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Preseason football: Centerville Elks

Team: Centerville Elks

Division/Region: D-I, Region 3; no change from last season.

Affiliation: Greater Western Ohio Conference, National East Division.

Location: Elks Football Stadium, Centerville (Montgomery County).

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Head coach: Brent Ullery, second season as the Elks head coach following three years as an assistant. A former Centerville football standout who walked on as a receiver at Ohio State. Son of former Elks head coach and current Springboro assistant Ron Ullery.

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Assistant coaches: Joe Kitchell, defensive coordinator/LB; Greg Karpinsky, DL; Adam Taylor, DL; Cedric Tolbert, safeties; Ryan Thomas, safeties; Roy Thobe, corners; Dan Kerns, WR; Jermaine Bailey, RB; Bill Petraiuolo, OL; Luke Bartlett, QB.

2017 records: 4-0 GWOC National East; 10-2 overall.

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2017 highlights: A spectacular debut for Ullery, who succeeded Rodney Roberts . Elks were 7-0 and lost only at Northmont 21-14 in Week 8 of the regular season. Defeated Fairmont and Beavercreek in Weeks 9-10 to go unbeaten in divisional play and end Wayne’s two-season grip on the conference title.

Top seeded, opened the playoffs with a 35-0 thumping of Hilliard Darby. That set up a rematch with Week 3 opponent Pickerington North. Centerville won the regular-season matchup 27-26 on Brandon Walter’s 24-yard FG with no time left. But North landed a 42-12 payback KO of the Elks in the postseason.

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That was Centerville’s 16th appearance in the playoffs, second only to Wayne (20) among the area’s D-I programs.

Graduated seniors Alec Grandin and Jake Spiewak both were second team All-Ohio. A QB, Grandin was second in GWOC passing (2,483 yards and 25 TDs). His go-to target was Spiewak, a sure-handed 6-4 WR who torched Fairmont with 13 catches for 160 yards in Week 9. He had 66 catches and 1,011 yards (15.3) and 10 TDs. Grandin will play football at Marian University (Ind.) and Spiewak will play at Air Force.

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They were part of a robust senior class that intends to play ball at the next level. Also extending their football careers are graduated seniors Ross Garrett (Saginaw Valley State), Dylan Haller (Indiana State), Jevon Henderson (Bowling Green), Trey King (Duquesne), Riley Poulton (Columbia), Donovan Shelton (Indiana Wesleyan), Cody Smith (Baldwin Wallace) and Sam Vance (Air Force).

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Key returners:

Jake Appley, 6-0, 235, sr., OL

Dylan Hiltbrunner, 5-11, 190, sr., LB

J.R. Melzer, 6-0, 180, sr., WR/DB

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Chris Moody, 6-0, 285, sr., DL

Brandon Walters, 6-0, 170, sr., WR/K; first team All-GWOC East kicker.

Max Wynn, 6-2, 205, sr., LB; first team All-GWOC East LB.

About the Elks: Lots of senior turnover from last season, which means the Elks likely will be hard-pressed to contend for a GWOC title and another playoff berth. Wynn led the Elks with 96 total tackles (58 solo, 38 assists) and four forced fumbles. Hiltbrunner had 54 stops (32 solos, 22 assists). They’ll provide a familiar defensive punch. That’s a good thing, because the offense is in rebuild mode.

»RELATED: Key football dates

Ullery’s debut season was similar to Roberts’ in 2014 (10-1), which also benefited from a proven and big senior class.

As of now, Centerville doesn’t have a road game until Week 5 at Springboro. That’s because Centerville has been unable to land a Week 3 opponent after ending a two-year series with Pickerington North. The rest of the Elks schedule is the same as 2017. That won’t hurt the Elks’ playoff shot; an additional computer rankings numerical formula kicks in so teams aren’t penalized for open dates.

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Look for Trotwood-Madison to eventually return to the schedule. Centerville swept Trotwood in a Week 4 home-and-home series in 2014-15. Besides, Trotwood is the only GWOC American Conference team that won’t jump to the revised Miami Valley League in 2019.

Schedule: All at 7 p.m.

Week 1: Fri., Aug. 24 FAIRFIELD

Week 2: Fri., Aug. 31 LAKOTA WEST

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Week 3: Fri., Sept. 7 Open

Week 4: Fri., Sept. 14 SPRINGFIELD

Week 5: Fri., Sept. 21 at Springboro

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Week 6: Fri., Sept. 28 WAYNE

Week 7: Fri., Oct. 5 at Lebanon

Week 8: Fri., Oct. 12 NORTHMONT

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Week 9: Fri., Oct. 19 at Fairmont

Week 10: Fri., Oct. 26 at Beavercreek

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