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Brock Netter

Brock is SOSA's primary writer and has worked for the Coshocton Tribune, the Kankakee Daily Journal (Ill.), the Vinton-Jackson Courier and the Jackson Telegram. He's a six-time award-winning journalist, a lifelong WWE fan, a suffering Bengals fan and calls the sidelines his home.

15 football players to keep your eyes on this fall

Here's a look at 15 names to watch for on the gridiron this fall.

Brock Netter, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

Folks, a new high school football season is finally here.

Last fall, we witnessed countless jaw-dropping moments, instant classics and playoff runs that will forever be remembered. 

Now as we turn the page to see what the 2023 season has in store within the SVC, SOC I, SOC II, FAC, MSL-Buckeye and OVC, as well as Logan, Vinton County, Athens, Nelsonville-York and Wellston, more moments are waiting to be covered and unknown players are ready to mold themselves into household names.

Having said that, we’ve taken the liberty of listing 15 players to keep your eyes on this season. 

NOTE: This is NOT a list of the top 15 football players in the area. It is not a be all, end all. Other players will have outstanding seasons. This is simply just a list of 15 names. Nothing more, nothing less. 

Blake Phillips, Zane Trace

It’s no secret that Zane Trace’s success last season was attributed to a great running game. The Pioneers have a chance to repeat as the SVC champion because of Phillips. He ran for 743 yards and found the end zone 15 times in 2022, helping ZT rack up 11 wins. He’s now the top dog in the backfield, so his workload will increase — and so will his numbers. 

Blake Hoops, Unioto

Ten different Shermans caught at least one pass last season. Seven of those receivers, including the best one in school history in Maddox Fox, are gone. Luckily, Hoops was second on the team in catches with 34, receiving yards with 419 and touchdowns catches with six. He’ll be the go-to guy in the passing game, which is understandable, considering his quarterback lives under the same roof — literally.

Caden Eblin, Chillicothe

Eblin saw limited action last season, but still threw four touchdowns. It’s his show this fall as he moves to QB1 for a Cavalier team coming off a playoff appearance. He’s shown the ability to escape the pocket, extend plays and complete passes on the run. That versatility will be on full display this season. 

Eli Broermann, Jackson

The ball seems to find Broermann, on both sides. He’s a threat offensively, running and catching, but also led Jackson’s defense last season with six interceptions. One year later, he’s one of just two returning starters from a group that won 10 games. One thing about Jackson is that the Ironmen simply reload. Broermann’s impact will be critical. 

Braylon Robertson, Paint Valley

Pound for pound, there might not be a more bruising back in the SVC than Robertson. Not afraid to take a hit — or dish one out — he ran for over 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. As Paint Valley breaks in new skill players across the board, having a back like Robertson to call upon makes life easier. 

Paint Valley’s Braylon Robertson ran for over 1,300 yards last season alongside 14 touchdowns.
CREDIT: Marissa Spradlin/SOSA

Jeffery Bishop, West

A touchdown waiting to happen. That’s the best way to describe the impact Bishop can have anytime he touches the football, which is evidenced by his 17 scores last season. That helped the Senators win the SOC II title. If a repeat championship is going to happen, getting the ball into No. 18’s hands is key.

Shaun Terry, Ironton

Speed for days and electric in the open field. That’s what Terry brings to Ironton’s table, and the Tigers will need it more than ever this season. Whoever lines up under center for the Division V powerhouse can take comfort in knowing that they have a guy who runs 4.4 as a downfield option.

Buddy Wilson, Piketon

Wilson emerged as the team’s top running back last season, and that turned into the biggest possible blessing for the Redstreaks. He ran for 934 yards and eight touchdowns, helping the team win six games and make a playoff appearance. The Redstreaks have a team filled with mostly sophomores and juniors, so keep an eye on this team and prepare to read Wilson’s name a lot. 

Connor Estep, Wheelersburg

Let’s not discredit kickers. They’re more important than they get credit for and Wheelersburg possesses one of the best in the area. Go back to his performance against Jackson last season where he connected on four field goal tries, helping him earn first-team All-Ohio status. He’s a weapon at any point the Pirates cross midfield. 

Bryce Wickline, Westfall

Somewhat flying under the radar, Wickline put together a 2022 season that gave the Mustangs reasons to find hope this coming fall. Finishing with 2,453 total yards — 2,008 passing, 445 rushing — and 24 total touchdowns — 16 passing, 8 rushing — he showcased what a talent he is. Take the Mustangs serious. Wickline is a baller. 

Rocky Jones, Washington

Washington was ungodly loaded on offense last year. So much so, that Jones was sometimes an afterthought. Yet, he still put up 1,280 total yards of offense and found the end zone 14 times. Most of last year’s starting talent is now gone. So Jones becomes the focal point of the offense, which could cause nightmares for opposing defenses. 

Camden Redd, Logan Elm

Logan Elm lost its top receiver to graduation, so someone has to step up. Enter Redd, who stands at 6-foot-5 and has all the potential to turn in a monster season. Remember, the Braves finished with eight wins and have their quarterback Aaron Walters back in the fold. If the chemistry between the two is on point, the touchdowns could pile up. 

Green’s Nathaniel Brannigan ran for nearly 1,500 yards last fall while scoring 15 touchdowns.
CREDIT: Marissa Spradlin/SOSA

Nathaniel Brannigan, Green

Put the ball in his hands, and watch him just pile up the yardage. Brannigan is a wrecking ball of a running back who runs like his hair is on fire. That’s why he put up nearly 1,500 yards on the ground and scored 15 times in 2022. Green has every bit of a chance to capture the SOC I championship. Brannigan will undoubtedly play a role in that quest.

Garrett Guess, Miami Trace

Every team would love to have a huge target like Guess. He can just go up, high-point the ball and haul it in safely. At 6-foot-5, he’s the go-to guy for the Panthers after catching 12 touchdowns last season. MT is a very sneaky team with the ability to upset anyone, and that’s because of Guess’s talents on the outside. 

Lane Haybron, Vinton County

Garrett Brown is the featured back, but Haybron is the guy who can make the difference in the Vikings’ bid for a TVC championship. He found the end zone eight times last season, carving out his role in the rotation as a trusted back who finds holes and runs through them. This team is hungry for a playoff win, and Haybron can help get them over the hump.


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