High School Football: Top 25 players to watch in the Miami Valley

Alter's C.J. Hicks (1) prepares to make a tackle against Fenwick on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, at Roush Stadium in Kettering. David Jablonski/Staff

Combined ShapeCaption
Alter's C.J. Hicks (1) prepares to make a tackle against Fenwick on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, at Roush Stadium in Kettering. David Jablonski/Staff

Talented and difference-making athletes dot high school football rosters throughout the Miami Valley. From Ohio’s only five-star recruit in the senior class to players with no stars attached to their profile, many players are ready to shine on Friday nights.

ExploreTop storylines to watch this season

The Top 25 Players to Watch is not based solely on recruiting rankings and where college offers are coming from. From Division I to Division VII, football players will star for their teams and dominate their leagues.

Top 25 Players to Watch

1. C.J. Hicks, Alter: Senior linebacker is the only five-star recruit from Ohio in his class and has been long committed to Ohio State. He uses his speed to make plays all over the field.

2. Aamil Wagner, Wayne: Four-star senior offensive tackle leads a trio of Division I offensive-line recruits for the Warriors (Josh Padilla, Evan Tengesdahl). Wagner is the No. 4 player in Ohio and has an Ohio State offer.

3. Te’Sean Smoot, Springfield: Will be a third-year starter as a senior with the goal of leading the Wildcats to the Division I final. A three-star recruit, he threw for over 2,200 yards and 24 touchdowns and was GWOC offensive player of the year.

4. Derrick Shepard Jr., Alter: A big part (6-3, 323) of Alter’s rushing attack. He’s a four-star lineman who has committed to Cincinnati.

ExplorePHOTOS: Kettering Fairmont, Alter to continue football rivalry after COVID interruption last year

5. Elijah Brown, Wayne: Has risen from a 3-star to a 4-star tight end and is committed to Alabama. He led the Warriors with 20 catches last year as a junior.

6. Chase Harrison, Centerville: Senior quarterback threw for over 1,700 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. He is committed to Marshall.

7. Anthony Brown, Springfield: Junior four-star became the go-to receiving threat for the Wildcats last year. Offers are piling up from Syracuse to Penn State to Michigan.

8. Delian Bradley, Springfield: Senior three-star defensive back is a four-year starter and reigning GWOC defensive player of the year. He has offers from Michigan State, Nebraska, Kentucky and Cincinnati.

Credit: Springfield News Sun

Combined ShapeCaption
Springfield quarterback Te'Sean Smoot had a busy June in recruiting

Credit: Springfield News Sun

9. Tyron Darby, West Carrollton: Senior running back rushed for over 800 yards last season and over 140 in each of the last three games. Three-star has offers from Cincinnati and Iowa State.

10. Josh Padilla, Wayne: The junior four-star played right tackle last season. He’s the No. 5 overall prospect in the class of 2023 and has an offer from Michigan.

11. Cameron Smith, Centerville: Tall receiver (6-3) is Harrison’s top target. Caught 39 passes for 719 yards and 11 TDs in eight games last season.

12. Evan Tengesdahl, Wayne: Three-star junior left tackle has offers from Cincinnati and West Virginia.

13. Adam Trick, Wayne: Senior three-star DL/LB is the Warriors’ top returning tackler, and he recovered three fumbles last season. Committed to Miami.

14. Antwan Blackshear, Trotwood-Madison: Senior defensive lineman will be an impact player for the Rams, who finished 4-1 last season.

15. Tank Gant, Fairmont: Senior anchors the defense up front and has rushed for over 1,000 yards in two seasons in the Firebirds’ run-first offense.

16. Tywan January and Jokell Brown, Springfield: Senior defensive linemen work in tandem to anchor the Wildcats’ defense up front.

17. Nate Keller, Stebbins: Senior has thrown for almost 2,000 yards the past two seasons to lead the program’s resurgence.

18. Bryce Schondelmyer, Arcanum: Getting noticed in Division VI isn’t easy, but the junior has been rated as high as the No. 3 pro-style QB in Ohio in his class. He threw for over 2,600 yards last season.

19. Christian Davis, Miamisburg: Senior running back rushed for 1,119 yards and 12 touchdowns over the past two seasons.

20. Kenyon Owens, Chaminade-Julienne: Senior receiver will be QB Luke Chandler’s top target. Caught 32 passes last year for 517 yards.

21. Javien Brownlee, Northmont: Caught 25 passes and three TDs as a sophomore. Has a Cincinnati offer and has visited some Big Ten schools.

22. Christian Kirenga, Alter: Another key player in the Knights’ defense at cornerback. Has committed to Illinois State.

23. T.J. Gregory, Northmont: Senior will be another top receiving target with the graduation of Markus Allen.

24. Jasiah Medley, Piqua: Senior running back is team’s top returning rusher and strong in the secondary. Has offers from Toledo and Buffalo.

25. Taran Tyo, Versailles: Senior offensive lineman was a late bloomer as a two-star on the recruiting radar. But he recently committed to Ball State.

Best of the rest

(listed alphabetically by school)

Seniors: Antonio Murphy Jr., FB, Alter; Chase Stone, RB/WR, Alter; Corey Flanders, OL/DT, Alter; Ian Baker, WR, Arcanum; Brennen Troutwine, WR, Arcanum; Ashton Ault, LB, Bellbrook; Seth Borondy, RB, Bellbrook; Ashton Kooken, DL, Bellbrook; Brayden Turner, OL, Bellbrook; Talon Borders, QB, Carlisle; Alex Couch, OL, Carlisle; Joseph Jean-Louis, WR/LB, Centerville; Luke Chandler, QB, Chaminade-Julienne; Landon LaPoint, WR/TE, Covington; Seth Myers, WR, Lebanon; Corwyn Hurt, DB, Miamisburg; Blake Neumaier, RB, Milton-Union; Xavier Vuong, LB, Northmont; Jesse Smith, OL, Northridge; Kavonte Turpin, DB, Northridge; Tanner Kemp, LB, Piqua; Caleb Lyons, DT, Piqua; Elijah Ray, WR, Ponitz; Tayleon Waterhouse, DL, Ponitz; Deven Frilling, DB, Riverside; Dominic Bodine, OL, Springboro; Evan Brown, OL, Springboro; Nathan Coy, DB, Springboro; Sam Feldman, QB, Springboro; Mason Leach, WR/DB, Springboro; Tayden Harper, OL/DL, Springfield; Christian McMillin, RB/DB, Springfield; Logan Richardson, RB, Springfield; Fate Smith, LB, Springfield; Devin Stamper, DB, Springfield; Dominic Turner, WR, Springfield; Vasean Washington, OL/DL, Springfield; Myles Willis, OL, Springfield; ZyAaron Woodruff, OL/DE, Springfield; Cole Yost, K, Springfield; Omar Holloway, RB/LB, Stebbins; Braden Berner, DB, Tecumseh; Cayd Everhart, LB, Tippecanoe; Jason Rindler, DB, Tippecanoe; Layne Sarver, QB, Tri-Village; Josh Scantland, WR, Tri-Village; Wyatt Plush, OL, Tri-Village; Evan Jones, RB/LB, Troy; Nick Kawecki, RB/LB, Troy; Jack Kleinhenz, Troy; Josh Mayfield, QB, Troy; Jaelon McCoy, TE/LB, Troy; Carson Bey, QB, Versailles; James Cammon, DB, Wayne; Tyler Dorsey, RB, Wayne; Jimmy Dunford, RB/DE, Wayne; Ray Greene, RB, Wayne; Bryan Kinley, WR, Wayne; Jordan Ward, RB, Wayne; Kamaury Cleveland, QB, West Carrollton; Jorden Berry, WR/DB, West Carrollton; Jaden Berry, OL/DL, West Carrollton; Cole McCandless, LB/DE, West Carrollton; Logan Hinch, OL/DL, West Carrollton; Musa Abuhaidar, OL/DL, West Carrollton, Cedric Anthony, WR/DB, West Carrollton, Leon Nevels, FB/LB, West Carrollton; Tony Buckner, RB/LB, West Carrollton.

Juniors: Ryan Chapman, QB, Carroll; Nesta Owens, DL, Chaminade-Julienne; Ethan Teague, OL, Chaminade-Julienne; Jarrod Mays, DL, Greeneview; AJ Salley, OL, Miamisburg; Jake Brown, DL, Milton-Union; Blake Brumbaugh, WR, Milton-Union; Brady Ouhl, QB, Piqua; Sam Schmiesing, LB, Piqua; Jackson Trombley, K, Piqua; Stourm White, DB, Ponitz; Evan Ruzzo, QB, Springboro; Tyron Barnes, ATH, Springfield; Javian Norman, LB, Springfield; Adrian Norton, WR/DB, Stebbins; Justin Finbine, DB, Tri-Village; Lee Burkett, WR, Troy Christian; RJ Mukes, WR, Wayne; Dujuan Howard, RB/DB, West Carrollton; Tawfiq Jabbar Jr., DB, Xenia; Tremell Wright, QB/DB, Xenia.

Sophomores: Aaron Scott Jr., DB, Springfield; Deuce Cortner, QB, Northmont; Mike Smith, WR/DB, Trotwood-Madison; Shawn Thigpen, WR, Springfield; Rayvonn Harris, WR/DB, Stebbins; Jake Wheelock, OL, Stebbins.


Alter at Fairmont

Eaton at Greenville

Stebbins at Spr. Northwestern

Thurgood Marshall at Cin. Withrow

About the Author