Unlike most of Northmont’s veteran high school football lineup, junior Jason Kohr is a rare new guy. But he knows all about the Thunderbolts’ determined quest for a return to respectability.
“We had a bunch of people playing as sophomores in 2015 and now they’re seniors,” said the rangy defensive back. “We had special players like Danny (Lewis) coming up when they were freshmen. This is my first year really playing varsity football and it’s a special thing going on.”
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No one was more special than Kohr and Lewis as Northmont stunned previously unbeaten and visiting Centerville 21-14 in a Week 8 Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover showdown.
Centerville (7-1) likely will retain its computer points position as the No. 1 team in Division I, Region 3. It’s Northmont (6-2) that leaps from No. 7 likely to No. 3 in the region. Only the top eight teams in each region advance to the playoffs and just two games ago Northmont was No. 9. But since then Northmont beat Springfield (6-2) and now Centerville.
“I’m so happy for the boys,” Northmont coach Tony Broering said. “They played their hearts out.”
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Northmont quarterback Miles Johnson whipped scoring passes of 25 and 8 yards to Kameron Mathis and Thunderbolts workhorse running back Devin Kenerly added a 19-yard scoring run as the Thunderbolts mounted a stunning 21-0 first-half lead.
Centerville scored right before the half on Alec Grandin’s 5-yard pass to J.R. Melzer following a long reception by Donny Shelton. Grandin added another 3-yard scoring pass to Trey King late in the third quarter.
Centerville was in great position to tie or possibly win late in the fourth quarter. On 4th-and-goal at the 4, Lewis batted away a corner pass in the end zone. Northmont ran out the remaining two minutes and a seldom-seen Thunderbolts celebration of students, players and coaches was on.
“It was crazy on the field,” Broering said. “I was getting mugged and swamped and everybody was jumping on me. It was a lot of fun.”
Lewis was in front of the Elks’ intended receiver on the crucial fourth-down play and Kohr had the back side covered.
“We were in cover two and I knew it was going to come to us,” Lewis said. “I just sat back and waited for it and it was there. You just wait for the slot to come out and jump the route and we made the play.”
As usual, Kenerly led Northmont with 140 yards rushing and pushed his season total to 1,142. Johnson completed 12 of 24 passes for 116 yards and Donavin Wallace had seven catches for 77 yards.
Grandin completed 18 of 34 passes for 179 yards and Shelton had six catches for 88 yards. But Centerville couldn’t get its running game going, mostly due to Northmont’s defensive front.
This wasn’t the only Week 8 GWOC upset. Troy also hammered previously unbeaten Sidney 48-21. That leaves mighty Trotwood-Madison (8-0) as the only remaining unbeaten GWOC team. The D-III Rams are No. 1 in the state.
It also was the first loss for Centerville coach Brent Ullery, who’s in his first season as the Elks’ head coach. Because Region 3 is loaded with high-end GWOC teams, this might not be the last time Northmont and Centerville play this season.
“Once you get to this point in the season, whether you’re in the GWOC or the playoffs, every team is so good that every game is going to come down to this,” Broering said. “I give a lot of credit to Centerville. They did a great job and they made some wonderful halftime adjustments. It was two really good teams battling it out.”
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