Greater Cincinnati high school football fans are a week from the opening games of the 2022 season. The Enquirer is continuing its preseason coverage by breaking down the conference races in Greater Cincinnati.
Greater Cincinnati high school footballReady for some Cincinnati high school football? Here are the Enquirer’s position rankings
Next up is the Miami Valley Conference consisting of 12 teams split over two divisions.
Cincinnati Country Day
Last season: 7-2 (5-0 MVC Gray champions) lost in the first round of the Division VI playoffs to Deer Park.
What to watch: Athletic director/football coach Dennis Coyle led the Nighthawks to their first conference title since the 2014 season and could be in store for more as CCD returns 10 starters on offense and nine on defense. Of course, it’s Division VI, so many of the players go both ways.
CCD captains are seniors Kyle Collett (WR/DB) and Colin Heekin (OL/DL). Collett was the top receiver with 23 catches for 181 yards while Heekin had 52 tackles and four sacks on the defensive line. The 2021 starting quarterback Zach Corbin is gone but junior Parker Corbin, also a major baseball talent, is back along with sophomore Elijah Guttman. Corbin had 267 yards rushing and eight touchdowns a season ago.
Other offensive players to keep an eye on are sophomore running back Lee Thomas who gained 401 yards with five touchdowns as a freshman as another sophomore runner/linebacker, Ryan Coyle. Coyle had five rushing and three receiving touchdowns in addition to 84 tackles, three sacks, a pair of forced fumbles and an interception. Junior Shepard Snell will double at tight end and linebacker and had 72 tackles and an interception last year.
“The players have worked hard in the weight room,” coach Coyle said. “Newly-hired strength coach Ron Hatten has done a great job since being hired last spring. Players are more committed to the process than when I arrived four years ago.”
A key player to replace will be last year’s MVC-Gray Player of the Year Ashton Snell at running back. He accounted for 1,400 yards and 21 touchdowns. The Nighthawks start the season Aug. 19 at Manchester before opening up conference play at Summit Country Day Aug. 26.
Last season: 1-6 (1-2 MVC Gray)
What to watch: The Cougars’ lone win last year came Sept. 24, 2021, at New Miami, 31-25. In that game, quarterback Jahkiren Oliver threw for 304 of his 708 season passing yards. Of those yards, 204 went to receiver DaVen Gibson who caught 11 passes. Gibson caught 27 passes for 480 yards and five touchdowns last season.
Both are seniors now and both made MVC Gray first team as juniors. Senior Isaiah Smart rumbled for 102 yards in Clark’s opening games last season before being sidelined. Sophomore De’Lorean James also got some carries as a freshman Cougar gaining 91 yards.
Clark begins the season at Clermont Northeastern Aug. 19. Their first home game (to be played at Withrow High School) is against Riverview East on Aug. 27.
Last season: 4-4 (3-1 MVC Gray)
What to watch: The Panthers of coach Mike Tudor were second in the MVC Gray last season behind CCD. They last won the league in 2017. Top seniors for Tudor are QB/LB Cody Willis and OL/DL Peyton Hicks. Willis 11-for-23 passing last year for 111 yards and a score while sharing snaps under center with Damien Dawson who was 25-for-50 for 410 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman. Dawson also ran for 84 yards.
Junior Billy Parrott returns on defense while sophomore Aliou Diallo will try to stretch the field at receiver with teammate Jayden Abner. Another rugged body up front is Kendarius Coleman.
“Our seniors will lead the way to the success of the program,” Tudor said. “The Panthers will rely on the offensive line to lead the way in their offense.”
Lockland has a challenge opening night Aug. 19 with Reading at home. Week two has them in Kentucky with Ludlow. Lockland is Division VII.
Miami Valley Christian Academy
Last season: 3-8 (1-4 MVC Gray)
What to watch: The Lions had a win in each month of last season but saw their Division VII season end in the first round of the playoffs at New Madison Tri-Village.
Top returners include MVC Gray first-team receiver Noah Kroger who caught 17 balls for 282 yards and four touchdowns and second-team selection Elijah Snow, a senior running back who ran for 564 yards. Snow has offers from Grove City College, Mount St. Joseph and Wilmington.
Junior Ethan Hudnall also ran for 285 yards and junior Ian Dooley had seven catches for 89 yards.
The returning quarterback is senior Elijah Walters. Helping to protect him on the line as well as playing up front on defense are seniors Ethan Geiger and Jaden Thomas and sophomores Ethan Hola and Isaac Chastain.
“We’re a young team but our guys are all heart,” coach Russ Theisens said. “After essentially starting over last season, we are building upon traditions we established and relying on faith and our football family as our foundation.”
MVCA begins the season at Grove City Christian Aug. 19, then hosts Clermont Northeastern Aug. 26.
Last season: 2-7 (1-3 MVC Gray)
What to watch: After winning three straight MVC Gray championships, the Vikings struggled last season. Senior Emryk Moffitt and junior Mason Stephens split time at quarterback last year. Moffitt had 267 throwing yards and 291 rushing yards.
Senior all-conference pick Daymeon Pennington anchors both lines while junior Luke McGraw was last year’s top receiver with 12 catches for 113 yards. Senior Daniel Warren-Martinez is the top returning defender at linebacker after a 2021 season of 56 tackles, six sacks and an interception.
New Miami begins with a pair of home games: Aug. 19 against Gamble Montessori and Sept. 2 against Deer Park.
St. Bernard-Elmwood Place
Last season: 3-6 (3-2 MVC Gray)
What to watch: Coach Kyle Hogan returns eight starters for the Titans including MVC Gray first-teamers Greg Miller, Gio Higgins and Korbin Pettit, plus second-team pick Jah Neal.
Senior Miller ran for 561 yards and five scores, adding 5.5 sacks on defense. Higgins was a sack master with 12 among his 74 tackles. Sophomore Neal led the team in receiving as a freshman with 16 for 177 yards and three scores. Senior Tay Harrison-Brown is a returning quarterback with senior offensive lineman Pettit in front of him. Sophomore RB/LB Demico Harris is also expected to be a factor.
Hogan likes his team’s experience which will be tested in early road games Aug.19 at Shroder and Aug. 26 at Williamsburg.
Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy
Last season: 1-8 (1-4 MVC Scarlet)
What to watch: The Eagles will try to regroup under coach K.C. Woods after an uncharacteristic down year. They remain young.
Returning under center is senior Logan Mullert, who threw for 545 yards and four touchdowns last season while running for 88 yards. Sophomore running back Bin-ii Smoot will get some carries after running for 112 yards as a freshman last season. Brayden Mitchum also saw snaps at running back as a freshman and recorded 36 tackles with three interceptions on defense.
“Mullert is back and has improved over the summer,” Woods said. “Mitchum was a two-way starter and we relied on him heavily as a freshman. We will the next three years as well.”
Senior receiver Cameron Miller brings the most experience after a 17-catch 2021 where he racked up 326 yards. Nick Wilkowski returns as CHCA’s top returning tackler after 38 stops a year ago at linebacker.
A big weapon for CHCA could be the play of twins Mercer and Charlton Luniewski. Mercer is 6-foot-6-inches and 300 pounds and Charlton is 6-foot-5-inches and 275 pounds. Needless to say, the rock may be pounded.
“They’ve had a really nice off-season and put on a ton of good weight,” Woods said. “They went on the camp circuit this year and have a lot of eyes on them at the DI level. Both are offered by Akron and Mercer has added Central Michigan.”
CHCA will host Portsmouth Notre Dame on Aug. 19 before going on the road to Madeira Aug. 26.
North College Hill
Last season: 2-4 (1-2 MVC Scarlet)
What to watch: The Trojans ended last season with a 20-0 win over CHCA and will try to build on that for 2022. They make up what they don’t have in size with quickness.
Junior Nassir Cobb was among league leaders with 75 tackles and 11.5 sacks as a defensive back. Junior Ryan Bolden added 68 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Senior quarterback Mark Anderson returns after throwing for 296 yards and senior Damyren Joy had 232 yards receiving as a junior.
All of those players range from 5-feet-6-inches to 5-feet-9-inches tall.
North College Hill will play their home games at Finneytown starting Aug. 27 against Hughes, then again Sept. 2 against Landmark.
Last season: 2-8 (1-4 MVC Scarlet)
What to watch: Coach Greg Conwell returns seven starters on offense and eight on defense highlighted by 6-foot-1-inch, 210-pound bulldozer Dylan Carter. Carter ran for 608 yards and seven touchdowns last year and had 572 receiving yards and six touchdowns through the air. He was MVC Scarlet first team. Sophomore Sonny Ward is back as a quarterback and added 119 yards rushing his freshman season.
Senior Dylan Horsley was a go-to receiver with 20 catches for 215 yards and junior Jeremy Sanders added 23 grabs for 240 yards. Junior Amos Collins should add depth in the backfield. Blocking up front are senior Carlos Verastegui and junior Austin Partin.
“As a program, we’re beginning to understand that in order to gain success we need to take care of each other and play for one another,” Conwell said.
The Indians begin at Shea Stadium with Madeira Aug. 19, then hit the road for Mariemont Aug. 26.
Last season: 7-4 (4-1)
What to watch: The Cavaliers had one of their better seasons in 2021, which ended with a 21-16 first-round playoff loss to Shawnee Oct. 30. Now, they’re faced with replacing their top quarterback, rusher, receiver, sack man and tackler.
Next in line for coach D.J. Dowdy at quarterback is junior Chad Mumper who threw for 195 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Jaron Kelley last year. Senior Elijah Day is the most experienced returning runner having gained 158 yards a year ago, in addition to nine catches and 90 yards.
Anchoring the defense will be senior Antwon Goodloe who had 79 tackles and seven sacks. Still, it will be tough to replace Kylin Macklin’s 21.5 sacks and Jack Mumper’s 111 tackles from last fall.
Purcell Marian starts on the road at Deer Park Saturday, Aug. 20, then has a home game with Cincinnati College Prep Saturday, Aug. 27, at 6 p.m.
Last season: 9-3 (4-0 MVC Scarlet)
What to watch: Coach Mike Blaut’s Spartans are after their fourth consecutive MVC Scarlet championship. Last season ended Nov. 13 in the playoffs against Preble Shawnee 35-28. Their other 2021 losses came to state runner-up Badin and McNicholas, another playoff squad.
Blaut has five starters back on offense and eight on defense. Among those to watch are senior WR/DB Beamer Walker who holds a South Dakota offer. Walker had 12 catches for 215 yards last season along with 26 tackles and three interceptions. Seniors Allon Hill and Kent Guyer also bring in experience. Junior Charles Hawkins picked up 84 yards in his limited rushing opportunities last season and added 32 tackles and an interception at strong safety.
“We have a lot of experience and returning starters in many areas,” Blaut said. “Many of our players are multiple-sport players and gained valuable winning experience in wrestling, basketball, baseball and track.”
Roger Bacon as a school is two wins away from its 500th career victory. They open at Bron Bacevich Stadium Thursday, Aug. 18, with Taft, then play Aiken on Aug. 26 at Stargel Stadium.
Summit Country Day
Last season: 4-5 (2-2 MVC Scarlet)
What to watch: Coach Dave Wirth got the Silver Knights in the playoffs last season but the season came to a close with a loss at Versailles. Summit Country Day plays in Division V.
Senior Alex Davis returns as a major weapon having gone 106-for-189 passing for 1,378 yards last season and 16 touchdowns. He was also Summit’s top ground-gainer with 648 yards and 11 touchdowns. Also back is senior running back Eric Deal who ran for 471 yards with three touchdowns.
Senior Jacob Carrico leads the receiving corps after catching 34 balls for 595 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s also dangerous on defense coming off of a season where he had 31 tackles and five interceptions for 57 yards.
Wirth likes the speed and athleticism at the skill positions. Other returning Silver Knights to watch are senior RB/DB Ben Jacob, senior WR/DB Donovan Braeden Austin, junior WR/DB Donovan Mathews, junior WR/LB Lorenzo Rose, junior linemen Graham Hodge and Nate Borman and sophomore WR/DB Cayleb Walters.
Summit Country Day opens up with a pair in Hyde Park as they start with Hughes Aug. 19 before taking on MVC rival Cincinnati Country Day Aug. 26.