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The Roger Bacon Spartans were one of the feel good stories of Cincinnati in 2010. Head coach Kevin Huxel did an outstanding job getting his kids to play an exciting brand of football in all phases of the game while instilling a confidence in them. The Spartans rewarded their fans with a first round home victory over the reigning Region 12 champions (Wyoming) in the post-season.
Roger Bacon will move down to Division IV in 2011 and have a legitimate shot at showing up for Week 11 for a second consecutive year if they can navigate through a trying schedule. The program is looking to make back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 1997-98.
We look ahead to this year’s edition of the Spartans:
2010 RECORD: 8-4, 4-3 GCL Central
HOME TURF: Roger Bacon Stadium
COACHING: If you look at what Roger Bacon accomplished in 2010 it all comes down to the team’s preparation. For that, Huxel has to be commended. The Spartans had flaws and holes all over the place, yet they managed to win eight games against a schedule that featured seven post-season teams. Expectations were not high for the squad, but Huxel found a way to bring out the best in each player and he did it in a way that really allowed them to make best of their individual talents. The kids took to his personality and when they got an opponent down they finished them off with a killer instinct. A repeat performance seems unlikely in 2011 with a schedule that is a true gauntlet and questions that have to solve themselves earlier rather than later for this team to make the post-season. It is refreshing to know though that it can be done and the man at the helm has done it before.
OFFENSE: Despite losing so many key skill position players Roger Bacon will have another solid offensive team because of their size and experience up front paving the way for one of the league’s top backs. Joe Newtown, Jake Smith, James Fiorini and Alex Meirose will be opening holes for tailback Griffin Mouty. Before injuries sidelined him in the playoffs Mouty posted 1,043 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns during the regular season as a junior. Four times he ran for at least 133 yards in a contest. Lonnell Brown will spell the all-conference runner.
The quarterback position is wide-open with four players as Dalen Wess, Josh Wilking, Jake Ungerbuehler and Sam Humphries will be vying for snaps. The competition is a good thing, but replacing the efficiency and productivity of Tanner Sprong is another. Taking care of the football was a big reason for their success in 2010. Take out a pair of four-turnover performances in losses to McNick and the Spartans never made more than two miscues in a contest. Whoever is under center must take care of the pigskin if they want to play in Week 11. Wess (152 RuYd, 300 all-purpose yards) has shown that he is more than capable of running the football, gaining 158 yards in the two playoff games after Mouty went down. Having options under center is a luxury for Huxel and the Spartans’ coaching staff.
DEFENSE: The Spartans’ defense was very aggressive and opportunistic in 2010 with 25 sacks and 27 takeaways. What proved to be their ultimate downfall was the ability to stop teams on third down. Opponents kept 43.1 percent of their drives alive on third down. Putting an end to that trend will be a main focus on this side of the ball in the off-season.
Newtown and classmates De’Von Thomas and Dariell Berry will work to do their share to improve the push up front. The performance of their line will be critical with so many explosive offenses on the schedule staying fresh and developing depth is going to be a difficult challenge in 2011.
The Spartans will unleash linebackers Ben Rose Connor Mouty (twin brother of Griffin) on backfields in order to best utilize their skill sets. Rose had two sacks and three interceptions as a junior. He has All-District talent.
In the secondary, Wess came up with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in 2010. There is no doubt that he will play a pivotal role in Roger Bacon’s success on this side of the ball.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The loss of Nick Lindner is a huge hole to fill and major concern for Huxel with the competition likely going into late August. Having a weapon in the kicking game is a gift at the small-school level. Brown could be a shot in the arm for an anemic kickoff return game that averaged 15.5 yards per return. He led the team with a 19.7 yard average on six attempts and had the only return of more than 30 yards in 2010.
Aug. 25 – vs. Mount Healthy - 8:00 p.m. (SKYLINE CROSSTOWN SHOWDOWN @ COLERAIN HS)
Sep. 2 – NORTH COLLEGE HILL – 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 9 – @Western Hills - 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 16 – @Chaminade Julienne- 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 23 – @Carroll - 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 30 - @Fenwick - 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 – McNICHOLAS - 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 14 – @Badin - 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 – ALTER - 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 28 – PURCELL MARIAN - 7:30 p.m.
FINAL TAKE: This team is going to have to be mentally tough with a very difficult non-conference schedule as well as a stretch of five road games in six weeks with North College Hill, Alter and McNicholas set to visit Vine Street. Making the post-season is going to be a real accomplishment for Roger Bacon. In the end the Spartans control their own destiny. It is laid out for this group of seniors to leave one of the biggest imprints on the program in school history.
Greg is a co-founder of TSF and is now entering his ninth season as a Featured Analyst for the website. The Xavier University grad also serves as the Content Manager for the website and is widely considered one of the top high school football experts in the region. If you are interested in covering your team, please CONTACT US.