Centerville pares candidates to final six

Four ultra-successful area coaches are among the top six who made the final cut to fill the open varsity head football coaching position at Centerville High School.

Centerville athletic director Rob Dement said this week that a half-dozen candidates will be interviewed from a field of more than 50 who applied. The lofty position opened when veteran Elks coach Ron Ullery was not retained following this past season.

“Within this candidate pool, we definitely will find the next leader who can take what both (former) coach (Bob) Gregg and coach Ullery have built and maintained and maybe even advance it to a better level, if that’s possible,” Dement said. “Everyone’s been very respectful and appreciative of the era that we’re leaving.”

The final six are:

  • Pat McGlaughlin, Moeller offensive coordinator for the 2012-13 Division I state champions.
  • Rick Meeks, Shawnee head coach.
  • Dave Miller, Covington head coach.
  • John Puckett, Centerville assistant.
  • Rodney Roberts, Franklin head coach and AD.
  • Ryan Wilhite, Springboro head coach.

Meeks has been at Shawnee the past 11 seasons and has taken the Braves to the playoffs the past five years. In 2011 Shawnee was the Division III state runner-up.

Miller is a Centerville grad and excelled as an option quarterback for the Elks. He’s compiled a 72-12 record in seven seasons as Covington’s head coach. His last four Buccs teams have lost just one game each.

Covington was 11-1 this past season, falling 35-28 to three-time state champ Marion Local in the Division VII, Region 26 semifinals.

Puckett is a 1995 Chaminade Julienne grad and has been on the Elks staff the last seven seasons as a defensive assistant. He previously also was an assistant at CJ and Hamilton among other schools.

Roberts has been Franklin’s head coach the past eight seasons. The Wildcats have lost just two games in each of the last three years, going 9-2 in 2011, then 10-2 and 9-2 this past season.

Franklin has won three consecutive Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division championships. The Wildcats were knocked out of the first round of the D-III playoffs this past season by eventual state runner-up Trotwood-Madison.

Wilhite has compiled a 54-28 record at Springboro over the last eight seasons. The Panthers have won the Greater Western Ohio conference South Division title each of the last two seasons.

Springboro was 10-1 in 2012 and 9-2 this past season, both of which ended with first-round losses in the D-I playoffs. Wilhite landed the Springboro job following a run as Wayne’s offensive coordinator.

“There are only a few places that I would seriously consider making that kind of move,” said Roberts, a Franklin grad who also has been the head coach at Carlisle (six years) and Springboro (four).

“Obviously, Centerville, their tradition and the Centerville brand, everything that they’ve been able to do, what they are and what they’ve been able to do in the past. Those types of things obviously make it a place that’s enticing to consider making that kind of move.”

Ullery was Centerville’s head coach the past 14 seasons and was a member of the Elks’ football program for 37 years. Centerville was 8-3 last season, losing in the first round of the Division I, Region 2 playoffs.

Dement said that a head coach would likely be named in February.

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