MVP Football Preview Excerpt:
A look at Division IV, Region 15 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 15 Previews and Predictions
TEAMS TO WATCH
Minford (9-3, D-V R19 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – RB/LB Tyler Gaines (5-8, 195, sr.), OL/DL Colby Griffith (6-5, 220, sr.), WR/DB Kyle Snyder (6-0, 180, sr.), OL/DL Eric Gamble (6-0, 200, sr.), OL/DL Jared McCray (6-6, 273, so.), QB Evan Howard (6-3, 171, jr.), DB/WR Zach Ferrar (6-1, 174, jr.), OL/DL Kendall Dyer (5-10, 223, jr.), DB Sean Berry (6-0, 186, jr.)
* Outlook – The Falcons have been to the playoffs four years in a row, but this season is their first in D-IV. Regardless, head coach Brent Daniels (33-7 in four years) is optimistic about what this team can do. Gaines is a two-time Southeast District defensive player of the year, while Griffith and McCray (a starter as a freshman) give Minford immense size up front. Said Daniels: “We feel we have the ability to be just as good as we have been the past few seasons.”
* Players to Watch – QB/DB Austin McMaster (6-5, 185, sr.), TE/LB Brandon Noble (6-0, 190, sr.), RB/DB Patrick Hintz sr. (5-7, 150, sr.), OL/DL Richard McFarland (6-3, 270, sr.), OL/DL Brad Pike (6-0, 240, sr.), sr.), RB/LB Dylan Nichols (6-0, 215, sr.)
* Outlook – The Panthers will look different this year with longtime coach Phil Davis having retired after a 22-year stint that produced eight Ohio Valley Conference titles, seven playoff berths and 126 wins. Enter first year head coach and ‘Peake alumnus Andy Clark. The cupboard is far from bare.
* Players to Watch – RB Ross Franklin (n/a, sr.), QB Matt Smith (n/a, sr.), OL Brandon Hollis (n/a, sr.), LB Steven Smith (n/a, sr.), DL Nick SanFillipo (n/a, sr.), DE Joey Dismuke (n/a, sr.), FB Adam Carter (n/a, jr.), LB Corbin Grassman (n/a, jr.), DB/RB Nick Sadinsky (n/a, jr.), DB/WR Tyler Thompson (n/a, jr.), OL/DL Tim Sayer (n/a, jr.)
* Outlook – The Johnnies could deliver a memorable season. Head coach Mike Carter enters his 10th season at the school with a 63-27 record and just six wins shy of becoming the program’s career wins leader. Johnstown also looks poised to compete for a playoff berth and Mid-Buckeye Conference title. Franklin returns after running for 2,183 yards and 22 TDs last year. Matt Smith is a veteran who ran for 526 yards and accounted for nine TDs. Carter scored seven TDs. Hollis and Sawyer are three-year starters and anchor both lines. Defensively, the Johnnies are stacked. Steven Smith (109 tackles), SanFillipo (50 tackles, seven sacks), Dismuke (71 tackles, 12 sacks), Grassman (99 tackles), Sadinsky (81 tackles, three INTs) and Thompson (four INTs) are seasoned. Tough non-league games against Granville, Heath and Hebron Lakewood await in Weeks 1-3, respectively.
Ironton (10-3, D-IV R15 Finalist)
* Players to Watch – QB Tyler Kratzenberg (5-9, 140, sr.), RB/LB Brandon Leach (5-10, 185, sr.), TE/DE Schylar Fields (6-2, 190, sr.), RB Tyler Hager (5-8, 190, sr.),
* Outlook – The Tigers have been in the postseason 12 of the last 13 years (and 28 times overall). Kratzenberg (65 tackles, three INTs), Fields (73 tackles, 14 sacks) and Leach (40 tackles) return on defense. Hager will get the majority of carries on offense. Last year in a Week 10 win over Portsmouth he scored five TDs and ran for 125 yards on 14 carries.
Coshocton (8-3, D-IV R15 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – LB Jacob Bresciani (6-0, 185, sr.), OL/DE Drew Michaels (6-4, 240, sr.), WR/DB Dylan Ogle (6-0, 165, sr.), TE/DE Ren Simpson (6-3, 205, sr.)
* Outlook – The Redskins have been to the playoffs four years in a row. Bresciani (271 tackles the last two years) is a defensive dynamo and Michaels anchors both lines.
St. Clairsville (8-3, D-IV R13 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – RB/LB Dan Monteroso (6-0, 175, jr.)
* Outlook – The Red Devils and head coach Brett McLean (62-35 career record) return nine starters. St. Clairsville is looking for its fifth postseason berth in six years.
* Players to Watch – LB/RB Jaylen Prater (6-1, 225, sr.), RB/LB Austin Osborne (5-10, 185, sr.)
* Outlook – The Rockets have only been to the playoffs twice in history and haven’t reached Week 11 since 2006. This year could be another memorable one. Prater is a D-I prospect (Indiana, Cincinnati, Toledo and Ohio offers). Osborne (52 tackles, 702 rushing yards, eight TDs) stars on both sides of the ball.
Martins Ferry (8-3, D-IV R13 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – RB Tyrell Simmons (6-3, 195, sr.), OL/DL Jeffrey Oberdick (6-0, 185, sr.)
* Outlook – Since making their first playoff appearance in 1998, the Purple Riders have been in the postseason 10 of the last 13 years. This year expect Simmons to make noise on a team that returns 12 starters. Head coach Dave Bruney is entering his 33rd season at Martins Ferry (234-110 career record).
KEEP AN EYE ON
* Heath (10-2, D-IV R15 Semifinalist) – The Bulldogs will feature junior RB Donyelle Simpson (5-11, 168).
* Amanda-Clearcreek (7-4, D-IV R15 Quarterfinalist) – The Aces have been to the playoffs two years in a row and bowed out last season in the first round to eventual state champion Columbus Hartley. The two hook-up again in Week 1.
* Zane Trace (5-5) – After winning the SVC and making the D-IV playoffs in 2009, the Pioneers took a step back last year. This year expect ZT to challenge for the postseason again. Head coach Gary Peters welcomes back 15 starters, including eight on defense. Key contributors will be: OL/DL Jerrod Collins (6-0, 275, sr.), DB/WR Brandon Cox (6-3, 195, sr.), DB/QB Colton Whitehouse (5-9, 175, sr.) and RB/LB Matt Marnell (5-10″, 205, sr.). Marnell is a 1,000-yard rusher.
* Union Local (1-9) – The Jets will continue to be young. Head Coach Mark Cisar (30-23 in five years) said there’s the potential for sophomores and freshman to start at QB, RB, three WR spots and MLB. Key returners are seniors WR Zane Ayouch (6-0, 180) and LB/OL Willie Brokaw (5-11, 210) and sophomore QB/WR/DB Eric Dunfee (6-1, 175). Ayouch caught 36 passes for 441 yards and three TDs last season, while Brokaw had 96 tackles.
* Chillicothe Unioto (3-7) – The Sherman Tanks and head coach Jerry Hudnell will rely heavily on a trio of seniors: DE Steven Vanderpool (6-5, 235, 12 sacks, three blocked punts), RB Walker Liston (6-1, 200, 589 yards rushing in six games) and WR Storm Cottrill (6-0, 190, 498 yards receiving).
* Utica (6-4) – The Redskins must replace standout QB Jason Hoar and WR Scott Cline. That won’t be easy for head coach Randy Felumlee (122-102 in 22 years) but he did say Utica will “hope to be more physical running the ball and will spread the touches amongst numerous players.” Senior Clay Rowley steps in at QB, while junior Trent Vikers and sophomore Travis Baldwin will log carries.
* Portsmouth (3-7) – The Trojans will rely on senior QB Mason Jordan (6-3, 180).
* Pomeroy Meigs (3-7) – The Marauders will ride senior RB Jeffrey Roush (5-11, 180).
ALSO IN THIS REGION
Bloom-Carroll (1-9), Richmond Edison (8-2), West Muskingum (1-9), Proctorville Fairland (4-6), Harrison Central (3-7), Gnadenhutten Indian Valley (6-4), Byesville Meadowbrook (1-9), Johnstown-Northridge (1-9), McDermott Northwest (3-7), Piketon (7-3), Bidwell River Valley (1-9), South Point (2-8), Zoarville Tuscawaras Valley (4-6), Waverly (0-10)
Dark Horses: Chesapeake, Coshocton, Zane Trace