SCIOTO COUNTY — A return to normalcy, and a senior all-state sendoff, in more ways than one.
That’s because not only did a traditional 10-game regular-season schedule return for the majority of Scioto County’s 2021 football clubs, but so did the county’s representation to the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association all-Ohio teams.
With seven county squads having at least one all-Ohio representative, the county even got back to fielding first-team honorees —and Notre Dame veteran mentor Bob Ashley captured Coach of the Year honors in Division VII.
Ashley, as a (Southeast District) district-award winning coach, is automatically nominated for the Division VII state Coach of the Year honor.
For first-team players, both Wheelersburg senior placekicker Braxton Sammons and Portsmouth senior quarterback Drew Roe reached that highest level in Division V —as both Portsmouth (to the Region 19 quarterfinals) and Wheelersburg (to the Region 19 championship) won at least one state playoff tilt.
While Wheelersburg is accustomed to winning playoff games, 44 all-time to be exact including two state championships in school history, that opening-round Portsmouth playoff win was the Trojans’ first — in fact — since 2002.
Roe was named the Southeast District Division V Co-Offensive Player of the Year with Piketon quarterback Levi Gullion, and thus automatically made first-team all-state.
For the fifth 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 — Honorable Mention all-Ohio, as the players of the year in each of Ohio’s seven districts are automatically all-state first team.
Roe joins Talyn Parker, the former PHS star running back and the school’s all-time rushing leader, from 2018 AND 2019 as Offensive POYs for four-year head coach Bruce Kalb.
It was a Trojan turnaround campaign from last year’s 2-7 slate —as the other Titan-ic turnaround was indeed that of the Notre Dame Titans in Division VII.
Notre Dame went winless two years back, but improved to 3-4 last fall —before going a solid 7-2 and earning an opening-round home playoff bout.
The Titans’ game against Green was canceled, and they only played nine regular-season contests.
That upward trend though, with only three seniors, helped Ashley earn outright Coach of the Year honors in the smallest division.
Roe repeated as all-Ohio from making Honorable Mention last season, as Sammons —as a placekicking and punting extraordinaire — moved up the ladder levels his final three campaigns.
He was a third-team punter as a sophomore, and a second-team placekicker as a junior —but made it back-to-back placekicking accolades with his first-team recommendation and selection as a senior.
The punter position is a defensive one, but observers — starting at the district level — believed Sammons stood out more this year as a placekicker.
The Pirates’ other all-Ohio honorees included second-team senior defensive back Josh Clark, third-team senior linebacker Carson Williams, Honorable Mention junior offensive lineman Caleb Miller, and Honorable Mention senior defensive lineman Josh Boggs.
Both Clark and Williams repeated from that quartet, including Clark moving up from third-team DB — and Williams moving up from Honorable Mention linebacker.
For the Trojans, senior linebacker James Thurman was a third-team choice, as junior Reade Pendleton and senior Dariyonne Bryant were wide receiver Honorable Mentions —along with junior defensive lineman Brenden Truett.
Pendleton posted wide receiver Honorable Mention honors for the second straight year.
Speaking of a Pendleton, Minford’s Hunter Pendleton — a six-foot four-inch and 230-pound junior linebacker —joined Williams and Thurman on that third-team Division V defense.
Two other Falcons —the pass-and-catch connection of senior quarterback Devin Parker to senior wide receiver Trenton Zimmerman —made Honorable Mention.
West was recognized with three Honorable Mention picks — senior linebacker Ashton Klaiber, senior offensive lineman Gabe Myers and junior running back Ryan Sissel — as Sissel repeated to that unit, although he did so last season as a linebacker.
Northwest’s two Honorable Mention honorees were senior defensive lineman Aaron Penn and junior offensive lineman Alex Baer.
The Valley Indians are the county’s only Division VI squad —but senior Chase Morrow, in the discussion for Southeast District Defensive Player of the Year, made second-team all-Ohio as a linebacker.
Three other Indians ended up as Honorable Mention picks —senior placekicker Chase Ruby, senior offensive lineman Bryson Spencer and junior defensive lineman Justin Moore.
Four Titans in addition to Ashley’s highest honor earned all-Ohio —junior defensive lineman Carter Campbell on second team, sophomore running back Gavin Hart on third team, and Honorable Mention juniors Dylan Seison (WR) and Dominic Sparks (DL).
Since Seison’s Southeast District first-team postilion was as an all-purpose player, which does not carry up to the state level, he was named all-state as a wide receiver.
Of that foursome, only Campbell —an Honorable Mention defensive lineman last year —repeated.
Like Seison, East sole senior Levi Justice was a district first-team all-purpose performer — but was an Honorable Mention state-level running back.
The Tartans’ other Honorable Mention honoree was junior defensive lineman Keegan Jackson.
Besides Ashley, the only other top honor which went to a Southeast District representative was Gullion garnering Division V Co-Offensive Player of the Year.
And, he did so with Ridgewood senior quarterback Gabe Tingle, the two-time East District Division V POY.
Tingle is familiar to both Portsmouth and Wheelersburg, as the visiting Pirates ended his high school career with their 24-20 come-from-behind victory in the Region 19 quarterfinals.
Wheelersburg then defeated top-seeded and two-time Division V state runner-up Ironton 17-14 in the Region 19 semifinals, as the Fighting Tigers had the most Southeast District representation at the state level —with nine.
Three of those were first-team all-Ohioans — senior offensive lineman Rylan Cecil, senior defensive lineman Nate Cochran, and senior linebacker Angelo Washington.
A complete list of all-Ohio honors — for Divisions IV, V, VI and VII —can be found online at www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved