COLUMBUS – The 2023 Ohio high school football season is officially at its halfway point.And the individual performances from all around the state continue to jump off of the page. Let’s take a look at the biggest and best headlines presented by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association with this week’s high school football notebook.
Congratulations to Ansonia senior running back Keegen Weiss on being recognized by the OPSWA for one of Week 5’s top performances in the State of Ohio.
* Ansonia senior running back Keegen Weiss rushed 44 times for 182 yards and 4 TDs to help the Tigers beat Tri-Village 30-22 in a battle of unbeaten teams in the Western Ohio Athletic Conference. Ansonia is a DVII school and is now 5-0 while the Patriots fall to 4-1. Weiss is averaging 171 yards per game rushing this season.
* Mansfield Senior’s Maurice Bradley II led the team in tackles again with 11 adding two sacks, two tackles for loss and an interception for the second straight game as the Tygers defeated New Philadelphia 35-14 to take control of their Ohio Cardinal title hopes.
* Ontario’s Chase Studer took the first play of the game 70 yards for a touchdown in the Warriors’ 45-0 win over Clear Fork to help them improve to 5-0 for the first time since 2011. Studer finished with 83 yards rushing and two touchdowns while junior quarterback Bodpegn Miller connected on 12-of-17 passes for 217 yards and two scores while running for 109 yards and a score on just 10 carries.
* Lexington’s Joe Caudill led the Minutemen to a 42-27 win over Wooster on Friday by completing 10-of-17 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown while running for 51 yards on 14 carries with a score. The Minutemen dominated in the run game as Mason Green added 114 yards on 12 carries with two scores and Markale Martin had 93 yards on 17 touches and two more touchdowns. The Minutemen are 2-0 in the OCC and head into a huge Week 6 game with Mansfield Senior.
* Shelby running back Skyler Winters erupted for a career-high 291 yards and five touchdowns in the Whippets’ 62-26 win over Galion on Friday night. It was the 120th meeting between the two schools, who are longtime rivals from the Northern Ohio League.
* Lucas’ Logan Toms ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns on just 20 carries during the Cubs’ 26-6 win over Crestview on Friday night. In last week’s 49-14 rout of Warrensville Heights, Toms had 210 yards rushing and four touchdowns. The week before, in a 41-7 pasting of Smithville, he gained 152 yards and scored three times. That’s 560 yards and 10 touchdowns in three games – during which the Cubs have attempted only two passes, both of them Friday night.
* Colonel Crawford’s Micah Thomas ran all over the Seneca East defense in the Eagles’ big win to remain undefeated. He carried the ball 22 times for 203 yards — SE totaled 206 yards as a team — and a touchdown while also making several big plays on defense.
* Wynford’s two-headed rushing attack of Kaiden Blair and Anthony Evans accounted for 80.2% of the Royals’ offense in a big win over Mohawk. Blair logged 19 attempts for 130 yards and a touchdown, Evans had 21 carries for 143 yards and a touchdown.
* Bucyrus’ Brayden Campbell and his favorite wideout Kam Lewis had a field day against the Upper Sandusky defense, albeit in a loss. Campbell was 19-of-32 passing for 340 yards and five touchdowns, 10 of those receptions went to Lewis who had 172 yards and two scores.
* Hillsboro senior Austin Barrett rushed for 194 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries in Hillsboro’s 32-12 win over East Clinton, giving the running back five consecutive games this season with 100-plus yards rushing in a game. Hillsboro sophomore Jeven Hochstuhl totaled 11 carries for 133 yards with one rushing score, plus on defense he had a pick-six, returning an interception 95 yards for a touchdown against East Clinton.
* McClain senior quarterback Drake Stapleton rushed for 106 yards and scored three touchdowns in McClain’s 27-25 week 5 win over Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy. Stapleton was also 11-of-16 passing for 91 yards. McClain senior running back Andrew Potts rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown.
* We’re only halfway through the 2023 regular season but some prep players are already putting up some impressive stats. At Findlay, four-star junior quarterback Ryan Montgomery has completed 124-of-175 passes for 1,706 yards and 21 touchdowns through five games. Complementing him is senior receiver Ja’vonte Hill. Hill missed the second half of the 2022 season with a broken collar bone, but is making up for lost time. In Friday’s 49-29 win over Fremont Ross, Hill caught 11 passes for 218 yards and two scores. It was the third straight game Hill has hauled in 10 or more passes, and it raised his season totals to 45 receptions for 740 yards and 11 TDs. Following a season-opening loss to No. 1-ranked (Div. III) Toledo Central Catholic, Findlay has rattled of four straight wins heading into the newly created Buckeye Division of the Northern Lakes League.
* Pandora-Gilboa’s Cory Gerten had his first pass of the night picked off. But the sophomore quarterback completed 13-of-15 passes the rest of the night for 237 yards and four touchdowns as the Rockets knocked No. 4-ranked (Div. VII) McComb 42-14. It was P-G’s first win at McComb’s Doc Miller Field since the 2004 season.
* Upper Sandusky’s Kaden Holman, the reigning Northern 10 Conference Player of the Year, added to his resume by completing 24-of-27 passes for 318 yards and six touchdowns and rushing for another 111 yards and two scores in the Rams’ 68-42 win over Bucyrus.
* Antwerp’s all-time leading passer and top-three rusher Carson Altimus added to those totals with 146 yards and a TD toss and two rushing touchdowns but added a 98-yard interception return for a score in the Archers’ 32-14 win over Tinora.
* Sam Herold hit the century mark twice for Bryan in a 46-42 loss to Patrick Henry, rushing for 106 yards and a TD on nine carries while catching five passes for 120 yards and a score.
* Tyson Rodriguez had a hand in all 24 of Wauseon’s points in the Indians’ 24-3 win at Evergreen, catching six passes for 148 yards and three TDs, making all three extra-point kicks and booting a 33-yard field goal.
* After completing just 3-of-13 passes in Defiance’s season opener, Bulldog QB Brez Zipfel had his fourth straight game completing at least 66 percent of his passes with a 14-for-15 showing with three TD passes and four total scores in a 30-8 win over Lima Shawnee.
* Napoleon QB Owen Espinoza eclipsed his season TD pass total (three) in one game, completing 18-of-26 passes for 269 yards and four TDs – a career high – in the Wildcats’ first win of the year at Springfield, 42-6.
* Wayne Trace senior quarterback Kyle Stoller was named Homecoming King and went on to finish 8 of 12 passing for 145 yards and two touchdowns in the first half only of a Raider 56-6 win over Hicksville in Green Meadows Conference play. Stoller also posted a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown in helping lead the Raiders to the victory and improve to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the conference. Senior quarterback Cooper Wenzlick had touchdown runs of 43 and 34 yards in the Raider win and finished the night a perfect eight of eight on extra point kicks. Senior running back Tucker Antoine also added touchdown runs of four, seven and 37 yards.
* Marion Local extended its winning streak to 37 in a row with a 42-7 win over New Bremen in a matchup of last year’s Division VI (Marion Local) and Division VII (New Bremen) state champions. The Flyers, ranked No. 1 in the Division VII poll, faces Division VI poll leader Versailles on Friday for a battle of two of the three undefeated teams in the Midwest Athletic Conference. The win also moves Marion Local head coach Tim Goodwin to 298 career victories since becoming Flyers coach in 1999.
* Celina scored 30 straight points in the first half en route to defeating Kenton 44-14 to take over sole possession of first place in the Western Buckeye League with Elida’s 21-17 loss to Lima Bath. Celina has not won the WBL since 1995.
* Gallia Academy quarterback Bray Rathburn completed eight of 11 passes for 252 yards and four touchdowns in the undefeated Blue Devils’ 50-18 Ohio Valley Conference victory over visiting Portsmouth, which was making its first trip to historic Memorial Field in Gallipolis for the first time in four years. This game was cancelled two years ago because of COVID-19. Rathburn also completed three two-point conversion passes, as Hunter Shamblin completed a 32-yard touchdown pass, ran for a three-yard touchdown run, and made three receptions for 89 yards and one score.
* Williamsburg quarterback J.J. Miller was indeed a one-wan Wildcat wrecking crew on Friday night. Miller completed 16-of-23 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns on only six carries, in the undefeated Wildcats’ 36-0 shutout at Portsmouth Notre Dame. Pierce Ayers made six receptions for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
* Minford senior running back Jeffrey Pica rushed for 192 yards and five touchdowns on only a dozen carries in the Falcons’ 63-21 Southern Ohio Conference Division II victory at McDermott Northwest on Friday night. Pica continues to close in on the Falcons’ career rushing records — for both touchdowns and yards. Peyton Caudill, the Minford sophomore quarterback, rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns on only six carries, and completed 9-of-11 passes for 137 yards and one score.
* Wheelersburg senior all-purpose performer Creed Warren had the Pirates’ first four touchdowns in their 35-0 Southern Ohio Conference Division II shutout victory at Lucasville Valley on Friday night. Warren had four rushes for 205 yards —including three for touchdown jaunts of 40, 75 and 91 yards. He also made one reception —a 23-yard touchdown catch. The 3-2 Pirates play host to 3-1 Harvest Prep this week, as the Warriors have defeated the Pirates in the Division V Region 19 playoffs in each of the past two seasons.
* It indeed was a memorable Saturday night for Portsmouth West senior standout and all-purpose performer Jeffery Bishop. Bishop returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown, made a 26-yard touchdown reception, and had four interceptions — all in the second half including his final in the end zone with only 16 seconds remaining — in the Senators’ 24-21 Southern Ohio Conference Division II win at Waverly. Bishop also made eight tackles, defended seven total pass attempts, and had a fumble recovery. The Senators are beginning defense of their first SOC II championship since the 2009 campaign.
* Heath’s Daylen McIntyre not only ran for a TD and caught a TD pass, but had 11 tackles, 4 assists, 8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks and forced a fumble in the 40-20 win against Zanesville.
* For the first time since 2000, Utica is 4-1 after a 35-6 win at Indian Creek. Gavin Chinn caught 10 passes for 161 yards, including touchdowns of 49, 9 and 22 yards from Hayden Piper.
* In Massillon Washington’s big 15-13 win Friday against Lakewood St. Edward, the Tigers held the Eagles to 59 yards rushing on 31 attempts with an offensive line that includes three Power Five recruits to Ohio State and Michigan. Meanwhile, senior quarterback DaOne Owens paced the Tigers with 176 yards rushing on 26 carries and two TDs. He threw for another one. Meanwhile, St. Edward played without senior quarterback and Davidson recruit Casey Bullock, who was hurt in the Eagles’ 34-33 win at Cincinnati Elder the previous week.
* Cleveland Heights beat Mentor, 14-13 in OT, on a 2-point conversion run by junior receiver E’mere Atkins. It ended a 20-game losing streak against the Cardinals, who hadn’t lost to Cleveland Heights since 1980. In a twist, Cleveland Heights’ previous win in the series was by a score of 7-6. The teams went into overtime Friday, tied at 6-all after the Cardinals blocked a first-quarter extra point. This is Cleveland Heights’ first year in the Greater Cleveland Conference. The Tigers last played Mentor in the 2019 playoffs. The Cardinals played without junior quarterback Scotty Fox, injured the previous week in a 42-41 win against Medina. Cleveland Heights took advantage with three interceptions, including one by Atkins.
* Rocky River senior quarterback Julian Patti threw seven TD passes Friday and completed 20 of his 27 attempts for 331 yards in the Pirates’ 52-14 win at Parma Heights Valley Forge.
* Lake Catholic made a statement with its 49-14 win Thursday at Chagrin Falls Kenston, as junior Frankie Trinetti completed 14 of 18 passes for 302 yards and four TDs. In addition to D.J. Sears’ big night with a rushing score and three receiving TDs, Trinetti found Cross Nimmo for a score and 129 yards on three of those passes.
* Richfield Revere senior running back Zach Olechnowicz rushed for 285 yards and four TDs on 36 carries Thursday in a 38-7 win vs. Cuyahoga Falls.
* McConnelsville Morgan and Coshocton combined to score 27 points in the final eight minutes as the Raiders held on for a 35-34 road win. Morgan senior quarterback Logan Niceswanger rushed for two touchdowns and threw for one.
* The Eastern (Pike) Eagles moved to 5-0 on the year heading into Southern Ohio Conference Division I play with a 50-49 triumph over the Southern Tornadoes Friday night in Beaver. The game saw 99 points, a plethora of penalties, squib kicks, a pick six, and two-point plays. Of the statistical leaders from that game, quarterback Dylan Morton passed for 235 yards and 4 touchdowns, adding 46 rushing yards and another TD on the ground. Senior receiver Teagan Werner was the leading pass catcher, securing seven receptions for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
* Waverly junior receiver Kody Swords had 10 receptions for 144 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his team’s 24-21 loss to Portsmouth West Saturday night. This is the third game where Swords has wracked up more than 100 yards catching the ball. He has 667 yards and nine touchdowns through five games.
* Piketon senior linebacker Zane Brownfield piled up 19 tackles in his team’s 35-21 loss to the visiting Zane Trace Pioneers Friday night. Brownfield also helped the team on offense with six carries for 24 yards and one touchdown. Offensively, junior Mason Thacker had 112 receiving yards and a touchdown on 11 catches.
* Dante Varrasso starred in all three phases, helping Granville beat Johnstown Northridge 36-6 and sending the Blue Aces to their fourth 5-0 start in five seasons. The senior returned an interception and caught a TD pass for the Blue Aces’ first two scores before he returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a third score.
* Elijah Johnson had a career-high 224 yards rushing for Xenia and also added two touchdowns, but a 14-game regular season win streak for the Buccaneers ended in a 28-21 loss to Butler.
* Andre McConnell of Stebbins and J. T. Smith of Fairborn had dueling three-touchdown games. Stebbins won 44-22 as RayVonn Harris had 105 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
* Dayton Carroll’s Zach Van Meter completed 22-of-30 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns, all to Jack McGeady during his 207-yard game on just five catches. Talawanda won its first game of the season 37-21.