Regional breakdown, top players, big games, big names, teams to beat, teams to watch and more…
Region 23 Preview
Playoff Teams: Our Predictions
Symmes Valley, Buckeye Central, Lucas, Newark Catholic, Beallsville, Zanesville Rosecrans, Danville, Scoitoville Community
Dark Horses: South Gallia, Trimble, Portsmouth Notre Dame
10 Players To Watch
1. Alec Herrell, RB, sr., Symmes Valley: Ran for 1,321 yards & 12 TDs last year
2. Ethan Brown, TE/DE, sr., Harvest Prep: 81 tackles, 10 sacks, three TDs, 18 rec. as a junior
3. Kevin Bourne, DB, sr., Newark Catholic: Three-year starter has 230 career tackles & 10 INTs
4. Nick Swainhart, RB, sr., Lucas: 2,409 career rushing yards; threatening school record
5. Michael Adkins, RB, sr., Buckeye Central: Ran for 1,856 yards & 23 TDs last year; 73.5 tackles
6. Teryn Jarrett, QB, sr., Beallsville: Four-year starter threw for 1,422 yards & 16 TDs as jr.
7. Luke Lloyd, RB, sr., Rosecrans: Ran for 1,639 yards & 18 TDs last year
8. Justin Crager, QB/DB, sr., Sciotoville: 2,000 total yards, 26 TDs, 119 tackles seven INTs as junior
9. Hunter Munjas, LB, sr., Waterford: Had 96 tackles & 17 TFL last year
10. Levi Harris, LB/RB, sr., Lucas: Four-year starter has 320 career tackles
Notre Dame @ Harvest Prep, Aug. 31 (Week 2)
Danville @ Rosecrans, Aug. 31 (Week 2)
Shadyside @ Beallsville, Sept. 28 (Week 6)
Symmes Valley @ Sciotoville, Oct. 5 (Week 7)
Lucas @ Buckeye Central, Oct. 19 (Week 9)
Granville @ Newark Catholic, Oct. 19 (Week 9)
Team To Beat
* Symmes Valley (10-2, Region 23 Semifinalist): The Vikings are looking to make the playoffs for the fourth straight time and have hosted regional quarterfinals the last two years. They’d like to take the next step with an extended playoff run and this could be the year. SV will be young, but talented. The Vikings return two 1,000-yard rushers in senior Alec Herrell (5-9, 170/1,321 yards, 12 TDs) and junior D.J. Miller (5-9, 160/1,089 yards, 12 TDs). Junior Tyler Rowe (6-2, 215), who saw action at FB and RB last year (six TDs), moves to QB. Line play will be solid with juniors OL/DL Caleb Holderby (6-1, 225), TE/DL Austin Baldwin (6-4, 225), OL/DL Kyle Wells (6-2, 300) and TE/DE Jacob Graybeal (6-2, 175). Junior RB/DE Austin Owens (5-11, 185) will impact both sides of the ball as well. SV has three new opponents this season in Reedsville Eastern, Chillicothe Southeastern and Buffalo (WV). Said Webb: “We lost in the second round of the playoffs last season and that left a bad taste in our players mouth. We have used that to have a good winter weight lifting session so far. If the players continue to improve over the summer the way they have in the winter, we feel we can compete.”
Teams To Watch
* Harvest Prep (5-5): The Warriors are still serving a two-year suspension from postseason play for rules violations (eligible in 2013), but that doesn’t mean they won’t be good. Senior TE/DL Ethan Brown (6-4, 210, jr.) is a two-way talent. Last year he caught 18 passes for 364 yards and three TDs and registered 81 tackles, 10 sacks, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions. Senior WR Zachary Yousey (6-2, 190) is coming off a year in which he passed for 227 yards, ran for 515 yards and caught 19 passes for 254 yards. He also had six INTs and 35 tackles on defense. Yousey has offers from several MAC schools.
* Lucas (4-6): The Cubs haven’t had a winning season since 2006 but that should change. Swainhart and Harris offer a tremendous 1-2 punch in the backfield. RB/LB Nick Swainhart (5-11, 185, sr.) ran for 1,447 yards last season and has a chance to become the school’s all-time leading rusher. His 2,409 career yards are 1,259 short of the record. RB/LB Levi Harris (6-2, 185, sr.), who ran for 1,254 yards last season, already owns the school’s single-game rushing (318 yards) and scoring (five TDs) records and could end as the program’s all-time leading tackler. A four-year starter, he has 310 career tackles and needs 135 more to reach the current mark. According to head coach Scott Spitler, development of a young OL and improvement in the secondary are crucial. QB/DB Cole Barrett (6-0, 165, sr.) and DB Alex Sauder (5-8, 165, sr.) should lend support in the defensive backfield, while OT Dalton Dennison (6-2, 265, so.) is one to watch along the OL. Last year he started all 10 games as a freshman. LB Dominick Strassell (5-9, 165, jr.) had 102 tackles last season. Lucas has a new non-league opponent this season in Fredericktown.
* Newark Catholic (5-5): Newark Catholic’s football tradition includes nine State Championships (2007, 1991, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1982, 1978, 1968) and the honor of owning more playoff wins than any other program in state history (63). Senior DB/RB Kevin Bourne (5-10, 180, sr.) is a three-year starter that has 230 career tackles and 10 interceptions. He’s also the Green Wave’s long-snapper and kick returner. Head coach Bill Franks is 83-39 in 10 years at NC.
* Buckeye Central (12-3, State Runner-Up): The Bucks made it all the way to the state final last year before falling to Marion Local. Head coach Jason Ratliff said this year’s squad will be young but he hopes the additional days of playoff practice last season will pay dividends. “We hope that the extra weeks of practice from last season will help some of our younger kids mature and grow on the playing field this year,” Ratliff said. The cupboard isn’t bare. Senior RB Michael Adkins (6-0, 185) returns after rushing for 1,856 yards and 23 TDs. Defense will be the Bucks calling card early with Adkins (73.5 tackles), LB Bryce Christy (5-10, 180, sr./104.5 tackles, 10 TFL), DL Shawn Kissell (6-3, 300, sr./47 tackles), DB Austin McDonnell (6-3, 175, sr./53 tackles), LD Chad Trapp (5-10, 170, sr./32 tackles), DB Kameron Jones (5-10, 170, jr./29 tackles) and LB Alec Baldosser (5-11, 175, jr./23 tackles) all returning.
* Beallsville (10-3, Region 23 Finalist): The Blue Devils made the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and made it to the regional final for the second time in school history. It was a fitting end to the reign of former head coach David Caldwell who stepped down after 29 seasons. Stepping in is long-time assistant Paul Kanzigg. Kanzigg welcomes back senior QB Teryn Jarrett (6-1, 180) who is a four-year starter. Last year Jarrett threw for 1,422 yards, 16 TDs and just three interceptions.
* South Gallia (7-4, Region 23 Quarterfinalist): The Rebels made the playoffs for the third time in history and first since 2006 last season. This year they’ll rely heavily on junior RB Ethan Spurlock (10 TDs) and junior DL Jacob White.
* Zanesville Rosecrans (7-5, Region 23 Semifinalist): The Bishops are coming off their third playoff appearance in four years. To reach Week 11 again they’ll dish out a large dose of senior RB Luke Lloyd (5-9, 165). Last year Lloyd ran for 1,639 yards and 18 TDs. On defense he chipped in 57.5 tackles and three INTs.
* Danville (7-4, Region 23 Quarterfinalist): The Blue Devils ended a three-year absence from the playoffs and earned the program’s 12th appearance overall. This season they have a great chance of netting No. 13. The Blue Devils will return 18 players that will be three-year lettermen. Included in that group is senior LB Kyle Shultz (6-1, 185) and senior RB/DB Bryce Staats (6-0, 180). Shultz had a team-high 106 tackles last year, while Staats scored TDs rushing and receiving and had seven INTs.
* Sciotoville Community School (7-4, Region 23 Quarterfinalist): The Tartans earned the program’s third playoff appearance last year, but a postseason win still eludes the school. This season standout senior QB/LB Justin Crager (6-1, 183) returns. Crager ran for 1,200 yards and 17 TDs and threw for 800 yards and nine TDs last year. On defense he had 119 tackles, seven INTs and five forced fumbles.
Keep An Eye On
* Millersport (0-10): First year head coach Terry Holbert inherits a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2002 and has lost 28 straight games. He’ll lean heavily on senior RB/LB Alex Blake (6-1, 205) as he tries to change the culture. Blake led the Lakers in rushing (over 800 yards), total yards, TDs (nine) and tackles (over 100) last year.
* Hannibal River (6-4): The Pilots are looking to snap a three-year postseason drought. River returns one of the Division’s best OL in senior Evan Eggleston (6-4, 220) who was first team all-district, OVAC and PVC last year.
* Glouster Trimble (7-4, Region 23 Quarterfinalist): The Tomcats will build around senior DL Casey Degarmore (6-0, 280), junior WR Konner Standley (5-9, 160), senior WR Wyatt Deak (5-10, 150) and junior RB/LB Jacob Koons (6-0, 180).
* Waterford (6-4): The Wildcats return two good ones in senior LB Hunter Munjas (6-3, 185) and senior WR Brian Moore (6-0, 166). Munjas recorded a team-high 96 tackles, including 17 TFL. Moore had 41 receptions for 555 yards and seven TDs. He also carried the ball 50 times for 260 yards as a fill-in RB.
* Portsmouth Notre Dame (7-3): The Titans have only been to the playoffs once since 2000. This year they return plenty of talent in the backfield with senior QB Michael Mader, junior RB Jack Kayser and senior RB Jacob Milani.
Also In This Region
Grove City Christian (5-5), Plymouth (5-5), Colonel Crawford (5-5), Fairfield Christian Academy (6-4), Caldwell (4-6), Mapleton (3-7), Franklin Furnace Green (3-7), Fisher Catholic (2-8), Crestline (3-7), Reedsville Eastern (3-7), Africentric (2-8), Racine Southern (2-8), Corning Miller (1-9), Morral Ridgedale (1-9), Frontier (0-10)