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SWBL Southwestern football: Valley View rallies around veteran coach

Going on three decades as a Valley View assistant football coach, Bob Skidmore figured he wasn’t headed elsewhere. Good thing.

Kris Ketron’s unexpected resignation as the Spartans’ head coach following the 2015 high school season stirred something in Skidmore. There had been previous Spartans openings, but this time “I thought I really wanted to try for it,” he said.

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That was a great call, because Valley View football has taken its considerable game to the next level since Skidmore landed the position. The Spartans have gone 10-2 and 11-1 in each of the two years Skidmore has been head coach and takes an 11-game Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division win streak into this season.

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Last season Valley View fell 28-20 to Clinton-Massie in a Division IV, Region 16 semifinal thriller. Massie was the eventual state runner-up.

Valley View quarterback J.T. Ferguson and running back Stephen Gantert participate in a preseason football practice on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

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Those are the kinds of teams that were the norm when Skidmore was an assistant under former head coach Jay Niswonger, who oversaw Valley View becoming a state power in the mid-1990s. The Spartans were hard hit by graduation from those teams, but they’re not lacking in optimism.

“I’ve been blessed,” said Skidmore, a lineman on the final Fairborn Park Hills team in 1981 under then-coach Tom Massie. “This is a great community and they’ve had great teams and I’ve just been lucky to be a part of it. These kids want to keep winning.”

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The following are five things to know about SWBL Southwestern Division football.

Teams/coaches: Bellbrook (7-3, 4-2; D-III, Region 11), Jeff Jenkins (3rd season); Brookville (6-4, 3-3; D-V, Region 18), Mike Hetrick (18th season); Eaton (3-7, 1-5; D-IV, Region 16), Brad Davis (4th season); Franklin (8-3, 4-2; D-III, Region 12), Brad Childers (5th season);

Monroe (1-9, 0-6; D-III, Region 12), Brett Stubbs (4th season); Oakwood (5-5, 3-3; D-IV, Region 16), Butch Snider (4th season); Valley View (11-1, 6-0; D-IV, Region 16), Bob Skidmore (3rd season).

Head coach Bob Skidmore oversees a Valley View preseason football practice on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

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What to know: All seven SWBL Southwestern teams remained in the same divisions as last season following the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s revised competitive balance numbers. However, Bellbrook and Brookville both switched regions.

Bellbrook went from D-III, Region 12 to Region 11, which is top-heavy with Columbus schools. Previously in D-V, Region 20, Brookville switched to Region 18, which leans toward northeastern Ohio and includes Upper Sandusky.

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• Brett Stubbs has returned as Monroe’s interim head coach. He succeeds Barak Faulk, who resigned last spring and never coached a Hornets game. 

Faulk succeeded Bill Leach as Monroe’s head coach. Leach resigned following last season after guiding the Hornets for five years (18-33). Monroe was 1-9 in 2017, but stunned D-V state semifinalist Madison 27-13 in Week 2.

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• With 341 career tackles, Franklin senior linebacker Matt Centers needs just 56 to own the Wildcats’ all-time career record and 59 to reach 400. He also plays in the secondary, special teams and moved into the backfield at the end of last season. No wonder coach Childers says “Matt’s energy level is second to none and he brings it every day.”

• In Week 6 on Sept. 27, the Oakwood at Brookville game will be televised live by ABC 22/FOX 45 as part of its Thursday Night Lights show.

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Key returning offensive players:

• Quentin Brown, sr., OL, Monroe: 2nd team All-SWBL Southwestern.

• Caleb Puckett, sr., RB, Eaton: 736 yards rushing, 6 TDs.

• Jake Sargent, sr., WR, Oakwood: 24 catches, 573 yards (23.9), 9 TDs.

• Max Shuey, sr., RB, Valley View: 355 yards rushing, 4 TDs.

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• Justin Sloan, sr., RB, Bellbrook: 1,040 yards rushing, 7 TDs.

• Mason Stout, sr., QB, Brookville: 388 yards passing, 4 TDs,

• Braden Woods, jr., QB, Franklin: 1,309 passing yards, 12 TDs.

Key returning defensive players:

• Hayden Bullock, sr., DL, Bellbrook: 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles.

• Matt Centers, sr., LB, Franklin: 6 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1st team All-SWBL Southwestern.

• Mauricio Herringer, sr., DB, Oakwood: 4-year starter, 2nd team All-SWBL Southwestern.

• Zach Hannah, sr., LB, Valley View: 1 sack, 5 fumble recoveries.

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• Jarod Lee, jr., LB, Eaton: 2nd team All-SWBL Southwestern.

• Garrett Morris, sr., DL, Monroe: 1st team All-SWBL Southwestern.

• Hayden Sharritt, sr., DB, Brookville: 2nd team All-SWBL Southwestern.

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Week 1 games: All at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24.

• Bellbrook at Tippecanoe.

• Brookville at Tri-County North.

• Cin. Mariemont at Oakwood.

• Edgewood at Monroe.

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• Greenville at Eaton.

• Middletown Madison at Franklin.

• Valley View at Wilmington.

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Bonus fun facts: The SWBL began as a four-team league in 1944 with Butler, Tippecanoe, Versailles and Milton-Union. Others schools to have called the SWBL home over the years are Greenville, Northmont, Trotwood-Madison, West Carrollton and Wilmington.

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The SWBL hasn’t changed since Franklin and Monroe began competition in 2006 after the Mid-Miami League folded.

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