Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
Needless to say, this past football season was as successful as they come.
Southern Ohio Sports Authority was right there every step of the way, covering individual milestones, improbable feats and wins that changed history.
After a fun-filled year, take a look at our All-Area team, which consists of 30 area players who were at their best throughout the fall season.
J.T. Barnett | Senior | Linebacker | Waverly
Year after year, Waverly has someone on the defensive side who comes on strong and establishes himself as the leader. It was Barnett’s time this year, and he made sure opponents felt his impact. He ended the season with nearly 70 tackles and seven tackles for loss, earning himself the Division IV Defensive Player of the Year honor.
Josh Boggs | Senior | Defensive Lineman | Wheelersburg
In the trenches every single week on both sides of the ball, you could count on seeing Boggs moving players left and right. Offensively, he was a stalwart to open lines for the run game while defensively, he was stopping the opposition’s run game and leading a unit that allowed just 14.4 points per game. He was first-team SOC II and first-team all-district.
Hayden Brannigan | Junior | Defensive End | Zane Trace
At times this season, Zane Trace didn’t even need their linebackers because Brannigan exploded so quickly off the line. He finished the season with 79 tackles — second on the team — to go with 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks, leading a defense that allowed just 15.6 points per game. He was named first-team SVC and first-team all-district.
Dariyonne Bryant | Senior Receiver | Portsmouth
Explosiveness. Athleticism. Those are just two of many things that Bryant brought to the table for the Trojans. He was a mismatch on the outside at 6-foot-2 and they took advantage every chance possible. He hauled in 49 catches for 606 yards and eight touchdowns, but also racked up 33 tackles and three interceptions on his way to first-team OVC and first-team all-district honors.
Johnny Burton | Senior | Receiver | Piketon
Anytime you saw No. 9 streaking down the field, it was game over. Burton was already one of the top returning receivers in the area, but he took his game to a whole new level this year. He caught a team-high 67 catches for 1,224 yards — 18.1 yards per catch — and found the end zone 12 times. He was named first-team SVC and first-team all-district.
Josh Clark | Senior | Defensive Back | Wheelersburg
The emotional leader of Wheelersburg’s team, he was the spark and the fire of a defense that found its mojo in the final weeks of the regular season. His play on the field helped spark big victories over Waverly, Minford and West en route to an SOC II championship. He was named first-team SOC II and first-team all-district.
Cavan Cooper | Junior | Quarterback | Paint Valley
Quarterback, running back, defensive back. It doesn’t matter where you put Cooper on the field, production will follow. Offensively, he piled up 1,055 rushing yards, 742 passing yards and 26 total touchdowns. Defensively, he had 79 tackles and four tackles for loss. He was named the SVC Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-district.
Wade Futhey | Senior | Quarterback | Waverly
There was already a high standard set for the quarterback position at Waverly, and all Futhey did was raise the bar. He set a new school record for passing yards in a season with 2,823 yards to pair with 33 touchdowns for the nine-win Tigers. He was named the SOC II’s Offensive Player of the Year, the Division IV Offensive Player of the Year and will soon add All-Ohio honors.
Levi Gullion | Senior | Quarterback | Piketon
He was the most important player in the area, and SOSA’s Player of the Year for a reason. Leading Piketon to a Gold Ball and it’s first-ever 10-win season, the senior quarterback threw for 3,075 yards and 31 touchdowns, but also ran for 1,023 yards and 21 more scores. That was more than enough to earn him honors as the SVC Offensive Player of the Year and the Division V co-Offensive Player of the Year.
Ty Jones | Senior | Defensive Line | Jackson
Nothing about Jones makes the average spectator believe he’s a nose tackle. He’s 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, yet he’s as slippery as they come. He finished the season with 83 tackles, six sacks and 5 1/2 tackles for loss, helping the Ironmen claim an FAC championship. He was named all-FAC and first-team all-district.
Zayne Karr | Senior | Running Back | Vinton County
The Vikings underwent a lot of changes, but for the good, and Karr’s game went to another level. He finished the season with 192 carries for 1,350 yards — a new single-season school record along with 15 touchdowns as he led them to six wins, the most since 2004. He was named first-team TVC and first-team all-district.
Jaquez Keyes | Junior | Running Back | Ironton
Replacing an All-Ohioan at running back isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do, but Keyes made it look like a piece of cake. The Tigers trusted the junior standout to lead their offense and he came through by rushing for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, guiding them to 11 wins this season. He was named first-team OVC and first-team all-district
Jayden LeBeau | Senior | Back | Miami Trace
Anytime the ball was in LeBeau’s hands, he was a threat to find the end zone. And oftentimes, he did just that. Leading the Panthers to a seven-win season, he finished the year with 1,830 yards — a new single-season record to go along with scoring 15-plus times. That was enough for him to be named the FAC Player of the Year and first-team all-district.
Tanner Lemaster | Junior | Tight End | Washington
Lemaster is rated as the No. 1 tight end in the state, and when you watch him, it’s easy to see why. He’s a physical threat in run-blocking situations with more than enough capability, but also showed the talent in the receiving game as he caught 31 passes for 440 yards and four touchdowns — including a Hail Mary catch for a win against McClain. He was named all-FAC and first-team all-district.
Camren Loar | Senior | Receiver | Piketon
If the ball wasn’t flying through the air towards Johnny Burton, it was headed straight to Loar. What Loar didn’t have in size, he more than made up for with possession, quickness and speed. He ended the season with 61 catches for a team-high 1,289 yards — 21.1 yards per catch — alongside 15 touchdowns. He was named first-team SVC and first-team all-district.
Grant Mastin | Senior | Linebacker | Jackson
He’s the unquestioned heart and soul of Jackson’s team. Mastin has been a staple of the Ironmen defense for the last three seasons, leading a unit that allowed just 13.1 points per game. He ended the season with 113 tackles, seven tackles for loss and five sacks for the FAC champions. He was named all-FAC, the Division III District Defensive Player of the Year and soon will add All-Ohio honors to his accolade list.
Isaac McCory | Senior | Linebacker | Chillicothe
Wherever the ball is on the field, chances are No. 40 isn’t too far away. McCory has a nose for the football and was constantly shooting through gaps up front to make tackles in the backfield. As the leader of the Cavaliers’ defense, he ended with 60 tackles, including 11 for loss and a pair of sacks. He was named all-FAC and first-team all-district.
Penn Morrison | Senior | Receiver | Waverly
Offensively or defensively, Morrison is going to figure out a way to get his hands on the ball. And once he does, he’s taking it to the house. He racked up 50 catches for 967 yards and 13 touchdowns as a receiver, and then came up with six interceptions defensively. All-around playmaker. He was named first-team SOC II and first-team all-district.
Ben Nichols | Senior | Quarterback | Zane Trace
After a couple years of retooling the program, the Pioneers had a season resurgence with Nichols leading the charge. Whether it was using his arms or legs, good things always happened. He finished the season with 1,162 passing yards, 841 rushing yards and 27 total touchdowns. That was enough to earn him first-team SVC and first-team all-district honors.
Caleb Osborne | Junior | Defensive Lineman | Adena
It wasn’t the season Adena had last year, but it had its bright spots. None bigger than Osborne, though. He was a brute on the defensive line, winning 1-on-1 battles and getting into the backfield to make plays. He came up with 72 tackles including 11 for loss and eight sacks, earning his spot on first-team SVC and first-team all-district teams.
Ethan Patterson | Senior | Running Back | Symmes Valley
The Vikings dominated much of their season behind a string running attack featuring Patterson. The senior back led his team to an undefeated regular season and scored the game-winning touchdown against Northwest, which ultimately clinched a Gold Ball. He was named first-team SOC I and first-team all-district.
Ty Perkins | Junior | Receiver | Ironton
Perkins came into a new system, but his talent was undeniable and he immediately became the Tigers’ go-to receiver. He hauled in 29 catches for 643 yards — 22.1 yards per catch — and 11 touchdowns, helping Ironton capture the OVC Championship in the process. He was named first-team OVC and first-team all-district.
Drew Roe | Senior | Quarterback | Portsmouth
Toughness. Grit. Heart. Roe has all the characteristics any coach could want from their field general. He ran Portsmouth’s spread formation to perfection, throwing for 2,190 yards and 39 total touchdowns (28 passing, 11 rushing) leading the Trojans to eight wins and their first playoff win since 2002. He was named the Division V co-Offensive Player of the Year for his efforts.
Ryan Sissel | Junior | Running Back | West
The Senators have always had a proud football tradition and a strong running game, which was powered this year by Sissel. The bulldozing back plowed his way to 1,518 yards on 246 carries — 6.2 yards per rush to go with 11 touchdowns. That was enough to earn him a spot on first-team SOC II and first-team all-district teams.
Whyatt Ward | Senior | Defensive Lineman | Unioto
The Shermans went through a youth movement this season, but Ward played every game like a veteran. As the leader of the defensive front, he came up with 65 tackles, 12 1/2 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks — all of which were team-highs. It was enough to earn him a spot on first-team SVC and first-team all-district teams.
Angelo Washington | Senior | Linebacker | Ironton
Physically, Washington just looks like a D-I linebacker. Then you watch him play and it all makes sense why he’s going D-I. With speed, power and a high football IQ, he makes plays on the field that leave you in amazement. He led a unit that gave up just 8.1 points per night. The University of Kentucky commit was named the Division V co-Defensive Player of the Year.
Carson Williams | Senior | Linebacker | Wheelersburg
The further along Wheelersburg went in its tournament run, the better Williams played. He came through with a pair of huge interceptions and a touchdown for the Pirates during the postseason. But even before the playoffs, he was bringing the lumber from his linebacker spot. He helped ‘Burg win 10 games, including three playoff tilts. He was first-team SOC II and first-team all-district.
Jacob Winters | Junior | Quarterback | Jackson
Winters started the season at running back. Then injury forced him back under center and Jackson took off. Finishing with 10 wins, he ended the season with 1,481 passing yards and 25 touchdowns to just four picks. He added 727 rushing yards and eight more scores. He was named all-FAC and first-team all-district.
Cade Wolford | Sophomore | Halfback | Jackson
Wolford is one of two sophomores on this list to give you an idea of how special of a player he is. All he does is make plays, no matter where he is on the field. He ran for a team-high 873 yards and nine touchdowns. But he also hauled 25 catches for 488 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns. He was named all-FAC and first-team all-district.
Brady Woltz | Sophomore | Corner | Vinton County
Usually anytime a quarterback sees 1-on-1 on the outside, they attack the mismatch. However, it was the opposite with Woltz. He was a gamechanger who made anyone pay from visiting his island. The sophomore corner registered 23 tackles and came up with six interceptions on the season, earning him first-team TVC and first-team all-district honors.
Honorable Mention Selections
Tristan Prater, Jackson; Chase Morrow, Valley; Max Lee, Chillicothe; A.J. Dallmeyer, Washington; Will Futhey, Waverly; Braden Wright, McClain; Braiden Dunham, Piketon; Nate Cochran, Ironton; Trenton Zimmerman, Minford; Nalin Robinson, Zane Trace; Aaron Penn, Northwest, Reade Pendleton, Portsmouth; Maddox Fox, Unioto; Weston Melvin, Miami Trace; Brock Adams, Waverly