Regional breakdown, top players, big games, big names, teams to beat, teams to watch and more…
Region 7 Preview
Playoff Teams: Our Predictions
Marion-Franklin, Dresden Tri-Valley, Zanesville, Mifflin, Tecumseh, Hamilton Township, Ashland, Big Walnut
Dark Horses: Worthington Kilbourne, Licking Heights, Brookhaven
10 Players To Watch
1. Corry Benson, QB, sr., Marion-Franklin: Accounted for 77 TDs the last two years
2. Brenden Kemp, RB, sr., Watlkins: Has rushed for 31 TDs the last two years
3. Derrick Pope, RB, sr., Mifflin: Ran for 1.396 yards and 24 TDs last season
4. Nathan Strock, QB, sr., Tri-Valley: Kent State commit; 3,400 total yards & 39 TDs last year
5. Darron Lee, DB, sr., New Albany: JJHuddle Top 100 prospect headed to Ohio State
6. Willie Moore, LB, sr., Ashland: Two-time All-OCC selection; 256 tackles last two years
7. Dylan Leffingwell, QB, sr., Warren: All-SEAOL QB; thrown for over 3,500 yards last two years
8. Micky Crum, ATH, jr. Hamilton Twp.: Already holds an offer from Bolwing Green
9. Rob Wheelwright, WR, sr., Walnut Ridge: JJHuddle Top 100 prospect is committed to Wisconsin
10. Ronnie Dawson, LB, sr., Licking Heights: Has 22 TDs and 251 tackles the last two years
Marion-Franklin @ Pick. Central, Aug. 31 (Week 2)
Ursuline @ Zanesville, Sept. 14 (Week 4)
Marion-Franklin @ Walnut Ridge, Sept. 28 (Week 6)
Canal Win. @ Hamilton Twp., Oct. 5 (Week 7)
Big Walnut @ New Albany, Oct. 12 (Week 8)
Mifflin @ Brookhaven, Oct. 26 (Week 10)
Team To Beat
* Marion-Franklin (13-1, State Semifinalist): The Red Devils have
been one of Ohio’s top D-II teams the last three years and will be
again. Senior QB Corry Benson (5-11, 180) is one of Ohio’s most electric
players and leads an offense that averaged 39.3 points per game last
year. Benson, who has accounted for 77 TDs that last two years, threw
for 2,727 yards and 32 TDs and ran for 785 yards and 16 TDs as a junior.
He also scored 12 2-point conversions. Benson has weapons in senior WRs
Joe Alverson (5-7, 155) and Jaron Dukes (6-5, 197). Alverson caught 46
passes for 926 yards and 15 TDs last year. He also threw for a TD and
ran for four more. Dukes (36 rec., 663 yards, seven TDs) has committed
to Michigan and doubles as the team’s placekicker. The lines will be
anchored by D-I prospect Damon Dillard (6-4, 335).
Teams To Watch
* Mifflin (8-2): The Punchers haven’t been to the playoffs since 2002, but that drought may end this season. Head coach Gregg Miller (13-7 in two years; 144-64 career record) welcomes back 18 starters and after beating Brookhaven in Year 1 and Northland last year, the coach said, “Now it’s time to win the league and make the playoffs.” Offensively Mifflin should be explosive. Senior RB Derrick Pope (5-6, 145) ran for 1,369 yards and 24 TDs last year, while senior QB Javonte Bing (6-1, 185) threw for 1,271 yards and seven TDs. Also back is senior WR Kamaron Green (5-9, 170) who caught 36 passes for 692 yards. Defensively, senior LB Jalen Robinson (6-3, 230) is a beast.
* Brookhaven (7-4, Region 7 Quarterfinalist): The Bearcats jumped from 14th to eighth in computer points with a Week 10 win over Mifflin last year. Brookhaven would like to punch a postseason ticket earlier this year. Senior DB Casey Gayle Jr. (6-0, 185) returns after earning first team All-Columbus City League honors last year. Also back is first team all-city WR Kevin Greenhow (6-4, 195, sr.).
* Big Walnut (9-3, Region 7 Semifinalist): The Eagles return three-year starter and All-OCC performer Seth Myers (6-3, 190, sr.). Also back is senior TE Brant Weiss (6-6, 230).
* Tri-Valley (11-2, Region 7 Finalist): Senior QB Nathan Strock (6-4, 195) is one of Ohio’s best QB prospects and has committed to Kent State. Last year he threw for 2,600 yards and 27 TDs and ran for 800 yards and 12 TDs. Head coach Justin Buttermore (63-27 in eight years) also welcomes back senior RB/LB Austin Jones (5-9, 195), who ran for 1,900 yards last year and 1,100 as a sophomore. Seniors OL/DL Daniel Sensabaugh (6-0, 240), OL/DL Tyler Edwards (6-4, 260) and WR/LB Logan Wisecarver (6-1, 200) and WR/DB/KR Devin Morgan (5-7, 150) were All-MVL last year. Said Buttermore: “We return a good portion of our skilled players from 2011 but we must fill the void of losing three lineman on both sides of the ball. Our goals are to contend for league title and the playoffs once again this year. We have the potential to have a great season in 2012, but we must develop our lines on both sides and develop team chemistry.”
* New Albany (9-3, Region 7 Semifinalist): Head coach Mark Mueller (58-21 in eight years) returns one of the state’s top players in JJHuddle Top 100 prospect Darron Lee (6-3, 205). Lee has committed to Ohio State. Senior punter Carson Tunney (6-1, 180) and senior DL Cameron Horch (6-1, 280) are players of note.
* Ashland (6-5, Region 7 Quarterfinalist): The Arrows have been to the playoffs five of the last six years. Their defense should be a strength. Senior LB Willie Moore (5-10, 201) returns after making 126 tackles as a junior. Moore made 130 stops as a sophomore and is a two-time All-OCC selection. Also back are fellow senior LBs Kyler Lacy (6-1, 220/50 tackles) and Tyson Vogel (6-0, 180/86 tackles). Offensively the Arrows must replace their QB and the team’s top WR, but they do bring back last year’s leading rusher in junior RB Jacob Allton (5-11, 180/433 yards, eight TDs).
* Beechcroft (9-2, Region 7 Quarterfinalist): The Cougars return first team All-Columbus City League selection WR/DB Khaleed Franklin (6-3, 195). Franklin had 102 tackles last year. He also caught 33 passes for 427 yards and eight TDs. Second team all-city league DL selection Antonio Davis (6-2, 255, sr.) is also back. Senior OL Ricky Hall (6-2, 330) was HM All-City League last year.
* Tecumseh (6-5, Region 7 Quarterfinalist): The Arrows are looking to make their fifth straight postseason appearance and reach the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years. Senior QB Tony Evans (6-3, 160) is back for his third year as a starter. Last season Evans threw for 1,175 yards and nine TDs and ran for four TDs en route to first team All-Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Division honors. Tecumseh also brings back All-CBC performers in senior RB/DL Chuck Buchanan (6-1, 160/487 rushing yards, eight TDs/63 tackles), senior LB Jimmy Rowland (5-9, 175/81 tackles), senior TE/LB Morgan Clark (6-1, 190/117 tackles) and junior OL/LB Jake Nicewander (6-0, 190/64 tackles).
* Canal Winchester (7-3): The Indians had a string of four straight postseason berths snapped last year. If they get back to the playoffs, senior RB Jon Franklin (6-0, 218) will play a large part. Franklin holds an offer from Youngstown State.
* Zanesville (7-3): The Blue Devils may be a year away from a special run. A strong junior class includes DB JT MacFarland (5-10, 175) and LB Dar Stanford (5-10, 165).
* Hamilton Township (5-5): The Rangers have a budding superstar in junior ATH Micky Crum (6-4, 220). Pair him with 13 additional returning starters and the Rangers have high hopes. The offense returns seven starters including QB Zach Thompson (6-3, 208, sr.) and OL Houston Crawford (6-6, 315, sr.). Thompson threw for 15 TDs last year and ran for eight more. Junior RB Lorenzo Bridges (5-11, 181/683 rushing yards, six TDs) is one to watch. The defense returns the entire secondary.
Keep An Eye On
* Worthington Kilbourne (3-7): The Wolves, which move into the OCC-Cardinal this season, were young last year (started six sophomores) and are hoping that experience pays off. Kilbourne will rely heavily on senior RB Isaac Lumpkin (5-7, 175) who led the team in rushing with 569 yards and seven TDs on 127 carries. Senior DB Matt Wylly (three INTs) and senior LB Ryan Maloney anchor the defense.
* Bellbrook (5-5): The Golden Eagles haven’t been to the postseason since 2004 and despite last year’s .500 record had a chance for the playoffs entering Week 10 (before losing to Monroe). Senior LB Alex Oldham (5-10, 187) was first team All-Southwestern Buckeye League Southwest Division last year.
* Walnut Ridge (5-5): The Scotts have one of the state’s top players in JJHuddle Top 100 prospect Rob Wheelwright (6-3, 185). The WR has committed to Wisconsin.
* Vincent Warren (5-5): The Warriors may have one of Ohio’s best kept secrets in senior QB Dylan Leffingwell (6-2, 228) who has thrown for over 3,500 yards in two years as a starter and was first team All-SEOAL last year. “Dylan is one of the most talented QB’s in Ohio,” head coach Andy Schob (10-10 in two years) said. “He has size, strength and works very hard to understand the game. His leadership and work ethic stand out first.” Also back for Warren are seniors Tanner Barrows (6-0, 230, LB/OL), Andrew Vincent (6-1, 185, WR/DB), Chas Miller (6-0, 180, RB/LB/K) and Blake Staley (6-0, 235, OL/DL).
* Watkins Memorial (4-6): The Warriors have one of Central Ohio’s best RBs in senior Brenden Kemp (5-10, 195). Kemp ran for 1,010 yards and 14 TDs last year after running for 700 yards and 17 TDs as a sophomore.
* Licking Heights (5-5): The Hornets will rely heavily on senior RB/LB Ronnie Dawson (6-1, 235). Dawson, who holds an offer from Bowling Green, scored 11 TDs last year and had 150 tackles. As a sophomore he had 11 TDs and 101 tackles.
* Northland (4-6): The Vikings return All-Columbus City League DL Azariah Turner (6-2, 256, sr.)
* Briggs (4-6): Former Ohio State and NFL standout Butler B’ynote became the Bruins new head coach in June.
Also In This Region
Teays Valley (5-5), Chillicothe (3-7), Mt. Vernon (2-8), Logan (1-9), Marion Harding (3-7), Columbus West (7-3), Wooster (4-6), Whetstone (2-8), Marietta (2-8), Franklin Heights (1-9)