“Change the culture” working for early season Dixie football resurgence

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Dixie prepares to host Brookville in a Week 3 high school football game during practice on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

It didn’t take long for Logan Grubb to be welcomed into the Dixie High School football backfield. An outstanding member of a robust and promising sophomore class, he was lit up on his first preseason scrimmage carry.

“I was nervous and I got hit pretty hard,” recalled the running back during practice this week. “It was like, welcome to high school (football).”

Dixie (2-0) has made an equally impressive early-season statement. The Greyhounds will be looking to extend that success against visiting Brookville (1-1) in a Week 3 Southwestern Buckeye League crossover game on Friday.

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This is Year 5 for Dixie graduate David Worley as the Greyhounds’ head coach. When he took over, there were 50 players on the roster. Now, there are just 28 and a converted soccer player who doubles as the kicker.

A Dixie High School graduate, David Worley is in his fifth season as the Greyhounds varsity football coach. He wraps up practice on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
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A Dixie High School graduate, David Worley is in his fifth season as the Greyhounds varsity football coach. He wraps up practice on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

The smallest of 14 SWBL teams – Division VI, Region 24 – Dixie sank to 1-9 last season. Blowout losses were the norm. The Greyhounds lugged a six-game losing streak into the offseason.

“Last year hit us hard and we decided to make some changes,” Worley said. “The big difference is we need to get kids to play football. That’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last five years.”

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Relying mostly on freshman, that class dominates the lineup as 16 experienced sophomores to go with just two seniors and four juniors. The entire backfield consists of sophomores Jimmy Myers (QB), Dustin Simon (RB) and Grubb and freshman Conner Hawk (RB). “We’re really young in the skill positions,” shrugged Worley.

Dixie senior receiver Robert Apfelbeck (left) and sophomore QB/DB Jimmy Myers practice on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Surprising Dixie (2-0) will host Brookville in a Week 3 high school football game. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
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Dixie senior receiver Robert Apfelbeck (left) and sophomore QB/DB Jimmy Myers practice on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Surprising Dixie (2-0) will host Brookville in a Week 3 high school football game. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Lacking size on the line, Dixie switched its offense to a “triple option, flex wishbone,” Worley said. “We’re trying to eliminate having to block a couple guys.”

That worked in a 38-20 Week 1 win at Twin Valley South and in Week 2, a 19-14 comeback win at Tri-Village that wasn’t decided until the fourth quarter. Grubb went for 170 yards rushing and scored twice.

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Those wins generated a can-do team attitude and jump-started a buzz about Greyhounds football that was missing last season. Those elements should be difference makers in Dixie’s home opener at historic James F. Chief Brown Athletic Field on Friday.

Dixie sophomore running back Logan Grubb rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 2 defeat of Tri-Village that pushed the Greyhounds start to 2-0. He finishes practice on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
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Dixie sophomore running back Logan Grubb rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 2 defeat of Tri-Village that pushed the Greyhounds start to 2-0. He finishes practice on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

“This means everything,” Grubb said, “being able to lead my team and help everybody change the culture around Dixie. We’re usually known as not being very good at football. It’s meant a lot and it feels great. Just amazing. Hopefully, we’ll make something positive this season.”

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Doing that is personal to Worley. A 1991 Dixie grad, he enticed sons Nick and Aaron Worley to join the coaching staff. All three played football at Dixie. Dixie football has been a tough sell for Greyhounds coaches. David Worley said there is a core group of athletes who play multiple sports.

“We have a small participation rate in general,” said Worley, whose youngest son, Devin, is playing basketball at Post University (Conn.). “You’ve got the same kids playing all the sports. We have a lot of kids in school who don’t play anything.”

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Dixie and Preble Shawnee of the SWBL will eventually downsize and join the new Western Ohio Athletic Conference in 2021. That 12-team, mostly current Cross County Conference affiliation should be a better fit for those two current SWBL Buckeye teams.

Surprising Dixie (2-0) will host Brookville in a Week 3 high school football game. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
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Surprising Dixie (2-0) will host Brookville in a Week 3 high school football game. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

That’s just part of an imminent SWBL reboot. Milton-Union and Northridge will join the new eight-team Three Rivers Conference also in 2021.

“The community is so supportive,” Worley said. “We have no illusions of grandeur here. It gives (players) confidence and lets them know what we’re working for is working.”

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• Centerville, Fairmont and Wayne all have something more in common than being Greater Western Ohio Conference rivals. All are looking for their first win.

Centerville (0-2) hosts Dunbar (1-1), Fairmont (0-2) is at Northmont (1-1) and Wayne (0-2) is at Trotwood-Madison (1-1).

• Beavercreek (2-0) has a showdown at Springboro (2-0). Those are the only two unbeaten GWOC teams. Beavers coach Nic Black was the defensive coordinator at Springboro under head coach Ryan Wilhite before taking over at Beavercreek.

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• The Northwestern (2-0) at Milton-Union (2-0) winner should generate major computer points. Both are in D-IV, Region 16 and are playoff contenders. Northwestern, whose head coach is former Troy standout Shane Carter, made its first postseason appearance last season. Milton-Union has scored 97 points in blowout defeats of Miami East and Oakwood.

• Alter (2-0) will host recent Kentucky state champion Belfrey (2-0) in a great matchup at Fairmont on Friday. Like Alter, Belfrey also has difficulty finding non-league opponents. Belfrey replaces Centerville as Alter’s Week 3 opponent from last season.

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