PREBLE COUNTY — The high school football season kicks-off Friday night (Aug. 24) giving all 715 teams state-wide renewed optimism about the upcoming season and Preble County teams are among those looking to better their performances from a year ago.
Eagles low on numbers
Eaton returns just six starters from a team that went 3-7 last season.
Brad Davis enters his fourth season at the helm with only 34 players on the roster.
In all, Eaton returns nine letter-winners.
Anna Black (Sr), K; Ryan Venable (Sr), QB/DB; Caleb Puckett, (Sr) RB/DB; Skyler Straszheim (Sr), LB/OL; Jarod Lee (Jr), LB/WR – 2017 2nd Team SWBL, Zac Schmidt (Jr), WR/DB – 2017 2nd Team SWBL.
Other key players returning include; Chris Weadick (Sr), LB/WR; Nick Smith (Sr), DL/OL; Gabe Mirovsky (So), DB/WR; and Carson Shafer (So), DL/OL.
Davis said the freshman class could make an impact this season.
“We’re really excited about the freshman class. There’s going to be some guys that push for a spot on Friday nights. That competition at key positions is invaluable and, quite honestly, we haven’t had much of the last few years,” he said.
Davis believes his team is capable of competing each game.
“We expect to compete in every game and put ourselves into a position to win every game,” he said.
Davis said keeping players healthy will be a key to the season.
“As always, we have a tough pre-season schedule with our scrimmages. We believe those prepare us well for our out-of-conference games and certainly for League play. Position and player depth is a big issue this season, so we have to smart and efficient with practices and guys have to take care of their bodies with proper nutrition, hydration, and rest,” he said.
National Trail returns valuable experience
National Trail returns 16 players from last season and coach Mark Hoffman sees that as an advantage.
This year’s senior class includes Mike Bowerman, Evynn Short, Tye Baker, Troy Watson, Quintin Spence, Justin Watts and Cole Yount.
Hoffman said the juniors to watch are Zach Woodall, Peyton Lane, Colten Everman, Joe Lawson, Colton Toms and Caleb Brinkley.
Hoffman said teams in the Cross County Conference are struggling with getting players out.
“Our league is struggling with numbers right across the board, teams that usually have 50 players, have 30,” he said. “I expect every game to be a competitive struggle (and) hopefully our hard work in the weight room and the dedication of our players will carry over on the field.”
Hoffman said one of the team’s strengths is the offensive line with Baker (6-5, 375) and Brinkley (6-4, 270) as the anchors.
He said the team has a pair of veteran running backs in Peyton Lane and Joe Lawson and a solid receiving core led by Zach Woodall and speedsters Kaleb Zaphfe and Jacob Rey.
Short returns to run the offense at quarterback.
The Blazers will play multiple defenses.
“(I’m) excited with the physical play of the defense and with the ability to be able to rotate the defensive line and linebackers,” he said. “Sophomore Clay Stiner has been a surprise at linebacker with his tough, hard-nosed play he will challenge for a starting position on both sides of the ball.”
Hoffman has added veteran coach Frank Carr to the staff this season.
“A big addition to our coaching staff is Frank Carr, long-time head coach at Earlham Collage. Coach Carr took over as the A.D. last year and I have finally lured him back into coaching and can he coach,” Hoffman said. “It was killing him to stand on the sideline and it didn’t take much to get him involved.”
Jeremy Horn will coach both offensive and defensive lines and Eric Hoffman will once again head the offense and do the play calling.
“We are excited for Friday nights and with the backing of the community how can it be anything but good at Trail,” Hoffman said.
Maddox takes over at Preble Shawnee
David Maddox takes over at Preble Shawnee a year after a record breaking season. The Arrows finished 8-2 on the field.
“I expect us to be in the mix for a league title. Shawnee has never won a league title in football that I am aware of. Last year we won the most games in school history. Now it is time to move on and build off of that success,” he said. “We plan to compete for a league title and make the playoffs.”
Returning on offense is junior QB Jake Green, lineman Tyler Stevenson, WR Austin Tutt, linemen Kanyon Schall, Jordan Stubbs and tight end Bryce Singleton.
“Jake had a solid year as a sophomore. Has progressed very well since last year and has stepped up into a leadership role. Looking forward to Jake having a good season,” Maddox said.
“Tyler received 2nd team all league honors as a sophomore. Tyler is the leader of our offensive and defensive line. Very tough player,” Maddox said.
Defensive returning starters are junior DL Ben Hobbs, junior DL Tyler Stevenson, senior DL Eddie Kincaid, senior DL Bryson Trantanella, junior DB Austin Tutt, junior DB Gunner Powers, senior LB Jordan Stubbs.
Other key players returning are junior Eyan Haemmerle (DB) who worked hard all off-season and looks really good at corner so far, according to Maddox.
Singleton played TE last year and is playing linebacker now as well.
Senior JJ Hatmaker (LB) looks good as well, according to Maddox.
Sophomore Tristan Sizemore (OL/LB) has been playing very well so far and sophomore James Gibson (RB/LB) is also playing very well.
Newcomers include Junior Sam Agee (WR/DB) is a very nice addition to our group of wide receivers. Very excited to have him playing football. He is a nice threat to have as a wideout, according to Maddox.
Sophomore Travis Howard (RB/LB) has been a great addition to our defense so far.
Very athletic player that is a good tackler,” Maddox said.
“Shawnee football is in a very good state right now. We have had two straight winning seasons and I do not expect that to change this year. Our success the last two years is not a fluke. We are a good team with good players that play as hard as they can. The players are confident and have realized the level of success that they are capable of having. They still do not believe we are respected as a good football team and that motivates them to work hard and earn that respect,” Maddox said.
Despite graduating several keys players Maddox feels the number of players in the program is at a good place.
“We graduated a lot of good senior football players and we only have 5 seniors this year. But, we have a lot of good juniors and sophomores that are stepping up and filling those positions and are playing at a high level. I am also excited about the number of freshmen we have. We have about 12 freshmen,” he said. “One of my goals was to get more players out so we can have a full JV schedule. It looks like we are going to be able to accomplish that this year.”
South seeking to improve on 3-7 season
Clint Bartlett returns for his third season at Twin Valley South. Coming off a 3-7 season, the Panthers will rely on several returning players to help improve that mark.
QB/DB- Cade Cottingim (Sr.) – Will be 4-year letter winner, All-CCC honors.
WR/DB- Chandler Napier (Sr.) – All-CCC, 1st team All-SW District Honorable mention all-state and led Conference in TD receptions last season.
OL/DL – Josh Wysong (Sr.) – 2-year starter
OL/DL – Chase Denlinger (Sr.)- 2-year starter
RB/LB – Isaac Clark 12- All CCC honors, 2-year starter
TE/DE – Kaleb Cornett (Sr.) – 2-year letter winner
RB/DB – Tommy Lafone 2-year starter/ letter winner
WR/DB – Levi White- 2 -ear letter winner
WR/DB – Sammy Shortes- 2-year letter winner
Newcomers include, Tytus Woodgeard (Jr.), Jayden Bassler (Sr.) and Riley Maggard (Fr.).
“Should be a good year. We have numerous guys coming back with a lot of varsity experience. We are going to have to work hard and get better every week. Every week we are going to have challenging opponent. There are definitely no easy wins on our schedule,” Bartlett said.
South opens with Dixie and Preble Shawnee.
“We have two good football teams that we start the season out with,” he said. “We are going to have to compete and play well to get started off on the right foot.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH