Valley View football: Top 7 players in Spartans history

This was the program that Jay Niswonger built. The scores were lopsided and the tailgating legendary, culminating with a sweep of Division IV state championships in 1994 and 1996-97.


Barker Field was the place to be on Friday nights and anywhere else the Spartans lured the Germantown and Farmersville faithful. Here’s why: Beginning in 1984, Niswonger was the Spartans’ main man for 28 seasons (243-78-1). Valley View won 73 straight regular-season games from 1991-99.

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Featuring an innovative run-and-shoot offense that was unstoppable, the Spartans had their way in the Southwestern Buckeye League from 1992-2002, winning all but one league title and being a postseason regular.

»SIDNEY: RB Bowser, DL Rogers commit

“We were blessed,” Niswonger told writer Eric Frantz last year after being inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. “It really was like Friday Night Lights.”

»DUNBAR: RB Thomas commits to Oklahoma

Here’s who we consider the all-time seven best football players at Valley View High School. Have something to say about this alphabetical list? Email your comments to

Location: Germantown.

League: SWBL Southwestern Division.

Division: D-IV, Region 16.

1. Brock Bolen, RB/LB, 2004 graduate: Holds the game (279 yards), single-season (2,283) and career (5,622) rushing records. At 6 feet and 230 pounds, was the original hammer up the middle with speed. Transferred from Fenwick to Valley View. Began collegiate career at Illinois, then transferred to Louisville. Played in the NFL with the Jaguars (2009-12) and was on the Browns practice squad (2013). Father Jim Bolen was a well-documented mercenary.

2. Aaron Focht, RB/WR, 1996: Fleet and slight benefactor of the run-and-shoot offense, was named an All-Ohio offensive player of the year as a senior when he accounted for more than 2,000-plus all-purpose yards. Went to Stanford as a receiver and switched to defensive back as a junior.

3. Shane Hannah, OL/DL, 1990: Perhaps the biggest Spartan ever at 6-5 and at least 350 pounds. Excelled in football, basketball (school record 23 rebounds), track (discus) and extra-large pizzas. Four-year starter at left tackle for Michigan State. Drafted by Cowboys in second round, but injured a knee in his first preseason game and essentially never recovered. Cowboys defeated Steelers to win the Super Bowl that season.

4. Shane Hannah Jr., LB, 2014: Son of the original, Spartans' all-time career leader in tackles (453). A redshirt junior at Dayton.

5. Thomas Howard, QB/DB, 1983: Predated the Spartans' glory football years and Niswonger, but nonetheless is one of their best athletes. Guided Valley View to a SWBL football title and was All-Ohio in basketball and baseball. Agreed to play football at Ball State because the Cardinals' coaching staff allowed him to miss spring drills to play baseball. Good call. After dropping football he became a first-team All-American in baseball and set a program record with 23 home runs. An outfielder, he played 11 major-league seasons from 1990-2000, including a four-season run with the Reds (1993-96) as a fan favorite because of his local tie.

6. Andy Keating, QB, 1997: Outstanding football/basketball player for the Spartans. Led Spartans to a 14-0 record as a senior, capped with a 37-12 defeat of previously unbeaten Bellaire in the 1996 D-IV state title game. Initially played football at West Virginia, then resumed his basketball career at Sinclair. Remains active as a boys basketball assistant in the area.

7. David Riley, QB, 1986: Like Howard, a football, basketball and baseball Spartans standout. Held most significant passing records – since broken - when he graduated. As a senior at Ball State was the MAC offensive player of the year and MVP. Played arena football for two seasons.

Honorable mention: Shane Brewer, LB, 1993 graduate; Ben Buehner, WR, 2001; Teddy Buehner, QB, 2004; Tim Curtis, RB, 1989; Johnny Day, QB, 2009; Jared Fore, LB, 2000; Jason Reed, LB, 1996; Jason Reiger, WR, 1999; Wes Root, DL, 1994; Josh Sears, LB, 1998; Danny Smith, QB, 1993; Dustin Strayer, QB, 2001; Joe Swanson, LB, 2003.

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