Regional breakdown, top players, big games, big names, teams to beat, teams to watch and more…
Region 19 Preview
Playoff Teams: Our Predictions
Fredericktown, Wynford, Dawson-Bryant, Wheelersburg, Portsmouth West, Centerburg, Nelsonville-York, Ridgewood
Dark Horses: Liberty Union, East Knox, Smithville
10 Players To Watch
1. Matt Smith, RB, sr., Fredericktown:Enters final season with over 3,000 career rushing yards
2. Adam Hartz, DB/WR, sr., Wynford: 341 receiving yards, three TDs & four INTs as junior
3. Tyler Stoyle, QB, jr., Centerburg: 1,597 passing yards & 13 TDs as a sophomore
4. Eddie Miller, ATH, jr., Wheelersburg: Two return TDs & five INTs as a sophomore
5. Michael Purcell, ATH, sr., Bucyrus: Chance to become progam’s all-time leading receiver
6. Jared Harris, RB, sr., Columbus Acad.: 1,048 all-purpose yards & seven TDs last year
7. Payton Vanderkooi, DB, sr., Mount Gilead: Had three INTs & two TDs in a game last year
8. Alex Bare, QB, sr., Dawson-Bryant: Outstanding hoops player had 12 TDs last year
9. Luke Hannan, DL. sr., Liberty Union: All-MSL selection had 66 tackles & 8 TFL last year
10. Alex Bates, Sr., QB/DB, Smithville: Two rushing TDs, passing TD & two INTs in a game as jr.
Ironton @ Wheelersburg, Aug. 24 (Week 1)
Centerburg @ Elyria Cath., Sept. 7 (Week 3)
Johns.-Monroe @ Fredericktown, Sept. 28 (Week 6)
Smithville @ Norwayne, Oct. 12 (Week 8)
Wynford @ Galion, Oct. 19 (Week 9)
Wheelersburg @ Ports. West, Oct. 26 (Week 10)
Team To Beat
* Wheelersburg (7-3): The Pirates missed the playoffs for just the fourth time in 25 years last season and look poised to make it back. Burg graduated just seven seniors, although one was standout QB Alex Shears. Look for junior WR/DB Eddie Miller (6-2, 165) to take over under center. Last year Miller was the team’s leading receiver (20 rec., 339 yards) and scored three TDs (one each receiving, punt return and kickoff return). He also added five INTs. Also back is junior WR/DB Dylan Miller (6-3, 180) who caught 19 passes for 257 yards and five TDs. Defensively, Dylan Miller is the team’s leading returning tackler after making 69 tackles last year (and two INTs). Also back is junior DE Cameron Parsley (6-2, 175/40 tackles, nine TFL, three sacks), senior Dl Austin Gifford (6-0, 195/38 tackles, nine TFL), senior DB Zach Cunningham (5-11, 180/37 tackles, seven TFL) and junior DB Tyler Claxon (5-11,155/38 tackles).
Teams To Watch
* Fredericktown (5-5): The Freddies followed up a trip to the state semifinals in 2010 with a disappointing campaign last season. Expect a significant rebound. Fredericktown returns standout senior RB Matt Smith (5-11, 200) who still rushed for 900 yards last year despite a nagging hamstring injury. As a sophomore Smith ran for 2,238 yards and 27 TDs. He enters his senior season with over 3,000 career rushing yards and 34 TDs. Smith is a big-time baseball recruit and is being courted by Ohio State and Cincinnati. Also back is big QB Ryan Logan (6-6, 195) who stars on the basketball court as well. Senior WR/DB Nash Cunningham (6-1, 170) returns as well.
* Wynford (13-1, State Semifinals): The Royals are riding the state’s longest current regular season win streak (58 games) and are 69-1 in weeks 1-10 the last seven seasons. Wynford is also looking for its eighth straight playoff berth. If the Royals extend their streaks they’ll do so under a new head coach. Travis Moyer (118-28 in 12 years) stepped down after last year’s run to the final four. Taking over is Gabe Helbert who spent the last eight seasons as an assistant at Wynford. Key returners include WR/DB Adam Hartz (5-10, 185, sr./18 Rec., 341 yards, 3 TDs, 4 INTs), OL/DL Dillon Lambert (5-9, 255, sr./26 tackles), WR/DB Evan Snode (6-0, 180, sr.), LB/FB Garrett Shutler (5-10, 175, sr./117 tackles), TB/LB Corey Brown (6-1, 200, jr./430 yards rushing, five TDs) and OL/DE Tommy Hardin (6-2, 230, sr.).
* Coal Grove Dawson-Bryant (7-3): The Hornets senior class is trying to become just the second in the school’s history to produce three playoff teams in four years. The other was the Class of 1993. D-B returns a stellar QB in senior Alex Bare (5-9, 160) who threw for 637 yards and eight TDs last year. He also ran for 346 yards and four TDs. Bare doubles as an all-district basketball player. D-B also returns its leading receiver in senior Bryan Steele (6-3, 180). Steele caught 16 passes for 415 yards (25.94 average) and six TDs last year.
* Centerburg (8-2): The Trojans are looking for the program’s first playoff berth since 2005 and according to head coach Jim Stoyle: “If the chemistry is right and the attitude remains good we have a chance to be very competitive again. We need to find some dependable receivers to go with our very good quarterback. We should be very solid up front on both sides of the ball. The key will be the leadership of our seniors in 2012.” Junior QB Tyler Stoyle (5-10, 155) returns after throwing for 1,597 yards and 13 TDs last year. Stoyle will have a seasoned OL in front of him, which will feature three two-year starters and a three-year starter (senior Brock Cutlip, 5-10, 240, sr.). Keep an eye on sophomore RB Jeremy Sesma (5-10, 160). He won the Mid Buckeye Conference 200-meter title as a freshman.
* Smithville (8-3, Region 19 Quarterfinalist): The Smithies made the playoffs last year for the first time since making eight straight appearances from 1999-2006. They also beat then-undefeated and eventual D-IV state champion Norwayne 19-14 in Week 9. Those feats came in the final season of legendary head coach Keith Schrock’s 35-year reign at the school, which produced 250 wins, 12 playoffs appearances and a state final. Taking over the program is assistant coach Brent Besancon who was a former head coach at New London and Rittman. Back this year is senior standout two-way threat QB/DB Alex Bates (6-2, 175).
* Portsmouth West (10-2, Region 19 Semifinalist): Head coach Keith Triplett returns after a one-year hiatus (family reasons) to guide the Senators again. Gone from last year’s team are 11 seniors, but West returns a talented roster. The OL – led by returning starters Jessie Scott (6-4, 250, sr.), Branden Scott (6-4, 250, sr.) and Nathan Reynolds (6-2, 225, jr.) – will be a strength. Other key contributors will be senior RB/DB Justin Crace (5-11, 205), senior RB/DE Alec Meeker (5-10, 215), senior TE/LB Zack Frye (6-4, 210), junior QB/DB Luke Morgan (6-0, 195) and junior RB/DB Austin Bricker (6-0, 175).
* Ashland Crestview (11-1, Region 19 Semifinalist): The Cougars made the postseason for the third time in four years last season, but must replace a standout backfield in Mason Minnich (2,468 yards rushing) and Garrick Montgomery (1,090 yards rushing).
* Grandview Heights (10-1, Region 19 Quarterfinalist): The Bobcats are coming off a historic season in which they set the school record for wins and completed their first undefeated and untied regular season since 1955. Gone are 11 seniors from that team but a solid nucleus returns led by first team All-MSL Cardinal Division selections OL/LB Andy Treasure (6-3, 225, sr.) and WR/DB Payton Jones (5-11, 170, sr.).
* Liberty Union (8-2): Head coach Dan Johnson is entering his 28th season at LU (153-126) and his 35th overall (184-164-1). The Lions have put together six straight winning seasons and will challenge for the MSL Cardinal Division before moving to the MSL Buckeye in 2013. Offensively the Lions return four starters and must break-in a new backfield. Junior Austin Vanetta and sophomore Sam Bordner are competing for the QB spot. Defensively, LU lost its top three tacklers but six starters do return including DL Luke Hannan (6-1, 280, sr./66 tackles, eight TFL, All-MSL), DL Aaron Goodman (6-1, 190, sr./43 tackles), DE Jesse Shirey (6-0, 195, sr./72 tackles), LB Justin Reeves (6-0, 190, sr./68 tackles), DB Greg Underwood (6-1, 175, sr./71 tackles) and DB Tyler Magley (5-9, 155, jr./29 tackles).
* Hillsdale (9-1): The Falcons were one of the unlucky teams left out of last year’s postseason despite winning nine regular season games. That oddity ended Hillsdale’s two-year playoff run. Keep an eye on junior TE/DE Ryan Bee (6-6, 230).
* Lucasville Valley (12-1, Region 19 Finalist): The Indians made the playoffs for the first time since 2005 last year and advanced all the way to the regional final. A big concern this season is finding a replacement for all-everything QB/DB Blake Yates and RB Luke Keller. Those two combined for over 60 TDs last year.
* West Lafayette Ridgewood (8-3, Region 19 Quarterfinalist): The Generals have been to the playoffs nine years in a row. There are holes to fill (especially with the loss of LB/TE Evan Jones who is now at Michigan State), but the expectations remain the same.
Keep An Eye On
* Bucyrus (1-9): The Redmen followed up the best four-year run in program history (30-10) buy suffering their first losing season in head coach Jake Bruner’s seven-year tenure. Bucyrus has just 10 seniors but has nearly 60 combined juniors and sophomores. ATH Michael Purcell (5-10, 160, sr./two-time All-NCC) has a chance to be the program’s career receptions leader and is coming off a season in which he caught 30 passes, rushed for 500 yards and made 80 tackles. Bruner (42-28) needs just one win to become the program’s all-time leader in coaching wins.
* East Knox (1-9): Head coach Calvin Hatfield (4-16) enters his third year at East Knox with heightened expectations. The Bulldogs return 18 starters from last year’s team, which was young. Said Hatfield: “Last year we lost three games by a combined 17 points. We had a chance to win each of those games, which could have turned a miserable 1-9 year into something easier to stomach. Hopefully with the experience gained last year and the growth we have made throughout the offseason, we have taken the steps to not just win those close games, but gained ground on the rest of our competition.” Key contributors will be seniors Steven Jacobs (WR/DB) and Mason Lyon (RB/LB) and juniors Hayden Freeze (TE/DE), Colton Rebel (WR/DB) and Dylan Wears (RB/LB).
* Nelsonville-York (9-2, Region 19 Quarterfinalist): The Buckeyes have made the playoffs eight of the last nine years and will be in the think of things again.
* Columbus Academy (5-5): The Vikings return senior RB/DB Jared Harris (5-8, 150) who had 1,048 all-purpose yards and ran for seven TDs last year.
* Cardington-Lincoln (6-4): The Pirates will lean on senior DL Chase Deckling (14.5 sacks), senior P Andy Dever and senior OL Charlie Miller. The big concern is replacing RB Blair Wolcott, the MOAC’s leading rusher (1,514 yards) and scorer (22 TDs) in 2011.
* Albany Alexander (7-3): The Spartans return a good one in senior DB/WR Gage Miller (6-0, 165).
* Mount Gilead (4-6): The Indians have one of the region’s most versatile players in All-MOAC selection and senior WR/DB Payton Vanderkooi (5-9, 165) who intercepted three passes (returned one for a TD) and caught two TD passes in a win over Ridgedale last year.
Also In This Region
Loudonville (5-5), Waynedale (6-4), Oak Hill (2-8), Crooksville (4-6), Federal Hocking (4-6), Ironton Rock Hill (3-7), Berne Union (2-8), Rittman (1-9), Galion Northmor (0-10