Tippecanoe has solid returning core; Shawnee has division’s top passer back.
Tippecanoe and Stebbins’ farewell tours begin next week with the start of the season. The two teams will leave the CBC for the GWOC in 2016, making this their last season in the Kenton Trail Division. The four remaining Kenton teams will be joined by Urbana next season to keep both of the conference’s divisions even at five teams each.
Tippecanoe has been a power in the Kenton Trail over the last decade. Stebbins hasn’t made much of a splash since it joined but hopes to this season with several returning starters back on both sides of the ball.
Four of the Kenton Trail’s six teams made the playoffs last season. Three of those four teams lost many key players to graduation. Kenton Ridge and Bellefontaine both lost multiple-year starters at quarterback in Mitchell Schneider and Jake Kennedy, respectively. Tecumseh lost its top two players (Camren Moore and Conner Henry) on offense.
Tippecanoe has the most returning players of any Kenton Trail team and may be the conference’s front-runner. Though the Red Devils lose their quarterback from 2014, running backs Jakob Prall and Cameron Gibbs provide a solid core to build around on offense.
Stebbins also has many returning starters. The Indians won their first conference game in two years last season and hope to make more of a splash in the conference race this season. Running back Mason Dyer (1,091 rushing yards) and quarterback David Hickey (852 all-purpose yards) are among the team’s key returnees.
Shawnee has numerous starters back at skill positions on offense but loses its top six tacklers on defense. Alec Bennett returns to direct the Braves on offense. Bennett threw for 1,885 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. Running back Zach Avery (934 rushing yards, 15 touchdowns) and David Barnett are key returnees on defense.
Kenton Ridge loses several weapons on offense from last season but returns arguably its best in running back Jayden Davis. Davis led the conference in rushing last season with 1,226 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Cougars have some starters back on both sides of the ball, as well as a few newcomers that could make an immediate impact.
Tecumseh brings a six-game losing streak into the 2015 season — something few playoff qualifiers can say. The Arrows are using their traditional wing-t scheme on offense after using mostly the spread last year.
Bellefontaine also suffered heavy graduation losses and will have many new players this season. Hayden Nease, who was a receiver last season, moves to quarterback this year.
Read more about every CBC Kenton Trail Division team in the below preview.
2014 Results: 8-3 (4-1 Kenton Trail); lost 18-13 to Bellbrook in regional quarterfinal.
Division: III, Region 10.
Head Coach: Toby Smith, third season (13-8 record at school).
Key Losses: Jake Kennedy (QB), Jordan Baughman (RB/LB), Daniel Boy, (WR/DB), Dorian Hughes (WR/DE), Zach Schmid (K), Andrell Roberts (DB/WR), Aaron Rutherford (OL/LB).
Key Returnees Hayden Nease, Jr. (QB/DB); Chase Miller, Sr. (OL/LB); Ramon Garcia, So. (RB/LB); Julian Jackson, Sr. (DB/RB); Anthony Carothers, Jr. (RB/LB).
Need to Know: Last season will go down as the year of the Chieftains’ football resurgence. But Bellefontaine has a lot of work ahead to replicate last year’s 8-3 campaign, which included the school’s first league title and playoff berth of the decade. Bellefontaine loses much from last year’s team, including multiple-year starting quarter Jake Kennedy, most of its receivers, its top three rushers, and four of its top six tacklers. A few experienced players return. Hayden Nease was second on the team last season in receptions (24) and receiving yards (237). Nease will take over at quarterback this season. The team’s top two tacklers return in Chase Miller and Ramon Garcia. Miller, a linebacker, had 70 tackles last season. Garcia had 52 tackles and led the team with 4.5 sacks. Bellefontaine’s schedule is tough, as seven of its ten opponents finished 5-5 or better in regular season last year.
Key Games: Aug. 28 at Wapakoneta, Sept. 11 at Urbana, Sept. 18 home against Indian Lake, Oct. 9 home against Tippecanoe.
2014 Results: 9-2 (4-1 Kenton Trail); lost 42-8 to Tippecanoe in regional quarterfinal.
Division: IV, Region 12.
Head Coach: Joel Marratta, 13th season (73-51 record at school).
Key Losses: Mitchell Schneider (QB), Christian Smith (RB/LB), Justin Conley (WR), Brandon Davis (WR), Casey Turner (WR), Clay Colvin (OL/DL), Bryce Frazier, (OL/DL), Will Lawson (OL/LB), .
Key Returnees: Jayden Davis, Sr. (RB/DB); Nathan Andorfer, Sr. (K); Kobe Holtz, Jr. (RB/LB); Luke Holt, Jr. (RB/DB); Caleb King, Sr. (OL/DL); Matt Ricketts, Sr. (OL/DL); Tyler Batten, Sr. (WR/LB); Jamal Reynolds, Sr. (DB/WR).
Key Newcomers: Jordan Bailey, Jr. (WR/DB), Isaiah Charlton, Sr. (WR/DB); Cal Phillips, Jr. (RB/DB); Josh Ricket, Sr. (RB/LB); Zach Sells, Sr. (OL/LB).
Need to Know: Kenton Ridge got over the Kenton Trail hump in 2014. The Cougars went 4-1 in the Kenton Division and captured their first league title since 2005. They have had a winning record every year since 2010 and look to keep the streak going. They’ll have to replace several key players to do so. Three-year starting quarterback Mitchell Schneider is among last season’s key players that graduated. Junior Noah Schleinitz and sophomore Zach Schneider (Mitchell’s younger brother) are competing for the starting quarterback position. The new quarterback will benefit from having Jayden Davis in the backfield as well. Davis led the team with 1,226 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns last year. He also had 284 receiving yards and caught two touchdown passes. Kobe Holtz looks to add depth at running back after limited carries last season. The Cougars lose their three top receivers from last season. Jamal Reynolds and Josh Ricket look to fill that void. Both Holtz and Davis are key defensive players. Holtz, also a linebacker, is the team’s leading returning tackler. Davis had 55 tackles and seven interceptions last season as a defensive back. Caleb King (33 tackles) and Matt Ricketts will anchor both lines. Nathan Andorfer returns as kicker for Kenton Ridge this season. Andorfer made 87 percent of his extra point attempts last season and three field goals. Though the Cougars have many starters to replace, enough experience returns to make contending for another league title and playoff berth a realistic goal.
Key Games: Aug. 28 at Northeastern, Sept. 11 home against West Liberty-Salem, Oct. 9 at Shawnee, Oct. 30 home against Tippecanoe.
2014 Results: 6-4 (3-2 Kenton Trail).
Division: IV, Region 12.
Head Coach: Rick Meeks, 13th season (92-46 record at school).
Key Losses: Dusty Seelig (WR/RB); Kohlton Sine (RB/LB); Wade Smiddy, Sr. (LB/WR); Drew Boysel (WR/DB); Tryston Huxley; Trevor Deam.
Key Returnees: Zach Avery, Sr. (RB), Alec Bennett, Sr. (QB); David Barnett, Sr.. (WR); Alyssa Garberich, Sr. (K); Tavon Kerby, Sr. (LB); Nathan McCrite, So. (DL); Jordan Rodgers, Sr. (DL).
Need to Know: Shawnee’s spread offense was as good as ever in 2014, but its defense and excess turnovers kept the Braves out of the playoffs for the first time this decade. Shawnee returns much of an offense that produced a league-best 461 yards and 34 points per game last season. Quarterback Alec Bennett returns after throwing for 1,885 yards and 14 touchdowns and rushing for 493 yards and five scores. His favorite target is back in senior receiver David Barnett (54 receptions, 731 yards). Zach Avery is the team’s leading returning rusher. Avery ran for 934 yards and 15 touchdowns in seven games a year ago; he missed three games due to injury. One key piece the Braves will have to replace is running back/receiver Dusty Seelig, who accounted for 1,581 all-purpose yards and 11 total touchdowns. The Braves’ defense was in the bottom half of the conference last season statistically; they gave up an average of 268 yards and 22 points per game. Shawnee will have to improve with new faces on defense. Leading tackler Wade Smiddy (74 tackles, three fumble recoveries) moved to Mechanicsburg, and their other top five tacklers graduated. Defensive lineman Nathan McCrite (31 tackles, 1.5 sacks) is the team’s leading returning tackler. Alyssa Garberich returns to handle kicking duties for the Braves; she made 85 percent of her extra-point attempts last season. Shawnee’s schedule remains as strong as it was last year. The Braves open on the road against Div. II Butler and Div. I Springfield. With their returning offensive weapons and a strong nonconference schedule, Shawnee should be ready to contend for the Kenton Trail title when league play starts.
Key Games: Aug. 28 at Butler, Sept. 4 at Springfield, Oct. 2 at Tippecanoe, Oct. 9 home against Kenton Ridge.
2014 Results: 4-6 (1-4 Kenton Trail).
Division: II, Region 6.
Head Coach: Trace Smitherman, 7th season (11-49 record at school).
Key Losses: Issac Martin (RB), Dakota Shawhan (WR), Lance Brown (K), Jacob Daniel (LB), Calvin Bransford Jr. (DB), Dewayne Parks (DB), Mark Tipton (LB), Khris Cobb (OL/LB);
Key Returnees: Mason Dyer, Sr. (RB/LB); C.J. Martin, Jr. (RB); Andrew Covey, Jr. (LB/RB); David Hickey, Jr. (QB/DB); Levi Stewart, So. (RB/LB); Kenji Parks, Jr. (RB/DB); Von Thomas, Sr. (OL/DL); Austin Blanton, Jr. (LB/RB); Joe Simpkins, Jr. (DB/RB).
Need to Know: The Indians got over the hump last season and won their first conference game in two years against Tecumseh. Stebbins has several key returning players this season and looks to make more of a dent in the league title race. Running back Mason Dyer (1,091 rushing yards, 11 rushing TDs) will lead the team’s rushing attack this season. Dyer was Stebbins’ second leading rusher last season. Levi Stewart and Kenji Parks could provide depth at running back. David Hickey returns at quarterback after throwing for 383 yards and rushing for 459 yards a year ago. Hickey had 10 total touchdowns last season. Stebbins loses four of its top five tacklers from last season but returns leading tackler C.J. Martin (95 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, 3.5 sacks). Von Thomas (50 tackles) looks to anchor the defensive line.
Key Games: Aug. 28 home against West Carrollton, Sept. 4 home against Fairborn, Oct. 18 home against Urbana, Oct. 9 home against Tecumseh.
2014 Results: 5-6 (0-5 Kenton Trail); lost 39-0 to Mount Healthy in regional quarterfinal.
Division: II, Region 6.
Head Coach: Kent Massie, 11th season (68-42 record at school).
Key Losses: Camren Moore (QB/LB), Connor Henry (QB/DB), Tyler Pruitt (RB/LB), Kyle Terrel (WR/DB), Ryan Sierecki (WR/DB), Michael Bresley (RB/DB), Seth Martin (OL/DL), Steven Marker (OL/LB), Andy Suazo, (WR/DB).
Key Returnees: Matt Crain, Sr. (WR/DB); Brody Martin, Jr. (RB/LB); Kenyon Watson, Jr. (RB/LB); Brandon Morgan, Sr. (RB/LB); Hunter Hensley, Jr. (OL/DL); Garrett McCormick, Sr. (RB/DL); Donovan Davis, Jr. (OL/DL), Isaiah Trimble, Jr. (OL/DL).
Key Newcomers: Ryan Rowland, Jr. (RB/DB); Jayden McFarland, Jr. (QB/DL); Clay Mastin, So. (WR/DB); Blake Nickell, Sr. (RB/DB), Noah Trimble, Sr. (OL/DL).
Need to Know: Tecumseh’s 2014 season was an oddity. The Arrows started out 5-0, with wins over the likes of Butler, CBC Mad River champ Urbana and playoff team Cincinnati Northwest. A second-half collapse in an overtime loss to Kenton Ridge in week six foreshadowed the rest of the season. The Arrows lost every conference game, but still qualified for the postseason in Region 6. To try to get back to the playoffs and improve on last season’s 5-6 record, Tecumseh will have to replace many starters lost to graduation. Gone are Camren Moore and Conner Henry, who accounted for most of Tecumseh’s offense last season. Moore was also the team’s leading tackler; the Arrows also lose their other top six tacklers on defense. Taking over at quarterback for Moore looks to be Jayden McFarland. Clay Mastin could also see time at the position. The Arrows are returning to their usual wing-t offense after using a spread scheme last year that saw Moore throw for 1,700 yards. Brody Martin, Brandon Morgan, Garrett McCormick and Ryan Rowland are among the players who could see carries at running back. Martin (126 rushing yards on 16 carries) is the team’s leading returning rusher. McCormick, Morgan and Martin are all expected to be key players on defense as well. McCormick is the Arrows’ leading returning tackler; he had 48 tackles and two sacks last season. Tecumseh’s new starters will have to learn quickly. The Arrows open the season with two GWOC teams, first on the road against rival Fairborn and then on the road at Butler in week two.
Key Games: Aug. 28 at Fairborn, Sept. 4 at Butler, Sept. 25 at Urbana, Oct. 2 home against Kenton Ridge, Oct. 16 at Shawnee.
2014 Results: 9-3 (3-2 Kenton Trail); lost to Wapakoneta 28-7 in regional semifinal.
Division: III, Region 10.
Head Coach: Joel Derge, 1st season.
Key Losses: Zack Blair (QB); Austin Clack (RB/LB); Austin Robbins (RB/LB), Zach Salyer (OL/DL), Justin Willoughby (OL/LB); Shane Dodd (OL/DL); Gabe Callicoat (RB/DB); Brandon Roberts (RB/DB).
Key Returnees: Jakob Prall, Sr. (RB/DB); Cameron Gibbs, Sr. (RB/LB); Trevor Staggs, Jr. (RB/DB); Jacob Ambos, Sr. (WR/DB); Dylan Shomper, Sr. (K); Chris Garber, Sr. (RB/DL); Jack Peura, Sr. (OL/DL); Logan Ferrell, Sr. (OL/DL); Riley Hadden, Sr. (WR/DB); Brandon Gothardt, Sr. (QB/DB); Tyler Stump, Sr. (WR/DB); Aaron Hughes, Jr. (QB/DB).
Key Newcomers: Ryan Bolton, Jr. (OL/DL); Matt Garber, So. (OL/LB); Austin Subler, Jr. (RB/LB).
Need to Know: Tippecanoe had another great campaign in 2014. The Red Devils had a 9-4 record and made their tenth-straight playoff appearance. New head coach Joel Derge, a Greenon graduate, takes over for longtime head coach Charlie Burgbacher. Derge, the team’s defensive coordinator last season, isn’t changing much from previous seasons. Tipp will run the same offensive and defensive schemes. Though the Red Devils lose several talented starters to graduation, plenty of experience returns to make them a frontrunner for the Kenton Trail title this season. Jakob Prall and Cameron Gibbs return to lead Tippecanoe’s rushing attack. Prall was the team’s second-leading rusher last season; he ran for 1,001 yards and eight touchdowns is 12 games. He also had 543 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns. Gibbs ran for 708 yards and 11 scores. Tipp will have either Brandon Gothardt or Aaron Hughes at quarterback. Jacob Ambos (17 receptions, 196 yards in 2014) also returns at receiver. On defense, Tippecanoe loses its top two tacklers but returns four of its top seven. Zach Salyer (91 tackles, two interceptions) is the team’s leading returning tackler and looks to anchor both lines. Chris Garber, Jack Peura and Logan Ferrell are also key returning defensive lineman. Riley Hadden (48 tackles, four interceptions) anchors the defensive backfield. Dylan Shomper returns to handle the Red Devils’ kicking duties. Shomper made 53 of 55 extra-point attempts last year and made two field goals. The Red Devils will try to win their final league title in the CBC before moving to the GWOC next season.
Key Games: Sept. 4 home against Greenville, Oct. 2 home against Shawnee, Oct. 30 at Kenton Ridge.