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It’s the year of the quarterback in the GWOC Central. How these six teams play out their 2012 seasons will depend greatly on the performance of their signal-callers. That’s a ton of pressure to put on a young man, but there isn’t quarterback in this league that doesn’t think he can take his program to great heights. Still the play of the supporting casts will determine just how far these squads can go.
The league has seen only one underclassman rush for over 1,000 yards in the last five years. With a stable of good young running backs that performed quite well as sophomores in 2011 expect some explosive and entertaining football this fall.
The athletes and talent are in place for a number of schools to make a run at the playoffs yet it will all come down to finishing off games.
Here is a complete overview of the GWOC Central:
Division I, Region 4
Head Coach: Ron Ullery (93-38, 12 seasons at Centerville, 93-38 overall)
2011 Record: 7-4, 5-0 GWOC Central
Overview: Last fall Centerville dominated GWOC Central play going undefeated and outscoring foes by an average of 53-17 in divisional play. The Elks generated 483 yards rushing with 37 touchdowns in those contests. In the team’s four non-conference losses a different team showed up all together, averaging just 12.2 points, 112 yards on the ground with an 18.2 margin of defeat. Head coach Ron Ullery will look to find more balance and push his team to take it to a higher level in 2012.
Centerville pulls no punches on how they are going to beat you and that is by running the football. It all starts on the line with blue-chipper Evan Lisle and junior Patrick Osterhage. Quarterback Jimmy Brooks and running back Kyle Wenning combined for 945 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground as juniors. Nick Bozzo and Devin Reed provide versatility and depth at the skills positions.
First Team All—GWOC Central performer Brant Gressel is the foundation of a defensive line that has the potential to be a strength of this squad. Colton Hale along with juniors Sam Mastin and Tito Odenigbo provide size and depth. Now they have to step up and show they can handle the job at the varsity level. Linebacker Jake Replogle will be let loose in the middle of the field as all signs point to him having a big senior campaign. The secondary is faced with the same dilemma as the line, lots of depth but plenty to prove. Davin Fleming and Corey Jones will be counted upon to show guidance for the youngsters.
Division I, Region 4
Head Coach: Jay Minton (117-42 @ Wayne, 14 years, 170-67, 21 years overall)
2011 Record: 6-4, 4-1
Overview: One year after a state runner-up finish Wayne football struggled with their ups and downs in 2011. The Warriors averaged 37 points per game, but finished the season 6-4. All four of their losses were to playoff teams, including Division II state champion, Trotwood-Madison. Head coach Jay Minton knows that the rocky path could pay big dividends this fall. Minton believes they have a great nucleus of talent and determined players that have a great work ethic and desire to win and if his team stays healthy, it could be a magical season.
The Wayne offense is led by quarterback Javon Harrison, a First Team All-GWOC selection as a junior. Harrison is a dual threat. He accounted for 40 touchdowns (21 passing, 19 rushing), threw for 2,144 yards and ran for another 673 last season. The line is one of the best in Southwest Ohio with another First Team All-GWOC performer in Lovell Peterson at center, tackle Cole Newsome and guard Cameron Meyers leading the way. Weapons are abound at the receiver position with Tristan Davis, Jesse Bray and newcomers Ahmad Wagner and Xerius Williams. Davis had 32 receptions for 521 yards and six scores as a sophomore in 2011.
The one area that will need to step up and play injury free is the defensive unit. There are many unknowns and depth will be a huge factor. There will be plenty of players asked to step their games up a level. Nowhere does that ring more true than on the line with sophomores Robert Landers and Tyree Kinnell. Junior linebacker Dorian Hendrix is a budding superstar. He had 73 total tackles with 6.0 sacks and three fumble recoveries last fall. The secondary will look to Jarrod Hardick and Jordan Whitfield to come up with big plays and timely takeaways.
The Wayne kicking game has solid footing with senior Collin Belcher. He is coming off a year in which he averaged 37.4 yards per punt and converted 26 out of a possible 28 points as a placekicker.
Division I, Region 3
Head Coach: Eric Gillespie (0-0 at Springfield, first year, 41-70 overall 11 seasons)
2011 Record: 2-8, 1-4
Overview: For the third straight season Springfield will have a new head coach. Stability will be priority number one for front man Eric Gillespie and his staff. The Wildcats are coming off a year in which they lost eight games by 13 points or more. Staying competitive was something this squad lacked after making the playoffs in 2009. This team needs to get its fight back in 2012.
Quarterback JC Wallace will run his third system in three years. Change hasn’t affected the senior thus far as he has passed for 3,325 yards and 30 touchdowns in his career. Finding a running game to complement Wallace’s arm will only help the Wildcats’ chances. Corey Timmons could emerge as the go-to-guy running behind stud Brandon Ehlinger and Devin Nye up front. Senior Meghan Predergast is back for a fourth season to handle place kicking duties.
Where Springfield should see big improvement is on defense with the likes of linebackers Terrance Crowe, Kyle Jacks and Davonte James all returning. This hard-hitting bunch could be the best group of linebackers in the division. Up front the base is solid with Aaron Cosby, Andrew Young and Ehlinger. Timmons will be the leader of the secondary. Springfield gave up 363 yards and 31.9 points per game in 2011 they allowed far too many big plays on first and second downs. Correcting these flaws could put the Wildcats over the hump again.
Division I, Region 4
Head Coach: Lance Schneider (88-51, 13 seasons at Northmont, 88-51 overall)
2011 Record: 5-5, 2-3
Overview: A fresh start on the field can’t come soon enough for head coach Lance Schneider. The past several seasons have been more than taxing on Schneider and his program. The biggest keys to success are player accountability and competitiveness and Schneider feels his team has lost that in the past couple of years, and needs to regain it, if they are going to be relevant in the Division I, Region 4 picture. The Thunderbolts last made the playoffs in 2008. That ended a streak of seven post-season appearances in eight years. Getting back there again is not going to be easy, but this squad has the talent to make a run at it.
Cameron Belton is back for his third year under center and is surrounded with plenty of weapons at his disposal. Belton threw for 2,238 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. Running back, Gavin Kennerly enters his senior season having run for more yards (870) than any other GWOC Central player. The receiving core is loaded with speed and experience. The returning quintet of Keegan Rottgen, Cameron Taylor, Isaiah Williams, Austin Sanders and Jonny Lowery combined for 107 receptions for 1,227 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2011. Dustin Bowers and tight end Troy Mangen are veterans on a line that will need to gel early if they want non-conference success.
The pride and joy of the defense is a pair of linebackers, Drake Thompson and Cody Grilliot. Thompson was in on 91 total tackles with 4.5 sacks on his way to First Team All-GWOC Central honors as a junior. Up front, Schneider is looking for big things out of Terry Ramsey and Tevin Neilson. The Thunderbolts’ secondary is well above average with Josh Blanton, Bobby Saul and DJ Hickman. When it all comes down to it, Northmont will sink or swim depending how much the players’ hearts are in it. The will to want to win is the biggest obstacle that this squad faces.
BEAVERCREEK BATTLIN’ BEAVERS
Division I, Region 4
Head Coach: Scott Clodfelter (32-48, eight seasons at Beavercreek, 32-58 overall, nine years)
2011 Record: 6-4, 3-2
Overview: The Beavercreek program is coming off their first winning season ever in the GWOC Central. The Battlin’ Beavers are in unchartered water having to sustain that success. That is just fine with head coach Scott Clodfelter who says his “players are all in” with his program. No one is going to take this team lightly anymore and how this squad responds to that is the number one question to be answered.
The cornerstones of the Beavercreek defense will be junior linebackers Airius Moore and Tyler Reasoner. The duo led the team with 73 total tackles each. Moore had 4.5 sacks and Reasoner came up with three takeaways. The push up front will be good with DaShawn Scott, Garrett Alcorn, Chase Mamer, Levi Frazier and Terren Hill providing depth. Secondary star Rickey Ford has six career interceptions. Classmates CJ Davis and Jake Young are capable of making game changing plays out of the defensive backfield.
That defense will look even better if the triple-option offense can control the clock, take care of the football and score as needed like they did in 2011. Running the show will be junior Michael Berry, who the coach feels has a chance to be the best they’ve ever had back there. Depth on the line is a worry for Beavercreek with Alcorn and Mamer bidding time on each side of the ball. Balancing out their snaps and keeping them fresh will be imperative. Mark Monroe will also be a key lineman. The versatile Matt See can cause damage running, receiving and blocking. Alejandro Arias and Young will see time at receiver.
Division I, Region 4
Head Coach: Andy Aracri (2-8, one year)
2011 Record: 2-8, 0-5
Overview: It has been a tough two seasons for head Coach Andy Aracri as the Firebirds have posted back-to-back 2-8 campaigns to start his tenure. There is plenty to be optimistic about if you are a Firebirds fan though. Aracri has got his pieces into the right positions and hopes are high. This team brings back some explosive playmakers on both sides of the ball. This squad is going to cause headaches for plenty of foes in 2012.
The offense is loaded at the skills positions. What makes Fairmont so difficult to game plan for is the versatility of this group that includes Tom West, Aaron Abbott, Chris Rhoades, Deven Gannon and Damon Bahns. West is coming of a junior season in which he threw for 1,902 yards with 17 passing and four rushing touchdowns. Abbott, a Second-Team All-GWOC Central performer in 2011, stars on both sides of the ball. He has racked up 1,146 all-purpose yards in his career and was second on the team in total tackles (64) a year ago. Rhoades led the team in receptions (35), touchdowns (7), total points (61 - he is also the placekicker) and was second on the team in rushing yards (454) as a sophomore. Classmate Bahns came on late and finished with a team high 719 yards on the ground. In the season finale against Wayne he racked up an impressive 230 all-purpose yards. Gannon led the Firebirds with 419 receiving yards while amassing 615 all-purpose yards on 43 touches. Juniors Austin Erbaugh, Jean Nsanzima and Brad Steel are the foundation of great things to come on the line.
The defense is led by one of the most unheralded players in Southwest Ohio, Robert Nsenga. The Second-Team All-Southwest District performer was in on 99 total tackles and had an interception as a junior. Fairmont returns four of their top five tacklers all together including Abbott, Demetryus Emerson, and Danny Sales. Middle linebacker Tanner Woodside and Robert Bowling are capable of making things happen at any time. Last season a pair of sophomore linemen, Sean Reliford and Nsanzima, got thrown to the wolves but both should be better for it this fall. Wesley Qualls returns to help them up front. This team will be held to much higher standards, so expect a major improvement over the 37 points per games they allowed in 2011.
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.