PREBLE & MONTGOMERY COUNTIES — The high school football season kicked off Friday night with all seven area teams in action.
Eaton ready to continue winning tradition
Eaton’s senior class has a chance to make the playoffs for the fourth straight season, which has never been done in program history. Head coach Brad Davis (34-51 entering ninth season) must replace six all-league players from last year’s 7-5 squad that went 1-1 in the D-IV playoffs, but does return four All-SWBL performers in seniors Devon Rader (LB/OL), Brayden Deem (WR/DB), Leslie Orr (WR/DB) and JT Gels (OL/DL).
Rader ranked third in the SWBL in tackles last year with 129. Orr (34 catches, 575 yards and five TDs) and Deem (32 catches, 445 yards and four TDs) were among the league’s top receivers. Senior Chris Atkins takes over at quarterback.
“We’re excited about this group,” Davis said. “They’re motivated and experienced and ready to the tradition of success with Eaton football.”
The Eagles were scheduled to play at Greenville to open the season.
Blue Devils have high expectations
Brookville put together a remarkable run last season that ended with 11 wins and the school’s 15th playoff berth.
Expectations are high again for veteran head coach Mike Hetrick (140-89 in 23 years) and the program as seven starters return on each side of the ball. Replacing the league’s leading rusher (Tim Davis) and his 27 TDs won’t be easy, but the Blue Devils have a solid backfield nucleus in returning senior quarterback Keegan Mehr (19 total TDs), senior running back Kory Davis (five TDs) and junior running back Walt Adams (five TDs). Senior tight ends Sam Fullenkamp and Seth Hoover and junior linemen Jordan Meyers, Xavier Stacy and Trenton Brooks anchor the OL.
Defensively, Adams (DB) and Mehr (DB) each had three interceptions last season. Adams, Hoover and Mehr were first team all-league last year, while Meyer was second.
“With seven returning starters on both offense and defense we are hoping to build off last season. We are excited about the potential,” Hetrick said.
The Blue Devils hosted Tri-County North to begin the season.
Shawnee ready to build off recent success
Preble Shawnee is coming off a season in which they posted an 8-3 record and third straight playoff appearance.
The Arrows are limited on numbers, but head coach Dave Maddox is optimistic this year’s team can continue the program’s recent success, which included a regional runner-up finish in 2021.
“As long as we stay healthy, we are going to win a lot of games,” Maddox said. “We have a lot of new starters on both sides of the ball, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by watching them play. They play as hard, if not harder, than any team to come through Shawnee. They are extremely tough, physical, and athletic. One of the most impressive things about these guys is how good of teammates they are. Not one of them is selfish. They support and encourage each other and it is an awesome thing to watch. That is what makes this team special.”
Arrows traveled to Middletown Madison for Week 1.
Butts to lead Twin Valley South
Twin Valley South will be under the direction of first-year coach Brian Butts. Butts takes over a team that was 7-5 last year and has qualified for the playoff the past two seasons.
Butts brings experience as a former head coach Hamilton Ross.
“Very excited to be a part of the Twin Valley South Community,” Butts said. “Everyone has been so supportive and has helped to make this transition go very smoothly.”
Butts said he expects the senior class to provide leadership and continue the improvement from the past two seasons.
“The coaching staff is very pleased with the progress this team has shown since the start of summer. We still have a lot to work on but we feel good about where we are at this time,” he said. “The expectation is to compete for the league title. We have a talented senior class and they have done a great job of leading us. The biggest thing we are facing at this time is we have a new Offensive and Defensive scheme. The players are digging in and learning everything we are teaching. We still need to clean things up. The kids and coaches are very excited as we see ourselves getting better each day and the kids believe in the schemes. Once we clean things up we will be very hard out for anyone we play.”
South opened with a home game against Carlisle.
Bolts move to D-II, ready for GWOC
Northmont will look to bounce back from a 5-6 season which included a playoff loss to Centerville. The Bolts, who dropped to Division II, are led by Tony Broering.
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 visited Vandalia Butler in Week 1.
Blazers seeking 3rd straight playoff appearance
National Trail will be seeking its third straight playoff appearence under veteran coach Mark Hoffman.
The past two seasons the Blazers have finished 4-6 in the regular season, but with the OHSAA’s expanded playoff format Trail has enjoyed trips to the postseason.
Trail made a visit to Milton-Union to begin the season.
North looking for improvement
Tri-County North will be led by second-year coach Trace Smitherman. The Panthers struggled in Smitherson’s first season going 2-8 with wins over Dixie and Mississinawa Valley last year.
Panthers opened the season at Brookville.
(Editor’s note: Eaton and Brookville information provided by swblsports.com)
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on X @emowenjr.