Alter football coach Ed Domsitz still maintains the task-master charm that has worked so well for so many teams. In his 43rd season as a head football coach, he resonates with players, a super-sized, 16-member coaching staff and his peers.
“I became a head coach when Gerald Ford was in the White House,” said Domsitz, 68. “These kids now look at you and say, Gerald who?”
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There’s no question Alter is still the team to beat in the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North. Fifteen GCL titles in the last 16 years is proof of that. Alter also has qualified for the postseason 17 straight seasons and has mounted a 20-game league win streak.
Domsitz was enshrined in the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association hall of fame in June. With 327 career wins, he should pass former Versailles patriarch Al Hetrick this coming season to rank No. 6 among Ohio’s all-time winningest coaches.
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The brown and gold beating goes on from the campus at East David Road in Kettering. “There’s good reason to believe we’re going to be pretty competitive,” said Domsitz.
The following are five things to know about GCL Co-Ed North football.
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Teams/coaches: Alter (9-2, 7-0; D-III, Region 12), Ed Domsitz (43rd season); Carroll (1-9, 0-7; D-III, Region 12), Ben Rulli (fifth season); Chaminade Julienne (9-4, 6-1; D-III, Region 12), Marcus Colvin (eighth season); Fenwick (6-4, 5-2; D-III, Region 12), Dan Haverkamp (first season).
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What to know: The GCL North will merge with Central teams Badin and McNicholas next season. Missing will be Purcell Marian and Roger Bacon, who will join the Cincinnati-based Miami Valley Conference for football only.
Those six remaining GCL teams have formed an alliance with Columbus-based private schools DeSales, Hartley, Ready, St. Charles and Watterson. That’s mostly a schedule benefit and apparently will not affect GCL standings.
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• Alter senior running back John Bivens still has not been cleared to return to the Knights’ backfield after suffering a severe leg injury in a Week 9 defeat of McNicholas last season. Bivens had 1,308 yards rushing, 15 TDs and the admiration of Domsitz.
“That’s a shame,” Domsitz said. “He’s probably one of the top two running backs I’ve ever had.”
Bivens blew out knee ligaments and dislocated a knee cap, but the worst part was severing a nerve in his leg.
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• Dan Haverkamp, 30, succeeds John Aregood as Fenwick’s coach. Aregood stepped in as interim coach after the unexpected resignation of Joe Snively following the 2016 season. A 2006 Cincinnati St. Xavier grad, Haverkamp coached for eight years at St. X and was an assistant head coach under Steve Specht the last three seasons.
Fenwick has mounted a streak of nine consecutive winning seasons and is looking for another playoff run with 20 mostly proven seniors. “If we get off to a good start and get some confidence and get some momentum, I think our ceiling is pretty high,” said Haverkamp.
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• ABC 22/FOX 45 will feature Alter and CJ on its Thursday Night Lights show. Alter’s season opener at Fairmont on Aug. 23 will be televised live as will CJ’s Week 3 game against visiting Greenville on Sept. 6.
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• CJ received a surprise boost when junior QB Ryan Minor (1,007 passing yards, seven TDs) transferred in from Stebbins. The Ohio High School Athletic Association ruled there was no violation of transfer bylaw rules.
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Key returning offensive players
• Connor Bazelak, sr., QB, Alter: 1,097 yards passing, 11 TDs, committed to Missouri.
• Ricardo Calzada, sr., C, Carroll: Second team All-GCL North.
• Sully Janeck, sr., QB, Fenwick: 607 yards passing, 4 TDs.
• Dominic Wilcox, sr., WR, CJ: 450 yards receiving, 5 TDs in three playoff games.
• Derek Willits, sr., TE, Alter: 19 catches for 270 yards (14.2), 1 TD.
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Key returning defensive players
• Shane Cokes, sr., DE, CJ: 34 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble.
• Sam Howard, jr., DB, Carroll: 66 tackles, 1 INT.
• Connor Meyer, sr., DL, Alter: 77 tackles, 1 fumble recovery.
• Dan O’Connell, sr., LB, Alter: 24 tackles, 1 forced fumble.
• Sam Secrest, sr., DE, Fenwick: 65 tackles, 1.5 sacks.
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Week 1 games: All at 7 p.m.
• Alter at Fairmont, Thu., Aug. 23.
• Carroll at Stebbins, Thu., Aug. 23.
• Anna at Fenwick, Fri., Aug. 24.
• Piqua at CJ, Fri., Aug. 24.
Bonus fun fact: Last year Alter beat CJ 34-6 in Week 10 to clinch an outright GCL North title. The teams played again the following week, but this time CJ landed a stunning 49-28 KO in the first round of the playoffs. And it could happen again.
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All four GCL North teams are lumped in D-III, Region 12. The OHSAA’s annual competitive balance adjustment dropped Carroll from D-II, Region 8 and bumped up Fenwick from D-IV, Region 16. Both Alter and CJ were elevated from D-IV, Region 16 for last season when competitive balance made its debut.