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As always, Wittenberg football stocked with local talent

Josh Bannick knew he wanted to go to Wittenberg from the time he was 8 years old. He wanted to be a part of the tradition as soon as he started attending games.

If Bannick wasn’t sure enough, a fellow Greenon High School graduate, former Wittenberg defensive coordinator Andy Waddle, reinforced the idea he should play for the Tigers.

“Coach Waddle was definitely hard on me wanting to come here,” Bannick said. “He had a big impact on that.”

Wittenberg has a long tradition of feeding off talent from Clark County. This year’s 12th-ranked team, which hosts Lebanon Valley (Pa.) in the first round of the Division III playoffs at noon Saturday, is no exception.

Bannick, who has experienced four more wins in two years at Wittenberg than he did in four years at Greenon, starts at defensive tackle as a sophomore. Springfield graduate Tyler Compston, who played football in eighth grade with Alabama’s Trey DePriest and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, starts at left guard as a junior. Tecumseh graduate Kyle Sanning moved from lineacker to defensive end this year as a senior and ranks fourth on the team in tackles.

Of course, there’s also senior quarterback Reed Florence from Southeastern. He’s expected to be named the North Coast Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year on Thursday.

The list goes even deeper than that, including seniors Raphael Allen, of Yellow Springs, and Erick Collins, of Springfield. There are 13 players in all from Clark County high schools. Not everyone starts, but they all contribute.

“We definitely take a lot of pride in staying home,” Compston said. “It’s always great to be able to go home and see your family after a big win or have them come see you, which a lot of guys from out of state don’t get.”

Every great Tiger team over the years has starred a local graduate. The Tigers of the late 1990s had running back Casey Donaldson, of Southeastern. The playoff team from 2006 featured running back Tristan Murray, of Tecumseh. The 2009 and 2010 North Coast Athletic Conference champions had the record-breaking receiving tandem of Josh McKee (Tecumseh) and Michael Cooper (South).

“We’ve gotten a lot out of our local guys,” coach Joe Fincham said. “We couldn’t get by without the local guys.”

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