Central Buckeye Conference: Shawnee seeking another deep postseason run

Cutline: Shawnee High School junior running back Max Guyer runs ball the during their scrimmage game against Greenon on Friday, Aug. 14 in Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
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Cutline: Shawnee High School junior running back Max Guyer runs ball the during their scrimmage game against Greenon on Friday, Aug. 14 in Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

SPRINGFIELD — The Shawnee High School football program finished last season one game shy of the Division V state semifinals.

With a strong nucleus returning from last year’s squad, the Braves are hoping to make a run at their first Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division title and first state appearance since 2011.

“We’re very excited,” said Shawnee coach Rick Meeks, who is entering his 20th season. “We’ve got a lot of young kids. We lost seven seniors from last year. We brought back the entire offensive line. The sophomore class is a really good class that’s another year older and is able to fill those gaps. We feel good about it. We’ve still got plenty to work on, but we feel good. The kids are working hard and their attitudes are good. That’s all you can ask for.”

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The Braves went 6-3 last season, falling to Roger Bacon in the D-V regional final. They return several skill players from last year’s team, including junior running back Max Guyer, defensive back David Hawk and defensive end Braylon Brim.

The Braves will turn to junior RJ Griffin at quarterback to replace All-Ohio signal caller Drew Mitch. Griffin was an all-conference defensive back last season.

Since 2015, one of the four Clark County programs in the Central Buckeye Conference have won a league championship — Northwestern earned a share of the CBC Mad River title in 2018.

In the Kenton Trail Division, Shawnee, Tecumseh and Kenton Ridge will look to dethrone two-time defending champion Jonathan Alder.

Kenton Ridge last won the Kenton Trail in 2014, while Tecumseh last brought home the championship in 2012.

Shawnee last won the title in 2011 and has finished second sixth times over the last nine seasons.

The Braves have 45 players on their roster this year and have depth at many of their position groups, Meeks said. They’ll look to two-platoon as much as possible, he said.

“We’ve got a lot of above average players who’ll be able to play a lot on both sides of the ball,” Meeks said. “It’s going to be a group effort. We’ve got a lot of good players.”

Kenton Ridge

The Cougars finished 1-5 and 0-4 in the league in Jon Daniels first season as head coach, but return 18 seniors from last year’s squad.

“It helps out having an older group and a bunch of returners on both sides of the ball, but especially up front,” Daniels said. “In high school football, whenever you can be pretty solid in the trenches, you give yourself a chance. We’re excited with what we’re doing.”

With a full offseason under their belts, the Cougars hope to improve on last year’s performance, Daniels said.

Kenton Ridge returns several strong offensive linemen, including senior Noah Hill, who recently received a scholarship offer from Lake Erie College. The Cougars will feature senior running back Lane Roberts, as well as tight end Jayden Rowland.

The Cougars hope to be competitive in the conference and make a run at the newly-expanded OHSAA playoffs, Daniels said.

“The kids are buying in more than any group I’ve had up to this point,” he said. “They’ve become a more close-knit group than I’ve had to this point. We keep preaching survive and advance, deal with the tough conference schedule as it comes and we can put ourselves in a special spot once it’s done because of the level of competition we’ve seen.”

Tecumseh

The Arrows went 4-4 last season, winning three of their last four games. They return nine players on defense and eight on offense.

“We’ve got a lot of kids that have varsity experience,” said Arrows coach Chris Cory. “That’s kind of what we’re leaning on. Hopefully that helps us out.”

Junior quarterback Nate Cory returns in the Arrows trademark Wing-T offense, while senior Caedon Sagraves and juniors Lucas Berner and Josiah Botello will all see carries at running back.

Senior safety Braden Berner and senior inside linebacker Josh Brents will each miss the start of the season due to injuries, Cory said.

“Hopefully we can stay on the right path without them and once they come back, we can make a push for the league,” he said.

With a tough non-conference schedule and the parity in the Kenton Trail Division, the Arrows will have to be ready to play each week, Cory said.

“Our league is deep and good,” he said. “There is no off weeks when we get to league play. Anybody could step up at any time and win. It’s not going to be easy for anyone.”

Mad River Division

Northwestern

The Warriors went 1-5 last season and 1-4 in the CBC Mad River.

They have a new coach in Nick Bandstra, who served as both the defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator over the last three seasons at Fairborn High School.

The team has 37 players this season, including 22 freshmen and sophomores, Bandstra said.

“We’re really young,” Bandstra said. “We’ve got to get better every day. We’re young and we should just naturally get better as we go.”

Warriors seniors Kolton Berner and Dawson Thomas will play running back, while sophomore Jacob Shaffer will start at quarterback. Seniors Jace Foulke and Ethan White will anchor the offensive and defensive lines, Bandstra said.

Since 2018, five of the six CBC Mad River Division squads have won at least a share of the title. Graham won it last year, while North Union won the championship in 2019. Northwestern, Indian Lake and Urbana all shared the title in 2018.

The key will be entering league play healthy after back-to-back games against Kenton Trail opponents, Bandstra said.

“We’re growing, building and developing culture,” he said. “We’re getting better, it just takes time.”

AT A GLANCE

Kenton Ridge

Coach: Jon Daniels, second season.

Conference: Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division.

OHSAA designation: Division IV, Region 16.

Playoff history: Five appearances, last qualified in 2015.

2020 record: 1-5, 0-4 CBC Kenton Trail Division.

Northwestern

Coach: Nick Bandstra, first season.

Conference: Central Buckeye Conference Mad River Division.

OHSAA designation: Division IV, Region 16.

Playoff history: Two appearances, last qualified in 2018.

2020 record: 1-5, 1-4 CBC Mad River Division.

Shawnee

Coach: Rick Meeks, 20th season

Conference: Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division.

OHSAA designation: Division V, Region 20

Playoff history: 10 appearances, last qualified in 2019.

2020 record: 6-3, 2-2 CBC Kenton Trail Division.

Tecumseh

Coach: Chris Cory, fifth season.

Conference: Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division.

OHSAA designation: Division II, Region 8.

Playoff history: 10 appearances, last qualified in 2014.

2020 record: 4-4, 2-3 CBC Kenton Trail Division.

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