PREP FOOTBALL: New Miami looks to the Navy for help


Coach: John Singleton, third season (10-10 at New Miami, 47-66 overall)

OHSAA designation: Division VII, Region 28

Playoff history: 0-1 in one appearance (2008)

2015 record: 4-6 overall, 3-1 in the Miami Valley Conference Gray Division (second)

Schedule: Aug. 26 — Gamble Montessori, 7 p.m.; Sept. 2 — Hillcrest, 7 p.m.; Sept. 9 — Dayton (Ky.), 7 p.m.; Sept. 16 — at Clark Montessori, 7 p.m.; Sept. 23 — Lockland, 7 p.m.; Sept. 30 — St. Bernard, 7 p.m.; Oct. 7 — at Dayton Christian, 7 p.m.; Oct. 14 —Cincinnati Country Day, 7 p.m.; Oct. 21 — Open; Oct. 28 — Dohn, 7 p.m.

John Singleton has been studying Navy’s veer offense with hopes it will help his New Miami High School football team maximize the talent on its tiny roster.

The Vikings graduated their top two playmakers on offense and needed a way to use the athleticism of the returning players without relying too heavily on one or two individuals.

Thus the switch from the spread to the veer as New Miami looks to improve on a 4-6 finish (3-1 Miami Valley Conference Gray).

“We took the offense from the Naval Academy because they do more with less athletes than anyone,” said Singleton, who is preparing for his third season as Vikings coach. “We don’t always have as many athletes as others, so we said, ‘Let’s see if we can be as effective with the veer.’ ”

Former running back/receiver Christian Acus, a small but speedy senior, takes over at quarterback, replacing 1,000-yard passer Brian Hensley in the new option attack, and New Miami will use a committee to make up for the loss of 1,000-yard rusher P.J. Johnston.

Ron Bowman, Brody Honaker, Tanner Motzer and Austin Howard will share carries behind an offensive line that returns all but one player. Dustin Coy, Kyle Kellum, Hunter Black, Dalton Philpot and Nathan Gray will anchor things up front and will be joined by Larry Isaac, once he returns from an ankle injury.

“I think they’ve been really positive with it (the veer),” Singleton said. “We’re still learning. It’s a brand-new offense for us coaches, too, so we are all learning. We like what we see so far, and the kids are getting behind it.”

Lineman John Snader was the only other player besides Johnston and Hensley lost to graduation, so it’s an experienced group; however, New Miami still has just 24 players on the roster.

Singleton said spreading the ball around will help keep players fresh, but the lack of depth is still a concern.

“We have eight starters back on offense and defense, but not a lot of numbers behind that, so the key for us is staying healthy,” Singleton said. “If we stay healthy, I like what we’ve got. We’ve got key people, but we just need to stay healthy and win in the fourth quarter.”

That also means tightening up the defense, which is led by Kellum at middle linebacker, Acus at cornerback and Gray and Black on the defensive line. Philpot will switch from defensive tackle to linebacker, and Howard also will be a key player in the linebacking corps.

New Miami averaged 20.8 points per game last year but allowed opponents 28.1 points. Two of the Vikings’ losses were by six points or less.

“Our kids know what it takes to win in this league,” Singleton said of his experienced roster. “We lost a couple close ones we honestly should have won. We let it slip away, and our kids are working hard not to let that happen. Hopefully, we carry that out.”

With a senior-laden roster full of players who have been starting since Singleton’s first year in 2014, the Vikings hope to surprise teams doubting them because of what they lost on offense.

New Miami was 6-4 two years ago after a one-win 2013 season but the program hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2008.

“We lost a two-year starter at quarterback and the leading offensive player in our league for total yardage, so those are big holes and we’ve got a new offense,” Singleton said. “I’m sure people question it, but nothing is ever finished with preseason predictions. We have to play 10 weeks and see where we are.

“We feel good about our talent level, and I think we can be competitive every game on our schedule,” Singleton added. “These guys love to play football, and they have a chance to be really good if we can stay healthy.”

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