Tristate Football

2017 Snapshot: Ross

Ross WR Jacob Brewer (photo by Mike Noyes/TSF)

Stability and winning had become the norm for Ross football up until last fall. The wheels came off the track as the Rams dropped their last seven and finished in the cellar of the Southwestern Ohio Conference standings. It was just the fourth losing season in the last 22 years for the program.

The time has come to write a new chapter and former coordinator Kenyon Commins takes over as head coach. He becomes just the third Ross head coach in the last 32 years replacing Brian Butts who was at the helm for 11 seasons. The task at hand for Commins is not an enviable one. There still may be some falling before the program hits bottom and bounces back up.

“Everything is new to this group. The offense, the defense, the special teams, the weight room expectations, workouts, on and on. We may have a few growing pains early, but we should progress as the year goes on,” Commins says.

Physical size is what ails the Rams. They were pushed around up front last season. “We need to get A LOT stronger. We just aren’t there yet as a program,” Commins states. A year ago, Ross averaged just 2.8 yards per carry and only had seven rushing touchdowns. In league games, the defense allowed all six opponents to run for more than 200 yards. The Rams were outscored in the first half of those affairs by a combined 172-7.

What the Rams lack in muscle they will make up for with speed and numbers playing in what is sure to be a highly entertaining “run and gun” offense. The ball will be spread around. The more players that get involved and begin to believe the faster the transition back to winning will be.

Competition for snaps will be a plus, something the programs has lacked in recent seasons. “We should have one of the larger teams (numbers wise) the school has produced in recent memory. They are a very tight knit group,” laments Commins. The Rams will need that comradery to get them through the tough times. It will be their commitment and perseverance that gets them over the hump and back to what program should be.

Division III, Region 12
2016 RECORD: 2-8, 0-6 SWOC
COACH: Kenyon Commins (0-0 @ Ross, first year; 0-0 overall)

TOP RETURNEES
Joe Valentine, Sr, LB – The leader of the defense Commins calls Valentine an “instinctive workaholic and the true meaning of student athlete.” Valentine was named Division III Honorable Mention All-SW District as a junior.

Austin Hamblin, Sr, LB – Hamblin is the perfect complement to Valentine in the middle of the defense. The athletic Hamblin is a hard-nosed player with a great motor.

Andrew Records, Sr, OLB – A member of the best part of the defense, the linebackers, Records is athletic and plays great in space.

Logan Lange, Sr, DL – Lange plays with relentless effort. The underclassmen need to take heed of his of his example.

Ross DE Logan Lange (photo by Mike Noyes/TriStateFootball.com)

Jordan Hodge, Jr, DB – In just five games Hodge managed to come up with four of the Rams five interceptions in ’16.

TJ Vicars, Sr, OL – Vicars senior leadership will be counted on to help hold offensive line in order.

Thomas Woodruff, Sr, OL – The Rams are counting on Woodruff to return from a devastating knee injury. He was the team’s best lineman as a sophomore.

Jacob Brewer, Sr, WR/RB – Like classmate Woodruff, Brewer is trying to come back from a horrific injury. He has 53 career receptions. If healthy Brewer stands to have a big year in the Rams new offense.

Taylor Polly, Jr, OL – A pleasant surprise in ’16, Polly is back for his second season as a starter on the o-line.

Logan Fuller, Sr, QB/DL/ATH – “Fuller turned into one of the most unselfish players I have coached in 15 years,” says a pleased Commins. He will fill whatever void coach asks him to in ‘17.

Dylan Zimmerman, Jr, WR – The speedy Zimmerman showed signs of brilliance last season catching 20 passes for 336 yards with a team high three touchdown receptions in just six games.

NEWCOMERS
With the ball being spread around on offense the Rams will look to load the stables with receivers including senior Ethan Minges and sophomore Hunter Bauman. Adding depth on offense and special teams is junior RB/K Thomas Coleman. Making most of his limited opportunities Coleman hit 10-12 of his extra point attempts in ‘16. Junior DL Derek Cole will add some beef up front on defense.

Ross RB/K Thpmas Coleman (photo by Mike Noyes/TriStateFootball.com)

PLAYOFF HISTORY
(six appearances, 0-6) – 2011, 2009, 2001, 1997, 1995, 1993

2017 SCHEDULE
The first four games of the league schedule (Weeks 4-7) are at Harrison, hosting Mount Healthy, on the road against Edgewood then Northwest comes to Robinson Field. That same four contests last fall was not a pleasurable experience for Ross. That stretch will really test the mental toughness of this squad. If the Rams can come out of that gauntlet with the confidence of knowing they can compete with the best the conference has to offer there is no reason why they can’t close out the year with three wins.

SWOC WOES
The Rams have not fared well against the SWOC’s elite over the past four years. Ross is a combined 0-12 versus Mount Healthy, Harrison and Northwest in that period.

NO PASSING FANCY
In five SWOC seasons, Ross has combined to throw for just 32 touchdowns with 38 interceptions. The Rams have never thrown more than eight touchdown passes in a SWOC season. Ross passers threw 10 picks in ’16 and seven interceptions in each of the four league campaigns before that. During that same span the Rams have run for 108 touchdowns.

STOPPING THE STREAK
The Rams current seven game losing streak is the longest in 35 years. Ross went 0-10 in ’82. This is the third time the program has lost at least five consecutive tilts in a season in the last 12 years. The Rams lost six in a row in ’08 and dropped five straight in ’05.

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