has no glaring weakness.
Hamilton Ross (7-3)
* Players to Watch – LB/RB Cody Lotton (5-11, 215, sr.), WR/DB Brennan McGuire (6-2, 190, sr.), LB/FB Ben Smith (6-0, 205, sr.), OL Ben Warman (6-0, 205, sr.), DL Frank Heimkreiter (6-3, 215, jr.)
* Outlook – Head coach Brad Butts (27-24 in five years) feels his program is headed in the right direction with success at younger levels and a varsity program that’s competed for the FAVC title the last two years (won in 2009). Butts said defense – led by three-year starters Lotton (126 tackles) and Smith (48 tackles, seven sacks) – is a strength. He also expects McGuire (36 receptions, 669 yards, six TDs, three INTs) and junior WR Gus Madden (6-4, 210) to create problems. Keep an eye on Heimkreiter (50 tackles).
* Players to Watch – QB Nick Mason (6-2, 175, sr.), DB Kyle Payne (6-2, 175, sr.), DB Ronzell Foster (6-3, 205, sr.), OL Ronnie Giwer (6-3, 230, sr.), DL Jesse Correll (6-3, 210, sr.), LB Brian Veil (6-1, 205, sr.)
* Outlook – Over the last four years, Anderson has been to the postseason three times and was the D-II state champion in 2007. The Redskins were D-II state runner-up and made the D-I playoffs in 2009. Last year Anderson finished 10th in Region 4 computer points. Head coach Jeff Giesting returns for his fifth season at the helm (45-8). Payne and Foster form a notable duo in the defensive backfield.
* Players to Watch – DE/TE Jordan Feeser (6-5, 243, sr.), LB/RB Travis Nees (6-1, 201, sr.), LB Brad Dotson (6-1, 211, sr.), DB Kindric Link (6-0, 168, sr.), OL/DL Kevin Richardson (6-3, 318, sr.), WR Trae Honeycutt (6-1, 178, sr.), OL Rob Stollmer (6-2, 297, sr.), DB Taylor Huebner (6-1, 187, sr.), QB Taylor Wellbaum (5-9, 155, sr.)
* Outlook – Head coach Bill Nees (150-65 in 19 years) has led the Indians to the playoffs 11 times and the state title game twice. Piqua was the 2006 D-II state champion. This season Nees has another team capable of a deep postseason run. Eight All-GWOC players return in addition to Wellbaum and eight other regulars. Defensively the Indians return their top three tacklers (Huebner, Travis Nees and Dotson) and two DBs who each had four interceptions last year (Link and Huebner). Honeycutt was the team’s top receiver. Wellbaum threw for 1,023 yards, ran for another 584 and accounted for 13 TDs. Games against archrival Troy and Trotwood-Madison loom.
Western Brown (6-4)
* Players to Watch – QB Nick Woodyard (6-1, 185, sr.); WR/RB Gunnar Woodyard (5-11, 185, jr.); LB Spencer Howard (6-2, 225, sr.); DB Brady Brooks (5-11, 180, jr.)
* Outlook – Head coach Evan Dreyer (10-10 in two years) says the WB program has been “renovated”, on the “rise” and is “trying to replicate a Colerain program.” Rallying around the town’s “blue-collar” work ethic, the Broncos “ want a playoff berth.” Nick Wood yard gives them a good chance to snag one. Woodyard, who Dreyer said would make a “great” college WR, stars at QB for WB where he set school records for passing yards in a season (2,256) and game (543) last year. He also tossed 26 TD passes and ran for an additional 722 yards and five more TDs. Gunner Wodyard was the team’s leading rusher last year despite playing in just eight games. Defensively, Howard (team’s leading tackler) and Brooks (lettermen as freshman) were both All-Southern Buckeye Conference last year.
Harrison (5-6, D-II R8 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – WR Kyle Nowlin (6-0, 203, sr.), LB Jake Tarvin (6-0, 190, sr.)
* Outlook – Despite a .500 regular season record, the Wildcats earned their second playoff berth since 1997. Nowlin was among the Fort Ancient Valley Conference receiving leaders last year in catches (49), yards (833) and TDs (six).
Winton Woods (10-2, D-II R8 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – RB Aaron Kemper (5-6, 195, sr.), QB Gary Underwood (6-1, 205, sr.), LB Travis Coleman (6-2, 210, sr.), OL Jalen Crenshaw (5-10, 260, sr.), DE Desmond Jarmon (6-4, 215, sr.), LB Karon Poole (6-0, 210, jr.)
* Outlook – The Warriors won the state title in 2009 and bowed out in the second round last year with a loss to Trotwood-Madison. There are holes to fill for second-year head coach Andre Parker, but Kemper, the reigning FAVC player of the year, is one of Ohio’s most explosive backs having rushed for 1,800 yards and 31 TDs last season. Underwood is a remarkably versatile player who takes over at QB. Last year he ran for 610 yards and five TDs, threw for 176 yards and two TDs and had 136 yards and two more TDs receiving. Crenshaw anchors the line. Coleman is a terror (11 sacks, 25 TFL). Poole steps in for his brother Antonio Poole (Michigan). Jarman leads a defensive front that Parker said: “as a whole could be special.”
Turpin (9-2, D-II R8 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – LB Ian Saylor (5-10, 190, sr.), K Shane Kelly (6-0, 165, sr.), QB Connor Jansen (5-10, 175, jr.), RB/DB Ryan Millikin (5-8, 145, jr.)
* Outlook – The Spartans have been to the playoffs five years in a row and are coming off a season in which injuries ravaged the roster. This year health and the experience that younger players picked up last year are keys. Jansen played in the Spartans last three games and threw for 406 yards and three TDs. Millikin is the team’s top returning rusher (43 carries, 180 yards).
Mount Healthy (9-3, D-II R8 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – K Mason Bolser (5-9, 160, sr.), DB Demond Jackson (5-9, 170, jr.), P John Ednerle (5-11, 140, sr.), WR/DB Tyrell Hines (5-9, 160, jr.), WR Vince Turnage (6-1, 190, sr.)
* Outlook – The Owls have made the playoffs seven of the last 10 years, including two in a row. To continue the string MH will have to replace their starting QB, leading rusher and top two receivers. Turnage (12 catches, 309 yards and three TDs), Hines and Jackson (four INTs) are playmakers.
Tippecanoe (9-2, D-III R10 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – DE Aaron Meyers (5-11, 220, sr.), LB Alex Baker (6-0, 190, sr.)
* Outlook – The Red Devils have been to the D-III playoffs six years in a row. Now longtime head coach Charlie Burgbacher and his program will try to contend in D-II. Offensively, Tipp must replace its starting QB, top three rushers and top three receivers. Defensively, Meyers (95 tackles) and Baker (92 tackles) return.
KEEP AN EYE ON
* Butler (4-6) – Head coach Greg Bush begins his third year at Butler with two solid performers on the OL in seniors Taylor Decker (6-8, 290) and Miles Eaton (6-4, 300). Decker is a Notre Dame recruit. Senior QB Ryne Pugh (6-1, 185) also returns.
* Wapakoneta (7-3) – Head coach Doug Frye worked magic in his initial season, leading the Redskins to the brink of the playoffs after they finished 1-9 in 2009. Senior OL Chris Schwartz (6-0, 235) and Trey Smith (6-2, 260) were first team Western Buckeye League last year. Senior RB Connor Pickens (6-0, 210) returns.
* Trenton Edgewood (5-5) – The Cougars start a new era after long-time successful coach Steve Chanel was let go. Phil Mauro who led Canal Winchester to four straight playoffs, takes over.
* Dayton Belmont (1-9) – The Bison haven’t had a winning season since 2003, but head coach John Derr (32-68) is optimistic. Senior RB Tyshawn Gordon (5-9, 170) enters the season with 1,344 career yards.
* Cincinnati Northwest (2-8) – Second-year head coach Chad Murphy has two studs back in senior RB/DB Ron Turner (5-10, 185) and junior LB Rasheen Jones (6-3, 220). Turner ran for 955 yards last year, while Jones racked up 100 tackles.
* Celina (6-4) – The Bulldogs will ride the arm of junior QB Braden Billger (6-2, 165) who completed 251-of-430 passes last year for 2,881 yards, 22 TDs and 17 INTs.
* West Carrollton (1-9) – Unlike last year when the Pirates had to replace 19 starters, WC returns 14 this year. Head coach Rob Berger (9-12 in two years) expects his team to be much more competitive and they’ll have to be against a schedule that includes Springfield Shawnee, Turpin, Kings and Hamilton Ross. Key contributors will be Randy Stites (sr., WR/FS, 6-0, 165), Conner Myslowski (jr., QB, 6-4, 180), Zach Raab (sr., C/DT, 5-11, 260), Blake Craig (jr., TE/LB, 6-1, 190), Dean Maxwell (sr., RB/SS, 5-9, 160) and Eric Shelton (sr., P/K, 5-10, 165).
* Franklin (3-7) – Head coach Rodney Roberts (27-24 at Franklin, 80-77 overall) says this year’s squad will be one of the “most experienced and talented teams” during his tenure. “We played a lot of young kids last year and took our lumps,” Roberts said. “However, that experience, along with an outstanding off season in the weight room, should pay dividends.” Franklin returns 20 starters and will be bolstered by the addition of junior LB Kelly Leforce (5-10, 195) a transfer from rival Carlisle where he was a two-year starter.
ALSO IN THIS REGION
Amelia (5-5), Greenville (3-7), Cincinnati Hughes (1-9), Lima Senior (2-8), Little Miami (4-6), Sidney (0-10), Stebbins (1-9), Oxford Talawanda (1-9), Wilmington (7-3), Cincinnati Woodward (3-7)
Dark Horses: Butler, Celina, Franklin