High school football: Greenon Knights preview

The following is a high school football preview. The preseason begins Thursday, Aug. 1. Most teams will play Week 1 games on Friday, Aug. 30.

High school: Greenon Knights, public.

Location: Springfield, Clark County.

Division/Region: D-V, Region 20; last season D-V, Region 18.

Affiliation: Ohio Heritage Conference, South Division.

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Head coach: Josh Wooten, also defensive coordinator. Third season as the Knights' head coach (9-10 overall record).

Assistant coaches: Arlie Benson, WR/DB; Brian Blevins, OC/QB; Matthew Blevins, WR; John Jewell, OL; John Kramer, RB; Frank Mullen, DL/special teams; Tim Whetsel, WR; Tom Wirick, OL; Austin Wyen, LB.

2018 record: 6-4, 4-1 OHC South.

2018 highlights: Swept the final four games following a front-loaded schedule (2-4). That wasn't enough for Greenon to makes its first playoff appearance. Instead, the Knights settled for second in the OHC South behind Greeneview (10-2).

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Returning junior QB Cade Rice was outstanding, passing for 1,765 yards and 16 TDs and rushing for 1,071 yards and another 13 TDs. In all, he accounted for 2,836 yards of total offense, 29 TDs and the laser focus of every opposing defensive coordinator.

Much of Rice’s attention went to another senior returnee in WR Luke Downing. He had 34 catches for 556 yards and six TDs.

Kicker Nathan Hawks was second team All-Ohio after converting 8 of 10 field goals, all 41 extra-point kicks and hammering 17 unreturnable kickoffs.

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Those offensive fireworks led to Greenon’s first winning season since 2007 and stoked much enthusiasm for this coming season.

Returning starters:

Cade Rice, 6-2, 195, jr., QB.

Kameron Cox, 5-10, 180, jr., RB/LB.

Dylan Bardnell, 6-0, 240, sr., C/DE.

Luke Downing, 6-4, 185, sr., WR.

Noah Mize, 6-7, 300, sr., OL.

Clay Hough, 5-11, 160, so., WR/CB.

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Arlie Benson, 5-7, 145, so., FS.

Logan Hurlbert, 6-1, 185, jr., LB

Brendon Parrett, 5-10, 165, jr., LB.

Bass Moore, 6-1, 170, jr., WR.

Kole Gravos, 5-10, 190, sr., OL/DL.

Tallyn Peterson, 6-1, 160, jr., RB/DB.

Evan Davis, 5-9, 155, jr., WR/CB.

What to know: Start with 16 returning starters, an All-Ohio kicker and Rice being sensational in summer 7-on-7 camps. This was the kind of success Greenon envisioned for its football team after splitting from the Central Buckeye Conference two seasons ago for the OHC.

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Whether that success is because of the switch or the Knights are the benefactor of a talented couple of classes doesn’t matter. What does is Wooten has quickly turned around what seemed to be impossible. Also, offensive coordinator Brian Blevins and his spin on the spread offense is back for more after leaving Wayne following the 2017 season.

There are four schedule changes, all affecting Weeks 2-5. Out are New Miami (6-5), West Jefferson (8-3), Triad (5-5) and West Liberty-Salem (7-3). In their place are Bradford (0-10), Northeastern (1-9), Fairbanks (7-4) and Mechanicsburg (8-3).

The most significant schedule change is an OHC South rotation of hosting Greeneview (10-2) in the Week 10 regular-season finale; perfect.

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Greeneview is the one to beat in the OHC South. If Greenon can’t do that, making its first playoff appearance in program history would be a worthy achievement.

Coachspeak: "We return a group of young and hungry players that are looking to win an OHC South title. The kids are looking to build on our 6-4 season and 4-1 record in the OHC South. We are excited about our team's ability. We have another difficult schedule to fight through, but are looking forward to the challenge." - Wooten

Schedule, all at 7 p.m.

Week 1: Fri., Aug. 30, Springfield Shawnee

Week 2: Fri., Sept. 6, Bradford

Week 3: Fri., Sept. 13, at Northeastern

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Week 4: Fri., Sept. 20, Fairbanks

Week 5: Fri., Sept. 27, at Mechanicsburg

Week 6: Fri., Oct. 4, Catholic Central

Week 7: Fri., Oct. 11, Madison Plains

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Week 8: Fri., Oct. 18, at Cedarville

Week 9: Fri., Oct. 25, at Southeastern

Week 10: Fri., Nov. 1, Greeneview

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