• New Gahanna football coach must take advantage of athleticism

    For all of the struggles the Gahanna football team had on the field much of the past several years, the perception always has been that the program could be a sleeping giant because of the number of athletic boys roaming the halls at such a large school.

    After struggling through former coach John Snoad's first three seasons, the Lions went 9-3 in 2011 and 7-3 in 2012 behind the talents of a couple strong classes.

    The 2011 team featured a rare talent in Tyler Grassman, a do-everything player who is now playing for Buffalo.

    Then in 2012, the Lions came up just short of the playoffs with a roster that included future collegians like A.J. Butler (Marian University), Mitchell Rowell (West Virginia State) and Mike Taggart (Tiffin), not to mention Granyl Smith, who had at least borderline Division I college talent.

    Among new coach Bruce Ward's jobs will be to harness the perceived talent already in the program and get other athletes not in the sport to become a part of it.

    Gahanna's roster the last few years has been full of WR/DB types. This season, the Lions didn't produce much of a running game, and it's tough to win in a league like the OCC-Ohio Division without being able to run the ball consistently.

    Considering Ward had somewhere from 40-50 athletes in grades 9-12 the last couple years while he was at Beechcroft, he is seasoned at working with what he's been given.

    Ward also will have a youth program to work with, which is something he didn't have at Beechcroft, so it should be fascinating to see what he can produce the next few years.

    As for what will happen at Beechcroft ...

    I'm sure a head coach or assistant coach at either Beechcroft or another City program will take over that job. The last few years, Beechcroft has had lots of players capable of playing for programs like Ohio Dominican, Urbana, etc.

    Sports programs in the City League usually are built around momentum. Once a program gets rolling, some of the best potential athletes usually open-enroll to keep the success going.

    Ward was one of the best coaches in the City the last few years, so it should be interesting to see if the best athletes in the north/northeast side of Columbus begin funneling more to Northland or Brookhaven or if the new Beechcroft coach will be able to keep what Tom Dunlap started and what Ward continued.

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    By: Jarrod Ulrey

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    12 / 17 / 13

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  • Scioto's Conner among rising recruits in '15 football class

    At least three BCS football programs are hoping the early bird gets the worm when it comes to Dublin Scioto junior Nick Conner.

    With national signing day for 2014 players fast approaching, the 2015 class is starting to come into focus.

    And there's no question that one of central Ohio's hottest prospects from the '15 class will be Conner, a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder middle linebacker who was one of just three juniors to make the ThisWeek Super 25 this fall.

    Conner rushed for 418 yards and four touchdowns and had 12 receptions for 225 yards and two touchdowns, but it was his ability to stand out defensively that made him a standout. He had a team-high 129 tackles along with seven sacks and three interceptions as the Irish went 6-5 and made the Division II, Region 5 playoffs. He was first-team all-district and all-OCC-Cardinal Division.

    So far, Conner has offers from Illinois, Kentucky and most recently from Pittsburgh.

    According to his page on ScoutingOhio.com, he runs the 40 in 4.7, which is excellent speed for a player his size.

    The only other players from the 2015 class to make the Super 25 were Dublin Coffman running back Dre Kendrick and Marion-Franklin offensive lineman Martesse Patterson.

    Patterson already has 10 Division I offers.

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    By: Jarrod Ulrey

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    12 / 12 / 13

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  • Several area football players get Division I offers

    For BCS programs, the time right after signing day through the end of the summer is when its next recruiting class takes shape.

    From the 2014 recruiting class, for example, that period was when athletes like Hartley's Alonzo Saxton (Duke), Hamilton Township's Micky Crum (Louisville), Newark Catholic's Chayce Crouch (Illinois) and many others made their verbal commitments.

    It takes some prospects more time to build up steam, and that can occur throughout the regular season and playoffs.

    Three of central Ohio's best seniors this season were Pickerington North's Zeph Miller, Westerville South's Curtis Mitchell and St. Charles' Nathan Puthoff, and each has begun to gain some traction in their pursuit of a Division I college football future.

    According to ScoutingOhio.com, over the past few weeks Miller has been offered by Air Force, Mitchell by Navy and Puthoff by Wake Forest.

    Miller was a standout quarterback for the Panthers this fall, but at 6-0, 180, he could end up at another position in college. Mitchell is a DL who also has offers from Akron and Air Force.

    Puthoff was a standout lineman who also has been offered by Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Kent State, Akron, Air Force, Bowling Green & Navy.

    *From the 2015 class, one player who we should be hearing a lot about over the next several months is Walnut Ridge DB Anthony McKee Jr.

    According to his ScoutingOhio.com page, he recently added an offer from Indiana. He also has been offered by Toledo, Illinois, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Bowling Green, Tennessee and Pittsburgh.

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    By: Jarrod Ulrey

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    12 / 3 / 13

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