Team To Beat
*Trotwood-Madison (12-3, Division II State Runner-Up): The Rams have played in four straight state finals and have their sights set on five. It’s an attainable goal. It’ll also be done with a new coach. Former mentor Maurice Douglass left for a new challenge at Springfield and in steps former offensive coordinator and Alter, Ohio State and NFL wide receiver Jeff Graham. Trotwood must replace seven All-GWOC North Division selections, but it returns seven as well. Defensively, the Rams feature a pair of outstanding senior DB prospects in Kei Beckham (6-0, 155; 16 tackles, three INTs) and Harrison Johnson (5-9, 170; 29 tackles). Beckham is a JJHuddle Top 100 prospect who has committed to Kentucky. Harrison has an offer from Illinois. Senior DB De’Shawn Gay (5-9, 155; 37 tackles, two INTs) also returns. Along the defensive front, senior LB Ferrod Gardner (6-1, 198; 76 tackles) and senior DL Roshwon Jackson (6-2, 280; 26 tackles) command attention. Offensively, junior QB Messiah DeWeaver (6-3, 200) returns for his third-year as a starter. One of Ohio’s top junior prospects, DeWeaver has committed to Michigan and holds additional offers from Louisville, Kentucky and Toledo. Last season he threw for 2.265 yards and 21 TDs. He also ran for six TDs. DeWeaver will be protected by senior OL Brice Hinton (6-4, 295). Senior WR Ryon Lucas (6-2, 165; 33 rec., 448 yards, five TDs) is a dangerous target.
Teams To Watch
*Bellefontaine (5-5): The Chieftains improved from 1-9 in 2012 to .500 last year. Can they keep climbing? A nice offensive nucleus returns. Senior RB Jordan Baughman (5-9, 195; 206 carries, 912 yards, 21 TDs) earned first team All-CBC Kenton Trail Division honors last season, while senior QB Jake Kennedy (6-1, 190; 1,833 yards passing, 14 TDs; 355 yards rushing) and senior WR Daniel Boy (6-1, 185: 34 rec., 542 yards, five TDs) were second team All-CBC. Boy (37 tackles, five INTs) and junior LB Chase Miller (6-0, 195; 75 tackles) lead the defense.
*Dayton Thurgood Marshall (7-4, Region 10 semifinalists): The Cougars continue to utilize a prolific double wing offense fueled by confusion and talent to produce results and wins. Marshall has been to the playoffs three years in a row and is looking to make it four. If they do it, it will be under new leadership. Former head coach Earl White left for Dayton Belmont. Senior QB Jamahl Manley (6-1, 210) who is a two-time first team All-Dayton City League selection returns for his fourth year as a starter. Last season he passed for 1,023 yards and 12 TDs and ran for 600 yards and seven TDs. Look for returning junior and first team All-City League RB Daryl McCleskey (5-8, 170) to have a huge year. Up front the OL returns four first team All-City League seniors in Dayomine Owens (5-10, 280), Calvin McGuire (6-3, 280), Leremy McComb and David Dewberry Also back is all-league senior WR LaShawn Howard. On defense, the Cougars return three first team All-City League player sin senior Dl Donte Pinson, senior LB Antonio Lynch and senior DB Michael Mills. Junior K/P Antonio Camberos was first team all-league at both.
*Franklin (9-2, Region 10 quarterfinalist): The Wildcats are looking to earn a third straight playoff berth for just the second time in school history and for the first time since 1987-89. The odds are good. Franklin is stacked. The Wildcats return six first team All-SWBL Southwestern Division players and have a new head coach in longtime assistant Brad Childers who takes over for Rodney Roberts (now at Centerville). Among the returners is senior QB and Duke basketball recruit Luke Kennard (6-6, 190) who is a two-time SWBL Football POY and multiple school record holder. Kennard was one of three players named D-III AP Ohio offensive player of the year last season after throwing for 2,305 yards and 26 TDs. He also ran for three. Franklin also returns three additional first team All-SWBL offensive players in seniors TE Evan Crowe (6-4, 190, 18 rec., 355 yards, seven TDs), OL Connor Fulton (6-3, 280) and WR John Riddell (5-9, 165; 53 rec., 704 yards, four TDs). Defensively, senior DL Michael Crockett (5-8, 215; five sacks, five FR, two FF) is the reigning SWBL Southwestern Division Defensive POY. Senior DB Layne Coffey (5-10, 160; five INTs) a first team All-SWBL selection, headlines the secondary.
*Hamilton Ross (6-4): The Rams are coming off back-to-back 6-4 seasons and looking for more this season. Senior OL/DL Simon Stepaniak (6-5, 295) is one of Ohio’s Top 100 prospects and has committed to Indiana. He’ll lead an OL that returns four of five starters. Running behind them will we senior RB John Kincaid (5-9, 210) who has split duties the last two years. Head coach Brian Butts said he expects Kincaid to have a big year as the featured back. At QB, senior Dustin Foley (5-10, 160) moves back to his natural position after excelling at WR last year. Keep an eye on senior OL/DL Curtis New (6-3, 265). Ross scrimmages defending D-II state champion Loveland and will make a long road trip to Niles McKinley for a regular season game.
*Kenton Ridge (7-4, Region 10 quarterfinalist): The Cougars made the playoffs for the second time in school history last season and expectations are high for a return trip this season. Senior QB Mitchell Schneider (5-7, 145) was first team All-CBC Kenton Trail Division last year after throwing for 1,602 yards and 19 TDs. He also ran for 702 yards and nine TDs. Senior WR/DB Jayden Davis caught 24 passes for 281 yards and four TDs last season. He also made 83 tackles and had three INTs. Senior LB/RB Christian Smith was first team All-CBC after making 94 tackles and running for 540 yards and five TDs. Smith made 91 tackles as a sophomore. Senior OL/DL Clay Colvin (68 tackles/All-CBC) anchors the lines. Senior WR/DB Joey Conley (6-1, 175; 34 tackles, two INTs) will contribute on both sides of the ball.
*New Richmond (9-1): The Lions have a bad taste in their mouths after finishing last year 9-1 and failing to qualify for the playoffs. NR was No. 9 in the region. The good news is the Lions return a pair of standouts in junior OL/DL Tyler Sammons (6-3, 290) and senior RB Tyler Anderson (6-0, 185).
*Springfield Shawnee (5-7, Region 10 semifinalist): The Braves went 10-2 last year but the use of an ineligible player caused them to have to forfeit five games in January. This season Shawnee is looking to make its sixth straight postseason appearance. Three senior OL starters and All-CBC selections return in Austin Paugh (6-3, 230), Joel Ryan 6-2, 260) and Miles Copley (6-2, 260). Also back on offense is junior WR David Barnett (6-3, 190; 25 rec. 292 yards). Look for junior Alec Bennett to take over at QB and for junior RB Zach Avery (5-10, 165) to get the majority of touches. On defense, Avery (44 tackles, five INTs) and sophomore Wade Smiddy (5-8, 140; 67 tackles, two INTs) headline the backfield, while senior LB Trevor Deam (5-8, 175; 63 tackles) and senior DL Kohlton Sine (6-0, 200; 46 tackles, four FR) lead the front seven.
*Tippecanoe (12-1, Region 10 finalist): The Red Devils own 10 playoff berths in program history – including the stretch of nine straight their riding now. Last year’s seniors were a special class that produced the program’s first regional final and several individual and team records. Heading into 2014, Tipp must replace nine first team All-CBC Kenton Trail Division performers ands 11 overall. Senior LB Austin Clack (5-11, 200) had 140 tackles, three FF and three FR last year en route to first team All-CBC honors. Offensively, senior QB Zack Blair (6-0, 175; 629 yards passing, seven TDs) who split time last year returns. Senior DB/WR Sean Ford (223 career tackles and eight INTs; nine TDs last year) will impact both sides of the ball.
*Wapakoneta (9-2, Region 10 quarterfinalist): The Redskins are coming off the best four-year run (33-10 with two playoff appearances) in program history (under veteran head coach Doug Frye who is now at St. Marys Memorial) and hope to continue it under new head coach Travis Moyer. Moyer returns to coaching after a two-year absence. He previously spent 13 years at Bucyrus Wynford were he led the Royals to 118 wins, nine North Central Conference titles, eight playoff berths and a 58-game regular season win streak. WBL foes tab Wapak as the league favorite. The Redskins return three talented senior linemen in OL Blake Pfenning (6-5, 300; Two-time All-WBL), OL Wil Rankin (6-1,250; All-WBL) and DL Thomas Schoenlien (6-4, 250; Two-time All-WBL). Wapak also brings back four more All-WBL performers in senior RB Keaton Metz (6-1, 180/771 yards rushing, 10 TDs, 492 yards receving, eight TDs), senior QB/DB Kodi Morgan (6-0, 175/789 yards passing, seven TDs), senior DB Quinn Lotridge (6-0, 175/five INTs) and senior LB Adam Henderson (6-0, 180). Said Moyer: “I’m really excited and confident about the upcoming season. I’m a firm believer in that good things happen to those who work hard. Our players deserve all the credit in the world. They have been dedicated and committed during the off-season and have done everything we have asked of them.”
*Western Brown (10-1, Region 10 quarterfinalist): The Broncos made the program’s second playoff appearance ever last season and would like to follow it up with a third. Western Brown, which hosted its first playoff game last year, is 0-2 in the postseason. Senior Christian Dawson (6-2, 195; 76 rec., 1,275 yards, 13 TDs) and junior Eean Nornung (5-10, 165; 75 rec., 1,227 yards, eight TDs, three rushing TDs) form one of Ohio’s top WR tandems. Throwing to them will be first-year starting sophomore QB Eli Crall (6-2, 195). Anchoring the OL is junior standout Steven Craddock (6-5, 290). The defense is led by senior LB Josh Young (5-10, 215; 77 tackles). “We accomplished a 10-0 season, but still have not achieved to our potential,” head coach Evan Dreyer (34-17 in five years) said. “We have a lot of opportunities for newcomers to step into our program and continue its success. The bar has been raised has a program and we expect to play at a high standard each week.”
Keep An Eye On
*Bellbrook (4-6): The Golden Eagles are looking to snap a nine-year playoff drought. Bellbrook returns senior QB/LB Alex Fryman (5-11, 190) who is a two-time first team All-SWBL selection. Senior DB Sam Martin (5-11, 165) was second team All-SWBL last year. Senior RB Evan Clark (5-11, 170) ran for 832 yards and eight TDs last season.
*Carroll (3-7): The Patriots have only won four games on the field the last two years (got a forfeit over Springfield Shawnee last season). New head coach and former Pats player Ben Rulli (2003 grad) hopes to change that. “The Coaching Staff is looking forward to a fresh start and laying the foundation for the program’s future,” Rulli said. “We must re-introduce the football culture that Carroll has been known for throughout the 2000s.” Carroll made back-to-back state semifinal appearances in 2004 and 2005 but has only made the playoffs once in the last six years. Senior RB/DB Marcus LaJeunesse (5-8, 170) was All-GCL last season. Senior DB Patrick Hemmert (6-2, 180) leads the defense.
*Celina (7-3): Bulldogs are coming off back-to-back 7-3 seasons and will lean heavily on junior QB Caleb Hoying (6-6, 205) who earned All-WBL honors last season after completing 128-of-194 passes for 1,631 yards and 13 TDs. The defense is led by a senior trio of All-WBL players in LB Frank Townsend (6-0, 185; 94 tackles), DB Sean Kirk (5-11, 160; 35 rec. 380 yards, two TDs; four INTs) and LB Brandon Hoffman (5-10, 180).
*Dayton Meadowdale (5-4): Lions return a talented senior in first team All-Dayton City League DB/KR Kevon Huguely.
*Greenville (2-8): The Green Wave’s 3-17 record the last two years is deceiving and according to head coach Aaron Shaffer this could be the season that the tide turns. “We’ve had the best off-season we’ve had since I’ve been in Greenville,” said Shaffer who is entering Year 3. “We look forward to the opportunity to show how far we’ve come since the end of last season. We lost some good players to graduation, but return a great group of players that are determined to get Green Wave Football a GWOC North Division title. If we can continue our growth, we will be a team that the Greenville community will be talking about for some time.” One player Greenville faithful may be talking about for a longtime is senior LB Bryce Jenkinson (6-2, 230). A four-year starter, Jenkinson led the GWOC in tackles last year (133) and has committed to Cincinnati. Other key contributors on defense will be senior DB Quinton Wood (6’0, 185; 62 tackles, 17.2 yards per KO return), senior DL Isaiah Hayes (6’1, 245, 84 tackles), junior LB William Nibert (6’0, 200, 85 tackles) and sophomore LB Logan Eldridge (5’11, 195, 84 tackles). On offense, junior QB Clay Guillozet (6-3, 180) returns after throwing for 1,463 yards and 14 TDs (also ran for two TDs) last year. Senior OL/DL Keegan Lennen (6-3, 255) will solidify both lines, while senior WR/DB Allen Tabler (5-10, 180) is also back after ranking third in the GWOC in receptions (48), fourth in receiving yards (556) and second in INTs (five).
*Oxford Talawanda (4-6): The Braves took a big step forward last year when they improved to 4-6 after a 1-9 campaign in 2012. Senior RB Maurice Thomas (6-1, 160) is one Ohio’s top 200 prospects. He rushed for 581 yards and eight TDs a year ago when injuries limited him to just four games. As a sophomore Thomas was first team All-SWOC after rushing for 1,303 yards and 15 TDs. Two-time All-SWOC senior LB Dakota Byrd (6-0, 200) leads the defense.
*St. Marys Memorial (0-10): The Roughriders have hit a rough patch. The program, which owns three state titles, has lost 21 straight games. Who you gonna call? Doug Frye. The veteran coach, who led St. Marys to its last state final and a runner-up finish in 2004, has returned after a successful stint at fellow WBL foe Wapakoneta. Said Frye, who inherits a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2008: “In my first year as head coach we will be working very hard to stabilize the program. Our focus will be increasing our number of players and playing a sustained effort.” Senior QB Isacc Fitzgerald (6-0, 200) and senior TE Quinn Zaerr (6-4, 260) will lead the charge.
*Wilmington (4-6): The Hurricane must replace seven All-SWOC performers. Junior P Matt Creditt returns after being named first team All-SWOC.
Also In This Region
Graham (2-8), Goshen (4-6), Cincinnati Woodward (2-8), Cincinnati Hughes (2-8), Cincinnati Taft (4-6), Hillsboro (0-9), Belmont (0-9), Ponitz (1-9)