A new era of Wayne High School football begins this coming season. Gone are the usual outstanding graduates, many of whom have taken their games to the next level, but that’s not all.
Veteran defensive coordinator Pat Wood and line coach Mike Garinger have retired. Offensive coordinator Brian Blevins has moved on to Greenon. That’s nearly 100 years of coaching experience that will be missing from previous Warriors teams.
“When you spin it that way it scares the bejesus out of you,” Wayne head coach Jay Minton said. “You can replace people, but you can’t replace experience.”
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“Woody” and Garinger began their Warriors coaching careers in the mid-1970s. Blevins resigned as Fairmont’s head coach to join the Warriors’ staff in 2010, Braxton Miller’s senior year. With the defense in shut-down mode and the offense humming, Wayne appeared in three Division I state championships from 2010-15.
Minton, entering his 21st season at Wayne, is second only to Piqua’s Bill Nees (27) as the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s senior coach. Minton anointed Wayne grad and veteran receivers coach Roosevelt Mukes as the assistant head coach.
“The one thing we don’t do is lower the expectations,” Minton said. “If you have to rebuild, that means something is broken. We’re not broken, we just need a lot of guys to step in and step up.”
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The following are five things to know about GWOC National East football.
Teams/coaches: Beavercreek (6-4, 1-3; D-I, Region 3), Nic Black (fifth season); Centerville (10-2, 4-0; D-I, Region 3), Brent Ullery (second season); Fairmont (7-4, 1-3; D-I, Region 3), Dave Miller (third season); Springfield (6-4, 1-3; D-I, Region 3), Maurice Douglass (fifth season); Wayne (7-4, 3-1; D-I, Region 3), Jay Minton (21st season).
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What to know: These five National East teams will remain in the GWOC, which will lose all of the American Conference teams but Trotwood-Madison to a revised Miami Valley League next season. Trotwood will stay in the GWOC, as will current National West teams Lebanon, Miamisburg, Northmont and Springboro.
It hasn’t been determined if these 10 remaining teams will stay in separate GWOC divisions. If that happens, look for Trotwood to join the current West Division. The GWOC name will not change.
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• All but Wayne have rematches to open the season. Fairmont is up first, hosting rival Alter on Thursday, Aug. 23. This great series annually draws a capacity crowd at Foreman Field. It doesn’t hurt the Kettering-based schools are anchored just 2.5 miles apart. This kicks off the ABC 22/FOX 45 Thursday Night Lights.
Wayne will play visiting Austin-East Magnet (10-3) of Knoxville, Tenn., for the first time on Friday, Aug. 24. Austin-East is the third largest of a whopping nine Tennessee divisions.
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• Centerville unexpectedly landed a rare matchup against visiting Alter (9-2) when two Canadian teams backed out of a Week 3 doubleheader. The teams last played in 2010 with Centerville winning, 24-7.
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• It was a banner season for National East in 2017. All five teams posted winning records and Centerville, Wayne and Fairmont advanced to the postseason. Centerville was the only first-round winner, defeating Hilliard Darby 35-0.
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• Beavercreek was in great position to make its first playoff appearance last season after beating Fairmont in a Week 5 National East opener. That pushed the Beavers to 5-0 at the midway point. Then the rest of the GWOC East schedule kicked in.
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Key returning offensive players
• Michael Brown-Stephens, sr., WR, Springfield: 24 catches, 341 yards (14.2), 4 TDs, committed to Minnesota.
• Jesse Deglow, sr., RB, Fairmont: 1,040 yards rushing, 15 TDs.
• Rashad McKee, sr., QB, Wayne: 2,373 yards passing, 23 TDs, 9 INTs.
• J.R. Melzer, sr., WR, Centerville: 20 catches, 156 yards (17.3), 3 TDs.
• Sabastian Rendon, sr., RB, Beavercreek: 247 yards rushing, 2 TDs.
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Key returning defensive players
• Moses Douglass, sr., DB, Springfield: 65 tackles, 2 INTs, 2 fumble recoveries; committed to Kentucky.
• Ryan Hall, sr., DB, Fairmont: 40 tackles, 4 INTs, 2 fumbles recoveries.
• Justin Harris, sr., DB, Wayne: 70 tackles, 4 INTs, committed to Cincinnati.
• Connor Tinch, sr., DE, Beavercreek.
• Max Wynn, sr., LB, Centerville: 83 tackles, three forced fumbles, 2.5 sacks, committed to Akron.
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Week 1 games: All at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 24, unless otherwise noted.
• Alter at Fairmont, Thu., Aug. 23.
• Austin-East Magnet (Tenn.) at Wayne.
• Fairfield at Centerville.
• Lancaster at Springfield.
• Xenia at Beavercreek.
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Bonus fun fact: Wayne’s Rashad McKee (4,620 career passing yards, 46 TDs) will join the all-time most productive GWOC quarterbacks with another great season. But he has a way to go to catch the GWOC’s all-time career passing leader.
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That would be Jacob Harrison of Centerville. He passed for 8,453 yards and more than 70 touchdowns from 2012-15, although his first three seasons were at Chaminade Julienne. He’s a junior backup QB at Navy.
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