- By David Jablonski Staff Writer
The 2018 Wittenberg football reruiting includes 71 players. That’s a big drop from last year when coach Joe Fincham and his staff added 89 players to the roster. That was the biggest class in Fincham’s tenure.
This class, Fincham said, “had to be smaller.”
At the Division III level, players come and go. Fincham expects five players on the current list to either not show up to camp or to show up and quit the team within a day. That’s typical.
“With small-college turnover, which is inevitable, you’ve got guys who come to play college football, and it’s not like they’re on scholarship,” Fincham said. “If they leave your team, their financial aid doesn’t change. They can go be a student. If you’re at Ohio State and you leave the team, all of a sudden, you’re paying for room, board, books, tuition, the whole nine yards.”
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The new recruits join a program coming off its first 10-0 regular season since 2010. Among the players are two Clark County graduates: Northeastern tight end Tanner Stratton and Catholic Central linebacker Dominic Catanzaro.
As has become common in recent years, there are a number of recruits from Florida. There were 21 players from Florida in the 2017 class and 13 in this class.
“We like the class,” said Fincham, who earned his 200th career victory last season and enters his 23rd season as head coach. “Of course, almost everybody in the country is going to say that at this stage in the game. With change comes optimism, and a new recruiting class is change.”
Here’s a glance at some of the standouts in the group:
Reid Allen, Akron Archbishop Hoban linebacker: Allen’s grandfather, Roy Allen, was Wittenberg’s MVP in 1962 and is a member of the Wittenberg Hall of Honor. His dad Scott was a golfer at Wittenberg.
Avery Powers, New Bremen running back: Powers is the son of Aaron Powers, who played for the Tigers from 1993-96 and ranks sixth in school history in rushing yards (3,122). Powers rushed for 769 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and had 30 receptions for 370 yards and six touchdowns.
Adam McCardle, Hilliard Bradley linebacker: Fincham described McCardle as a “scrappy playmaker.”
Donte Ashcraft, Hilliard Darby defensive end: Knee surgeries may have prevented Ashcraft from getting a chance to play in a higher division, Fincham said, but Ashcraft is “ tremendously athletic. He’s not big in stature, but boy is he explosive.”
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Anthony Ferrara, Portsmouth offensive lineman: Ferrara’s family has ties to the Kayser family in Portsmouth. Jack Kayser was a senior defensive back at Wittenberg last season, and Sam Kayser was a freshman wide receiver.
Rodney Van Cleaf, Westerville North defensive end: Van Cleaf made the All-Central District team. Fincham said he has a “good motor.”
Mark Pratt, Hamilton offensive lineman: Of Pratt, Fincham said, “He has a r eally good frame on him. He runs around. We think he’s going to grow a bunch by the time he’s out of here.”
Eric Davis, Cardinal Gibbons (Fla.) linebacker: Davis is an explosive player who has a nose for the ball, Fincham said.
Jake Roberts, Cincinnati LaSalle, wide receiver: Roberts had 18 catches for 270 yards last season.
Jacob Evans, Tipp City Bethel quarterback: Evans was one of a number of Wittenberg recruits who played in the Miami Valley Football Coaches Association All-Star Game on Friday, along with: teammate Hunter Shelley, an offensive lineman; Northmont linebacker Logan Jewsikow; Catanzaro; Hamilton Ross defensive lineman Logan Lange and Eaton linebacker Chase Smith.
Tahj Roberts, Cincinnati Colerain offensive lineman: Roberts is the biggest player in the class. He’s 6-foot-6, 310 pounds.
Ethan Higgins, linebacker, and Lance Lambert, quarterback, of West Jefferson: Higgins and Lambert led West Jefferson to a 10-0 regular season and two playoff victories.
Israel Anis, Community School (Fla.) linebacker: Anis is from Naples, Fla. He’s a “great kid,” Fincham said, “with good size and another good student. There’s a bunch of good students in the class.”