CHL Football Game Week Article in Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Hills League football: Can anyone take down Wyoming's Cowboys?
Cincinnati Hills League
Last year: 4-8 (2-5 CHL)
What to watch: The Wildcats were under .500 after three straight winning seasons last year, but still made the Division VI playoffs, losing to Coldwater last Nov. 6.
Tailback Kendall Luckett returns after finishing third in the CHL in rushing last year with 1,043 yards and 10 touchdowns. The 5-foot-11-inch, 190-pound senior currently has some Division II and NAIA offers. At quarterback is junior Jayce Parsons, who had 571 yards rushing and 506 passing for the Wildcats. Parsons has some DII and NAIA offers and also is a baseball player.
Junior RB/DL Jasean Denson, who averaged 5.4 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns last year, is drawing service academy interest at 225 pounds in the option football game. Senior wingback Brandon Anderson also returns with a 4.8-yard rushing average. Anderson also excelled on defense with a pair of interceptions and 33 tackles while returning senior Aaron Voland had 41 tackles at linebacker and an interception.
"We have a cohesive group this year, team-oriented," coach Calvin Johnson said. "Our defense has several returning players."
The Wildcats open with a couple of home games at "The Park" starting Saturday, Aug. 20, against Purcell Marian. The following Friday they host Western Hills.
Last year: 2-7 (0-7 CHL)
What to watch: After a pair of early demonstrative wins against Clark Montessori and St. Bernard-Elmwood Place, the Wildcats struggled. Armand Tatum was hired in the offseason following a groundswell of support after his sudden ouster from Western Hills a year ago.
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Helping with some running experience will be junior Damyon Freeman, who ran for 198 yards last season in Finneytown's win over Clark. Sophomore Alex Dykes also got some carries as a freshman. Adding some experience on both sides of the ball is 250-pound offensive lineman/middle linebacker Michael Wise.
"I'm discovering things, re-establishing culture and getting indoctrinated into the community," Tatum said. "Our numbers are getting a little better day by day. This is a very proud community, which I love. It's a great place to be."
Finneytown opens the season with back-to-back home games starting Aug. 19 with Hillcrest, then Aug. 26 with Meadowdale.
Last year: 5-5 (5-2 CHL)
What to watch: Indian Hill won five straight games last year after starting the season 0-4. However, the season ended at .500 after a 12-8 finale defeat vs. Reading. Enter John Rodenberg who has coached locally at McNicholas, Covington Catholic, Roger Bacon and Moeller in addition to his recent Indiana stints at Lawrence Central and Roncalli. He won a state title at CovCath and back-to-back crowns at Moeller in 2012 and 2013.
As soon as he was hired, Rodenberg pinpointed Wyoming's Cowboys, who have won or shared the last six CHL titles and eight of the last nine. They haven't lost a CHL game since 2015.
"You've got to sit there as a coach and take a look at who won your league the year before," Rodenberg said. "They become the benchmark and they deserve it. They're the best team in the league right now and they've got all the reason to be able to claim that. You've got to stop them. That's what we put all of our emphasis towards."
Junior John Podojil got valuable time last year at quarterback when starter Ty Thornton was injured. He finished up throwing for 1,008 yards and 12 touchdowns and ran for 205 yards and three scores.
"Last year was key for a lot of us, a lot of sophomores got to play," Podojil said. "I think it's going to help us out a lot. We're young, but we've got experience so I think we're heading in the right direction."
Other juniors to look for are 6-foot-5-inch C.J. Hayden, who had 10 catches as a receiver and 20 tackles and three sacks as a hybrid safety/linebacker (similar to how Rodenberg used current 6-foot-6-inch Cincinnati Bengal Sam Hubbard at Moeller).
Also from the talented junior class are Daniel O'Brien who had 34 tackles and an interception as a defensive back and 6-foot-3-inch Alex Grace who plays both ways was the team's kicker last season (26-of-28 PATs).
There are just two seniors at press time with Robbie Orr leading the charge. He had 44 tackles and a pair of interceptions in 2021.
In typical Rodenberg fashion, he'll jump right into the frying pan as he begins at one of his former schools, McNicholas, on Aug. 19. Upcoming games include a road tilt at Taft (Sept. 2) and arch-rival Wyoming (Sept. 9) at Tomahawk Stadium.
Last year: 4-6 (1-6 CHL)
What to watch: The Mustangs started out 3-0 last season, then stumbled to 1-7 the rest of the way including a 14-6 Division V playoff loss at Taft Oct. 30. In his fifth year at Madeira, Chris Stewart will try to right the ship with nine starters returning on offense and defense.
Leading the way is 6-foot-6-inch TE/DE Conner Cravaack, who is committed to play at Akron. Cravaack had 38 catches for 476 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively he had 44 tackles and seven sacks.
Other Madeira weapons are WR/DB Max Autry and OL/LB Aidan Megois. Autry caught 51 passes for 700 yards and added 44 tackles. Megois had 62 tackles. On the frontlines are Grant Edgington and Justin Matsudo, also seniors.
"Our senior leadership will be the best it has ever been in my five years here at Madeira," Stewart said.
Junior Peter Breidenbach is back at quarterback after throwing for 1,477 yards and eight touchdowns and running for 298 yards and three scores.
Madeira begins the season at Norwood Aug. 19 before hosting CHCA on Aug. 26.
Last year: 8-4 (4-3 CHL)
What to watch: Nick Leone had his best year as Mariemont's head coach last season. Their three regular-season losses came to frontrunners Wyoming, Indian Hill and Reading. They also had a playoff victory in Division V vs. Blanchester before falling to Roger Bacon last Nov. 6, 16-6.
Senior David Dorsten returns at quarterback after throwing for 1,201 yards and 14 touchdowns last year. His big target is 6-foot-4-inch fellow senior Timmy Stewart, who caught 31 balls for 476 yards last season. Defensively senior Mark Morgan recorded 97 tackles with six sacks and an interception in 21 with seniors Lawson Wade and J.D. Long adding key stops.
Other starters returning are seniors Andrew Duckwall and Evan Morgan and juniors Davis Whitmore, Ryan Glassmeyer and Charlie Tully. Tully, in relief of Dorsten last year at quarterback threw for 767 yards and six touchdowns while running for 173 yards and two scores. Leone also expects senior Connor Jackson to help out in his first year.
"The bond they share seems to be on a different level than any team I've seen in my six years at Mariemont," Leone said of the 2022 Warriors. "We have some great depth and will be able to have a lot of different weapons for our team to use on offense. Hopefully, we can use our speed on defense."
On the schedule for Mariemont are home games with Norwood Aug. 26 and a CHL showdown with Madeira Sept. 9.
Last year: 7-3 (5-2 CHL)
What to watch: Reading only lost to Wyoming and Taylor in the league last year and fell in the first round of the playoffs to Carlisle 34-23. Last year's coach Cody Reardon was named CHL Coach of the Year but has since moved on to offensive coordinator at Indian Hill under John Rodenberg. In steps Luke Cripe in his first year as a head coach.
The Blue Devils return senior tight end/linebacker Vincent Eadicicco who had 90 tackles and an interception last season and Antwon Brooks who racked up 62 tackles with two sacks. On offense, Brooks got some carries and finished with 142 yards.
Last year's backup to Joel Steinkoenig, sophomore Dickie Engel, returns but most of his freshman accolades were on defense as a linebacker where he had 112 tackles and six sacks. Leading both lines are seniors Patton Johnson and Dirk Konrad. Other returning starters are C/DL Blake Rasner, OT/DL Jaycob Sales and RB/LB Austin Fancher, all seniors.
"We have a lot of experience on our offensive and defensive line as well as our linebackers," Cripe said. "Our team is a physical group of young men that work extremely hard. I'm excited to see this group play as a team."
Reading opens up at nearby Lockland Aug. 19, then travels to Talawanda Aug. 26.
Last year: 5-6 (4-3 CHL)
What to watch: Coach David Dransman will try to get the Yellowjackets above .500 in his second year. A first-round playoff loss to St. Paris Graham put them at 5-6 in 2021.
Dransman gets back junior starting quarterback Jackson McGowan, who threw for 595 yards and five touchdowns, mainly in the last five games in relief of 2021 senior starter Mark Snowden. Senior Leland Jones-Royalty is the top ground-gainer having galloped for 808 yards and seven scores last year.
On defense, 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound Grant Booth had 70 tackles and 1.5 sacks last year with junior J.T. Rudisell adding 37 with three interceptions. Senior defensive back Tony Kuhr will also be a factor.
"This team is hungry to prove themselves after losing a great senior class," Dransman said. "We may be young but these young me are ready to compete."
Taylor hosts Greenon at Coach Don McMillan Field Aug. 19 to start the campaign followed by a road game at Lawrenceburg Aug. 26.
Last year: 12-1 (7-0 CHL champs)
What to watch: The Cowboys ran the table until meeting up with eventual Division IV state champion Clinton-Massie last November. The CHL title was their sixth in a row and they've won eight of the last nine, with no league losses since 2015.
Western Michigan running back commit C.J. Hester leads the returning Cowboys after earning Ohio Division IV Offensive Player of the Year honors last season along with Southwest District honors the past two seasons. In 2021, he ran for 2,484 yards and 35 touchdowns and caught 18 passes for 170 yards and four scores. Hester is 995 yards away from 5,000 for his career and is being coached in the backfield by former Reading/Florida Gator/Green Bay Packer DeShawn Wynn. He also doesn't mind playing some defense, garnering 32 tackles with three forced fumbles and an interception last season.
"He's a hard worker; he's tough," Wynn said. "Even when he's tired or banged up, he'll still push through and do what we need him to do. He's one of the best running backs I've ever coached at the high school level."
Junior quarterback Quaid Hauer is also the proverbial Swiss Army knife who threw for 1,449 yards and 14 touchdowns while making 94 tackles at linebacker with five sacks and three interceptions.
"He is a linebacker with every meaning and he's a quarterback that plays with a linebacker-style," Wyoming head coach Aaron Hancock said. "He's a tough, hard-nosed kid."
A Madison Central (Kentucky) transfer, Anderson Mitchell, should help in the receiving department at 6-foot-3-inches. On the defensive line, senior Joel Allen and junior Deuce Wiley combined for 16 sacks last season.
Boys Golf Preview
The CHL Boys Golf teams competed in the league preview Tuesday August, 9 at The Mill Course! Madeira captured the CHL Boys Golf Preview title with a score of 292. Indian Hill finished close behind at 294. Wyoming was third, Mariemont fourth, Taylor fifth, followed by Reading and Finneytown.
Finley Bartlett, Soph. from Wyoming was the Medalist, shooting a 69 at the Mill Course!
Congratulations to all!
New Fall Season Gears Up
The 2022-23 school year is about to begin this month. The fall teams have been conditioning all summer and now are into their pre-season schedules. The Boys and Girls Golf seasons have actually begun this week.
Last year Wyoming won the CHL Football crown while Reading and Indian Hill tied for 2nd place. In Volleyball Wyoming also won that title while Taylor was runner up. Mariemont won the Girls Soccer CHL title followed by Taylor but Wyoming, which finished 3rd in the league went on a post season run and were state runner-up. The CHL is such a strong soccer conference, both girls and boys. In the boys league race Madeira won the trophy. Wyoming and Indian Hill tied for 2nd but Wyoming ended up STATE Champs!
Girls Tennis was dominated by Indian Hill and Mariemont ended up in 2nd place. Boys golf saw Madeira as league champ, Indian Hill in 2nd place. This summer one returning golfer from Wyoming won the Ohio Junior Amateur, Finley Bartlett became the youngest (15) ever to win that title, even younger than when Jack Nicklaus won it. On the girls side Wyoming finished as league champs and Indian Hill followed in second place.
Cross Country had their league championships last October and Mariemont won the boys title while Madeira captured the girls side.
It should be an exciting fall with great competition in all nine sports throughout the CHL!
Good Luck to all teams and participants!
New Athletic Director Takes Over at Reading High School
Nick Wilson will take over this school year as The Reading City Schools new Athletic Director/Assistant Principal. Nick is beginning his 16th year in the field of Education. Previously he was athletic director at Bellevue HS as well as Boone County Schools in Northern Kentucky and also at St. Bernard-Elmwood Place in Cincinnati.
Nick and his wife Sarah live in Northern Kentucky with their two "beautiful" children, Max and Wren. He graduated from NKU and Xavier University. Nick said he is really excited about joining the Blue Devil family and working with the members of the staff, the community, and the student-athletes. "I have quickly learned that Reading is a special place with a huge amount of community support and I can't wait to become a part of it."
Value of HS Sports