There were 23 first team All-SBAAC National Division football players in 2017.
Eight of them were underclassmen; 15 of them were seniors.
Blanchester had five of the eight underclassmen on the first team. Six more BHS underclassmen were either second team or honorable mention.
On paper, Blanchester should be pretty good in 2018.
“I love our veteran leadership and experience returning the most,” said BHS head coach Brandon Sammons. “I love that we can hit the ground running and really work on building depth right off the top.”
Sammons begins his third season at BHS, sporting a 12-9 record. The Wildcats were 7-4 and made a playoff appearance in his first year then slipped back to 5-5 a year ago.
Sammons coaching staff consists of Dan Peters and Josh Creekmore at the middle school level; defensive coordinator Gregg Kummer; special teams coordinator and junior varsity head coach Brian Damewood; defensive line coach Travis Boyd; offensive line coach Danny Mullins; receivers coach Jon Mulvihill; line coach Tim Lee; strength coach Jim Hetzel and game day operations coordinator David Sammons.
There are 21 returning starters for the Wildcats, including all 11 on offense. Nine defensive starters return as well as the team’s kicker.
“I love that we can go deeper quicker with what we have coming back and hopefully be much further ahead at the start of the season than in the past,” said Sammons. “We have a lot of young guys that want on the field on Friday night that are going to push the returning starters for time and in competition.
“We will hopefully have some quality depth going into the season. I would like to see improvement in technique and details with all this experience and not being in a whirlwind to learn everything all at once.”
Seniors Matthew Grogg (three-year starter on offensive line), Brent Hopkins (running back, linebacker) and Ramiro Torres Jr. (receiver, defensive end) are returning first teamers who will lead the way for BHS.
Brayden Sipple, a 6-4 sophomore quarterback, threw for 1,409 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. Six different players caught touchdowns from Sipple, however Hopkins was the leading receiver with just 21 catches.
James Peters is a 5-11, 240-pound sledgehammer in the backfield and nose tackle on defense. He was honorable mention All-Ohio.
Second team All-SBAAC players last year were Derick Bowman, Dustin Howard, Clayton Schirmer and Dale Sturgill.
Newcomers this year to note are Destin Ashcraft (6-3, 245, junior) who plays running back and defensive line, and Cody McCollister, a starter as a sophomore but he missed last year because of an injury, Sammons said.