Area players, coaches earn SW District honors

A half-dozen area players and five area coaches received top Southwest All-District high school football honors from the Associated Press on Thursday.

Selected as defensive players of the year were defensive back Tobias Gilliam of Wayne (Division I), linebacker Roland Walder of Trotwood-Madison (D-III), linebacker Ben Hinton of Fenwick (D-IV), lineman Dylan Hartley of Mechanicsburg and Covington lineman Brandon Magee. All are seniors except Hinton, a junior.

Mechanicsburg junior quarterback Kaleb Romero (D-VI) was the only area offensive player of the year.

Named coaches of the year were Trace Smitherman of Stebbins (D-II), Joel Derge of Tippecanoe (D-III), Joe Snively of Fenwick (D-IV), Mike Hetrick of Brookville (D-V) and Mechanicsburg’s Kurt Forrest (D-VI).

Players and coaches of the year and first-team selections will be considered for All-Ohio honors. Nominees were submitted by coaches and chosen by a media panel to first or second team or honorable mention. The Southwest District is one of seven throughout Ohio to award district football honors.

Gilliam, verbally committed to the University of Kentucky, has helped Wayne (12-0) reach the D-I, Region 2 semifinals. The Warriors will play Hilliard Davidson at Welcome Stadium on Saturday. Walder also is committed to UK and is a three-year starter at Trotwood (9-3), which has reached the D-III, Region 10 final.

Hinton is a key player in Fenwick’s best season. The Falcons (12-0) are in the D-IV, Region 14 final on Saturday. Romero, Hartley and Forrest of Mechanicsburg (12-0) swept the D-VI top honors. The Indians will play four-time defending state champ Marion Local (11-1) in a D-VI, Region 22 final on Saturday at Bellefontaine. Magee and Covington were upset by Lehman Catholic in the D-VII, Region 26 first round.

Smitherman inherited a 20-game losing streak when he took over at Stebbins seven seasons ago. The Indians (7-3) posted their best record since 1993. This was Derge’s first season as Tipp’s head coach, following longtime Red Devils coach Charlie Burgbacher. Tipp (11-2) lost to Trotwood last week.

Snively is in his third season as Fenwick’s head coach. Hetrick also led Brookville (12-0) to a perfect regular season in 2008. The Blue Devils play Coldwater (12-0) in a D-V, Region 20 final today at Piqua.

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