Ohio Football

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Conference Call: GMC

By Greg Shoemaker | Featured Analyst

Jackson Sorn is celebrating with Colerain teammates after one his 11 TD's he rushed for in 2011.




The Greater Miami Conference will be adorned with some fantastic athletes who are going to make countless headlines in 2012. The league always shows talent at the skills positions, but from the top to the bottom never has the depth of that talent been so deep.

Many league members are rebuilding offensive and defensive lines, so there are going to be some pretty impressive performances. Big numbers will be put up by the time the dust settles. Friday nights will be entertaining to say the least. Still it all boils down to one thing for nine squads – can we beat Colerain? The Cardinals are the gold standard with at least a share of 12 consecutive league titles.

Here is a complete overview of the GMC:

COLERAIN CARDINALS
Division I, Region 4
Head Coach: Tom Bolden (52-8 @ Colerain, five years, 52-8 overall)
2011 Record: 10-2, 7-0

Overview: Despite losing droves of talent and leadership the cupboard is not bare for Colerain. Then again we wouldn’t expect anything less than for the Cardinals to reload, not rebuild. Head coach Tom Bolden has done just about everything right during his tenure. The only obstacles he has yet to conquer is beating St. Xavier and winning the Regional title. His 2012 squad has the potential to cross both of those things off Bolden’s checklist this fall.

Explosive is an understated adjective to describe the Colerain offense. They are loaded at the skills positions. The return of starting running back Chris Davis and quarterback LA Ramsby after season-ending knee injuries in 2011 are added bonuses to the lineup. Davis looks to return to the productivity that saw him rack up 1,320 all-purpose yards and 14 total touchdowns on his way to First Team All-TriStateFootball.com honors as sophomore. Jackson Sorn and Detuan Smith picked up the slack for the Cardinals’ backfield last year. Sorn had 946 yards and 11 rushing scores before injuries slowed him down the stretch as a junior. Smith emerged in the second half of his sophomore campaign running for over 100 yards three times in the team’s last five games while averaging 7.8 per carry. His classmate, Trevon Hudson, is a proven touchdown maker. Ramsby will have to find a way to get the ball in his hands more often down field. The offensive line is paced by Dylan Wiesman, a Second-Team All-Southwest District selection as a junior.

Graduation has hit Colerain the hardest on the defensive side of the ball. Matching last season’s totals of 10 points allowed per contest and holding foes to a 29.2 conversion rate on third downs will be a tall order. Lineman Dae’shawn Durham, Teagray Scales and secondary member Dejuan Lang will have to max out their efforts. They all have game-changing abilities. Lang had four interceptions and a sack as a junior. Scales and Durham earned Second-Team All-GMC honors as sophomores a year ago.


MIDDLETOWN MIDDIES
Division I, Region 4
Head Coach: Troy Everhart (10-2 @ Middletown, one year, 90-43, overall, 12 years)
2011 Record: 10-2, 6-1

Overview: Middletown is in the most prosperous era ever in school history. The Middies have won 10 games in each of the past three seasons. Now the team will focus on winning the elusive Regional title. With the talent that they return that goal is attainable, but the effort it will take to get their will be monumental.

It all begins with star quarterback Jalin Marshall, the 2011 TriStateFootball.com Cincinnati Offensive Player of the Year. The Ohio State commit has done it all, running for 3,338 yards and amassing 4,929 yards of total offense while accounting for 58 touchdowns during his career. Marshall will have plenty of help behind him in 2012. Running back William Peters looks to finally put it all together for a great senior campaign. Newcomer Y’vonte Glover has head coach Troy Everhart beaming about his options out of the backfield. The speedy Lance Johnson and big tight end Chance Sorrell give the team quality receivers in the passing game. Up front Clayton McDonald will be called upon to guide a young group of linemen.

The linebackers headline the marquee for the Middies’ defense. Junior Brad Carr mans the middle. He will be flanked by the young and gifted Kyle Junior and De’Angelo Clark. Newbies to the varsity level, Cole Rowe and Jordan Thomas, are poised to bring immediate contributions. Getting key stops against quality opponents is the only thing from keeping Middletown from being good to great in 2012. Zach Green appears to be a weapon that Middletown hasn’t had in the kicking game in quite some time.


SYCAMORE AVIATORS
Division I, Region 4
Head Coach: Scott Dattilo (43-21, six years @ Sycamore, 60-35 overall, nine years)
2011 Record: 8-3, 5-2

Overview: Nothing should surprise you about what Sycamore has accomplished under head coach Scott Dattilo. Pound for pound, no one gets more out of their talent than Dattilo does. The Aviators are shooting for back-to-back playoff appearance for the second time under Dattilo. The program has shown it can withstand the rigors of this conference. This season Sycamore’s resiliency will be put to the test.

Sycamore lost 11 starters from last year’s squad. Those losses will be felt the most along the offensive line and at quarterback. Coming back are a two very skilled running backs in Markus James and Greg Simpson. The duo combined for 1,147 yards rushing and nine touchdowns last fall. At 6-foot-6 tight end Mason Morgan is a big target. He will be utilized as a pass catcher but primarily as a blocker to pin in ends and allow James and Simpson to turn on the speed around the corner. It will be the run that propels the Aviators on this side of the ball.

Lineman Cole Tameris and inside linebacker Tinashe Bere pace a defense that needs to improve on the 308 yards per game that they allowed in 2011 if Sycamore wants to get to the next level. This team must avoid fading down the stretch. The last three years they are a combined 3-12 to in their final five games. James will play some in the secondary where he came up with three takeaways as a junior. As a freshman kicker Sam Cogan converted four of five field goals. He could be the difference between the Aviators being an upper or lower-tiered team in the GMC.


MASON COMETS
Division I, Region 4
Head Coach: Brian Castner (12-9 @ Mason, two years @ Mason, 12-9 overall)
2011 Record: 7-4, 5-2

Overview: It hasn’t taken long for head coach Brian Castner to put his stamp on the Mason football program. His tireless and grinding style has shown through to his players. The Comets now have a blue-collar, hard-working reputation under their fearless leader and that makes other teams shudder when they take the field. With the loss of 13 starters Mason now has to show whether or not they can reload after making the playoffs last season for the first time in seven years. Castner is excited about some young players having the opportunity to step into critical roles. Competition for playing time will be intense, according to the coach.

The Comets will rely on controlling the clock on offense. Running back Darryl Johnson ran for 1,344 yards with 20 total touchdowns on his way to Second-Team All-Southwest District honors as a junior. Matt Stewart is nice option and change of pace from Johnson. Elijah Nkansah is the only returning starter along the line, but he is a beast at 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds. Couple that with the fact there will be a new starter at quarterback means that they are going to count on the Johnson to carry the load as a leader on the field as well.

Up front on defense is Jacob Hurley whose tenacious play earned him Second-Team All-GMC honors as a junior. The Comets have to do a better job of stopping the run after allowing 222 yards per game last season. The secondary is the strength of this team. Corey Quallen and Randy Anderson will have to be sure tacklers close to the line scrimmage on first and second downs if they want big play opportunities on third-and-long situations. Anderson came away with four interceptions in 2011. Quallen is also a threat as a return man on special teams. Linebacker Andrew Hauser has the all the intangibles to become an All-District selection at the conclusion of this campaign.


PRINCETON VIKINGS
Division I, Region 4
Head Coach: Gary Croley Jr. (7-3 at Princeton, second year, 7-3 overall, one year)
2011 Record: 7-3, 4-3

Overview: The sleeping giant appeared to come out of its slumber. Princeton surpassed everyone’s expectations in 2011. The Gary Croley Jr. Era began with a return to fundamentals and hard-nosed players that the Vikings were so accustomed to und the great Pat Mancuso. The shift in attitude was clear in the kids’ faces and attitudes. Sustaining that enthusiasm is the next step in the rise of this Phoenix.

Running back Demarco Thomas had a breakout campaign with 900 yards on the ground, 1,495 all-purpose yards and 12 total touchdowns. The explosive Darrell Davis can line up in the backfield or be used as a receiver. Four of his 38 touches in 2011 went for 41 yards or more. Halen Witcher showed breakaway speed with eight of his 26 touches on offense netting at least 10 yards. Receiver William Blevins adds to the deep threats. Up front Princeton lost some quality players, however stud center Mac Bossel and Adeleke Ademuyewo are back.

A huge key to last year’s turnaround was the Vikings ability to stop foes on third and fourth downs. Opponents converted just 27.9 percent of 134 tries versus the Vikings’ defense. Leading the charge are the very active Jelani Parrish, Darian Perkins and Davis, who were all Second-Team All-GMC performers a year ago. Parrish and Perkins tallied 8.0 sacks between them as juniors. Classmate Geno Madison registered 5.0 sacks up front. Princeton forced 28 turnovers last fall and turned four of them into scores. More play like that will lead to another winning campaign.


HAMILTON BIG BLUE
Division I, Region 4
Head Coach: Bob Jacoby (11-10 @ Hamilton, two years, 190-98 overall, 23 years)
2011 Record: 4-6, 2-5

Overview: The formula for success at Hamilton in 2012 is very simple, take care of the football. The Big Blue turned the ball over 33 times last season. Head coach Bob Jacoby was glad he didn’t have any hair left to pull out. If the offense can keep the possession of the pigskin the results will be far more positive for the squad this fall.

Chalk one up to youth and inexperience for all the offensive turnovers a year ago. Those underclassmen mistakes will look to be corrected in returnees David Evans, Anthony Crouch, Ryan Kennedy and Quinton Bailey. Crouch and Evans both saw time at quarterback, but neither really took to the position. Bailey will be the go-to back after rushing for 327 yards with six touchdowns in the team’s final six contests as a sophomore. Up front Ben Flick and a healthy Robbie Parker make for a formidable duo for Bailey to scat behind.

Linebacker Marcus Oliver is the perfect centerpiece for the defense that was severely depleted by graduation. Oliver racked up 4.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a 60-yard interception return for a score. Despite having their backs against the wall so much last season Hamilton was able to generate 28 takeaways of their own. In the secondary Shawn Harris came up with two of the teams picks.

Special teams will be a strength for the Big Blue. Kicker AJ Morrison is back after knocking down both of his field goals and connecting on 23 total points as a junior. Crouch is one of the better punters in the conference. Harris will return kicks.


OAK HILLS HIGHLANDERS
Division I, Region 4
Head Coach: Dan Scholz (0-0, first year @ Oak Hills, 37-14 overall, five years)
2011 Record: 4-6, 2-5

Overview: Change is in full force on the West side of Cincinnati. New head coach Dan Scholz is back in the GMC after being a long time assistant at Colerain and running the show at New Richmond. Being able to adjust on the fly is a must for the incumbents in this brigade. Players must buy into the new systems being put in place by Scholz. An energetic bunch will look to bring the Highlanders back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

One player that Scholz is hoping to adhere to the new triple-option that is being installed is running back Demarco Ruffin. As a sophomore he ran for 1,044 yards, racked up 1,661 all-purpose yards with 18 rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Liam Sallquist has to flip his two touchdowns to 11 interceptions ratio around for this team to see more wins. Matt Elliot, Cody Herbig and Alec Steffen will play prominent roles in the Highlanders’ new offensive scheme. Herbig and Elliot combined for 36 receptions, but neither found the end zone. The play of a very young and green offensive line is going to go a long way in determining just how good this squad can be. Cody Jent will be called upon to provide leadership.

Four times Oak Hills gave up 40 or more points and allowed 370 yards per outing in 2011. That isn’t going to cut it if this troop wants to become an upper tier GMC contender. Lineman Michael Brackett, linebackers Zack Leftenant and Gus Carpenter and secondary members Darrien McDowell, Steffen and Herbig look to change the image. Getting more pressure in the backfield is a must for the Highlanders as they only registered 9.0 sacks in 2011. Leftenant and Carpenter would benefit greatly from a healthy Ethan Anderson and Jayson Essell joining them in the middle of the field.


LAKOTA EAST THUNDERHAWKS
Division I, Region 4
Head Coach: Rick Haynes (7-13 @ Lakota East, two years, 7-13 overall)
2011 Record: 7-13, 2-5

Overview: This could very well be the year that Lakota East turns the corner and starts to win consistently on a yearly basis. The Thunderhawks have an experienced squad that if they can blend in the newcomers they are going to be dangerous. Head coach Rick Haynes has seen a more focused attitude on the field. Now translating that into more victories is the next obstacle to conquer.

The triple-option attack finally started to take form at the ‘Hawks Nest last fall. Quarterback Eric Eichler made it his own. He ran for 339 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore. Classmate Mikel Horton ran for a team-high 662 yards and nine scores. Will Mahone proved to be very versatile with 695 total yards and five touchdowns. Chamada Palmore and Rob Harpring add depth at the skill positions. Receiver Issac Cosculluela and Mahone are the top threats to catch the ball.

Linebacker Jake Chestnut and lineman JT Turner are as good as anyone in the league at their respected positions. Defensive back Tyler Schlensker had two of the team’s 10 interceptions as a junior. The Thunderhawks will only be successful if they can get a push into the backfield. Lack of pressure only accounted for 9.0 sacks in 2011.

Kicker Nick Gasser is a real threat. He went 24-of-25 on extra points and 4-of-5 on field goals, including a 40 and 38-yarder on his way to Second-Team All-GMC honors. Harpring averaged 35 yards per punt. He is also dangerous throwing the ball on fourth downs.


LAKOTA WEST FIREBIRDS
Division I, Region 4
Head Coach: Larry Cox (79-76 @ Lakota West, 15 years, 92-81 overall record, 17 years)
2011 Record: 3-7, 2-5

Overview: Injuries and a trying schedule were too much for Lakota West to overcome in 2011. The Firebirds lost four games by a touchdown or less now they must find a way to finish the deal. More often than not under head coach Larry Cox Lakota West has followed up a down season with a surprisingly pleasant one. Fans are hoping that trend continues this fall.

Lineman Kyle Meadows, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 290 pounds, is the anchor of this offense and a holder of multiple BCS offers. Lakota West will wear out a path running behind him. Big Ben Pendry, another 290-pounder, joins him up front. Tyler Jones and Malik Grove will battle for the starting quarterback position. The duo combined for 1,374 yards with 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2011. Their top targets are Tyler Williams, Romello White and Grant Pence. Williams will also return punts and kicks. Junior Justin Martin will handle kicking and punting duties as the special teams are on solid footing.

Linebacker Mike Kelly and defensive back Nick Bengal are returning members of a thin Firebirds’ defense that will lack experience. Stopping the run is the top priority for this team. They gave up 208 yards per game a year ago. With so many teams in this conference capable of putting up big numbers on the ground the Firebirds will have their hands full.


FAIRFIELD INDIANS
Division I, Region 4
Head Coach: Jason Krause (1-9 @ Fairfield, one year, 62-31, overall record, 8 years)
2011 Record: 1-9, 0-7

Overview: The hardest part of second-year head coach Jason Krause’s job is instilling a winning culture amongst his Fairfield players. The talent is there, coming up victorious on a consistent basis is the next step on the ladder. Focusing in on getting the little things done will be a top priority if this group expects to be a threat.

A pair of juniors, Danny Burns and Robert Behanan, will anchor the offensive for the next two years. They will clear paths for Miles Harris and Ryan Nuss. Harris ran for 130 of his 177 yards in last season’s finale against Hamilton. Nuss will fight to be under center behind his classmates Burns and Behanan. Jon Byrd and Jimmy Trauthwein could end up a fine secondary options as the team’s possession receivers. Keep an eye on Herman Bruins, who found a way to make contributions down field late last fall.

Defensive back Mike Williams is the team’s most gifted player on this side of the ball. Erend Long will join him back there. A healthy Travis Rowland could prove to be a pleasant surprise as an outside pass rusher. There is plenty to prove for the new Indians. They must find a way to gel early and maintain a high level of play all the way through the season. Allowing 300 yards a game rushing for a second straight campaign will not be acceptable with this coaching staff.


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.