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The gap in the level of play between the teams atop the SBAAC National and the ones on the bottom does not appear to be closing.
Last season Batavia ran through the regular season without a loss. The Bulldogs have set new standards within the conference. Getting everyone else to strive for that kind of perfection is only going to benefit all the programs in the long run.
Blanchester won six games, but the three teams below them in the standings only combined to win a half a dozen tilts between them. Looking at the success of Batavia should only motivate those below them in the standings to achieve larger goals in 2013.
Here is a complete overview of the SBAAC National:
Division V, Region 18
Head Coach: Don Sizer (13-9, two years @ Batavia, 74-49 overall, 12 years)
2012 Record: 11-1, 4-0 SBAAC National
Overview: Not only did Batavia learn to win last year, they did it in grand fashion going undefeated in the regular season and winning the school’s first-ever playoff game. For a program that was down-trodden for so long the heights the Bulldogs program hit in 2012 set the bar very high for those left in the program. Gone however is a ton of senior leadership, experience, and on-the-field productivity that must be replaced in order to keep the momentum going.
Quarterback KeShawn Foley sets the tone for the offense. Last fall as a sophomore he ran for 1,315 yards, threw for 585 more and accounted for 28 touchdowns (23 rushing; five passing) as he earned Special Mention All-Southwest District honors. Junior Tony Gatto mostly ran in mop up roles last year, but still managed to run for 443 yards and average 10.3 per carry with five touchdowns. Sean Hill will also see his share of totes. Second-Team All-SBAAC honoree Wyatt Jackson will lead the way blocking for the trio up front.
On defense a pair of Second-Team All-SBAAC members return in seniors Patrick Bryant and Levi Sellers. Bryant is a pillar on the line and has 4.5 sacks in his career. Sellers, who had six takeaways (three fumble recoveries; three interceptions) last fall, is joined in the secondary by classmates Sam Humbert, Caleb Rose and junior Corey Marsh. All three of the defensive backs had one interception in 2012. Junior linebackers Darnay Foley and Romelo Williams form a nice nucleus for the next two years.
Division V, Region 18
Head Coach: Jack O’Rourke (17-23, four years @ Blanchester, 141-125 overall)
2012 Record: 6-4, 3-1
Overview: The biggest mystery for Blanchester to solve is how to become more competitive and beat the upper echelon teams on their schedule. The Wildcats were outscored by a combined 141-41 in their four losses last season. All 41 points came in a heartbreaking 42-41 defeat to Batavia. The other three blemishes saw them get shutout versus Waynesville, Norwood and Class 4A state champions Clinton-Massie.
Blanchester returns some of the league’s top talent. Three players earned First-Team All-SBAAC national honors in 2012 including senior Austin Jones and junior defensive standouts Seth Runyon and Chase Denham. Senior Uriel Torres and junior Brady Cain were Second-Team All-SBAAC National members. Senior defensive leader Dakota Gambrell, who will earn his third letter, is on target to join those mentioned before him. The sophomore class is loaded with “beef” and they will need to step up and show they are not only ready to take on but beat the upperclassmen they face in the trenches on Friday nights.
The non-conference portion of the schedule does the Wildcats no favors with Clinton County rivals Clinton-Massie, East Clinton and Waynesville in the first three weeks. Head coach Jack O’Rourke will have to worry about mental fatigue and travel issues after that with trips to larger schools New Richmond and Norwood in Weeks 6 and 8. A home “Battle Royale” with Batavia for perhaps the SBAAC National title is sandwiched in-between those contests. That gauntlet does however give Blanchester an opportunity to score huge Level I Harbin points towards their playoff aspirations if they are up to the challenge. That is a ton to ask of this group but a win or two over that competition could see the Wildcats strutting their stuff come November.
Division VI, Region 22
Head Coach: Scott Lefker 22-18 @ Williamsburg, four years)
2012 Record: 3-7, 2-2
Overview: This should be a fine season for Williamsburg. The Wildcats only lose three starters on each side of the ball from last season’s team. Last fall the Wildcats slipped below .500 for the first time under head coach Scott Lefker. There is plenty of reason to believe this team will rebound back to their winning ways.
Junior tailback/linebacker Mason Hall did it all. On offense he ran for 1,231 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012. He looks to expand on those numbers behind an o-line that returns four starters with Dalton Smith, Nick Felts, Brad Jones and Isaiah Bradford. Quarterback Lane Edmisten, who threw for 707 yards ran for 179 more and accounted for 13 touchdowns as a junior will play an even bigger role with the ball in his hands this fall.
On defense, Hall led the team with 116 total tackles. Senior lineman Jordan Wright has 233 total tackles with 14.5 sacks for his career. Sophomore Kurt Meisberger and Felts are also key members in the front seven. Meisberger tallied 75 total tackles in his varsity debut. There is plenty of room for improvement as the Wildcats gave up at least 32 points in all seven of their losses last season. Forcing more three-and-outs is only going to allow that exciting offense more time to do their thing.
The Wildcats will only play one home game before October 11th. They will play their final four tilts at Osborne Stadium. Williamsburg will face seven teams from larger divisions giving them plenty of opportunities to grab valuable Level I Harbin points with victories.
Division V, Region 18
Head Coach: Bill Jenike (2-8, one year @ Bethel-Tate, 2-8 overall)
2012 Record: 2-8, 1-3
Overview: Two wins may not seem like a lot but for Bethel-Tate that pair of victories in 2012 was a monumental step forward. The Tigers registered just one win over the previous two seasons. It was the first step in getting that losing monkey of the program’s back for head coach Bill Jenike. He will look to change the cultural even more this fall with a schedule that is conducive to putting up more W’s.
The B-T defense will have to play better than they did down the stretch last season when they dropped their final four tilts. The Tigers gave up more than 40 points in each of those four losses. It all starts up front for Bethel-Tate with First-Team, All-SBAAC National performer Brandon Lewis back to lead the way. A pair of junior starters Tyler Crumpton and Andrew Cunningham join him on. They will also be counted on offense to open up holes. Samuel Price, Tyler Krekeler, Blace Haviland and Jeffrey Botts return as starters for the defense. Botts made a big impression as freshman last year with 44 total tackles and fumble recovery.
Haviland is the Tigers’ top threat on offense. He ran for 554 yards and five touchdowns as a junior. Bethel-Tate will need quarterback Alan Haave to be more adept in the passing game to keep opposing defenses honest and from keying on his classmate Haviland. Jenike and his staff will look for more options as the Tigers aim for more firepower from a team that scored 14 points or fewer six times in 2012.
CLERMONT NORTHEASTERN ROCKETS
Division V, Region 18
Head Coach: Jason Conley (3-17, two years @ Clermont Northeastern, 3-17 overall)
2012 Record: 1-9, 0-4
Overview: There is only one way for Clermont Northeastern to go and that is up. The Rockets will look to quickly put an end to the nine-game losing streak that they enter the 2013 season riding downward.
Getting better on defense will be a priority for CNE. The Rockets allowed 41.5 point per contests last fall. They haven’t given up less than 35 points in the nine tilts since their last win. Lots of fresh faces will try to stop the bleeding. Senior Josh Forkner led the team in tackles despite missing three games. He had at least 10 tackles in each of the last three games he played as a junior. Classmate Blake Bishop will be counted on for leadership up on the line.
Dylan Creager and Trey Amann will look to show their worth at the skill positions on offense. Depth will play a major role in CNE’s success. Any injuries and the Rockets could see things collapse like a house of cards.
Greg is a co-founder of TSF and is now entering his ninth season as a Featured Analyst for the website. The Xavier University grad also serves as the Content Manager for the website and is widely considered one of the top high school football experts in the region. If you are interested in covering your team, please CONTACT US.