Wheelersburg senior Jake Darling (29) was named as the all-Southeast District Division V football Defensive Player of the Year.
Courtesy of Terry Stevenson of www.burgsports.com
SCIOTO COUNTY — Wheelersburg senior linebacker Jake Darling dialed up a team-high in Pirate tackles, and delivered some jarring hits in the process.
Meanwhile, three Scioto County offensive standouts earned all-Southeast District Division V —for the third and final time.
Darling, the five-foot and nine-inch and 185-pound Pirates’ inside backer, captured all-Southeast District Division V Defensive Player of the Year honors —while seniors Jeffery Bishop of West, Jeffrey Pica of Minford and Connor Lintz of Northwest are three-time all-district honorees.
That quartet led the way for Scioto County’s bevy of selections, as all nine county teams were represented by at least one player.
Darling, the only Player of the Year OR Coach of the Year selected from Scioto County, spearheaded the stingy and stout Pirate defense — and recorded 74 tackles through Wheelersburg’s nine-game regular season.
The Pirates, of course, had their Southern Ohio Conference Division II tilt against Oak Hill get canceled by the Oaks.
Wheelersburg won the SOC II once again, as Darling deflected one pass, made one sack, and forced and recovered two fumbles apiece.
The Pirates’ three non-conference losses —at Ironton 17-14, at Jackson 28-20, and against Harvest Prep 32-16 —were all two-score or less games, and against one-loss and powerful opponents.
For Division V, the Pirates led the county’s way with eight total selections — followed by West with seven, Portsmouth with five, Minford with four and Northwest with three.
Valley — playing up in schedule as per usual — had three first-teamers in Division VI, while Notre Dame had six selections in Division VII.
East with three total in Division VII, and Green with a Special Mention, made up the remainder of the picks.
The annual Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association all-Southeast District teams were released on Saturday, as ALL of Scioto County’s selections are among those in the smallest three divisions of V, VI and VII.
For the seventh football season in a row, the all-Southeast District teams were selected under the OPSWA umbrella — as the Associated Press is no longer affiliated with choosing all-district or even all-Ohio teams.
Still, ALL first-team honorees are automatic — AT LEAST — Special Mention all-Ohio, as the players of the year in each of Ohio’s seven districts are automatically first-team all-state.
There is also a feature for the Southeast District returning this season —as the panel has added selection of a Lineman of the Year for each division.
For the Pirates, in addition to Darling, they featured five other first-teamers —and two others as Special Mention.
Connor Estep repeated as a first-team placekicker, while first-time first-teamers included four other seniors —all-purpose performer Creed Warren, offensive lineman Cole Estep, wide receiver Devon Lattimore and defensive lineman Cody Risner.
Warren was a moveup from Special Mention a year ago, as senior ‘wildcat’ quarterback and linebacker Landon Hutchinson made Special Mention —along with junior Kenyon Evans.
Hutchinson was the Pirates’ leading tackler in 2022, and was a first-teamer last year.
Of 8-2 West’s five first-teamers, only senior and first team placekicker Jack Holbrook is not a repeater.
Joining Holbrook on the first team were all-purpose senior standout Bishop, junior offensive lineman Kade Woods, junior running back Mason Parker and senior defensive lineman Cole Windsor.
Bishop is a repeat first-teamer, having made the offensive unit as a wide receiver last year —after a Special Mention choice as a sophomore.
West senior Jeffery Bishop (18) is a three-time honoree and two-time first-teamer on the all-Southeast District Division V football team.
Courtesy of Joey Shupert
Woods was a repeat first team offensive lineman, and was last season’s Division V Lineman of the Year.
The Lineman of the Year can be a defensive OR offensive lineman, as the placekicking position is an offensive one — as is all-purpose — while the punting position is considered a defender.
Both Windsor and Parker moved up to first team from Special Mention —as both Jakob Tipton and Cole Tipton tapped that level.
Cole Tipton, a first team wideout with Bishop last year, took over the quarterback duties this fall.
West’s lone regular-season losses were 32-29 against 9-1 Fairland on the game’s final play in the season opener, and at Wheelersburg in the regular-season finale.
The Portsmouth Trojans had four first-teamers —including senior and Division V placekicking repeater Zach Roth.
The others were senior linebacker Noah Livingston, senior offensive lineman Leo Poxes, and junior running back Chase Heiland.
Trevin Brooks made Special Mention —Livingston’s level from a season ago.
The Minford Falcons featured a three-time honoree —senior running back Pica as a two-time first-teamer.
Minford senior Jeffrey Pica (4) is a three-time honoree and two-time first-teamer on the all-Southeast District Division V football team.
Ed Litteral | Daily Times
Pica was Special Mention as a sophomore, as quarterback Peyton Caudill repeated to that level —joining seniors Owen Blaine and Mason Book.
Like Bishop and Pica, Northwest’s Lintz —despite dropping down to Special Mention after a first-team all-purpose pick as a junior —is a three-time all-district honoree.
As a freshman in the coronavirus-impacted campaign, Lintz landed Special Mention that year (2020).
Northwest senior Connor Lintz (1) is a three-time honoree and one-time first-teamer on the all-Southeast District Division V football team.
Courtesy of Nick Kingrey of Mohawk Media
The Mohawks had a Division V first-teamer —junior linebacker Carter Runyon, who moved up from Special Mention.
Joining Lintz on the Special Mention list was Northwest quarterback Jake Brown.
Valley’s selections —all three being first-time first-teamers —were sophomore running back Gabe McNeil, junior punter Jaekyn Ridout and junior defensive lineman Tristan Wood.
The Notre Dame Titans sported four first-time first-teamers — senior running back Jordan Davis, senior offensive lineman Jake Edwards, sophomore quarterback Ethan Kingrey and sophomore wideout Luke Cassidy.
East senior running back Norris McKinley, who received consideration for the Division VII Offensive Player of the Year, was the Tartans’ only first team choice.
Notre Dame’s Myles Phillips and Bryce McGraw, East’s Dylan Fitzgerald and Cam Justice, and Green’s Braxton Conschafsky all earned Special Mention —as Fitzgerald, a two-time Special Mention pick, was the only Division VII player from Scioto County to repeat.
Ironton amassed a district-best double-digit (11) selections, including a hefty seven on the first team (Division V).
Two of those received top honors, as Eastern Michigan University commit and senior Noah Patterson was the Lineman of the Year —and junior Shaun Terry shared Offensive Player with Fairland senior quarterback Peyton Jackson.
Incidentally, Darling’s Defensive POY snapped a streak of four consecutive seasons in which an Ironton player won that award.
However, Terry’s top billing made it two straight years of Fighting Tigers Offensive POY —as Ty Perkins, playing at the University of Cincinnati, took it last year.
In Division VII, Meigs Eastern senior linebacker Brandon Oldaker repeated as the top Defensive player — while Pike Eastern’s Dylan Morton (Offensive), Brewer Tomlison (Lineman) and Scott Tomlison (Coach) took home three of four.
The Pike Eastern Eagles, in fact, were the only undefeated Southeast District club — going 10-0 for the first time in school history, as Eastern has only played a full-fledged varsity schedule since 2015.
The Eagles are the outright SOC I champions, and won their first-ever state playoff game.
For Scott Tomlison, he will automatically be nominated for Division VII state Coach of the Year.
In Division VI, Paint Valley —like Pike Eastern in Division VII —won the top Offensive (Braylon Robertson), Lineman (Peyton Bell) and Coach (Corey Dye), while Gavin Richards of Nelsonville-York was the top Defensive.
In Division IV, five teams —Unioto, Gallia Academy, Sheridan, Logan Elm and Vinton County —shared the top honors, including repeat Offensive Player from Unioto Newton Hoops.
Cole Hines of Gallia Academy was the Defensive POY, and Cole Davis of Sheridan the Lineman of the Year —as Matt Hoops of Unioto, Terry Holbert of Logan Elm and T.J. Carper of Vinton County claimed COY honors.
The three-way share marked a repeat COY for Holbert.
Only Jackson (Division III) —in any division —SWEPT the awards, with winners being Cade Wolford (Offensive), Drew Wiley (Defensive), Jake Allen (Lineman) and Andy Hall (Coach).
For Hall, a Wheelersburg graduate and son of former Pirate and East head coach Larry Hall, he has won the Division III COY multiple times.
The entire 2023 all-Southeast District football list appears in Wednesday’s (Nov. 15) edition of The Portsmouth Daily Times — and online at www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on X @paulboggssports © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved