How’s this for a collective conference goal? Put another – or two – teams into the state football championship weekend.
That’s just what the Greater Western Ohio Conference has the last three seasons. Trotwood-Madison High School has played in three straight Division II state title games, going unbeaten and winning a championship in 2011. With Braxton Miller at quarterback his senior year, Wayne played in the 2010 D-I state final.
That’s as consistently strong as it never has been for the area’s largest, 18-team big-school conference.
Trotwood, a GWOC North member, should be considered yet another deep playoff team, if not state championship caliber. Coach Maurice Douglass’ program lost first-team All-Ohioans Cameron Burrows (Ohio State University) and Michael McCray (Michigan) to graduation, but there’s plenty returning to make T-M a contender for its fourth straight state title game.
If the Rams do that, it’ll be their first in D-III. They dropped a division with the state-wide realignment of football teams.
- Parity marked the 2012 season among GWOC Central Division teams. Only Wayne (7-4) qualified for the playoffs. But it was Beavercreek and Northmont that shared the division title, each going 7-3 overall and 4-1 in the conference. Centerville (6-4) had a five-year playoff run snapped.
- Springboro pitched a perfect 10-0 regular season and cruised to a GWOC South title. But coach Ryan Wilhite’s Panthers were upset by Lakota East in the first round of the D-I playoffs.
- It was Miamisburg under first-year coach Steve Channell that was the surprise of the GWOC in 2012. The Vikings, listing for several seasons, went 7-3 and just missed the D-I, Region 4 playoffs. They may have been a surprise to all that magical season, but not this time.
- Former longtime Valley View head coach Jay Niswonger is an assistant at Fairmont.
In all, 11 of 18 GWOC teams posted non-losing records last season.
3 key players
Dorian Hendrix, Wayne, sr., LB: Another strong defender who was the area’s first senior to verbally commit (Kentucky).
Airius Moore, Beavercreek, sr., RB/LB: A starter as a freshman, Moore played a key double-duty role as the Beavers beat Wayne and Centerville in the same season for the first time since 1968 and earned their first conference title since 1985 (WOL).
Isaiah Williams, Northmont, sr., WR/DB: An outstanding home-run threat offensively, Williams is even more valuable as a defender. Will be key if Northmont is to defend its co-Central title that it shared with Beavercreek.
3 key games
Aug. 30, Northmont vs. Thurgood Marshall at Welcome Stadium, 8:30 p.m.: An outstanding and rare matchup of a D-I program vs. a great D-IV team. Part of the season-opening and expanded Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown lineup.
Sept. 6, Wayne at Trotwood-Madison, 7 p.m.: The Rams are saddled with a relatively weak nine-game schedule, but this is a playoff-quality GWOC crossover matchup.
Oct. 18, Centerville at Wayne, 7 p.m.: This showdown has featured some of the best big-school games and players in area prep football history. League title and playoff hopes always on the line.