When Hartley High School coach Brad Burchfield reflects on central Ohio football over the past two-plus decades, he can’t help but think about teams trying to impose their will with their running game.
During his five-year tenure as coach at Centerburg and the last five seasons heading the Hawks, Burchfield has built run-oriented offenses that have accomplished that task with extreme efficiency.
All three of the running backs who made third-team “All-Time ThisWeek Football Team” — Independence’s Erik Haw, Upper Arlington’s Jesse Kline and Hartley’s Noah Key — shined in a region of the state that, according to Burchfield, has been influenced heavily by its surroundings.
“I think we’ve had a lot of great running backs (in central Ohio) over the years, and that’s pretty indicative of the culture at Ohio State,” said Burchfield, a 1993 Reynoldsburg graduate.
“You win when you have that great starting tailback. The teams that are winning state championships have great running backs.”
Key led Hartley to the Division IV state championship as a senior in 2010, Kline was named the ThisWeek Super 25 captain as a junior in 1997 when UA was a Division I state semifinalist and Haw helped Independence reach a Division II regional final as a senior in 2003.
The third team also celebrates Granville’s passing accomplishments with the inclusion of two of its greatest wide receivers and Marion-Franklin’s strength in the trenches with an offensive lineman and a defensive lineman making the team.
Of the 27 players on the third team, seven went on to play for Ohio State and 11 others went on to play in college.
The players on the third team are listed in alphabetical order by position with their final high school season in parentheses:
Nathan Poole (Grove City, 1999).
Even though at 6-foot-1 Poole was deemed too short to play major college football and ended up at Brown University, his prep career was one of the most impressive in central Ohio over the past two decades. He threw for nearly 6,000 yards and 64 touchdowns in three seasons as a starter. As a senior, he threw for 29 touchdowns and had just five interceptions, as the Dawgs finished 10-1.
Haw (2003), Key (2010), Kline (1998).
Key rushed for 20 touchdowns as a junior and 42 touchdowns and 2,885 yards as a senior when the Hawks won their second state title in program history. He currently plays for the University of Toledo.
Even though their college careers at Ohio State never panned out, Haw and Kline both had memorable prep careers.
Haw was redshirted by Ohio State in 2004 and had only 14 carries for the Buckeyes in 2005 before transferring to Jackson State, where he played two seasons. In high school, his blazing speed helped him to rush for 3,038 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Kline rushed for 2,315 yards and 33 touchdowns as a junior and, as a senior, battled an injury during the regular season before shining in the playoffs.
Adam Alderman (Granville, 2008), Drew Anderson (Granville, 2003).
Under coaches Mike Hensley and J.R. Wait, the Blue Aces have been ahead of the curve in terms of passing success the last several seasons.
Alderman and Anderson put up some gaudy receiving numbers. Alderman had 90 catches for 1,328 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior and finished his prep career ranked third all-time in the state in receptions with 243, and Anderson had 102 catches for 1,590 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior to lead Granville to its first playoff berth.
Chris Miller (Upper Arlington, 2000).
One of the unsung heroes of the Golden Bears’ run to the state championship during his senior year, Miller finished that season with 37 catches for 624 yards and eight touchdowns.
He went on to catch 45 passes and see action in 35 games for Boston College.
Mike Adams (Dublin Coffman, 2007), Ray Ball (Westerville South, 2010), Damon Dillard (Marion-Franklin, 2012), Pat Elflein (Pickerington North, 2011), Kyle Takavitz (Olentangy, 1999).
Despite having only one standout season during his college career at Ohio State, the 6-8, 305-pound Adams was one of the most highly touted linemen in central Ohio during his prep career.
Dillard is believed to be the only four-year starter at Marion-Franklin and helped the Red Devils advance to a Division II state semifinal twice, and Takavitz went on to play for the University of Cincinnati and spent time on the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad.
The college careers of Elflein (Ohio State) and Ball (Wisconsin) are ongoing.
Troy Brandt (Grove City, 1990), Ben Huddle (Dublin Scioto, 2003), Paris Long (Beechcroft, 1995), Torrance Nicholson (Marion-Franklin, 2005).
With Brandt leading a vaunted defense with 10 sacks and six tackles for losses as a senior, Grove City put together a perfect regular season before losing 3-0 to Piqua in a first-round Division I playoff game.
Marion-Franklin has made the playoffs each of the last nine seasons and one of the players who helped get the run started was Nicholson, who went on to play for Youngstown State.
Long (Ohio State) and Huddle (Miami) also went on to play in college.
Joey D’Andrea (Upper Arlington, 2006), B.J. Machen (Hilliard Darby, 2007), Marcus Ray (Eastmoor Academy, 1993), Matt Stewart (DeSales, 1996).
There are no slouches among this group, considering Machen (Georgia Tech), Stewart (Vanderbilt) and Ray (Michigan) all went on to play for major college programs and D’Andrea played for Division II Ashland.
During their final prep seasons, Ray starred at running back and linebacker as Eastmoor made the Division II playoffs and Machen helped lead Darby to a Division I regional final in its first playoff berth.
D’Andrea shined as a junior when he had 12 sacks and 11 tackles for losses and was solid during a senior season in which injuries kept him out of two games.
Stewart went on to play for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons.
Dominic Clegg (Watterson, 2009), Ronnie Smith (DeSales, 2003), Rolland Steele (Scioto, 1995), Mike Young (Mifflin, 1996).
Clegg comes from a long line of talented defensive backs for Watterson and finished with nine interceptions as a senior as Watterson was a Division III regional finalist.
Smith was a three-year starter for DeSales who had nine interceptions as a senior and went on to play for Capital.
Young totaled 17 interceptions over his final two prep seasons and went on to play for Akron before a neck injury shortened his career, and
Steele was among the key players for Scioto when it won the Division II state title in its first season in 1995 and went on to play for Ohio State.
Kyle Turano (Worthington Kilbourne, 1999).
Better known for punting for Ohio State in 2004 after joining the program as a walk-on, Turano was a standout punter and kicker for Kilbourne. As a senior, he made 10 field goals with a long of 54 yards and two-thirds of his kickoffs were touchbacks.
Jeff Mt. Joy (Westerville North, 1994).
One in a long line of standout punters to come through North's program, Mt. Joy was the kicker and punter in 1993 when the Warriors made the Division I playoffs.
As a senior, he averaged 42.2 yards on 20 punts.
Brandon Schoen (Olentangy Orange, 2011).
There might not have been a more valuable all-around player in central Ohio in 2011 than Schoen, who rushed for 1,263 yards, had five interceptions as a defensive back, scored 29 touchdowns and shined on special teams.
He returned two punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns that season as Orange made the Division I playoffs.