Kenton Ridge football: Top 7 players in Cougars history

Northridge turned from farmland and forest into a large collection of brick homes in the 1960s and ’70s as people left Springfield for the new suburb in Moorefield Township. Northeastern High School was overflowing by the 1970s due to the new district’s population surge and didn’t have enough room to house its students.


The school board decided in the mid-’70s to build a high school in the new suburb, and Kenton Ridge was created.

The school’s football program faced a tough task in matching the success Northeastern had maintained for decades. The Cougars struggled at first, with a 0-9 record in 1977 and a 3-7 mark the next year. But after a 7-1-1 record in 1979, the program was on its way to creating its own tradition.

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After playing the first several seasons at Northeastern’s Conover Stadium, Kenton Ridge relocated to its own football home when a field was constructed behind the school in the 1980s. Lights were added a decade later.

There were four head coaches at Kenton Ridge from 1977-87. Bruce Schibler took over in the program 1988 and coached until 2003, when current coach Joel Marratta landed the job. Marratta has amassed an 86-60 record in 14 seasons and is the school’s all-time winningest coach.

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Kenton Ridge enjoyed much success in the 1990s under Schibler, but the best decade in school history is the current one. The Cougars haven’t finished below .500 in the last seven years, the first time the program has gone more than five consecutive years without a losing record.

Kenton Ridge has won seven or more games in a season four times this decade. The program had one playoff berth before this decade (2004). Since then the Cougars have qualified for the postseason three times in the last seven years, most recently in 2015.

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Here’s who we consider the all-time seven best football players at Kenton Ridge High School, the 15th in a continuing series. Have something to say about this alphabetical list? Email your comments to

LocationMoorefield Twp., Clark County.


AffiliationCentral Buckeye Conference, Kenton Trail Division.

DivisionD-IV, Region 16.

CoachJoel Marratta.

2017 season openerNortheastern at Conover Stadium, Friday, Aug. 25, 7 p.m.

1. Andy Capper, FB/LB, 2000:He was poised to set program rushing records but suffered an injury to his left leg before Week 10 of his senior season. He finished his senior season with 1,262 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns, just shy of records in both categories. He finished with more than 2,500 career rushing yards.

Capper played at Miami and served as a blocker for Ben Roethlisberger.

2. Brandon Downs, FB/LB, 2005:A force all four years as a Cougar and garnered all-conference recognition each season. He was a big part of the 2004 squad, which was the first in school history to qualify for the playoffs.

During his senior season, he was named second team All-Ohio after recording 134 tackles and eight sacks with two forced fumbles. Like many Kenton Ridge players, he played on both sides of the ball and rushed for 372 yards and seven TDs as a senior.

Played at Eastern Michigan, where he started as a tight end and eventually moved to the defensive line. He played in 48 games with 24 starts and finished with 93 career tackles.

3. Jayden Davis, RB/DB, 2016:A two-way star for the Cougars for three seasons. Owns numerous records, including the school's career rushing record. Ran for 3,368 yards and 39 TDs, the bulk of which came in his junior and senior seasons. Also started at defensive back for three seasons; he had 253 tackles and 15 interceptions.

Davis will also be remembered by Cougar faithful for big performances against rival Shawnee in his junior and senior seasons. His 2015 performance against the Braves was especially outstanding: 262 rushing yards on 21 carries with three TDs. His last touchdown was a 51-yard run that helped secure a 41-28 win.

Davis is entering his sophomore season at Ohio Dominican. He’s a DB for the Panthers and played in seven games last year.

4. Dan McNeil, QB/LB, 1984:McNeil was an All-Southwest District and All-Ohio selection as a senior linebacker for the 7-3 Cougars in the 1983 season.

5. Brandon Nicholson, RB/DB, 2004:Rushed for 1,312 yards as a senior and intercepted seven passes his junior season. He was all-conference both seasons and All-Southwest District as a senior. His best game was his senior season against Ben Logan, when he ran for 272 yards and four TDs on 18 carries.

He started his collegiate career at Charleston then transferred to Youngstown State and played three seasons for the Penguins.

6. Mitchell Schneider, QB, 2015:A dual-threat, he was instrumental in the team's playoff berths in 2013-14. Had 3,617 career passing yards and 51 TD passes along with 2,105 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns.

Had a spectacular performance in Week 7 of his senior season against Shawnee. On a rainy night at Richard L. Phillips Field, he demolished the Braves defense with 204 rushing yards on 10 carries and also 138 passing yards on five completions (three of which were TDs). The Cougars beat Shawnee 34-14 – their first victory in the long-running series since 2007.

Schneider was also a star baseball player, which he is playing at Bowling Green State University.

7. Xan Smith, OL/DL, 1993:Led a bruising offensive line that paved the way for one of the area's best rushing offenses in 1990-91. The 1991 team amassed a 9-1 record, which ties school's best regular-season record, along with the 2004 and '14 squads.

Played at Wittenberg and was All-NCAC in 1995-96. He was also named an All-American in 1996 and was inducted in Wittenberg’s Hall of Fame last year.

Smith was a radio color commentator for Wittenberg’s football games in the late 1990s and early 2000s and now lives in Pensacola, Florida.

Honorable mention: Derek Anderson, WR, 1996; Thomas Bennett, LB/RB, 2012; Rob Berkshire, OL/DL 1989; Thor Bisher, QB, 1999; Dave Burba, 1984; Matt Brumfield, QB, 2005; Zach Brumfield, DB, 2005; Anthony Cole-Young, RB, 2011; Arnie Cline, WR, 1994;

Kris Dobyns, OL/DL, 1996; Pete Emmert, 1980; Joe Estep, QB, 1996; Bobby Hess, 1992; Zach Holt, LB/RB, 2014; Joe Hunter, LB, 1996; Kevin Johnson, RB, 2010; Caleb King, OL/DL, 2016; Nick Lias, QB, 2012; Josh Linthicum, OL/DL, 2008; Joel Marratta, RB/LB, 1988; Troy Miesse, DB, 1983;

Dan Petersen, 1998; John Schrader, 1992; Mike Rickards, 1984; Roy Rogers, RB, 1980; Tom Thompson, RB, 1986; Brian Triebelhorn, RB, 1992; Jacob Wagner, OL/DL, 2000; Max Winnenberg, RB, 2013.

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