Region 17 Teams To Watch: Ironton, Wheelersburg, St. Clairsville, Liberty-Union in mix

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Region 17

A look at those teams we think will challenge for the top spot in the region.


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2013 Ohio HS Football Preview

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Region 17 Preview

Teams To Watch

*Baltimore Liberty-Union (11-3, Region 19 champions): The Lions surprised some people last year with a legit run to the D-V state semifinals. This year the focus will be on returning. And the odds are good. Senior RB Jacob Basso (5-11, 180) spearheads the offense after running for 1,683 yards and 17 TDs last year. He also threw a TD and caught 24 passes (for 310 yards). Also back are senior QB Auston Vannatta, who threw for over 1,000 yards and six TDs last year and junior RB Adam Snyder (who ran for eight TDs last season). Defensively, senior LB Justin Barber (5-10, 170) returns after making 177 tackles (and 12 TFL) as a junior. Other key returners are junior DB Tyler Makuch (5-6, 130/83 tackles, six INTs), senior DB Tyler Magley (5-11, 145/67 tackles, five INTs), senior LB Logan Piccirillo (5-6, 135/67 tackles, three INTs), junior LB Braden Powers (6-1, 180/92 tackles), senior LB Dustin Short (5-11, 220/72 tackles) and Snyder (42 tackles, four INTs). The big change for the Lions is moving to the Mid-State League Buckeye Division (replacing Canal Winchester) where they will be the smallest team. “The 2013 team is in a new league with great coaches and program traditions,” said head coach Dan Johnson (195-168-1 in 28 years). “The focus of Liberty Union Football will continue to be to work to be ‘Good Men’ and improve daily. Winning championships and qualifying for the playoffs just became much harder. But anything is possible for ‘Good Men’ who improve daily and play together as a team. Each week will be a challenge.”

*Ironton (7-4, Region 15 semifinalist): The Tigers have been to the playoffs 30 times and five years in a row. Second-year head coach Mark Vass must replace 21 seniors. The schedule is again daunting with Columbus Hartley, Amanda-Clearcreek, Wheelersburg and Columbus St. Charles. Standout senior OL Adam Webb (6-6, 330) returns.

*Martins Ferry (5-5): The Purple Raiders could be set up for a big run. Martins Ferry returns four of five starters on the OL – led by senior Luke Staub (6-0, 260) – and has a beast at TE in senior Robert Vargo (6-5, 242). Senior WR/DB Brian Styles (5-8, 160) will make plays on both sides of the ball. Large junior and sophomore classes lend depth and talent.

*St. Clairsville (14-1, D-IV state runner-up): The Red Devils made a historic run to the school’s first state final last season and have been in the playoffs six of the last seven years. Excellence is a standard now – and will be maintained. Despite the loss of standouts Matt Kinnick (QB), Jerrid Marhefka (WR) and Dan Monteroso (WR), talent remains. Senior RB Jaylon Brown (5-7, 165) will be featured on offense, while senior LB Michael Ferns anchors the defense. Brown has accounted for 38 TDs and seven INTs the last two years, while Ferns, a four-year starter with over 350 career tackles, is a Michigan commit.  Also back is senior K Zach Musilli (5-8, 135).

*Wheelersburg (8-3, Region 19 quarterfinalist): The Pirates made the playoffs for the 24th time last season and this year should make it 25. Impressive indeed. But the Burg hasn’t won a regional title since 1998. This could be the season the drought ends. Last year the Burg set offensive team records for yards per game (378.4), passing yards (2,251), total recpetions (178) and receiving TDs (24). The good news, seven offensive starters return including seniors Eddie Miller (QB), Tyler Claxon (WR) and Dylan Miller (WR). Eddie Miller (6-1, 170) is a special talent. As a sophomore, Miller threw a TD pass, ran for a TD, caught a TD pass, returned a kick for a TD and scored a defensive TD. As a junior he set school single-season records for total offense (3,109 yards), passing yards (2,208) and TDs (24). He ran for 901 yards and 15 TDs. Claxon returns after catching a school record 67 passes for 880 yards and 10 TDs. Dylan Miller caught 59 passes for 751 yards and nine TDs last year. Other key returners include: Sam Robinson, Christian Ellis, Michael Staggs, Wade Martin, Chase Chambliss, Austin May and Mitchell Warner. The defense – led by senior DE Cam Parsley (6-2, 205) – returns eight starters. Parsley had 73 tackles and 10 sacks a year ago. “For the past few years we have played a lot of underclassmen,” head coach Rod Woodward (43-14 in five years) said. “Those guys are now seniors and we are expecting big things from them in 2013.” The schedule is beyond solid. 

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Region 17: Team To Beat

Our favorite to win the Region is….CLICK HERE

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Region 17: Keep An Eye On

Teams, players and programs of note entering 2013….CLICK HERE

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Region 17: Also In This Region

Who rounds out the region?….CLICK HERE

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D-V Preseason All-Ohio Team

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Playoff Teams: Our Predictions

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10 Players To Watch

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Top Games

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