By Ron Nunnari
CLAYTON — In the final preseason scrimmage for both teams Friday night, Northmont hosted Piqua on ‘Meet the Bolts Night,’ which featured an introduction of each Northmont fall sports team and related coaches at halftime.
Piqua hadn’t hoped to meet the football Bolts in the manner that played out, as Northmont moved the ball at will against the Indians to take a 14-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
That trend continued in the second quarter with the Thunderbolts moving the ball effectively.
Piqua played in “stealth mode” with none of its players displaying jersey numbers. Northmont wore jersey numbers, but most of its players weren’t displaying the number of their official varsity jerseys.
All that aside, the Thunderbolts looked solid moving the ball effectively both on the ground and through the air. Quarterback Deuce Cortner tossed four first half touchdowns, his second to D.J. Williams.
Cortner tossed a pass to Brady Lupton to help set up the third touchdown, a one-yard run by Calian Grant. Cortner later hit Daniel Ivory for a TD, who cut across the field to complete the 31 yard catch and run.
Christopher Pryor made a nice over the shoulder catch along the left sideline and kept both feet in bounds before stepping out at the Indians’ 32 to set up the Thunderbolts final score.
Cortner connected with Santana Keys, who caught the pass and cut back against the grain to score to put Northmont up 34-0 at halftime.
Piqua’s lone touchdown came on a slant pass with 3:50 remaining.
Piqua coach Bill Nees, entering his 31st season as head coach, saw his team improve against a tough opponent as the scrimmage progressed.
“We got a good start in our first scrimmage, and I think tonight we got off to a slow start,” Nees said. “Northmont has a heck of a crew here this year, so we got behind the eight ball and kept trying to scratch back in a little bit and we got a little bit better as the scrimmage wore on, but Northmont is a good football team.”
When asked what he felt was his team’s strong point this year, Nees stated, “We’re still trying to find our identity on offense a little bit. Our run game obviously will be good, and we’ve got a veteran offensive line, but everybody else is kind of new. We are working on the read outside part of it, or the aerial part of it right now.”
The passing game will no doubt become stronger with the addition of former Wayne head coach Mike Schneider to the coaching staff, who is hands down the best quarterback coach in the entire Miami Valley region.
Schneider served as Northmont’s quarterback coach for 14 seasons when his son, Lance, served as head coach. Lance became head coach at Miamisburg in 2019 and Mike served on the Vikings coaching staff until last season.
Northmont coach Tony Broering, who served as Piqua’s offensive coordinator in 2006 when the Indians won the Division II state championship, was optimistic about his team’s performance in the scrimmage.
“I spoke to the kids before the game about how good I thought they could be on defense if we lined up, knew our assignments, and executed. They are very good and very fast, and they are a good group of guys and they worked really hard, so I was very pleased with that.”
Broering also praised his coaching staff, which he referred to as amazing.
“I’ve got three former head coaches and five former coordinators on my staff, and of course I’ve got Northmont Hall of Fame players on my staff – Mark Mays and Jake Myers. The staff did a great job prepping the boys all week,” Broering said.
Offensive coordinator Tom Adams enters his 48th year of coaching. He served as a head coach for 18 years with Milton-Union, Springfield south and Sycamore and 29 years as an assistant coach.
Defensive coordinator Eric Gillespie, who left the Miamisburg coaching staff, was head coach at Springfield for two seasons, four seasons at Richmond, Ind., two seasons at Franklin Heights (Columbus), and three seasons at Fairborn.
Offensive line coach Mike Walker spent three seasons as head coach at Hamilton Township.
The Thunderbolts experienced coaching staff is second to none. The key to the team’s success will lie in how quickly its mostly young and inexperienced offense can pull together and make things happen.
“Offensively, with Deuce (Cortner) back there, the sky is the limit,” Broering noted. “The offense is really-really young. He is the only senior out there. Everyone else is either a sophomore or a junior with John Taylor and Dorian Brew the only other two players with any kind of varsity experience. They are all brand new, so I was really proud with how they performed.”
Northmont kicks off regular season play this Friday at Butler. Game time is 7 p.m.
Reach Ron Nunnari at [email protected].