You'd think a two time defending Regional Champ would get respect state wide
when it comes to ranking the top high school football teams in the state of
Ohio. But not in the case of the Kettering Alter Knights. Alter is coming off
back to back Regional Championships, narrowly missing the D-III State
Championship game 2 years ago on a last second Columbus DeSales touchdown after
having led the entire game; and then having the bad fortune of running up
against maybe the hottest high school quarterback in the country last year when
the Knights lost on a cold night in Piqua to Kenton's Ben Mauk in the D-IV state
Not to mention an undefeated 2002 Greater Catholic League Championship season, arguably the best league in the state, that included a 36-14 thrashing of the eventual D-II state champs, Dayton Chaminade-Julienne. Alter also had the honor of being the top dog over all divisions last year
in terms of their total Harbin points.
In addition, over the past few years the program has sent several players on to some high profile college programs including Ohio State center Nick Mangold who made significant contributions to the Buckeyes National Championship run last year. And now Alter can make a claim that maybe no
other GCL team has ever been able to make. With their win over Hamilton Badin Friday night, the Knights and Head Coach Ed Domsitz have won 11 straight games over GCL opponents.
On top of all of that, Alter currently stands 6-1; 4-0 in the GCL and are 4th in the OHSAA Computer Rankings standings in what is probably the toughest Region in the state, relatively speaking - D-III Region 12.
Yet despite all of the above, Alter gets no respect when it comes to the recognition in the state wide high school football polls. They have yet to even come close to being in the top 20 this year in Division-III.
Perhaps just motivation for this year's current crop of Seniors whom are now the winningest class in Alter football history. They are the foundation for this year's success so far as well. Starting with co-captains Mike Gorman (DB/RB); Mike Savino (QB); Nick Hess (LB/FB); Pat Dougherty (LB/FB) and Zach Freshwater (WR/DB/QB),the Seniors are leading the way. But as is usually the case, the gating factor at Alter is the line play. And this year's linemen are making a difference. Returning starters Steve Bristow (6'1" 275), Zach Thuney (6'5" 275) and 2002 All GCL performer Chris Vermillion (6'1" 260) anchor a big and strong line on both sides of the ball. Other Senior linemen include, John Tytko (6'6" 225), Joe Reeves (6'0" 240), Kenny Gannon (5'9" 250) and Travis Gaul (6'3" 190). Some of whom do double duty.
Maybe one reason for the lack of recognition is that the Knights don't have a marquee name player this year. Of course, Doug Penno raised eyebrows state wide the last 2 years as did Sean Leibrock who was the D-IV Defensive Player of the year last year. But this year's team is truly a team. There is no one real significant stand out guy. But, there are several very, very good players to keep an eye on. Savino is crafty and effective. Junior RB Matt Schaeffer is coming on and is now among the league rushing leaders averaging almost 7 yards per carry. When necessary, Savino can go to the reliable 6'2", 187 lbs Freshwater who has 14 catches for 290 yards and is a returning All GCL WR. The 255 lb Hess is pounding defenses and is a punishing blocker as a fullback out of the wishbone option offense.
On defense, the leading tacklers are Gorman (64), Freshwater (46),Hess (42) and Senior Mike Cengia (45). Senior DB Dan Reeves has 3 interceptions, 2 of which he has retuned for TD's. Currently, the Knight defense sits atop the GCL statistically allowing only 10.5 points per game so far. Additionally,
Senior kicker Eric Frey is perfect kicking FG's (1 for 1) and nearly perfect on PAT's (20 for 23) as well.
Alter faces a tough cross state opponent this week as they travel to NW Ohio to take on always tough Poland Seminary. They wrap up the season with a week 9 trip to Warsaw River View followed by what is the GCL North Championship game again this year as they face arch rival Dayton Chaminade-Julienne at Welcome Stadium on Saturday, October 25th. A game which may have big time playoff ramifications as well.
Perhaps a few more tough wins will get the Knights some attention from around Ohio. But then again, maybe not!
OPS had the Knights ranked and then removed them. I feel that we made a big mistake in doing this with the type of season they are having.