There are at least 14 new high school head football coaches throughout the area for this coming season. Among those are four in the Greater Western Ohio Conference.
That extends a coaching switch tend in the 20-team mega conference. GWOC coaches who made their debuts with new teams this last season were Chris Roark (Fairborn), Dave Miller (Fairmont) and Nathan Hyatt (Vandalia-Butler). Eight of the 20 GWOC football coaches will have been in place for two seasons or less this coming season.
CENTERVILLE: Brent Ullery, the son of former Elks coach Ron Ullery and a Centerville graduate, succeeds Rodney Roberts, who unexpectedly resigned after three seasons.
Brent is just the fourth Elks head coach since the mid-1970’s, following Bob Gregg (1974-99), his father Ron Ullery (2000-13) and Roberts (2014-16). Among the area’s most winningest programs in that span, the Elks find themselves in a rare reboot mode. Centerville won its final three GWOC National East games to finish 5-5 last season and was 6-4 in 2015, missing the playoffs both seasons.
NEW ELKS COACH: Brent Ullery succeeds Rodney Roberts
A leaky defense and missing the postseason doesn’t cut it at Centerville.
“That’s for sure,” said Ullery, a former walk-on receiver at Ohio State University who returned to coach at Centerville during Roberts’ first season. “That’s why I like it. There’s very high expectations in the city and the community and the school. They want great things and I want to give great things.”
Division: D-I, Region 3.
Opener: Friday, Aug. 25 at Fairfield, 7 p.m.; part of the 20th annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown.
STEBBINS: Trace Smitherman pulled off the ultimate program reboot by making Stebbins a contender in the Central Buckeye Conference and overseeing a jump to the GWOC American South last season. It’ll be up to former Southeastern coach Greg Bonifay to do the same.
Smitherman resigned after x seasons as the Indians’ coach to succeed Bob DeLong at Xenia. Bonifay resigned at Ohio Heritage Conference member Southeastern after 10 seasons to succeed Smitherman.
NEW INDIANS COACH: Greg Bonifay succeeds Trace Smitherman
“It’s like a homecoming for me,” said Bonifay, who previously was an assistant at Stebbins for four seasons with former Indians head coaches Jason Krause and Brian Conner.
Stebbins, still looking for its first playoff appearance, was 3-7 overall and 1-3 in the division last season.
Division: D-II, Region 8.
Opener: Friday, Aug. 25 at Carroll, 7 p.m.
WEST CARROLLTON: Derek Hauk succeeds Doug Hatcher, who was not retained after three seasons. Hauk previously was a Pirates assistant but comes to West Carrollton after spending last season as a Stebbins assistant.
These are hard times for many of West Carrollton athletics programs, including football. The Pirates have three combined wins in the last four seasons and lug a 19-game divisional losing streak in that span into the GWOC American South this season.
Division: D-III, Region 12.
Opener: Friday, Aug. 25 hosts Northridge, 7 p.m.
XENIA: It’s on Smitherman to do what DeLong couldn’t, make the Buccaneers a GWOC American South contender and qualify for the playoffs.
DeLong’s tenure at Xenia was mixed; he won over players with a can-do attitude and helped oversee a Doug Adams (previously Cox) Stadium makeover. But transfers out of the program and dwindling administrative support was his undoing. It didn’t help that Xenia started its non-conference schedule 0-6 last season. Xenia (3-7, 3-1) was runner-up to D-III state runner-up Trotwood-Madison in the division.
NEW BUCS COACH: Trace Smitherman succeeds Bob DeLong
“Bob DeLong is a really good football coach,” Smitherman said. “To follow in his footsteps is a tough task. I want to be up to the challenge. It starts at the foundation, growing the kids and growing as a coach to see what’s needed.”
Expect more of the hybrid veer offense that worked so well for Smitherman at Stebbins.
Division: D-II, Region 8.
Opener: Thursday, Aug. 24 hosts Beavercreek, 7 p.m.