Prep football: SWBL to take on different look in 2021

The Bellbrook defense stuffs a Valley View runner during Friday night’s game at Bellbrook. Nick Falzerano/CONTRIBUTED
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The Bellbrook defense stuffs a Valley View runner during Friday night’s game at Bellbrook. Nick Falzerano/CONTRIBUTED

Rivals Bellbrook, Valley View will be in different divisions

Since joining the Southwestern Buckeye League together in 1975, Bellbrook and Valley View have played annually for football championships. This season will be the last.

Due to re-alignment, the SWBL will take on a different look in 2021.

While the upcoming school year will be contested as the past 14 have – with two seven-team divisions – the 2021-2022 school year will differ following the exit of Milton-Union, Dixie, Preble Shawnee and Northridge.

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The SWBL plans to split its 10 remaining schools into East and West divisions. The East will include Bellbrook, Franklin, Monroe, Oakwood and Waynesville. The West will be Brookville, Carlisle, Eaton, Madison and Valley View.

“It will be strange and disappointing not playing Valley View as a conference game next year,” Bellbrook head coach Jeff Jenkins (32-9 in four years) said. “I believe the Bellbrook-Valley View rivalry has become one of the best in the area. Records are thrown out the window when we meet and you always get the best from each team.”

Over a span of 15 years (1991-2005), the winner of the Bellbrook-Valley View game claimed a league title. Recently the schools put together back-to-back undefeated seasons (Valley View in 2017 and Bellbrook in 2018).

The Golden Eagles won last year’s game 30-19, while the Spartans went on to win 10 games and reach a D-IV regional final.

Bellbrook features three returning first team all-league defenders in seniors Ethan Fryman (linebacker), Taylor Jordan (defensive back) and Alex Petry (defensive line). The offense will be paced by senior quarterback Alex Westbrock (eight touchdown passes) and junior running back Seth Borondy (683 yards rushing, 11 touchdowns).

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Valley View counters with a trio of senior hammers in backs Lucas Lynch (16 touchdowns) and Liam Musgrove (eight touchdowns) and receiver Troy Coulter (10 touchdowns). The big question for the Spartans is quarterback where Cade Cradlebaugh (32 total touchdowns) graduated. Senior Ben Owens saw limited action (4-for-7 passing) as last year’s back-up. Expect a talented sophomore class to make an impact.

The last time the SWBL had 10 schools was the 2000-2001 school year. The next season Milton-Union and Waynesville began play in the league. Franklin and Monroe started in 2006.

Big Shoes: Leading Franklin to its fifth SWBL Southwestern Division title last year, quarterback Braden Woods tossed 16 touchdowns, ran for six more, threw just two interceptions and lost one fumble. Now a University of Dayton freshman, Woods was deservedly named the division’s offensive player of the year.

Vying for Franklin’s vacancy under center are junior Drew Isaacs and sophomore Tressel Gibson. Issacs completed 1-of-3 passes for two yards as Woods’ back-up last year. Franklin head coach Brad Childers (44-20 in six years) welcomes back 19 seniors.

New Digs: Jesse Hubbard, who spent the last two seasons at New Miami, is Madison’s new head coach. Ricky Davis led the Mohawks to a 5-5 record last season (his only with the program) before stepping down in January. Hubbard led New Miami to a 16-6 record and a pair of D-VII playoff berths. The Vikings were 10-0 last year, before losing to New Bremen in the regional quarterfinals. Madison has won four of the last six SWBL Buckeye Division titles.

Role Reversal: Witnessing a 1-9 finish as freshmen in 2017, quarterback Jake Amburgy, defensive back Seth Bloom and linebacker Luke Osborn helped Waynesville finish 9-2 (6-0 in the Buckeye Division) and make the D-IV playoffs last season. The trio headlines a senior class that returns seven all-league players.

Dynamic Duo: Carlisle’s backfield will feature the league’s top two returning rushers in juniors Talon Borders (1,030 yards) and Brice Naylor (897 yards).

Sure-Handed: Brookville senior Daniel Dominique returns after earning first team all-league honors last season (34 receptions, 561 yards, six touchdowns). He was also all-league in basketball.

Undefeated: The last 12 SWBL champions dating back to 2015 (six Southwestern and six Buckeye) have finished league play undefeated (6-0). The last shared league title was in 2014 when Waynesville and Madison each finished 5-1 in the Buckeye.

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