High school football: Best teams, games, players, performances at midpoint of 2021 season

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Highlights: Springfield rallies to beat Saint Ignatius on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021

Springfield, Piqua, Eaton among best teams in the area through five weeks

The high school football regular season starts in August with the sun still shining brightly at halftime and ends in October with Friday night lights bathing the field for all 48 minutes of game action.

The 10-game season reached the halfway point Friday with perfect weather, and there’s another good forecast this week. A number of area teams remained perfect on the field as well: Eaton (5-0); Springfield (4-0); Piqua (4-0); Preble Shawnee (5-0); Coldwater (5-0); Arcanum (5-0); Mechanicsburg (5-0); and Marion Local (5-0).

Before the competition for league championships and playoff spots heats up in Week 6, here’s a look back at the best games, moments, players and more from the first half for teams from the Miami Valley:

Best team: Springfield, a state semifinalist the last two seasons, was the highest-ranked Division I team in the first computer points rankings of the season last week. It was No. 2 in Division I, Region 8, one spot behind Marysville. The Wildcats also are ranked fourth in this week’s state poll.

Springfield beat three teams with a combined record of 9-5 in its first three games: Saint Ignatius (3-2); Lima Senior (3-1); and Wayne (3-2). The Wildcats blanked winless Beavercreek 42-0 last week and play at Fairmont (4-1) this week.

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Highlights: West Jefferson vs. Catholic Central on Sept. 17, 2021

Most improved team: With one more victory, Catholic Central (4-1) will match its combined victory total from the past four seasons. The Irish suffered their first loss last week: 47-27 to undefeated West Jefferson in Springfield.

Stingiest defense: Piqua has given up 20 points in four games, outscoring Belmont, Troy, Xenia and Sidney 160-20.

Highest-scoring offense: Arcanum is averaging 42.6 yards per game. Mechanicsburg, led by senior quarterback Aaron Conley’s 10 touchdown passes, is averaging 42.0 points per game.

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Best passing performances: Arcanum junior Bryce Schondelmyer has thrown 25 touchdowns and is averaging 288.4 yards per game.

Centerville senior Chase Harrison, a Marshall University recruit, has thrown 10 touchdown passes and one interception while averaging 215.4 yards per game.

Stebbins senior Nate Keller has thrown 14 touchdown passes and is averaging 208.4 yards per game.

Best rushing performances: Fairmont junior Drew Baker leads the Greater Western Ohio Conference with 906 yards (181.2 yards per game). He has ran for 10 touchdowns, all in the last four games. He ran for 245 yards and three touchdowns against Chaminade Julienne in Week 3.

Northridge senior Kavonte Turpin leads the Three Rivers League with 821 yards (164.2 per game) and has rushed for nine scores. He also has two touchdown catches.

Centerville's Cameron Smith runs for a touchdown after a catch in the fourth quarter against Gahanna Lincoln on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, at Gahanna. David Jablonski/Staff
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Centerville's Cameron Smith runs for a touchdown after a catch in the fourth quarter against Gahanna Lincoln on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, at Gahanna. David Jablonski/Staff

Best receiving performances: Arcanum senior Brennen Troutwine has caught 25 passes for 454 yards (90.8 yards per game) and has eight touchdown catches.

Centerville senior Cameron Smith has caught 27 passes for 443 yards (88.6 yards per game) and has five touchdowns.

Stebbins junior Adrian Norton has 21 catches for 413 yards (82.6 yards per game) and seven touchdown receptions.

Best all-around offensive performance: Northeastern junior quarterback Cade Houseman has thrown 11 touchdown passes and rushed for six scores. He’s averaging 165.6 passing yards and 127 rushing yards per game. He also has the longest run of the season in the area: a 95-yard touchdown in the season opener against Bradford.

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Best returners: Catholic Central senior Ashton Young returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown and ran 90 yards on a kickoff return for another score. He also has five rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns.

Northmont junior Javien Brownlee has scored on two kick returns, both longer than 80 yards, and has another 59-yard return.

Best kicker: Centerville junior Jackson Courville has made 8 of 9 field goals, including one from 47 yards, and 17 of 17 extra points.

Northeastern High School junior Hunter Albright tries to stiff arm Greeneview's Jarrod Mays during their game against Greeneview on Friday night at Conover Field in Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
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Northeastern High School junior Hunter Albright tries to stiff arm Greeneview's Jarrod Mays during their game against Greeneview on Friday night at Conover Field in Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

Credit: Name Test

Credit: Name Test

Best defensive line performance: Northeastern junior defensive end Hunter Albright leads the Ohio Heritage Conference with 7½ sacks and has two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He also has ran for five touchdowns.

Top tacklers: Northridge junior linebacker Jeremy Henry leads the Three Rivers League with 88 tackles (63 solo).

Urbana senior cornerback Levi Stapleton ranks second in the Central Buckeye Conference with 73 tackles (40 solo).

Oakwood senior linebacker Cade Zonin leads the Southwestern Buckeye League with 68 tackles (33 solo) and four interceptions.

Carroll senior defensive end Elliot Braun leads the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed Division with 63 tackles (19 solo).

Best defensive back performance: Franklin junior Tressel Gibson has four interceptions in five games.

Best game: Springboro (3-1) beat Fairmont 15-14 in Week 5. A 25-yard pass from Sam Feldman to Mason Leach with 2:11 to play cut Fairmont’s lead to 14-13. The Panthers went for two, and Feldman found Luke Zier for the go-ahead score. Leach secured the victory with an interception in the final minute.

Second-best game: Mechanicsburg rallied from a 20-14 halftime deficit to beat Kenton Ridge 35-28 in Week 1. Conley threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to senior Danny Mascadri for the tie-breaking score with 1:21 remaining.

Best finish: Centerville’s Courville kicked a 46-yard field goal with 15 seconds left to beat Mason 15-14 in Week 2. The Elks rallied from a 14-5 deficit in the final four minutes.

Second-best finish: Springfield rallied from a 20-10 deficit with two touchdowns in the final four minutes to beat Saint Ignatius 24-20 in Week 1. Micha Johnson returns an interception 34 yards for a touchdown for the go-ahed score 2 minutes, 57 seconds to play.

Most heartbreaking finish: The only loss for Centerville (4-1) came when Gahanna Lincoln quarterback Maxwell Cummings scored on a 2-yard run as time expired in Week 3. The Elks lost 26-24.

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Highlights: Centerville falls to Gahanna Lincoln on Sept. 3, 2021