CJ braces for bump up to D-III football

Noah Burneka (left) and Rocky Stark get defensive. Chaminade Julienne held its first day of preseason high school football practice on Monday, July 31, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

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Noah Burneka (left) and Rocky Stark get defensive. Chaminade Julienne held its first day of preseason high school football practice on Monday, July 31, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

His team colors are unique and the location is a sprawling refurbished athletic complex that’s tucked between the Great Miami River and State Route 35. But in many other ways, Chaminade Julienne football coach Marcus Colvin shares a kindred spirit.

“I’m just like the kids,” said Colvin during Monday’s first day of high school football preseason practice. “I was up at 2 a.m. I was up at 3:30 a.m. I was up at 5 a.m. thinking about practice and how it would go. I’m sure every other coach is like me, too. We get just as excited and nervous as (the players) do, too. It’s exciting.”

Monday began the first of five required acclimation days for high school football players. This has become standard practice in Ohio, leading up to a fifth day in full gear and no contact until the sixth day.

All the other fall sports – boys and girls soccer, cross country and golf, field hockey and girls tennis – begin their preseasons Tuesday.

CJ will play its home games for just the second season at Roger Glass Stadium, the campus jewel that’s anchored closest to the river. The Eagles, 6-4 last season, haven’t made a dent in Alter’s grip on the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North Division. No breaking news in that; other than Fenwick in 2015, neither has Carroll.

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.

Season openers

• 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.

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