A first-round ouster from the playoffs has Clinton-Massie football humble and hungry in 2020.
They’ll get a huge test right away as they face perennial powerhouse Kettering Alter in what coach Dan McSurley said was the biggest (week one) game in the state on Aug. 28.
In his 24th season at CM, McSurley is 227-62 with the Falcons.
He will be assisted this season by Scott Rolf, Doug Howard, Jeskee Zantene, Barry Wulf, Jordan Phipps and AJ Avery at the high school and by Jeremy Lamb, Dom Smith and Fred Carmack at the middle school.
There are 15 returning letterwinners for Massie but only four returning starters on defense. There are seven returning starters on offense.
Gone from last year’s 9-2 squad are SBAAC player of the year Brendan Lamb as well first-teamers Braxton Green, Tate Olberding, Garrett Trampler and Davis Wulf and second-teamers Noah Corbett, Robby Frederick and Devon Noble.
Trevor McGuiness and Brody Muterspaw are the top returning players, McSurley said. Other key returnees include Carson Vanhoose, Colton Trampler, Carter Frank and Cayden Clutter.
Also returning will be Kody Zantene, who was expected to the quarterback last season but was injured in the pre-season and played just five games.
Despite just 11 returning starters, McSurley said he likes the experience of this team. He also believes overall team speed is a plus for the Falcons in 2020.
The secondary must improve but if the Falcons remain healthy and learn humility they will be right back at the top of the SBAAC American Division standings.
In his second season as East Clinton head football coach, Steven Olds likes what he sees.
“Our numbers will be closer to 40 this season, which is big for us,” he said. “I also love the commitment this group of guys has made to getting better. I think consistently having around 30 guys a day in the weightroom is a step in the right direction. It’s not where we want to be, but we feel like we are making progress.”
East Clinton was 4-6 in Olds’ first season, including a 2-3 mark in the SBAAC National Division. A 4-4 season was bookended by losses to playoff teams Clinton-Massie in the opener and Blanchester in the finale.
Olds will be assisted this season by Brian Floyd (defensive coordinator), Nick Anderson (receiver, defensive back coach), Adam Boysel (special teams, lines), Daniel Day (running backs and linebackers). Middle school coaches are DJ Luttrell asnd Mason Huff.
EC returns 13 letterwinners, 10 of which started in 2019. Olds said there are eight starters on offense and seven starters on defense returning.
The top returning player is Branson Smith, a two-time first team All-SBAAC National Division player who earned second team All-Southwest District honors. His brother Jared Smith returns at quarterback. Other top returning players are Phillips Davis, Chris Norman, Isaiah Conger and Kaleb Kingery.
Olds said Brandon Smith has become a better teammate and leader for EC. Runyon is the leader of the secondary and team because of how he carries himself. “He doesn’t miss offseason workouts,” the coach said.
Jaden Singleton has taken on more of a leadership role during the offseason and has “done a great job of encouraging our younger guys and showing them the right way to do things,” said Olds. Norman has taken leadership of the offensive line.
Newcomers of note include Brandon Zimmerman, Trenton Garen and Denver Day. Zimmerman missed 2019 because of injury. Garen, a basketball player at ECHS, is out for the first time. Day is a freshman.
The Astros will need to fill several key spots left by the graduation of Todd Wedding, Patrick Dotson and Mason Huff. Wedding and Dotson were first team All-SBAAC players while Huff was a second teamer.
To contend, East Clinton must stay healthy, focused and hungry, Olds said.
On the field, Olds said, “We need to cut down on the silly penalties. I think some of that is from being aggressive, which I admit I love about our boys, but we have to do a better job of not giving the opponent extra possessions. We need to focus more in practice so that we can achieve and celebrate positive results on Friday night.
”We are excited to see what this group could do. We are just hoping, like I’m sure everybody else is, that we get to play this year.“
Jon Mulvihill said the 2020 Blanchester High School football team had a solid group of returning players from a playoff team in 2019.
But then the additions of 2018 players Brody Rice and Brayden Sipple —neither of whom did not play in 2019 — make things more interesting for the SBAAC National Division champions.
“We are excited about their return,” said Mulvihill, who will be assisted by John Lovin, Brandon Scott and Kelly Penquite at the varsity level and Dan Peters at the middle school.
In addition to Sipple and Rice, newcomers to the squad, Mulvihill said, are Trenton Czaika, Blake Richard and Logan Heitzman.
They’ll join returnees Colt Conover, Gage Huston, Jackson Bray, Chasen Allison, Brady Phillips and Adam Frump to make BHS the odds-on favorite in the National Division.
Blanchester was a playoff qualifier last season and finished 6-5, but were 5-0 against National Division teams. Gone from that team are James Peters, Kadin Berwanger, Tanner Creager, Christian Stubbs, Carter Abbott and Jasper Damewood.
In all 12 letterwinners and seven starters return for Mulvihill who is in his second season as varsity head coach.
Conover and Huston are the clear-cut leaders for the Wildcats, the coach added.
Mulvihill said he likes the heart of this team but they’ll need to improve their physical conditioning to reach their potential.
But if there is a 2020 season, Mulvihill said his squad will be in the thick of the National Division race.
“Regardless of what happens with the season, I am proud of the work this group has already put in,” Mulvihill said.
Wilmington didn’t have the season (3-7) in the W-L column head coach Scott Killen expected in 2019.
Several factors played in to that but the positive end result is that a lot of young players saw time on Friday night and are now ready to compete for the top spot in the SBAAC American Division.
“The past couple years we have had to play young players for various reasons especially last year,” Killen said. “We are older, bigger, stronger and faster than we have been in the past couple of years. We are looking forward to competing on Friday nights and seeing our growth.”
Wilmington returns 19 letterwinners, 18 of which were starters. Jeff Valentine leads the way after earning first-team All-SBAAC honors.
Other returning players are Carter Huffman, Kendal France, Brock Rappach, Bradey Sturgill, TJ Killen, Elijah Rockhold, Andrew Stewart, Brett Brooks, Isaiah Rigling and Josh Snell.
“This senior class has done a great job of stepping up and leading the team,” said Killen. “I love the way we have attacked the offseason workous and how hard we practice.”
Killen will be assisted by Josh Wulff, Jeremey Andrews, Jody Drake, JD McIntosh, Gary Massie, Ryan Stuckey, Joe Gigandet, Kyle Davis, Austin Thompson, Travis Mellinger, Tim Stirr, Mike Current and Davey Allen.
Newcomers of note, according to Killen, are Remington Smith, Parker Henry, Tanner Killen, Thad Stuckey and Jayden Tackett.
WHS must replace Chris Custis (first team All-SBAAC, first team All-Southwest District, first team All-Ohio) along with Conner Mitchell, Cam Coomer and Rory Bell.
Consistency and protecting the football will be two key areas for the Hurricane this season. Killen said improved depth at the skill positions also must take place for WHS to compete for the league title.