Brock Netter, Staff Writer
Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.
Aug. 19 is rapidly approaching, which means the return of Football Friday Nights. Is there anything better? We think not.
Area programs have been competing in 7-on-7 events, scrimmages are next, and then it’s time for the bright lights on the big stage.
We asked our readers to submit questions geared towards the upcoming football season. Here, we answer five of those inquiries.
Piketon, Jackson, Wheelersburg, Symmes Valley and Ironton all won conference titles last season? Do any of those teams repeat?
I believe four of the five teams will repeat as conference champions. That leads to the question of which team won’t repeat. That’s Piketon. Losing an entire platoon offensive production, especially one as high-powered as the Redstreaks had last season, is not easy to replace. So here’s my prediction: with the talent it has returning this season, Paint Valley will once again reign supreme atop the SVC in the Bearcats’ third season under head coach Corey Dye.
One-on-one. You’re at quarterback. What receiver do you want on the outside to make the catch?
Great question. So many guys can just go up and get it; guys like Unioto’s Maddox Fox, Ironton’s Ty Perkins, Valley’s George Arnett and Vinton County’s Garrett Brown. With that being said, if I’m throwing a pass in one-on-one coverage for the game-winner, give me Washington’s Tanner Lemaster. The University of Kentucky commit is a 6-foot-5 mismatch with solid athleticism and above average hands. When the game is on the line, he’s Mr. Clutch. Just watch the tape or revisit last year’s game against rival Miami Trace.
Who is the most underrated player in the area, but will make himself into a household name this season?
I thought long and hard about this one, and I’m going with Zane Trace’s Riley Hartsaugh. The Pioneers last season had one of the most balanced attacks, but its running game featured four different guys. Although most of the attention went towards Ben Nichols and Daniel Barnhart — and understandably so — Hartsaugh carried the ball 50 times and found the end zone on seven of those carries. His workload could increase this year, meaning more chances to find pay dirt.
What player in the area will lead the area in total touchdowns?
There’s a ton of great options to answer this question, but everything comes down to the quarterback position since most, if not all of them, are dual-threat players. I’ll take Jackson’s Jacob Winters on this one. The Ohio University commit is as big-time as it gets, and it’s once again his show to run. He tossed 25 touchdowns last season and ran for eight more, totaling 33 on the year. Expect him to be just as good, if not a level better, this fall. The Ironmen will go as far as he can throw them, which could be a regional final.
What team ends up making the longest tournament run this season?
Ironton. No team has as much talent as the Tigers have. And more importantly, they’re as healthy as possible and motivated. Tayden Carpenter is back under center after missing all of last season, as is University of Cincinnati commit Trevor Carter, who was out with a shoulder injury. Just those two make a world of a difference. Now add in University of Cincinnati commit Ty Perkins, Wisconsin commit Jaquez Keyes and uncommitted, for now, Landen Wilson alongside a slew of returning talents, and it’s state title or bust again for the Tigers. I’ll throw in an honorable mention team that could make a long run: Jackson.