Regional breakdown, top players, big games, big names, teams to beat, teams to watch and more…
Region 8 Preview
Playoff Teams: Our Predictions
Trotwood-Madison, Hamilton Ross, Wapakoneta, Tippecanoe, Turpin, Franklin, Kings, Anderson
Dark Horses: Harrison, Western Brown, Mt. Healthy
10 Players To Watch
1. Michael McCray, LB, sr., Trotwood: Michigan commit; Had five INTs last year
2. Isreal Green, RB, sr., Trotwood: Rushed for 2,085 yards and 27 TDs last year
3. Frank Heimkreiter, DL, sr., Ross: Had 60 tackles and 7.5 sacks last year
4. Jacob Hall, RB, jr. Tippecanoe: Rushed for 1,439 yards and 15 TDs as a sophomore
5. Brady Vanover, DL, sr., Kings: Had 16 sacks last year
6. Jarrod Clements, DE, sr., Trotwood: Transfer from Dayton Dunbar and Illinois commit
7. Connor Jansen, QB, sr., Turpin: Accounted for 2,350 total yards and 32 TDs last year
8. Rasheen Jsones, LB, Sr., Northwest: Cincinnati commit; JJHudle Top 100 prospect
9. Andrew Paulik, OL. sr., Anderson: JJHuddle Top 100 prospect has MAC offers
10. Cam Burrows, DB, sr., Trotwood: Ohio State commit is one of state’s Top 3 prospects
Wapakoneta @ Elida, Aug 31 (Week 2)
Trotwood-Madison @ Wayne, Sept. 7 (Week 3)
Zanesville @ Ross, Sept. 7 (Week 3)
Kings @ Turpin, Sept. 14 (Week 4)
Tippecanoe @ Spg. Shawnee, Oct. 26 (Week 10)
Wapakoneta @ Kenton, Oct. 26 (Week 10)
Team To Beat
* Trotwood-Madison (15-0, State Champions): The Rams went
undefeated last year en route to the school’s first state title. They
could do the same for an encore. Trotwood is loaded and could make a
case for the state’s most talented roster. Head coach Maurice Douglass
(67-43 career record) has six JJHuddle Top 100 prospects at his disposal
in DB Cam Burrows (6-2, 192/Ohio State commit), LB Michael McCray (6-3,
230/Michigan commit), DE Tre Williams-Brown (6-3, 220/Arizona and MAC
offers), DE Jarrod Clements (6-3, 255/Illinois commit), OL Cody Collins
(6-3, 270/Marshall commit) and DB Reon Dawson (6-2, 175/Illinois
commit). Guess who else is back? Yep…senior RB Isreal Green. Last year
Green ran for 2,085 yards and 27 TDs. In the Rams 42-28 win over Avon in
the D-II final., Green set state finals records for rushing yards (327)
and TDs (six). He has offers from Western Michigan and Youngstown
State. Senior DB James Winchester (5-7, 153) was the team’s third
leading tackler last year. Want depth? Four Trotwood juniors already own
D-I offers. Junior RB Ashton Jackson (5-11, 180/1,100 yards and 18 TDs
last year) holds offers from Illinois and Toledo. Junior LB Verondtae
Wilkinson (6-3, 235) has offers from Illinois, Kentucky, Toledo, Ohio
and Buffalo. Junior OL Ryan Reese (6-2, 295) and junior WR Kendric
Mallory (6-2, 175) hold Illinois offers. Trotwood is looking for its
fifth straight GWOC North Division title.
Teams To Watch
* Hamilton Ross (8-3, Region 8 Quarterfinalist): The Rams had a successful season last year before being bounced by eventual state champion Trotwood-Madison in the regional quarterfinals. For an encore Ross will try to win back-to-back league titles (won the FAVC Scarlet Division last year and this year will try to claim the Southwestern Ohio Conference title in the affiliation’s debut season) and become the first team in program history to earn back-to-back playoff berths. The Rams have been to the playoffs six times overall and twice in the last three years. Head coach Brian Butts (35-27 in six years) has the program on the upswing and this could be a huge season. Said Butts: “We feel very good about the team we have coming back for 2012.” The goal – which is to win the school’s first playoff game – is attainable. Nearly the entire unit returns fro last year’s FAVC-leading defense, including two-way senior standout TE/DL Frank Heimkreiter (6-4, 230). Last season Heimkreiter had 60 tackles and 7.5 sacks. Additional defensive hammers are LB Gus Madden (6-4, 215, sr./57 tackles, 10 sacks), DB Brandon Fernandez (6-1, 170, sr./81 tackles, four INTs), LB Drew Chase (5-9, 180, jr./72 tackles), LB Quinton Couch (6-2, 190, sr./59 tackles), DB Joseph Jones (5-10, 155, sr./79 tackles) and LB Luke Hannon (6-2, 215, jr./32 tackles). Offensively, Ross will have a huge OL with TEs Heimkreiter and Madsen, RT Gavin Peacock (6-6, 285, jr.), RG Tyler Bridwell (6’4, 220, sr.), C Heath Coppenger (6-0, 250), LG Alex Scalia (6-3, 270, sr.) and LT Simon Stepaniak (6-4, 260, so.) or Curtis New (6-4, 260, so.). A tough non-conference game with Zanesville looms in Week 3.
* Wapakoneta (10-2, Region 8 Semifinalist): The Redskins have been tabbed by many to be the best team in the WBL. We’ll see. Head coach Doug Frye’s first two years (17-5) have been the best by any head coach in his first two years at the school and this year’s team returns plenty of talent. Key contributors will be: Kyle Gibson (QB, 6-2, 190, sr./800 yards passing, 350 yards rushing), Brandon Miller (LB, 6-2,190, sr.), Johnny Crawford (SE/DB, 6-3, 190, sr.), Jensen Merricle (R, 5-11, 190, sr.), Josh Windle (RB, 5-9, 170, sr.), Nate Bracy (DL, 6-0, 230, sr.), Mason Sidey (OL, 6-0, 235, jr.), Alex Greve (RB/LB, 6-0, 180, sr.) and Zach Schmerge (LB, 6-2, 210, jr.). In addition to Wapak, others in the WBL race will be Elida, Kenton and O-G. Said Frye: “The battle for the Western Buckeye League championship will again be a tough battle. Our goal is to continue to grow as a football program.”
* Kings (12-1, Region 8 Finalist): The Knights have been to the playoffs nine times in 13 years and should log the program’s 10th postseason berth this season. Kings has to replace 11 All-FAVC performers (including QB Jensen Gebhardt and RB Jamire Westbrook), but the good news is they still return eight players that earned all-conference honors. Key seniors include DL Brady Vanover (6-1, 230), OL Kennedy Cook (6-0, 255), K Evan Berg (6-1, 195) and ATH Justin Crull (6-0, 185). Vanover had 16 sacks last season.
* Tippecanoe (9-2, Region 8 Quarterfinalist): The Red Devils made the D-II postseason after bumping up from D-III but were dispatched in the first round by Turpin. Tipp should be a playoff team again and will be led by a very talented junior class headlined by workhorse RB Jacob Hall. Hall (6-2, 205) was the Central Buckeye Conference’s leading rusher last year when he went for 1,439 yards and 15 TDs. Also back is Tipp’s second leading rusher – junior Cameron Johnson (6-0, 180/725 yards, seven TDs). Junior QB Ben Hughes (5-10, 160) returns under center after throwing for 958 yards and 13 TDs. Also back is All-CBC junior DB Jarrett Wasson (95 tackles).
* Franklin (9-2, Region 7 Quarterfinalist): The Wildcats are coming off a historic campaign in which they won a share of their first league title since 1995 and made the postseason for just the second time since 1993. That coupled with the boys basketball team’s undefeated season has expectations high in Warren County. Senior RB Chris Hymer (5-11, 185) returns after running for 975 yards and 14 TDs last season. Defensively the Wildcats have a pair of solid LBS in seniors Nate Woods (5-10, 170) and Kelly Leforce (6-0, 210). Look for standout basketball prospect Luke Kennard (6-5, 180/Ohio State hoops offer) to take over at QB.
* Turpin (8-3, Region 8 Semifinalist): The Spartans have been to the postseason six times in a row and if they make it seven, senior QB Connor Jansen (6-0, 175) will play a large part. Last year Jansen earned first team All-FAVC honors when he threw for 1,578 yards and 18 TDs and ran for 772 yards and 14 TDs. Other returning all-conference players are DB Clay Johnson (sr.), RB Ryan Millikin (sr.), OL Max Rutenschroer (sr.), DL Michael Adkerson (sr.), LB Matt Stocker (sr.) and TE J.R. Stoll (sr.). Milliken ran for 845 yards and five TDs last year.
* Harrison (7-4, Region 8 Quarterfinalist): The Wildcats are coming off the school’s first back-to-back playoff berths since three straight trips in 1987-89. Their also coming off a season in which they won their first outright conference championship in 14 years and beat Winton Woods and Anderson for the first time in 10 and 14 years, respectively. Now what? The program lost 21 seniors to graduation, but second-year head coach Kent McCullough said expectations remain. “We’re going to be young and inexperienced but the bar for a conference championship and playoff run is set.” The team will be lead by DE/TE Truman Gutapfel (6-3, 245, sr.), DE/OL Jon Schneider (6-4, 250, sr.) and OL/DL Ben Kling (6-2, 265, sr.).
Keep An Eye On
* Western Brown (6-4): The Broncos have a huge hole to fill at QB where they lost Nick Woodyard (who set every passing record in school history). Stepping in, however, is junior Devin Wood who has started the last two seasons at WR and DB. Wood will be throwing to senior Gunnar Woodyard (5-11, 175) who will become the school’s all-time receiving leader this season. Seniors Brady Brooks and Jake Lawson round out one of Southwest Ohio’s better receiving corps.
* Wilmington (7-3): The Hurricane opened 5-0 last year before dropping three of their last five. Offensively, Wilmington returns some weapons. Junior QB Cody McCune (6-2, 200) is back after throwing for 867 yards and six TDs. Also back are senior WR J.T. Lykins (6-0, 195/31 rec., 336 yards, two TDs) and senior RB David Henry (6-2, 215/10 rushing TDs). Senior DL Colt Briggs was first team All-FAVC.
* Mount Healthy (8-2): Senior QB Greg Green (6-0, 170) is back after throwing for 673 yards and seven TDs last year. Also back is last year’s leading rusher senior RB Eric Davis (5-8, 200/410 yards and five TDs).
* Cincinnati Northwest (7-3): Senior LB Rasheen Jones (6-3, 243) was the team’s leading tackler last season and is a JJHuddle Top 100 prospect. He’s committed to Cincinnati.
* Winton Woods (5-5): The 2009 D-II state champions had a string of six straight postseason berths snapped last year when they opened 1-5. The Warriors are hoping to carry over the momentum of their four-game winning streak to end the season but there are going to be several new faces. Senior RB Tyler Gist (5-8, 190) is the team’s leading returning rusher (94 yards on 17 carries last year).
* Celina (2-8): Senior QB Braden Billger returns for his third year as a starter. The last two years Billger has thrown for 5,583 yards and 48 TDs and 35 INTs.
* Anderson (4-6): The Redskins have a JJHuddle Top 100 prospect in OL Andrew Paulik (6-6, 275). Anderson’s passing game should be formidable with the return of All-FAVC TE Reed Kaiser and WR Jared Cook.
* Vandalia Butler (6-4): The Aviators opened 5-0 last year before losing four of their last five and three straight to end the season. There will be plenty of turnover as Butler must replace its QB, top receiver and top four rushers.
* Piqua (6-4): The Indians must replace 10 All-GWOC North performers. The lone returning all-conference player is senior DE Soloman Carnes (6-2, 238/45 tackles, seven sacks).
Also In This Region
Amelia (5-5), Greenville (5-5), Belmont (6-4), Trenton Edgewood (3-7), Hughes Center (4-6), Little Miami (1-9), West Carrollton (3-7), Lima Senior (1-9), Sidney (0-10), Stebbins (0-10), Oxford Talawanda (0-10), Cincinnati Woodward (0-10)