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It will go down as one of the greatest seasons in Kings’ football history and that is saying something considering how good past squads have been.
The Knights finished the regular season 10-0. They looked like a champion every step of the way winning the final FAVC Cardinal crown on their way to the programs ninth playoff appearance (all since 1999). The team would fall in the regional finals to eventual state champion, Trotwood-Madison. It would be the second straight year that the Rams would end the Knights’ dreams.
Nevertheless, the journey was a special one. Up and down the roster players gave great efforts, so much so that Kings would be named the TriStateFootball.com 2011 Cincinnati Team of the Year. Looking forward, this group of seniors leaves the program in the greatest shape it has ever been in. Quite a feat considering the beating they took as sophomores. It is a true testament to the effort and desire.
Let’s take a game-by-game look at Kings’ 2011 season:
GAME #1 –KINGS 42, LEBANON 13: Dominating the game in the trenches on both sides of the ball was how Kings won their opener at Lebanon. Leading 14-13 midway through the second quarter, the Knights would go on to score the contest’s final 28 points. Running backs Jamire Westbrook (172) and Nick Collado (88) combined for 260 yards rushing with three touchdowns rushing for the victors. Kings dominance up front led to a 14:58 advantage in time of possession. Justin Crull came up with two of the team’s three interceptions, returning one 53 yards for a touchdown just before halftime. Kings was in the Warriors’ backfield all evening allowing just 71 yards on the ground while recording 5.0 sacks. Max DeMumbrum and Tommy Schnee each had 2.0 sacks.
GAME #2 –KINGS 41, MILFORD 7: Quarterback Jensen Gebhardt threw for two touchdowns and 136 yards as Kings built a 38-0 lead over Milford five seconds into the fourth quarter. The Knights were very good on both sides of the ball. Crull and Zach Hilderbrand were on the receiving end of those scoring tosses. Westbrook ran for 111 yards while finding the end zone three times six minutes before halftime. The defense was equally impressive holding the Eagles to 91 yards on the ground on 34 totes. Brady Vanover, Sean Horan, DeMumbrum and Schnee all registered sacks for Kings. In his 25th game as a Knight, junior Austin Copeland came up with the first interception of his career.
GAME #3 –KINGS 30, HARRISON 14: For the first time in his career head coach Andy Olds came away victorious versus Harrison. Olds came into the game with a 114-35 lifetime record, but his program was 0-4 against the Wildcats. It was a dominating performance as Kings won the war up front on both sides of the ball beating Harrison, 30-14. Kings held the Wildcats to a miniscule three yards on 23 carries and got five combined sacks from DeMumbrum (3.0) and Vanover (2.0) in the contest. Schnee came up with a sack and a fumble recovery as everyone was getting into the act. They did allow a 74-yard touchdown from Marcus Woelfel to Kyle Nowlin in the third quarter that pulled Harrison to within nine at 23-14. Take away that play and the Wildcats were just 3-15 for 24 yards passing. They went 0-for-10 on third-down conversions against a Knights’ defense that ran on a high motor all night long. Westbrook had a momentous evening as he ran for 239 yards and two touchdowns. The senior surpassed 4,000 yards rushing for his career. It was also the fourth time in his last seven starts that he has gone over 200 yards rushing. Classmate Brian Huffman ran for another 120 yards and a score in his first game of the season. Huffman has run for 90 or more yards four times in his last 11 tilts. Crull led the team with two catches for 81 yards receiving while racking up 183 all-purpose yards. In total the Knights had six scoring drives. Kicker Evan Berg converted field goals of 30, 32 and a booming 47-yarder to close out three of them. That ran the junior’s career total to 18 field goals.
GAME #4 – KINGS 28, LOVELAND 2: Four games into the season it was becoming quite clear that the Kings defense was for real. The Knights held Loveland to 1-of-10 on third-down conversions, forced three turnovers and gave up just 73 yards on the ground in a convincing, 28-2 win. The Knights’ defense has really tightened the screws allowing just five of 40 third-down conversions all year long. The victory was also their third over a Division I school in 2011. Westbrook led all runners with 133 yards and two touchdowns. Huffman picked up a score for the second straight week. Gebhardt hooked up with Nick Bird for Kings’ other touchdown. Bird had game-highs of six receptions and 48 receiving yards. Crull intercepted his third pass of the season for the Knights, the tenth of his career.
GAME #5 – KINGS 30, GLEN ESTE 0: It was goose eggs for Glen Este as the Trojans could not penetrate the Kings’ defense. Glen Este ran 60 plays and gained just 152 total yards while winning the time of possession battle by 12:38. However, three costly turnovers sealed their fate. Schnee made the Trojans’ pay returning a fumble five yards to the house to give the Knights a 23-0 lead five minutes into the second half. Horan came up with two fumbles for the victors. Pressure created the turnovers for Glen Este. Kings racked up 6.5 sacks, with three by Vanover and two from Lerer. Westbrook was good again finishing with 189 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Gebhardt found Hildebrand for the team’s other score.
GAME #6 –KINGS 45, LITTLE MIAMI 7: For 12 consecutive quarters the Kings defense held opponents out of the end zone before Little Miami broke the streak in the fourth quarter. It would not matter in the outcome as Kings was already up 31-0 at the time over the Panthers. The defense held Little Miami 116 total yards and 2-of-10 on third-down conversions. The Knights would muster four takeaways with Collado and Max Lerer joining in on the fun. The biggest miscue of the evening for the Panthers was when they fumbled in the end zone and Garrett Ackerman covered it up to give Kings a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. Gephardt would hit Bird from 18 yards out to up the lead to 21-0 at halftime. After intermission the run game took over. Westbrook would finish with 141 of the team’s 333 yards on the ground. Sophomore Mike Ovington had his best day at the varsity level with 85 yards and the first touchdown of his career. Junior Colt Perry also ran for his initial score as a varsity player. Berg had his second of three field goals in the game as he knocked them down from 39, 34 and 28 yards out. There was some sloppy play for the victors as they committed 10 penalties for 131 yards.
GAME #7 – KINGS 23, WALNUT HILLS 0: One of the biggest high school football games of the season played out as the undefeated Walnut Hills Eagles traveled to Kings to try to defend their perfect record from their opponents’ equally perfect season. Unfortunately, the game failed to live up to its hype as the Knights posted their second shutout this season in taking down Walnut Hills. Gebhardt found a wide-open Crull from 14 yards out to put the first score on the board on the game’s opening drive. The Knights ate up almost eight minutes on the possession. That gave the defense time to really get pumped up. Kings held the Eagles to just 43 total yards of offense in the contest. This gave the defense even more time to get fired up. They had no trouble reading Eagles quarterback Jake Desch, picking him off five times. Junior Nick Handorf had two of those interceptions. Hilderbrand, Copeland and Mason Barker also had thefts. Without Westbrook the offense got help from a bevy of players. Gebhardt threw for 164 yards and two touchdowns. Hildebrand led the team with six receptions for 77 yards and a score. Huffman ran for a game-high 78 yards and a score. Collado racked up 119 all-purpose yards.
GAME #8 – KINGS 45, WEST CARROLLTON 20: A balanced offensive attack and a relentless pass rush were all that Kings needed to whoop up on West Carrollton. Huffman ran for 92 yards and three touchdowns filling in for Westbrook takings his career total to 12 rushing touchdowns. The Knights racked up 453 yards of total offense (230 passing and 223 rushing). Gebhardt threw for 111 yards on 8-of-10 passing with a touchdown toss to Hilderbrand. Ovington had 13 touches with 136 all-purpose yards, including 83 yards rushing. Junior Willie Strosnider caught his first two passes of the season, including a 55-yard touchdown from classmate Drew Patterson to round out the scoring in the fourth quarter. Patterson had a game and career high 119 yards passing. The Kings defense racked up 9.5 sacks and came up with five turnovers. There were stars everywhere on this side of the ball. Schnee had 3.5 sacks, Vanover and DeMumbrum registered 1.5 each. Horan had an interception and a recovered a fumble for a score. Hiderbrand picked off two Pirates’ passes. West Carrollton was only able to convert three of 12 third downs.
GAME #9 – KINGS 37, WILMINGTON 7: No one could stop Vanover on this night. The junior defensive lineman recorded 4.0 sacks, forced two fumbles and recovered one as Wilmington had no answers for him. Vanover had help as his teammates held the Canes to 2-of-11 on third and fourth-down conversions. Offensively, Bird had a game to remember. The senior tight end had seven receptions for 141 yard while hauling in touchdown passes from Gebhardt and Hilderbrand. Westbrook (96) and Huffman (70) combined for 166 yards and each had a touchdown rushing. For the third time this season Berg drilled three field goals in a contest. He hit from 29, 37 and 39 yards away.
GAME #10 – KINGS 35, TURPIN 27: Kings did what great teams do heading into November, run the football and play great defense, as they held off Turpin, 28-27 to finish the 2011 regular season unbeaten and win the final FAVC Cardinal title. The Knights survived a 24-point second quarter by the Spartans and went into halftime with just a four-point cushion. They responded in the second half like veteran teams do giving up just a field goal the rest of the way. Westbrook ran for 217 yards on 39 carries and three first-half touchdowns for Kings. It was the fifth time in his last 12 starts that he has topped the 200-yard mark on the ground. The senior also had a 65-yard kickoff return and 287 all-purpose yards in the affair. Gebhardt threw touchdown passes to Bird and Hilderbrand. On defense, Hilderbrand and Barker came up with big interceptions. Vanover continue to be a nuisance registering another 2.5 sacks giving him 16.0 on the season. The Kings' defense has held every team in their schedule to no more than two offensive touchdowns in a game. Turpin got their only two offensive scores on runs by quarterback Conner Jansen. The junior signal-caller finished with 180 yards through the air and 73 on the ground.
GAME #11 – KINGS 10, HARRISON 7: There was nothing easy about Kings over Harrison. Yardage was tough, red zone opportunities and points were even more difficult to convert for the Knights. That was due in large part to a pesky Wildcats’ bunch that grew more and more confident as this first-round playoff game wore on. Kings scored the only first half points on an early second quarter touchdown plunge by Gebhardt. The drive was set up by hard running from Huffman and Westbrook who pounded and got pounded all the way down the field. The Harrison defense would allow just 3.5 yards per carry but lose the time of possession battle by a 12:00 margin. Westbrook would run for 109 yards and 52 more for Huffman all of which were hard earned and time efficient to say the least. The backfield duo’s persistent efforts would pay off when they drove the ball down field in the fourth quarter. The Knights ate up clock and set up Berg for the game winning 31-yard field goal with 4:11 left in the game. It was the 13th three-pointer of the year for Berg who redeemed himself after a miss earlier in the contest. Kings let their defense do the talking most of the night. The Knights held the Wildcats to 43 plays from scrimmage. In contrast the Kings offense ran 22 more plays than their foe in this affair. Harrison quarterback Marcus Woelfel was the only Wildcat to generate offense but most of that had to do with his scrambling ability. The Knights held Jake Tarvin to 21 yards on eight carries but Woelfel managed to keep his Wildcats from exhausting their nine lives with 96 yards on the ground. He also threw a 29-yard scoring strike to Kyle Nowlin that tied the score at 7-7 with less than six minutes left in the third quarter. Everything came down to doing the little things right in this victory. Coach Olds can enjoy the fact that his players did what they were supposed to do with the game on the line. They went 8-of-13 on third-down conversions, did not commit a turnover and controlled the clock by a full quarter.
GAME #12 – KINGS 24, TURPIN 0: For the second straight week Kings Knights played a rematch game and came away with the victory, this time by defeating sixth seeded Turpin 24-0 at Hamilton’s Virgil Schwarm Stadium in the Division II, Region 8 semifinal playoff game. The two teams played at Kings Stadium just three weeks ago with the Knights defeating the Spartans 35-27. This time around the Kings’ defense showed its muscle by shutting out Turpin and ending the season for its Fort Ancient Valley rival. On the Knights’ first play from scrimmage, Westbrook sprinted 86 yards to the house for a touchdown giving Kings an early 7-0 advantage that it would never relinquish. Westbrook topped the 5,000-yard rushing plateau for his varsity career on the play. He would finish the night with 201 yards on 30 carries. It would be the third straight game in which he has topped the 200 yard mark against his rival and the fourth time in his last six playoff outings the senior has eclipsed that plateau. The Knights took advantage of a pair of second-quarter mistakes by Turpin to further extend the lead and put the game out of reach. The Spartans set-up to punt on its own 36-yard line when the punter dropped the snap and recovered it only to get off a punt that netted just five yards. With a short field in front of them, Gebhardt found Hildebrand for 29 yards, setting up a first-down and goal from the Turpin six-yard line. Westbrook punched it in from the four-yard line for his second rushing touchdown and a 14-0 lead. On Turpin’s next possession, quarterback fumbled near midfield and it was recovered by Horan. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Gebhardt connected once again with Hildebrand, this time for a 37-yard completion. Berg would hit a 21-yard field goal after the drive stalled at the Spartans’ 4-yard line. Kings went into the locker room at halftime up 17-0. Gebhardt was 11-for-18 passing with 141 yards and Hildebrand caught five passes for 100 yards receiving in the contest. The Knights defense stiffened in the second half and prevented the Turpin offense from getting into a rhythm. In fact, the Spartans offense only made it to the red zone one time the entire game and that is when they started a drive on the Kings 18-yard line after recovering a Knights’ fumble. That drive ended with a missed field goal. The Knights forced a total of three turnovers, two on second half interceptions, one by Lerer and the other by Mason Barker.
GAME #13 – TROTWOOD-MADISON 35, KINGS 20: Penalties and turnovers led to a nightmarish first half for top-seeded Trotwood-Madison as Kings marched to a 20-0 halftime lead. The Knights intercepted Rams quarterback Mike Simpson, the Division II Southwest District Offensive Player of the Year twice. Throw in a fumble and a blocked punt by the Knights and the November sky was shining brightly for Kings. Westbrook and Hoffman, who combined for 170 yards and two touchdowns, did most of their damaged before the break. The veteran Knights’ defense was playing the part of a championship unit heading into intermission. The Rams headed to the locker room stunned and looking for inspiration from a higher ground. As bad as things were for Trotwood-Madison in the first half they were even worse for Kings after the break. The Knights got the ball out to their own 43-yard line on the opening drive of the half. Cameron Burrows recovered a fumble for the Rams. Isreal Green found the end zone 3:16 later and the T-Mad ground game was starting to get on track. The snowball had just been tipped over the edge and the avalanche was gaining speed and heading downhill on top of the Knights. When the dust had finally settled T-Mad scored 35 unanswered points in the second half, 28 of them in a 9:19 second stretch of the fourth quarter. Green would end up with two touchdowns and a game-high 129 yards rushing now giving him 1,687 on the season. Bradley, the Division II Southwest District Defensive Player of the Year, came up with an interception and had two receptions for 13 yards and his third touchdown catch of the year on offense. McCray intercepted a pass and raced untouched 39 yards down the sideline for a Trotwood-Madison touchdown to put an exclamation point on those 35 unanswered points. The Rams won their second straight Region 8 title as they continued their dominance with their fifth post-season win in a over a team from the now defunct FAVC.
MILESTONES AND MORE
--Knights were Division II Region 8 runner ups and made their ninth postseason appearance. They are 10-9 all-time in the playoffs.
--Offense: Averaged 31.6 points per contest
--Defense: Gave up just 10.8 PPG, Had three shutouts and held five other opponents to seven points or fewer. The Knights recorded 50.0 sacks with 14 fumble recoveries, 24 interceptions with four defensive touchdowns.
--Westbrook finished 2011 with 1,698 yards and 18 touchdowns taking his four-year varsity totals to 68 touchdowns and 6,974 all-purpose yards (5,261 rushing), including one year at Little Miami. He received First-Team All-TrisTateFootball.com, Division II, Second-Team All-Ohio and FAVC Cardinal Co-AOY recognition.
--The versatile Crull intercepted three passes for 108 interception return yards and a pick six on his way to a second straight First-Team All-FAVC Cardinal selection. Crull now has 10 career interceptions for 290 interception return yards, three interception returns for touchdowns and 2,151 all-purpose yards.
--Vanover was sensational on defense in 2011, shutting out three teams and holding five more to seven or fewer points. The Knights success up front began with the play of Vanover. The junior registered an FAVC high 17.0 sacks, forced four fumbles and recovered another two fumbles. His play garnered Division II Second Team All-Ohio and FAVC Cardinal Co-Athlete of the Year honors.
--Horan was a Division II, Third-Team All-Ohio selection was a key cog in Kings run to a second straight Region 8 finals appearance. He led the FAVC with four fumble recoveries to go along with four forced fumbles, 1.5 sacks, an interception and a safety.
--Berg led Southwest Ohio with 16 field goals on his way to Division II Third-Team All-Ohio honors. He went 16-of-23 field goals and 48-of-49 extra points for 97 points for the Knights in 2011. The three-year letter winner is well on his way to rewriting the Kings’ and Ohio record books for field goals (needs 11 FG’s for state record). He already has hit 30-of-47 FG’s in his career to go along with 234 career points before he even laces them up for his senior campaign.
--Only a junior, Kennedy Cook is becoming one of the most decorated offensive linemen in Region 8 after his second straight Division II Special Mention All-Ohio and Division II, First-Team All-Southwest District performance this fall. The Knights have averaged over 300 yards of total offense, including over 200 on the ground the past two years with Cook out front.
--Gebhardt threw for 1,507 yards and 12 touchdowns earning Second Team All-FAVC Cardinal honors. He finishes his career with 2,470 passing yards and 20 touchdown tosses.
--Bird was a First-Team All-TrisTateFootball.com selection at tight end. The big target caught a team-high 38 passes for 488 yards and six touchdowns on his way to First Team All-FAVC Cardinal honors. Bird finishes his career with 77 receptions for 879 yards and nine touchdown catches.
--Hilderbrand caught 33 balls for 580 yards and five touchdowns on offense. Defensively he had four interceptions and a fumble recovery as he earned Division II Special Mention All-SW District honors.
--Schnee was named First-Team All-FAVC Cardinal on the offensive line as a junior. He followed that up this fall with a First Team All-FAVC Cardinal performance as a defensive lineman after a 9.0 sack senior campaign. Kings finished the regular season undefeated. It was a far cry from the 3-7 outing the team had in his sophomore season. Schnee finishes his career with 18.5 sacks and four fumble recoveries.
--Huffman may have played second fiddle to Westbrook but his efforts were not overlooked. The senior was named Second Team All-FAVC Cardinal after running for 675 yards and nine touchdowns. He ends his career with 1,464 yards in a Knights uniform.
--DeMumbrum had a great senior season with 10.0 sacks. His efforts garnered First Team All-FAVC Cardinal honors.
--Returning in 2012 are Copeland (LB), Collado (RB), Lerer (DB) and Ryan Anthony (OL). Copeland was a First-Team All-FAVC Cardinal selection and has 35 games at the varsity level under his belt. Anthony was Second-Team All-FAVC Cardinal selection.
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.