You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Shawnee football team young, but faster than ever

Shawnee starts the football season Friday night at Catholic Central with one of its smallest senior classes. The Braves usually have 12 to 13 seniors, coach Rick Meeks said, but this year they have six.

It’s a small, but experienced class that includes players like lineman Jeff VanZant, who started on the 2011 state runner-up team; Jalen Nelson, a running back/linebacker getting looks from schools in the Mid-American Conference; and Kaitlyn Gregory, who made 38-of-46 extra points last season, her first as a starter as she took over for her sister Carly.

In their first three years, the Braves seniors played nine extra games in the playoffs.

“They’ve got a lot of extra practice,” Meeks said. “We’ve gone to at least Week 12 since any of those kids have been here.”

The standout in the class is Nelson. He ran for 459 yards last season, averaging a team-best 7.8 yards per carry. He also led the team with 70 tackles at linebacker.

With Shawnee graduating its all-time leading rusher, Alex McCrory, Nelson will figure even more in the Braves’ offensive attack.

“Jalen is as good as anybody around,” Meeks said.

The Braves also graduated their quarterback, Tyler Bostick, who started for one season. Saalih Muhammad, a sophomore transfer from Springfield, won the starting job in preseason practices.

“He’s 6-2, 180,” Meeks said. “He’s got all the skills. He can run. He’s got a strong arm. He’s calm. He’s got a lot of poise. Nothing’s going to rattle him. He’s going to get better and better. He’s a hard-working kid.”

The Braves finished 8-4 last season and 4-1 in the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division. Tecumseh ended their two-year reign as division champs.

But the Braves rallied in the postseason with a 42-34 comeback win over Alter in the first round before falling 36-35 at Athens in the second round. If not for a late touchdown, they would have played in the regional final for the third time in nine years.

This year’s team will be a little different than some of the recent Shawnee teams. The Braves will be faster, Meeks said, but but not as physical.

Three of their top weapons on offense — Nelson, Dusty Seelig and David Barnett — were teammates on the CBC championship 4x200-meter relay team.

“We’ll do some things to utilize our speed,” Meeks said. “We have as much team speed as anybody we’ve ever had.”

Barnett is the team’s top returning receiver with 19 catches last season. The Braves lost J.D. Davis and Andrew Young, who combined for 55 catches, to graduation.

Clay Phillips is another experienced returner. He had 46 tackles and an interception in the secondary last season.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

H.S. Results for 1/16: Troy girls win Pioneer Classic

The Troy girls bowling team’s baker game totals pushed them ahead of Centerville by four pins in the 24-team Pioneer Classic on Monday. Troy tallied a 3,763. Centerville had a 3,759. Bellefontaine finished third, followed by Vandalia, Coldwater and Versailles. Tacey Ballen of Centerville rolled the highest score in the tournament. The boys had...
Ohio State commits shine at Flyin’ to the Hoop
Ohio State commits shine at Flyin’ to the Hoop

Two future Ohio State basketball players who took the floor Monday at Trent Arena had different outcomes, but they both came out smiling. For Versailles junior wing Justin Ahrens, it was a matter of pride, scoring 26 points in a 61-56 win for the Tigers over Tri-Village at Day 4 of the 15th annual Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop. “They&rsquo...
Alter rallies to beat Middletown at Flyin’
Alter rallies to beat Middletown at Flyin’

Alter played its third game in four days and rallied in the fourth quarter to edge Middletown 48-44 in the Day 4 finale of the Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop at Trent Arena. Dominic Laravie had 21 points to lead the Knights (10-2), who beat Fenwick on Friday and lost to unbeaten and top-ranked Moeller (Division I) on Saturday. “It&rsquo...
Girls Basketball: Top-ranked Alter beats Tecumseh
Girls Basketball: Top-ranked Alter beats Tecumseh

Tecumseh found out early in a nonconference girls basketball game on Tuesday night that Alter is deserving of the No. 1 ranking in Division II. The Knights likely solidified their spot with a 66-52 win over Tecumseh. “We knew what we were getting into, and that’s why we wanted to play them,” Tecumseh coach Danielle Thomas said. &ldquo...
Wesley Christian (Ky.) edges CJ in OT at Flyin’
Wesley Christian (Ky.) edges CJ in OT at Flyin’

Jacquel Freeman-Parks hit a late 3 to force overtime but Chaminade Julienne couldn’t convert enough in the extra session and fell 51-49 in OT to Wesley Christian (Ky.) in Day 4 of the Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop at Trent Arena on Monday. Benson Lin led Wesley with 14 points. P’Hariz Watkins paced CJ with 19 points and Christian...
More Stories