Regional breakdown, top players, big games, big names, teams to beat, teams to watch and more…
Region 24 Preview
Playoff Teams: Our Predictions
Marion Local, Minster, Fort Loramie, Waynesfield-Goshen, Ada, Lockland, Springfield Catholic, Bradford
Dark Horses: St. Henry, Tri-County North, Ansonia
10 Players To Watch
1. Adam Bertke, QB, jr., Marion Local: Threw for 2,233 yards & 25 TDs as a sophomore
2. Kellen Decker, RB, sr., Ada: Back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher; 17 TDs last year
3. Lee Turner, TE/DL, sr., Waynesfield: First team All-NWCC last year on both sides of ball
4. Adam Niemeyer, QB, sr., Minster: Threw for 1,434 yards & accounted for 19 TDs as a junior
5. Seth Guilozet, QB, sr., Fort Loramie: Threw for 1,300 yards & 16 TDs last year
6. Kyle Stahl, QB, sr., St. Henry: Thrown for 4,105 yards & 32 TDs last two years
7. Zach Higginbothom, LB, sr., CCD: Had 95 tackles, 603 yards rushing & eight TDs last year
8. Gabe Wilcox, OL/DE, jr., Waynesfield: First team All-NWCC last year on both sides of ball
9. Jacob Ansley, WR/LB, sr., Ada: 55 receptions for 1,189 yards & 24 TDs last year
10. Ethan Wolf, TE/DE, jr., Minster: One of state’s top 2014 prospects; Holds Illinois offer
Minster @ Fort Loramie, Aug. 24 (Week 1)
Marion Local @ West Jefferson, Aug. 31 (Week 2)
Covington @ Bradford, Sept. 14 (Week 4)
Waynesfield-Gosh. @ Fort Loramie, Sept. 21 (Week 5)
Marion Local @ Coldwater, Oct. 12 (Week 8)
Lima Central Catholic @ Ada, Oct. 26 (Week 10)
Team To Beat
* Marion Local (13-2, State Champions): The Flyers are one of the state’s top programs regardless of division. Marion Local has been to the playoffs 12 times in the last 13 years and has played in six state finals since 1999. The Flyers have won five state titles, including last year’s. As an encore, Marion will go for No. 6 this season and is a serious contender. Despite losing seven first and second team All-MAC performers, the Flyers return some talent. Junior QB Adam Bertke (6-4, 210) is one of the state’s best small school QBs and is ready for a breakout season. Last year Bertke threw for 2,233 yards and 25 TDs. Other key returners are senior RB/LB Alaric Keller (6-2, 210), senior WR/DB Alex Rosenbeck (6-1, 185), senior LB/OL Kyle Mescher (6-3, 230) and sophomore RB/DB Jacy Gottemoeller (5-9, 160). Head coach Tim Goodwin owns a career record of 141-38.
Teams To Watch
* Ada (9-3, Region 24 Semifinalist): The Bulldogs have been in the playoffs six straight seasons and should make it seven. The big key is who replaces two-time All-Ohioan Konnor Baker at QB. Vying for the spot are seniors Mason Acheson and Matt Wilcox (6-0, 165) who starred at WR last year (six TDs, 571 yards, 33 catches). Cushioning the loss is the return of senior RB Kellen Decker (5-11, 180) who has rushed for over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. Last year he had 1,119 yards and 17 TDs on 130 carries and caught 34 passes for 404 yards. Senior WR/LB Jacob Ansley (6-0, 190) is s special talent (55 catches; 1,189 yards; 24 TDs) and anchors a receiving corps that returns four of its top five. Senior OL/DL Eli Robertson (5-10, 225/three-year starter, 54 tackles) returns to anchor a defense that returns seven starters and “should be improved” according to head coach Micah Fell (59-16 in six years at Ada; 159-81 career). Ansley (120 tackles, 11 TFL) doubles as a standout LB. Overall the Bulldogs return 14 starters, including both kickers, and 20 lettermen.
* Waynesfield-Goshen (7-3): The Tigers won the Northwest Central Conference last year but were the odd team out in the playoffs, finishing ninth in Region 24. This year W-G has title and postseason aspirations again. Head coach Gary Spencer (42-18 in seven years) welcomes back a solid nucleus that includes first team NWCC performers QB Garret Miller (6’1″, 180, sr.), RB/LB Gabe Hennon (6’1″, 190, sr.), OT/LB Gabe Wilcox (6’3″, 220, jr.) and TE/DE Lee Turner (6’3″, 185, sr.). Wilcox and Turner will anchor lines that have good size. Hennon is back after rushing for 1,150 yards as a junior. Expect junior RB Colton Miller (700 yards) to log carries as well. Three new teams (Fort Loramie, Sidney Lehman Catholic and Troy Christian) join the NWCC this year for football only, which will make repeating harder. The non-league slate is tough with Delphos Jefferson, Fort Recovery and Mechanicsburg.
* Minster (9-4, Region 24 Finalist): The Wildcats were just 1-9 in 2009 but they’ve reached the regional final the last two years. Expect another deep postseason run. The concern is replacing three starters on both the offensive and defensive lines, but six starters return on both sides of the ball. Senior QB Adam Niemeyer (6-3, 200) returns for his third season as a starter and is coming off a junior year in which he threw for 1,434 yards and 12 TDs and ran for 457 yards and seven TDs. Joining Niemeyer in the backfield will be seasoned senior RBs Troy Kauffman (5-10, 175/857 yards rushing, 12 TDs) and Korey Schulktz (5-11, 165/926 yards rushing, 11 TDs). The receiving corps is led by senior WR Devon Poeppelman (6-1, 195/23 receptions, five TDs) and junior TE Ethan Wolf (6-6, 225/18 receptions, 266 yards, two TDs). Defensively, Kauffman (55 tackles, five sacks, four INTs), Schultz (four INTs), DB Jay Eilerman (6-0, 165, sr./54 tackles, five INTs), LB James Borges (6-1, 180, sr./61 tackles), DL Wes Hegeman (6-2, 240, jr./36 tackles) and DB Paul Dues (6-3, 180, jr./27 tackles) anchor a solid unit. Two-way lineman Mason Haney (6-1, 220) provides much needed experience in the trenches. Head coach Nate Moore is 16-10 in two years.
* Fort Loramie (10-2, Region 24 Semifinalist): The Redskins are changing conferences this season, going from the Metro Buckeye League to the Northwest Central Conference. The step up in competition is a welcomed one for a program that’s been to the playoffs three straight times. Head coach Matt Burgbacher (28-8 in three years) fully expects his squad to compete for the postseason again. Said Burgbacher: “We again are losing a great senior class from last year, but the cupboard is not empty. We have a solid nucleus of young men that had substantial amount of playing time from last year and we will look to them for their leadership and experience to carry us through the offseason and into our preseason schedule. Some people think of having to replace a lot of starters is a bad problem, we look at as a good problem to have. We are going to have some great competition amongst ourselves for those starting spots and we are excited to see these young men compete.” Key returners are senior QB/DB Seth Guillozet (6-0, 185/1,300 yards passing, 16 TDs), junior RB/DB Delaunte Thornton (5-8, 180/700 yards rushing, seven TDs) and junior RB/LB Logan McGee (6-0, 180/400 yards rushing, six TDs). Two juniors – Zach Brandewie (6-1, 190) and Garrett Eilerman (5-10, 180) – and a sophomore – David Arhns (5-11, 250) – anchor the lines.
* Springfield Catholic Central (8-3, Region 24 Quarterfinalist): The Irish have been in the playoffs eight of the last nine years but there are a lot of holes to fill. Gone are the record-setting tandem of Brian Kelly (QB) and Jake Aldridge (WR). Expect junior Ryan Fain to take over at QB. Head coach Steve Dewitt (220-139-1 in 34 years) was inducted into the OHSFCA Hall of Fame in June. He’s led the Irish to 11 playoff appearances and one state final (D-IV runner-up in 1991).
* Cincinnati Country Day (7-4, Region 24 Quarterfinalist): CCD made the playoffs for the first time since 2004 last year but has some holes to fill this season. The Indians must replace their leading rusher, receiver and QB. The good news? They do return senior RB/LB Zach Higginbotham (6-1, 215). Higginbotham made 95 tackles and forced three fumbles. He also carried the ball 113 times for 603 yards and eight TDs.
* Bradford (5-5): The Railroaders continue their ascent under former Mr. Football and Penn State star Curtis Enis. Bradford is 9-11 the last two years, including 5-5 in 2012, which was the program’s first non-losing season since 1997. This year’s senior class has a ton of experience and was the undefeated CCC junior high champs when they were in eighth grade. Bradford’s first and only playoff appearance was in 1982. Keep an eye on junior QB Brandon Wysong (6-4, 175).
Keep An Eye On
* Lockland (7-4, Region 24 Quarterfinalist): The Panthers have been to the playoffs five years in a row and seven times overall. They are, however, looking for their first postseason win (0-7).
* Tri-County North (8-3, Region 24 Quarterfinalist): The Panthers made the postseason for the just the second time since 1994 last year, but failed to win the program’s first postseason game.
* St. Henry (1-9): The Redskins will rely heavily on standout senior QB Kyle Stahl (6-5, 205). Stahl threw for 1,625 yards and 13 TDs last year after throwing for 2,480 yards and 19 TDs as a sophomore. Other key returners are senior TE/LB Alex Post, senior WR/DB Matt Osterholt and senior DL/OL Dylan Bruening. Head coach Jeff Starkey is 63-40 in 10 years at SH and owns two state titles (2004 and 2006).
* Ansonia (6-4): The Tigers had a string of three straight playoff berths snapped last year. Head coach Eugene Hoening is entering his 31st season with a 194-122-1 career record.
* Fort Recovery (4-6): The Indians have some huge holes to fill on offense where they must replace an All-MAC player at QB (Jason Pottkotter), RB (Kenny Wenning) and WR (Derek Gaerke).
* New Bremen (0-10): Former Sidney assistant coach Jason McGaharan assumes control at new Bremen where former head coach Rob Messick left after going 12-38 in five years.
* Lehman Catholic (5-5): The Cavaliers had a string of five straight playoff berths snapped last year. Head coach Dick Roll is 50-22 in six seasons at LC and 135-148 overall. The Cavaliers – like rival Fort Loramie – move from the Metro Buckeye Conference to the Northwest Central Conference this season.
Also In This Region
South Charleston Southeastern (5-5), Arcanum (5-5), Fayetteville (3-7), Upper Scioto Valley (3-7), New Miami (2-7), Cincinnati Christian (2-8), Cedarville (1-9), Cincinnati Oyler (2-6), Ridgeway Ridgemont (2-8), DeGraff Riverside (1-9), Troy Christian (1-9), Dola Hardin Northern (1-9), Dayton Jefferson (1-8), Cincinnati Riverview East Academy (1-6), Manchester (0-9), Mississinawa Valley (0-10)