Regional breakdown, top players, big games, big names, teams to beat, teams to watch and more…
Region 4 Preview
Playoff Teams: Our Predictions
Middletown, Wayne, Centerville, Moeller, LaSalle, Northmont, Colerain, St. Xavier
Dark Horses: Withrow, Kettering Fairmont, Lebanon
10 Players To Watch
1. Shane Jones, LB, sr., Moeller: Michigan State commit held over 25 offers
2. Javon Harrison, QB, sr., Wayne: Toledo commit; Three-year starter accounted for 40 TDs last year
3. Evan Lisle, OL, sr., Centerville: Ohio State commit is one of Ohio’s Top 10 prospects
4. Jalin Marshall, QB, sr., Middletown: Ohio State commit; Already owns Middies career rushing record (3,285 yds)
5. Trey Kilgore, WR, sr., St. Xavier: JJHuddle Top 100 prospect headed to Michigan State
6. Chris Davis, RB, sr., Colerain: Coming off injury and primed for huge season
7. Sean Welsh, OL, sr., Springboro: Picked Iowa over Miami (Fla.), Cincinnati & others in June
8. Airius Moore, LB, jr., Beavercreek: Got his first offer from Illinois as a sophomore
9. Jaleel Hytchye, WR, sr., LaSalle: Sprinter holds offers from Purdue, Cincinnati & others
10. Cameron Belton, QB, sr., Northmont: The last – and most talented – in a family of stellar QBs
St. Xavier @ Middletwn, Aug. 24 (Week 1)
Colerain @ St. Xavier, Sept. 7 (Week 3)
Trotwood-Madison @ Wayne, Sept. 7 (Week 3)
Middletown @ Colerain, Oct. 5 (Week 7)
Wayne @ Centerville, Oct. 12 (Week 8)
St. Edward @ Moeller, Oct. 20 (Week 9)
Team To Beat
* Moeller (9-4, Region 4 Finalist): The Crusaders are celebrating “50 Years of Moeller Football” and would like nothing more than to cap it with a state title in Canton. Moe has the roster to do it too. Head coach John Rodenberg has had some good teams in his four years at Moeller (31-16 record), but this is arguably his best. LB Shane Jones (6-1, 220) is one of the state’s top prospects and is committed to Michigan State. RB Keith Watkins (6-0, 180, sr.), who rushed for 625 yards and nine TDs last year (also had four receiving TDs) holds offers from Cincinnati, Northwestern, Minnesota, Iowa and others. OL Alex Gall (6-4, 295, sr.) committed to Miami (Fla.) in June, picking the Hurricanes over Florida State, Pitt, Kentucky, Cincinnati and others. TE Evan Jansen (6-5, 250, sr.) holds an offer from Akron and Buffalo. The leader of the Moeller offense is QB Spencer Icavone (6-1, 210, sr.), a three-year starter who led the Greater Catholic League in passing last year (1,635 yards and 19 TDs). He also ran for seven TDs. Junior DL Chalmer Frueauf (6-3, 230) is a future D-I recruit. Moeller opens its brutal schedule Aug. 26 at 2 p.m. on ESPN against the Gilman School from Baltimore (MD). The Crusaders only play four Ohio teams (St. Xavier, LaSalle, Elder and St. Edward).
Teams To Watch
* Middletown (10-2, Region 4 Semifinalist): The Middies are coming off the most successful three-year run in school history but must cope with the loss of 10 first team All-GMC players. Any squad with senior QB Jalin Marshall (6-0, 200) returning, however, is dangerous. Marshall, one of the country’s top 20 prospects, has committed to Ohio State and is the reigning GMC Player of the Year. Last season he ran for 1,859 yards (school single-season record) and 20 TDs and threw for 782 yards and six TDs. Marshall is already Middletown’s career rushing leader (3,285 yards). Head Coach Troy Everhart (second year; won state title at Winton Woods) also welcomes back junior LB Brad Carr (6-0/222; 97 tackles) and senior OL Kenny Patrick (6-0/190; All-GMC). Contributions from a strong sophomore class will be key.
* Centerville (7-4, region 4 Quarterfinalist): The Elks and head coach Ron Ullery (93-38 in 12 years) will again rely on a ground-game anchored by lineman Evan Lisle (6-6, 265, sr.) and Patrick Osterhage (6-4, 270, jr.) Lisle is headed to Ohio State. Senior QB Jimmy Brooks (494 yards, nine TDs)) is back, as is senior RB Kyle Wenning (6-0, 210/432 yards, eight TDs). Defensively, Iowa commit Brant Gressel (6-2, 279) and top LB prospect Jake Replogle (6-4, 230) anchor the front seven. The Elks own one of Ohio’s better kickers in senior Andrew Gantz (5-9, 169).
* Colerain (10-2, Region 4 Semifinalist): The Cardinals won their 12th straight Greater Miami Conference title last year but lost to St. Xavier in the regional semifinals for the second straight season. Head coach Tom Bolden (50-8 in five years) and Colerain are ready for another run – literally. The Cards ground game will again be punishing behind a line anchored by senior OL Dylan Wiesman (6-4, 295). Wiesman is one of Ohio’s top OLs and is committed to UC. A pair of talented senior RBs – Jackson Sorn (5-11, 195) and Chris Davis (5-9, 170) – will log plenty of carries. Davis, starred as a sophomore, before suffering a knee injury last year (missed final 10 games). Sorn (914 yards, 11 TDs) filled in admirably. Also back is senior QB Alfred Ramsby (offer from Eastern Illinois). Senior DB Dejuan Lang (5-10, 185) is a JJHuddle Top 100 prospect. Colerain doesn’t throw the ball a ton, but junior WR prospect Tre Hudson (6-4, 205) is as good as it gets.
* St. Xavier (10-4, State Semifinalist): Head coach Steve Specht has led the Bombers to an impressive record of 82-21 in his eight years. This season X and Specht have a lot of unknowns. The Bombers lost nine All-GCL performers, including six first teamers. Key returners are seniors WR Tery Kilgore (6-2, 180), LB Mark Jacob (6-2, 215), DB Robbie Ries (6-0, 180) and WR Kevin Milligan (5-10, 180). Kilgore is a JJHuddle Top 100 prospect and has committed to Michigan State.
* Huber Heights Wayne (6-4): Things are lining up for the Warriors to have a big year. Wayne missed the playoffs last season but returns enough talent to challenge fort a spot in its second state final in three years. QB Javon Harrison (6-2, 190, sr.) threw for 2,144 yards and 21 TDs and ran for 673 yards and 19 TDs last year. He’s committed to Toledo. OL Lovell Peterson (6-4, 285, sr.; Illinois offer) and OL Cole Newsome (6-3, 290, sr.) form one of Ohio’s best 1-2 OL punches. WR Jesse Bray (6-2, 190, sr.) accounted for six TDs last year as a dual-threat flanker. The Warriors added depth at QB with the addition of super sophomore QB Devin Reed (6-2, 175) who transferred in from rival Centerville in June. Defensively, LB Dorian Hendrix (6-1, 215, jr.; Illinois offer) is one of the state’s top junior prospects, He made 73 tackles last year, including six sacks, and forced three fumbles. DB Jarrod Hardrick (6-1, 195, sr.; 16 tackles, INT) and DB Tyree Kinnel (6-0, 190, so.; 37 tackles, two INTs) anchor the secondary. Sophomore DE Robert Landers is one to watch. The Warriors open with Winton Woods (Skyline Shootout) before taking on Canton McKinley and Trotwood-Madison back-to-back. Wayne has six home games.
* Clayton Northmont (4-6): The T-Bolts are trying to snap a three-year absence from the postseason and have the horses to do it. Head coach Lance Schneider (14th season at Northmont) welcomes back All-GWOC performers QB Cameron Belton (6-2, 185, sr.), TE Troy Mangen (6-5, 226, sr.), LB Drake Thompson (6-0, 225, sr.), LB Cody Grilliot (6-2, 216, sr.) and OL Dustin Bowers (sr.). Belton was the GWOC’s leading passer last year when he threw for 2,238 yards and 18 TDs. He also ran for four TDs. Five of the T-Bolts top six wide receivers are back as is RB Gaven Kenerly (6-0, 205, sr.) who ran for 576 yards and eight TDs last season. Thompson (91 tackles) and Grilliot (65 tackles) were the team’s top two tacklers last year.
Keep An Eye On
* Mason (7-4, Region 4 Quarterfinalist): The Comets must replace a stellar senior class that propelled them to the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Mason will rely heavily on senior RB Darryl Johnson (6-0, 195). Johnson ran for 1,340 yards and 18 TDs last year.
* Walnut Hills (8-3, Region 4 Quarterfinalist): The Eagles are coming off the first playoff appearance in school history. Senior OL Isaiah Johnson (6-8. 275) is a solid prospect.
* Sycamore (8-3, Region 4 Quarterfinalist): The Aviators must replace eight All-GMC players including co-player of the year Kyle Sess (QB). Senior TE Mason Morgan (five catches, 109 yards and two TDs) is a JJHuddle Top 100 prospect. Junior RB Greg Simpson is back after rushing for 643 yards and five TDs en route to second team All-GMC honors. Junior LB Tinashe Bere was second team All-GMC last year too.
* LaSalle (7-3): The Lancers could shock some people. Head coach Tom Grippa 55-36 in nine years at LaSalle) has to replace six first team All-GCL performers but welcomes back a solid cast including JJHuddle Top 100 prospect ATH Jaleel Hytchye (5-11, 165, sr.) who has offers from Purdue, Cincinnati, Kentucky and others. Junior WRs Derek Kief (6-5, 190) is one to watch (44 rec., 612 yards, seven TDs)
* Lebanon (7-3): The Warriors have won the GWOC South two of the last three years and will vie for the title again. Senior QB Luke Morgan (6-3, 205) is back after throwing for 1,613 yards and 14 YDs and rushing for another five scores. Morgan’s favorite target – senior WR Austin Wolf (6-4, 195) is also back (32 rec., 663 yards, four TDs). Defensively, senior DL Chris Sutherland (6-0, 220) is back after ranking second on the team in tackles last year with 70.
* Princeton (7-3): Second-year head coach Gary Croley has a nice nucleus back. Senior RB DeMarco Thompson led the team in rushing (900 yards), receiving (399 yards) and TDs (10) last year. Defensively the Vikings should be tough with seniors LB Darian Perkins (5-10, 190/five sacks), DB Delani Parrish (6-0, 185/three sacks, two fumbles) and DB Darrell Davis (5-8, 180).
* Beavercreek (6-4): The Beavers are coming off their first winning season ever in GWOC Central play (3-2) and were playing for a share of just their fourth football league title in 44 years in last year’s finale against Centerville. Can they sustain the momentum? Head coach Scott Clodfelter (10th season at Creek) will lean heavily on junior standout LB Arius Moore (6-1, 215) who promises to be one of 2014’s most sought after prospects. He already has an offer from Illinois. Keep an eye on junior QB Michael Berry (6-3, 210).
* Withrow (7-3): The Tigers, led by veteran head coach Jim Place (230-165-2 career record), could have a big season. Senior LB Nick Isaacs (6-2, 235/Ball State commit) is one of Ohio’s best and junior LB Reggie Howard (6-4, 225) is a fast-rising star. Junior DE DeShannon Oats (6-1, 195) and DBs Brandon Kelly (6-1, 185, sr.) and Malik Brand (6-2, 190, jr.) lend support. Some players returning from injuries – RB Aaron Murray (5-10, 185, sr., Landon Jackson (6-5, 220, sr.) and WR Tyrone Maye (6-0, 170, sr.) – could be the difference in how far the Tigers go. Withrow’s schedule got a boost with the addition’s of Centerville, Turpin and Chicago (Ill.) Marist.
* Elder (2-8): The Panthers missed the playoffs for the second straight season last year and this year’s success will depend heavily on the performance of senior RB A.J. Burdine (6-3, 245) who holds offers from Bowling Green, Ohio, Kent State, Toledo and Boston College.
* Miamisburg (2-8): Former Trenton Edgewood head coach Steve Channell, who led the Cougars to the 2003 D-II final, takes over for Tim Lewis. During 21 years at Edgewood, Channell went 152-79. His teams won 11 conference titles and made 10 playoff appearances. Channell was as an assistant at Middletown last year. The Burg welcomes back four All-GWOC players on defense including three seniors on the DL (Blake Myers, Justin Adamson and Tyler Colston). Senior LB Tyler Ikerd is the other.
* Springboro (3-7): The Panthers will build around JJHuddle Top 100 prospect Sean Welsh (6-3, 280) a standout OL who is headed to Iowa. Junior TE Jordan Rigg (6-5, 235) is a top 2014 prospect.
* Kettering Fairmont (2-8): The Firebirds could be a huge surprise. With a youth-laden line-up the last two years, head coach Andy Aracri (4-16) welcomes back a seasoned and skilled roster. Senior QB Tom West (6-2, 212) was second team all-GWOC and broke the school’s single-game passing record (485). He doubles as a standout DB. Senior LB and two-time team leading tackler Robert Nsenga (5-11, 195) heads the defense. Skill-wise Fairmont returns four All-GWOC performers in seniors Aaron Abbott (DB/WR, 6.0 185) and Deven Gannon (WR/KR) and juniors Chris Rhoades (RB, 6-0, 215) and Damon Bahns (RB, 5-10, 205).
* Lakota West (3-7): Head coach Larry Cox and the Firebirds will lean on JJHuddle Top 100 prospect Kyle Meadows (6-5, 270) an OL with offers from Louisville, Ohio, Toledo, Pittsburgh, Illinois, Akron, West Virginia, Northern Illinois, Florida State, North Carolina State, Purdue and Kentucky.
* Xenia (3-7): Head coach Bob DeLong (97-30 career record) is entering his fourth year at Xenia (after a successful stint at Tecumseh) and feels good about the direction of the program. He expects the Bucs to be vastly improved on defense and says that this year’s team is “significantly stronger” than in year’s past. Senior LB Mitchell Larson (5-9, 175) led the GWOC in tackles last year (163 tackles).
* Fairborn (6-4): The Skyhawks are coming off a share of their first league title since 1976 and must replace nine first team GWOC South performers. The big name back is senior OL Carson Baker (6-5, 300) who has offers from Pitt, Ohio and Buffalo.
* Hamilton (4-6): Big Blue has two good ones in D-I prospects and seniors OL Benjamin Flick (6-5, 285) and LB Marcus Oliver (6-1, 225). Flick is committed to Cincinnati.
Also In This Region
Loveland (5-5), Oak Hills (4-6), Western Hills (5-5), Lakota East (4-6), Glen Este (4-6), Milford (2-8), Fairfield (1-9)