High School Football: Top 8 players in Alter history

Credit: Teesha McClam

Credit: Teesha McClam

The 21st century has certified several Miami Valley football programs flirting with state prominence prior. Alter is one.

Having captured two regional titles prior to 2001, the Knights have won 10 since and are riding a 22-year postseason streak. Alter is 51-26 in playoff games and owns 28 berths overall.

The defining stretch was a 13-year run from 2006-2018 that produced two Division III state titles (2008 and 2009), three state runners-up, seven undefeated regular seasons and an overall record of 152-18.

Head coach Ed Domsitz has been around for nearly all the glory. Coaching Alter to state semifinal berths in 1984 and 1987, Domsitz is in his second stint on East David Road. He returned to the program in 1999 after an 11-year run at Northmont.

Domsitz started his coaching career in 1976 at his alma mater, Trotwood-Madison. Domsitz’s overall record is 368-169. He’s 293-86 at Alter in 31 seasons and has coached 25 of the program’s 28 playoff teams.

Nearing a half century as head coach (48 years), Domsitz was inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame as part of its 49th class in 2018.

This is the second in a season-long series of the top high school football players in Dayton area history. The Dayton Daily News received recommendations and nominations from athletic directors and readers to help compile our list.

Chris Borland, RB/LB, 2009

Two-way standout in high school was a hammer on both sides of the ball for the program’s first state title team in 2008. Led Alter in rushing yards (130), TDs (two), all-purpose yards (147) and tackles (6.5) in the Knights 21-6 win over Steubenville in the D-IV final. Was named first team All-Ohio. Finished senior season with 72 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries, while also rushing for 1,230 yards and 19 TDs.

Chose Wisconsin where he earned Big Ten freshman of the year honors and was first team All-Big Ten three times. Was tabbed the conference’s defensive player of the year and All-American as a senior. Racked up 420 career tackles, 50 tackles-for-loss, 17 sacks and 14 forced fumbles.

Drafted in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Started eight games as a rookie and had 108 tackles. Named the NFL’s defensive rookie of the month for November that season. Retired from football the following March citing head trauma concern.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Jeff Graham, WR/QB/DB, 1987

One of the Miami Valley’s best overall athletes. Started both ways as a sophomore, junior and senior and was a major piece of the program’s first regional title (1984). Moved to quarterback as a senior (in the wishbone) after playing wide receiver prior. Was a safety on defense. Earned first team All-Ohio honors in football (1986) and basketball (1987) as a senior.

Despite having D-I scholarship offers for both football and basketball, chose football and Ohio State. Was a three-year starter at receiver for the Buckeyes and captain and MVP as a senior.

Second-round pick in the 1990 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also suited up for the Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and Sand Diego Chargers in an 11-year career that included 542 catches for 8,172 yards and 30 TDs.

Took over for former Bears teammate Maurice Douglass as Trotwood’s head football coach in 2014. Has led Rams to two state titles (2017 and 2019) and a runner-up finish (2016).

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

CJ Hicks, LB, 2022

A five-star recruit and the highest-ranked prospect in Alter history (No.1 overall in Ohio in the 2022 senior class and No. 2 linebacker nationally). Was a two-time GCL defensive player of the year, two-time Southwest District defensive player of the year, two-time first team All-Ohio and the state 2021 D-III defensive player of the year. Notched 84 tackles, 18 TFL and two interceptions, one of which he returned 99 yards for a touchdown against rival Chaminade Julienne, as a senior. Amassed 1,442 all-purpose yards (667 rushing, 397 receiving) and nine TDs on offense.

Went to Ohio State where he lettered as a true freshman in 2022. Expected to play a large role for OSU’s defense this fall.

Nick Mangold, OL/DL, 2002

Three-year two-way starter on offensive and defensive lines. Earned All-Ohio honors as a senior. Also lettered in wrestling and track and field. Played in the US Army All-American Bowl.

Went to Ohio State where he started 33 games, played in 45, was All-Big Ten twice, won a national championship (2002) and was an All-American as a senior. Selected in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft (29th overall) by the New York Jets. Started all 164 NFL games he played in, was a three-time All-Pro (2009-2011) and seven-time Pro Bowl selection. Member of the Jets Ring of Honor.

Doug Penno, RB, 2003

Named the GCL and Southwest District offensive player of the year as a senior when he established then-Alter records for career rushing yards (3,289), total yards (4,731) and points (278). Surpassed 2,000 yards rushing and scored 28 TDs as a senior. Also a three-year starter in basketball and was a senior on the D-II state runner-up squad that lost by four points to LeBron James and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in 2003. Was All-Ohio in both sports as a senior.

Played college basketball at Miami where he appeared in 102 games, started 43, scored 450 points and had 147 assists.

Jerry Rudzinski, QB/LB, 1994

Two-way standout (quarterback/linebacker) was a part of two playoff teams (1991 and 1992) and was first team All-Ohio twice (1992 on offense and 1993 on defense). Was the state D-III defensive player of the year as a senior when he recorded 144 tackles and 14 TFL. A two-year team captain, he ended his career with 303 tackles, 2,594 passing yards, 480 yards rushing and 32 total TDs.

Went to Ohio State where he appeared in 44 games, started 13, had 137 tackles, 19 TFL and eight sacks. Was team captain in 1998.

Credit: Ron Alvey

Credit: Ron Alvey

Joe Thuney, OL, 2011

Member of two state championship teams (2008 and 2009) was All-Ohio as a senior and the GCL lineman of the year. Went to North Carolina State where he became the program’s first All-American on the offensive line since 1979.

Drafted by the New England Patriots in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, went on to become the first player in NFL history to start three Super Bowls in the first three years of their career. The Patriots won two titles. Signed with the Kansas City Chiefs after the 2021 season and won a Super Bowl with them this past February. Has been named All-Pro twice (2019 and 2022) and has started all 112 games of his NFL career.

Malik Zaire, QB, 2013

Highly touted four-star prospect was considered the No. 3 dual threat quarterback in the country as a senior in 2012. Threw for 1,990 yards, ran for 1,120 yards and accounted for 33 TDs that season en route to being named first team All-Ohio and the Southwest District offensive player of the year.

Signed with Notre Dame where he spent four seasons and earned MVP of the 2014 Music City Bowl after leading the Irish to a 31-28 defeat of LSU. Transferred to Florida as a fifth-year graduate.

Special Mention:

Austin Boucher, QB, 2009

The offensive catalyst on the Knights first state title team (2008). Ran for 111 yards and a TD and completed 7-of-11 passes for 81 yards and a TD in Alter’s 21-6 win over Steubenville. Named first team All-Ohio and the D-IV Ohio offensive player of the year after passing for 1,900 yards, rushing for 900 yards and accounting for 37 total TDs.

Went to Miami where he led the Redhawks to the 2010 MAC championship and a victory over Middle Tennessee State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl (was named game MVP).

Branden McDonald, RB, 2021

Burst onto the scene as a sophomore with 344 yards and four TDs in a 49-14 Week 4 win over Roger Bacon. Finished that season with 1,511 yards rushing and 17 TDs. Went on to earn D-III All-Ohio honors as a junior and senior when he rushed for 2,796 yards and 29 TDs combined. Big game as a senior was 394-yard, six-TD performance in 42-0 win over Trotwood-Madison.

After stints at Coffeyville Community College and Bethune-Cookman, is currently at Hocking College.

Tim Quinn, OL/DL, 1969

Two-way lineman that earned All-Ohio honors (Class AA) in 1967 and 1968. Also excelled in track & field (60-foot shot putter). Member of Alter’s inaugural Athletic Hall of Fame class.

Played at Dayton where he was a two-time first team Academic All-American at linebacker for then-head coach John McVay.

Honorable mention: Dan Anderson, OL, 1986; Thomas Armstrong, DL, 2010; Connor Bazelak, QB, 2019; Jason Boeckman, WR, 1993; Pat Burke, DL, 1990; Brad Cash, DL, 2007; Nick Coleman, RB/DB, 2014; Corey Drake, OL, 2007; Jim Ehrensberger, LB, 1974; Bobby Getty, DB, 2002; Jim Harnett, WR, 1985; Dusty Hayes, QB, 2015; Tim McVay, QB, 1974; Tony Parnell, LB, 1988; T.J. Poelking, LB, 1987; Matt Riazzi, RB, 1989; Chris Roark, RB, 2007; Mike Rose, DB, 1996; David Rueth, LB, 2017; Bill Siewe, OL/DL, 1976; Jay Tant, TE, 1996; Mark Thuney, OL, 1976.

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