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Accomplished players, fiery and formidable coaches along with programs on the rise make the Southwestern Ohio Conference the place to be in 2014. The SWOC is loaded with talent and the battles are going to be fierce this fall. This fall we will see just how far the league, which enters its third season, has come.
Here is a look at some of the SWOC’s top returnees and teams this season.
--The year of the QB: There will be stability under center in the SWOC this fall as six of the seven schools return their starting quarterback. The group is led by Harrison senior Jake Weber Harrison, who is the reigning SWOC Offensive Player of the Year. He is the league's active leader in passing yards with 2,800 and touchdown tosses at 27. Mount Healthy junior David Montgomery has done it with his legs as he is the SWOC’s active leader with 2,011 yards and 28 touchdowns rushing. Montgomery was an All-Southwest District Honorable Mention selection as a junior. Also back are seniors Trace Reynolds (Edgewood) and Conner Scott (Talawanda) along with juniors Dusty Lykins (Little Miami) and Dustin Foley (Ross).
-- Cougars play receiver by committee: There is a solid group of returning receivers for Edgewood. Returnees Zach Smith, Christian Palmer, Tanner Wright, Drake Campbell and Dana Ricketts combined to catch 67 passes for 979 yards with 13 touchdowns in 2013. Smith led the squad with 23 catches for 310 yards while Wright reeled in a team-best seven touchdowns.
-- Mo’ Thomas in Oxford: Talawanda is looking for a healthy Maurice Thomas to bounce back and have a monster season. The Braves' star broke his collarbone four games into the 2013 campaign. Thomas was a workhorse for Talawanda as a sophomore, amassing 2,156 all-purpose yards (1,303 rushing) and finding the end zone 18 times on 275 touches. He was named First-Team All-SWOC for his efforts in ‘12.
-- Hogue in Vogue: Harrison junior Mitchell Hogue is in line for a breakout 2014 season. Hogue ran for 200 yards, caught 26 passes for another 330 yards and accounted for six touchdowns (four rushing, two receiving) as a sophomore.
-- Little Miami offense MIA: To say last season was futile for Little Miami would be an understatement. The Panthers combined for 49 points in their first two games and then hit rock bottom. Over the final eight weeks Little Miami was shut out five times and scored a combined 31 points (3.9 per game), finishing 0-10. The Panthers head into 2014 having lost their last 17 games.
-- Yes to the Hoosiers: Ross offensive lineman Simon Stepaniak has already verbally committed to Indiana. The senior stands 6-feet-3 and weighs 290 pounds.
-- Give me the ball, coach: DeVohn Jackson is truly a gamebreaker. As a junior in 2013, the Northwest speedster scored 12 touchdowns on just 51 touches while racking up 861 all-purpose yards.
-- 21st century success: The Mount Healthy football program has made the playoffs nine times -- all of those appearances have come since 2001. The Owls won two postseason contests and made the regional final for the first time in school history in 2013.
-- He is the bowl of cherries: Hjavier Pitts was a sweet surprise for Mount Healthy last year. The senior is coming off a junior campaign in which he amassed 1,118 all-purpose yards and nine touchdowns for the Owls.
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.