Playing quarterback at Centerville High School is starting to click for Chase Harrison. Nothing unusual for that to happen for a returning starter. What separates Harrison from the rest is he’s just a sophomore.
“It’s much different for me,” reflected Harrison, who took over as a rare freshman Elks starting QB in Week 3 last season. “Everything is clicking in my head. Last year, I was ready, it’s just a whole different feel from middle school to high school. This year it’s normal for me. It’s easy to read the field and it’s fun playing with my teammates who we had last year.”
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It’s just as easy to label Harrison the hottest area QB prospect since Braxton Miller’s wizardry at Wayne.
A drop-back passer with good accuracy, Harrison landed his first offer from the University of Louisville as an eighth grader. That vaulted him up the Class of 2022 QB recruiting radar.
Toledo and Pennsylvania have since offered. He impressed in summer camps at Ohio State and Notre Dame. Cincinnati, Michigan State, Penn State and Indiana also are interested. So are many others.
“It’s fun to coach a guy with his skill set and his ability level,” Centerville coach Brent Ullery said. “Even more fun, it’s his coachability. He’s great to be around and great to coach and always soaking up as much football as he can.”
At 6 feet 3 and 191 pounds, Harrison already has the desired next-level size and promising ability. Plus, there’s the pedigree. He’s the younger brother to former Centerville and Chaminade Julienne record-setting QB Jacob Harrison, now a senior backup at Navy.
“It’s fun to follow my brother,” Chase Harrison said. “He set such high expectations. I’ve got to prove that I’m better.”
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There’s a lot to prove at Centerville this season and much of that will ride on Harrison. He completed 137 of 250 passes (55 percent) for 1,446 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman. His first start was a 10-7 loss to Alter and he was at his best the last five games, accounting for more than 1,000 yards passing.
But Centerville was uncharacteristically rocked. The Elks won their final two games to finish 2-8 and snap a nine-game losing skid over two seasons.
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That just doesn’t happen at Centerville, an established Division I power that has four alums in NFL camps: defensive tackle Tito Odenigbo (Vikings) and his brother, defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo (Vikings), defensive tackle Michael Bennett (Falcons) and free agent kicker Mike Nugent.
“We challenged (returning players),” assured Ullery following last week’s scrimmage at Trotwood-Madison. “We threw the kitchen sink at them and they responded.”
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Harrison isn’t the only high-profile recruit at Centerville, or in his class. Sophomore Cotie McMahon, a 5-10 basketball standout, also landed offers in eighth grade from Xavier and Northern Kentucky. According to her Twitter account, Penn State, Kansas, Miami, Northwestern, North Carolina, Indiana and Florida also have made offers.
There’s also Centerville senior Mo Njie, a developing 6-9 basketball front-liner. Dayton, Xavier, Providence and Toledo have made offers.
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“It’s a surreal feeling,” Harrison said. “You never expect that day to come, then when it does, it’s, wow. I’m doing the sport I love and I’m playing with my brothers. I keep the mindset that there’s always someone out-working me. I just have to keep trying to be the best and never feel complacent. Once you feel complacent, then you’re done.”
Centerville opens at Fairfield on Friday.
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Here’s a look at other established area returning quarterbacks (alphabetical order):
• Cade Cradlebaugh, sr., Valley View: Passed for 1,165 yards and 12 scores.
• Ryan Dunham, sr., Sidney: Passed for 1,480 yards and 14 touchdowns.
• Robie Glass, sr., Springfield Shawnee: Among the area’s best athletes. Passed for 1,137 yards and nine touchdowns last season to go with 998 yards rushing and 11 more scores. Also a high impact linebacker and safety and a two-time D-II state high jump champion. Has an offer from Akron and more will follow.
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• Jake Hemmelgarn, sr., Coldwater: Threw for 2,400-plus yards and 31 touchdowns last season for the Cavaliers (10-3), which included a double-overtime Week 10 defeat of Marion Local.
• Ryan Minor, sr., Chaminade Julienne: Had a sensational five-game run to start last season, then sat out the remainder due to a new Ohio High School Athletic Association transfer rule. Had 1,021 yards passing, 16 TD tosses and just three picks in those five games. CJ went 5-0 and was No. 1 in the state in D-III when he was sidelined.
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• Collin Moore, jr., Fort Loramie: Second team All-Ohio (D-VII) after leader the Redskins to a 12-2 season. Passed for 1,361 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 500-plus yards in the regular season.
• Landon Palmer, sr., Springboro: Passed for 1,732 yards and 19 touchdowns. At 6-5 and 200 pounds, should see a surge in recruitment with another solid season.
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• Cade Rice, jr., Greenon: Led the Knights (6-4) to their first winning season since 2007, passing for 1,765 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushing for 1,071 yards and another 13 scores.
• Trevor Woodruff, sr., West Liberty-Salem: Led the Ohio Heritage Conference with 1,930 yards passing, 23 TD passes and just three interceptions.
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