Lots of recruiting tidbits and news as we count down the days to the start of the Ohio high school football season in our latest regional notebook.
SAMMONS ON FIRE
The hottest name in Southwest Ohio is Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy 2016 lineman Prince Sammons. The 6-foot-7, 260-pound Sammons added an offer in June from Ohio State, but last week made visits to Alabama, Auburn and Georgia coming away with offers from all three SEC programs. One he returned home he found Penn State joining the growing list of schools looking to pull the raw but athletic Sammons out of Ohio.
2016 YEAR OF THE QUARTERBACK
Ohio is loaded at quarterback in the 2016 recruiting class and the southwest region has its share to keep an eye on. Trotwood signal caller Messiah deWeaver got the early attention with his pledge to Michigan and was joined on the commitment list by Jacob Harrison (Chaminade Julienne HS) who pledged to Akron. But the region is still loaded as Peyton Ramsey (Elder), Elijah Cunningham (Springboro), Hunter Krause (Fairfield), Zach Larkin (Hamilton Badin), Thomas MacVittie (Moeller), Nick Watson (La Salle), Danny Naylor (Xenia) and Nick McCaughey and Saalih Muhammad (Springfield) either hold offers or are receiving interest from several programs early.
2017 RUNNING BACKS LOOK STRONG EARLY
We already have our eye on a handful of running backs in the region as Luke Waddell (Loveland) helped his team to a state championship last fall rushing for 1,593 yards and 18 touchdowns. Jarrell White left Princeton for La Salle and is expected to continue his rise after a strong showing as a freshman and Matt Wilcox enjoyed a solid summer after opening a few eyes late last season in helping Wayne win a conference title and a three game run in the playoffs. However, the two names to really watch are Ra’Von Bonner (Sycamore) and Kesean Gamble (Fairfield). Both have big frames and will be given the chance to show early this season what they bring to the field.
TWINS STAYING HOME
The recruiting journey for Maurice Thomas and his twin brother McKenzie Thomas did go too far from home. With both parents being alums of Miami Ohio, it was hard for the brothers who have grown up in Oxford to turn away the hometown team after Maurice earned a scholarship offer in camp. A high school running back, Maurice was recruited as a defensive back by the RedHawks but could also get a look see as a slot receiver. RedHawks head coach Chuck Martin beat out conference foes Bowling Green and Kent State for Thomas. Brother McKenzie has fought injury for the past year and while he was able to attend camp and showed well, was offered a preferred walk-on spot that could turn into a scholarship if he has a big senior season.
KENNARD ENDS PREP FOOTBALL CAREER
After earning All-Ohio football honors (D-III Co-Offensive Player of the Year) last season, Franklin two-sport standout Luke Kennard made the decision to forgo his senior year of football and focus on his basketball career. After two years as the starting quarterback Kennard ends his career with 3,888 yards passing (289 of 510) and 49 touchdowns and a combined record of 19-4. The five-star basketball standout gave his pledge to Duke in March and helped the USA basketball U18 team win gold this summer before making the decision to play basketball only as a senior. Last season Kennard was named Ohio’s Mr. Basketball after averaging 40 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists.
LAKOTA WEST LOADED WITH TALENT
While several teams in the region will have more than one Division One signee, Lakota West head coach Larry Cox has a handful as offensive lineman George Asafo-Adjei (Kentucky), linebacker C.J. Stalker (Virginia), wide receiver Braxton Neal (Cincinnati) and defensive end Donte Horton have all given teams verbal pledges. Cox things he’s got a few more too as wide receiver Dante Jones and offensive linemen Nolan Ulizio and Brady Bowling have also seen interest. Last season the Firebirds finished 9-2 losing in the first round of the playoffs and 2014 will find one of the hardest schedules in the region as they’ll face Loveland (DII State Champ) and playoff teams Colerain, Elder, Wayne, and Fairfield.
BROWN PLEDGES GATORS
Winton Woods offensive lineman George Brown ended his recruitment early with his pledge to Florida over Kentucky. Blessed with great physical skills, Brown is still a work in progress as he continues to fine tune the techniques needed to play along the offensive line.
TWO BIG EVENTS TO OPEN THE SEASON
The Ohio high school football season will get underway with two big events in the region. The 2014 Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown enters its 17th year with 25 games in three states from Friday, August 22, through Friday, September 5th with some marquee match-ups. State Champion Clinton-Massie will take on Blanchester on August 28th with some great battles to follow (see below).
A new event opens up in Dayton as the Premier Health Backyard Blitz will have two games on Saturday, August 30th at Centerville High School. The event is the brainchild of Flyin to the Hoop Founder Eric Horstman who is looking to bring top teams from outside the state to play some of the top programs in the region. This year Pickerington (OH) Central will battle Goose Creek (SC) in game one and Glenbard North (IL) will battle the home team Centerville in game two. Look for the event to grow into a two-day event with four games expected in future years.
KEY CROSSTOWN GAMES OF INTEREST
Aug: 29th (Miami Universty Yager Stadium): Lakota West vs. Loveland – Colerain vs. La Salle, (University of Dayton Welcome Stadium): Middletown vs. Thurgood Marshall, (Oak Hills HS): Oak Hills vs. Elder.
Aug: 30th (Crew Stadium, Columbus) Pickerington North vs. Moeller, (Kings HS) Fenwick vs. Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, (St. Xavier HS) St. Xavier vs. East St. Louis.
Sept: 5th (Hamilton HS) Hamilton vs. Winton Woods