Prep football: Alter unanimous choice to rule GCLC North Division

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
The Alter Knights finished 13-1 last season, one game shy of the state championship game.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Alter High School’s football team is back in a familiar place.

The Knights, defending Greater Catholic League Coed North Division champions and divisional winners 14 times in the last 15 seasons, have been unanimously voted No. 1 in the North’s preseason coaches poll.

“Every year is a different kind of challenge,” Alter coach Ed Domsitz said. “I think there are a lot of people that feel we won’t quite measure up to what we have in the last two or three years, but I think the kids have a determination. They understand it’s their turn, and hopefully they’ll add a nice chapter to the Alter football heritage.”

Fenwick placed second in the poll, while Chaminade Julienne was third and Carroll fourth.

New Fenwick coach John Aregood said his squad will try to challenge the Knights. The Falcons spoiled Alter’s lengthy title run by winning the North in 2015.

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“When you go into a season, you plan on winning 10 games,” Aregood said. “We’re not conceding anything, but we have to realize that Alter’s a premier program. It’s going to be tough to beat them, but it can be done.”

Alter went 13-1 and lost to Columbus Hartley in the Division IV state semifinals last year.

The Knights have been bumped up to D-III this season, and Domsitz said he’s down about a dozen varsity players.

“Some of our kids will have to play both ways this year,” he said. “That’s going to be a little different. Not that it’s never happened before, but we might have several players going both ways.

“The key for anybody now is going to be to avoid injuries. Except for the gigantic programs, there just isn’t the depth. When there’s a large disparity between your No. 1s and No. 2s, it can devastate a team if you’re beset with injuries.”

The Knights have to replace five graduated seniors on the offensive line and a strong kicker in Matt Ruffolo.

Among the returnees are senior middle linebacker Alden Simms, who has a scholarship offer from Air Force, and junior quarterback Connor Bazelak, who has offers from Kentucky and Toledo.

Bazelak has a strong arm and saw considerable action subbing for Ryan Markoff last season. Will Alter throw the ball more this year?

“What we want to do is whatever it takes to win,” Domsitz said. “I think Connor gives us some possibilities that we need to be able to take advantage of.”

Domsitz, 67, has 318 career wins and has been coaching for more than four decades.

“They’ve got me teaching seven classes a day, so I don’t know if they’re trying to get rid of me or what,” he said. “I think you keep going as long as you’ve got the energy and you enjoy it and you feel you can contribute something and you’re healthy. You’ve got to feel good doing it. So we’ll see.”

GCLC North: The Vote

Here’s how the coaches voted in the preseason Greater Catholic League Coed North Division football poll, with point totals and first-place votes (in parentheses):

1. Alter (4) 16

2. Fenwick 10

3. Chaminade Julienne 9

4. Carroll 5