The nominees have been announced for the 45th annual Vince Lombardi Down Lineman of the Year awards dinner 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Expo Center on the Clinton County Fairgrounds.
The nominees are Conner Barton and Derek Davis of Wilmington, Tristan Hall and Nick Mess from East Clinton High School; Jacob Treisch and Sam Brothers of Clinton-Massie; and James Peters and Matthew Grogg of Blanchester.
Hall, son of Darin Hall, is a two-year starter at offensive tackle for the Astros, according to the press release. A first-time nominee, Hall started all 10 games for EC on both offense and defense. He was second on the team in knockdown blocks and was the second highest rated lineman on the team. He led East Clinton in quarterback sacks. Hall has a 3.724 grade point average.
Mess, son of Tim Mess and Tiffany Wood, is a three-year starter at offensive guard for EC. A two-time nominee, Mess led EC in knockdown blocks and graded out as the highest rated offensive lineman on the team. He was first team All-SBAAC and second team All-Southwest District.
Treisch, a 6-0, 280-pound center, is a two-year letterwinner for Massie. He plans to attend a technical school and major in computer science following graduate.
“Jacob has been a consistent force on our offensive line all year at center,” CM head coach Dan McSurley said. “He has anchored our line and always leads by example.”
Brothers, a 6-3, 215 defensive tackle, is a two-year letter winner for the Falcons. He plans to major in graphics design in college.
“Sam has grown tremendously as a player over the last year due to his strong work ethic and experience in wrestling,” said McSurley. “His versatility and athleticism has allowed us to play him on both sides of the ball when needed, and he is a difficult match-up for other teams to deal with.
“These two young men have carried on the strong tradition of exceptional line play at Clinton-Massie and are deserving recipients of the Lombardi Down Lineman of the Year Award.”
Barton is a four-year starter and three time all-league performer for Wilmington. A third-team All-Ohio lineman this year, Barton is a three-time All-Southwest District honoree. He anchored an offense that gained more than 4,000 yards for the second straight season, WHS coach Scott Killen said.
Davis is a two-year starter for the Hurricane. He earned second team All-SBAAC honors this year and is one of the hardest working kids on the team, Killen noted.
Grogg, a 6-0, 245-pound junior, was honorable mention All-Southwest District this season and first team All-SBAAC. He was the lone returning starter on an offensive line that featured two converted running backs, a tight end and a wide receiver, coach Brandon Sammons said.
“He showed up day after day without any fanfare and just worked,” said Sammons. “He was an anchor for us in a season of shuffling. He played every snap at left tackle, never missed a play. We knew he was going to give us what we needed and we didn’t need to worry about that spot. He’s a great kid that always has a smile on and was always the first to jump in as a scout team lineman. He made the whole team better in every way.”
Peters, a 5-10, 215-pound sophomore defensive tackle, had 25 tackles for loss and 10 sacks while earning honorable mention Div. V All-Ohio honors. Peters was a team captain this season for BHS despite being only a sophomore.
“The people around him notice his leadership and character,” said Sammons. “He is a team guy and always praises those around him. His work ethic in the weight room, on the mat, on the field, in the classroom is admirable. He constantly faces double and triple teams and still comes up with stats and plays. He is a hustle guy that never gives up and believes in the team. “
Eight football players, two offensive or defensive down linemen from each of the Clinton County high school teams, are nominated by their respective coaches for the honor. The winner receives a block of granite award.
The block of granite is in reference to Lombardi’s playing days as a lineman for Fordham University. The unit was so strong they were called “seven blocks of granite.”
The Lombardi Award is named after the legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, who died of the cancer in 1970. Clinton County started its version of the event in 1973.
Spearheaded by former Wilmington News-Journal sports editor Clarence Graham and local businessman, the late Harold Losey, this event began at the old Bengal room at the former location of Duff’s Smorgasboard. In later years it was moved to the Elks Lodge 797, Roberts Arena on state Route 730, and the Expo Center.
Tickets may be purchased at the door for $15.
The program is made possible by the four high school athletic booster clubs, CMH Regional Health System, Beacon Orthopaedics and Drayer Physical Therapy, Wilmington Auto Center, NAPA Auto Parts, the Clinton County Agricultural Society and Red Dot Trophy.