What has changed is CJ and Alter (13-1) have been bumped up to Division III, Region 12, mostly due to the effect of competitive balance, a landmark initiative and numeric formula by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Colvin called D-III, Region 12 “the toughest in the state.” Here’s why: GCL Central rivals Badin and McNicholas, Dunbar, Franklin, Piqua, Tippecanoe, Mt. Healthy and Wapakoneta all landed there.
CJ is looking to snap a three-year run of not advancing to the postseason. The Eagles’ non-league matchups are just as daunting: at Marion Local in the opener, the second game of a two-year series, and against visiting Miamisburg in Week 2.
The playoffs, “it’s always a goal,” Colvin assured. “Marion Local … Miamisburg … Alter … That’s enough to think about.”
Here are some things to know about the GCL North this season:
CJ, D-III, Region 12: All those sophomore break-ins two seasons ago? They're all seniors now, including quarterback Ryan Peltier.
“I’ve learned a lot the last three years,” said Peltier, a key member of last spring’s D-II state baseball runner-ups who recently verbally committed to play baseball at Ball State University. “We have a lot of confidence coming off last year. We have a lot of seniors back.”
Peltier had 1,078 yards passing and 11 TD tosses as a junior.
Alter, D-III, Region 12
: The Knights lost only to eventual state champion Columbus Bishop Hartley 14-7 in a D-IV state semifinal last season after a dominating regular season that included a lopsided GCL North title. Alter walloped its three GCL North Division rivals by a combined 152-6.
However, many of the key players from that great team have since graduated, including QB Ryan Markoff and linebacker David Rueth.
At QB will be junior Connor Bazelak, who impressed while subbing for an injured Markoff. Also returning is veteran coach Ed Domsitz. With 40-plus seasons as a head coach, he’s the dean of area coaches and will be inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame next June.
Carroll, D-II, Region 8: The Patriots (4-6) posted successive Week 7-9 wins to build momentum for this season. Junior running back and linebacker Frederick Butts, 6 feet 3, 225 pounds, emerged as a team leader for coach Ben Rulli's Patriots with 62 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season.
Fenwick, D-IV, Region 16: The Falcons (6-4) are in full reboot mode following the late resignation of Joe Snively as head coach. He's succeeded by longtime former Franklin coach John Aregood. Just two seasons ago Fenwick was 13-1, advancing to the D-IV state semifinals.
• Alter at Fairmont, Thu., Aug. 24, 7 p.m.
• CJ at Marion Local, Fri., Aug. 25, 7:30 p.m.
• Stebbins at Carroll, Fri., Aug. 25, 7 p.m.
• Fenwick at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, Fri., Aug. 25, 7 p.m.