Miami East wasn’t always a small-school football power. Had East not snapped a long losing streak when Max Current took over as head coach, those seniors would never have won a high school game.
That was 20 years ago. Now, East might as well be circled in red on opposing schedules.
“It’s been awesome,” said Current, who has an experienced and senior-dominated team that went 9-2 last season and advanced to the playoffs for the sixth straight year.
“We’ve established some tradition. It took us a while to get going and now they’ve experienced the good stuff and they want to keep it going.”
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East is a heavy favorite to repeat as the Cross County Conference champion, although newcomer Fort Loramie (8-3) and Bethel (9-2) also should contend. Those three teams and Ansonia advanced to the playoffs last season.
The CCC remains one division of 12 teams following the addition of Tri-Village and Loramie, previously an independent, last season. Members play eight conference games and rotate every two seasons depending on previous CCC results. All the mostly rural programs are anchored in Darke, Preble and Miami counties except Loramie (Shelby).
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The following are five things to know about CCC football.
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Teams/coaches: Ansonia (6-5, 6-2; D-VII, Region 28), Eugene Hoening (38th season); Arcanum (4-6, 4-4; D-VI, Region 24), Jason Schondelmyer (2nd season); Bethel (9-2, 7-1; D-VI, Region 24), Scott Clodfelter (5th season); Bradford (0-10, 0-8; D-VII, Region 28), John Cruse (1st season); Covington (5-5, 5-3; D-VI, Region 24), Tyler Cates (3rd season); Fort Loramie (8-3, 7-1; D-VII, Region 28), Spencer Wells (1st season).
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Miami East (9-2, 8-0; D-V, Region 18), Max Current (20th season); Mississinawa Valley (1-9, 1-7; D-VII, Region 28), Steve Trobridge (1st season); National Trail (3-7, 2-6; D-VI, Region 24), Mark Hoffman (7th season); Tri-County North (4-6, 3-5; D-VI, Region 24), Eric Wright (2nd season); Tri-Village (3-7, 2-6; D-VII, Region 28), Robert Burk (2nd season); Twin Valley South (3-7, 3-5; D-VI, Region 24), Clint Bartlett (3rd season).
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What to know: Chris Hawk resigned this month as Bradford's head coach and has been succeeded by John Cruse, according to the (Greenville) Daily Advocate. At issue was a familiar subject: a lack of players.
The Railroaders currently have 13 available players and hope to entice more when school starts. Bradford’s football program previously was suspended by the CCC for its low participation and was reinstated as a varsity team just last year.
Hawk lasted one winless season. Cruse is Bradford’s sixth head coach in six years.
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• The rest of the CCC head coaches have a way to catch up to Ansonia’s Eugene Hoening. He’s in his 38th season coaching the Tigers and has collected 210 career wins. Ansonia overcame a 1-4 start last season to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
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• National Trail coach alum Mark Hoffman is in his seventh season leading the Trailblazers and second term. He also was Trail’s head coach from 2004-08.
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• Newton and Franklin Monroe are the only CCC members that do not play football. Both schools compete in the conference in all other sports.
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• On the flip side is Loramie, which competes in CCC football only and is in the Shelby County League for all other sports.
Key returning offensive players:
• Justin Brown, sr., RB, Miami East: 1,620 total yards, 15 TDs, CCC back of the year.
• Austin Bruner, sr., WR, Tri-Village.
• Wyatt Hutchins, sr., OL, TC North.
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• Devin Keckler, sr., RB, Arcanum.
• Carter Mescher, jr. RB, Fort Loramie: 720 yards rushing, 12 TDs.
• Cade Schmelzer, jr., QB, Covington: 1,300 yards passing, 13 TDs.
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• Jacob Ullmer , sr., RB, Bethel: 691 yards rushing, 7 TDs.
• Vincent Villella, sr., RB, Miami East: 1,306 yards rushing, 22 TDs.
Key returning defensive players:
• Dane Craport, sr., DE, Arcanum: 18 sacks, first team All-CCC.
• Collin Detrick, sr., DL, Fort Loramie: 41 tackles, 2 sacks.
• Parker Dysinger, sr., LB, Covington: 109 tackles.
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• Colt Frazier, sr., LB, Miami East: 65 tackles, 2 INTs.
• Dylan Kelley, sr., LB, Bethel: 89 tackles.
• Mason Sullenbarger, sr., DL, Tri-Village.
Wyatt Woodyard, sr., LB, TC North.
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Week 1 games: All at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24.
Ansonia at Riverside; Brookville at Tri-County North; Cedarville at Mississinawa Valley; Greeneview at Arcanum; Jefferson at Tri-Village; Miami East at Milton-Union; National Trail at Riverview East Academy; Northridge at Bethel; St. Henry at Covington; Triad at Bradford; Twin Valley South at Dixie.
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Bonus fun fact: Covington had extra reason to celebrate senior night following a 56-13 thumping of TV South in Week 9 last season. That was the Buccs' 500th career program win.
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