Northmont High School’s first undefeated football season in 40 years produced three more memorable moments Wednesday.
Six days after being named to the Division I Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association All-Ohio team, the Thunderbolts highly-touted senior trio of quarterback Cade Rice (South Dakota State), receiver Markus Allen (Wisconsin) and defensive back Rod Moore (Michigan) all celebrated National Signing Day. The threesome headlines the area’s haul on the first day of the early signing period.
The trio was part of Northmont’s unbeaten season (8-0), which was cut short due to COVID-19 in the third round of the playoffs prior to a rematch with eventual state-semifinalist Springfield. The Thunderbolts won the Greater Western Ohio Conference and beat the Wildcats 38-35 during the regular season.
“It’s a big day for Northmont,” Northmont head coach Tony Broering said. “We’re very proud of the boys and we’re blessed to be part of their development. We feel like we’ve helped them along and they’ve definitely helped us.”
One of two receivers the Badgers were set to sign, Allen, the state’s No. 10 prospect according to 247sports.com, is expected to make an immediate impact in Madison.
“They (Wisconsin) act like he’s the game-changer,” Broering said. “That’s their words – not mine. They feel like he’s going to make a dramatic change in their program. The thing with him is that when he is on, he’s unstoppable.”
Allen, who transferred from Xenia after his sophomore season, had 111 catches for 1,971 yards and 29 touchdowns the last two years.
“He could’ve made an impact this year at Wisconsin,” Rice said. “He’s so physically gifted.”
Transferring from Greenon (Division V) prior to the season, Rice’s desire to build his recruiting resume against Ohio’s top competition paid off. Considered one of Ohio’s top 100 prospects, Rice completed 154-of-265 passes for 2,128 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior. He also ran for 343 yards and two touchdowns. Over his career, Rice threw for 7,151 yards and 88 touchdowns. He ran for 2,288 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Northmont receivers coach Luke Hurst helped Rice’s recruitment by reaching out to a contact at South Dakota State.
“Once they watched the film, they couldn’t believe they could get him,” Broering said. “I couldn’t either. It’s a great place for him. He’s going to be savvy and smart and he’s going to be a game-changer for them. I know he’s been in contact with kids there and they are excited.”
Rice has yet to visit the SDSU campus, which is located over 13 hours away in Brookings, South Dakota. He took a tour virtually.
“It’s a program that can win a national championship,” Rice said. “I take losing pretty hard. Winning is a real big deal for me.”
Moore, a top 20 Ohio prospect, is Michigan’s only Ohio recruit in the current class and just one of two defensive backs.
He had 43 tackles as a senior.
“I think (Michigan) feels Rod can come in and make an impact right away,” Broering said. “You don’t need to sign 4-5 guys when you have a Rod Moore coming in.”
“He’s a 4.3 40 guy that can light you up,” Rice said. “He can go into Michigan and help them turn their defense around in terms of the secondary. He’ll make a huge impact sooner than later with his ability to cover ground and deliver hits.”
Northmont took a huge hit when it was bounced from the postseason by an invisible opponent. Wednesday’s ceremonies offered a slight hint of solace.
“It was hard watching Springfield go that far,” Rice said. “We like to root for GWOC teams, but at the same time – it’s a huge ‘what if..?’”
“It’s hard to say if you’ll ever have a team like that again,” Broering said. “It would have been tough, but it would have been fun to try (to win a state title).
“Talent only takes you so far. Talent without character doesn’t get you there. These boys have the character along with the talent, and that’s what makes them special.”
Other area athletes expected to sign Wednesday include Lance Reaves-Hicks, Piqua (Princeton); Titan Case, Springboro (Navy); Ryan Iiams, Springboro (Robert Morris); Daylen Morgan, Trotwood-Madison (Akron); Dawson Hildebrand, Troy (Bowling Green) and Cam Fancher, Wayne (Marshall).