It’s on Roosevelt Mukes to carry on what Jay Minton developed.
Mukes succeeds Minton as the head football coach of the area’s most successful Division I high school program, the Wayne Warriors. It was a messy takeover that involved Minton’s falling out with the Huber Heights City School Board – particularly former superintendent Susan Grunnell – and led to him accepting a part-time football coaching position at the University of Dayton.
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Mukes was the go-to favorite to be only Wayne’s third head coach since the early 1980s, following Mike Schneider and Minton.
“Coach Minton did a great job of raising the bar and we want to continue that,” said Mukes, who led the Warriors in their opening preseason practices on Thursday. “We changed that perception of Dayton versus Cincinnati while he was here. That’s something we want to continue to do and look forward to.”
That begins in earnest when Wayne (7-4 last season) hosts mighty Cincinnati Colerain (14-1) in the Backyard Blitz on Friday, Aug. 30.
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All fall high school and middle school sports began their preseasons on Thursday. Football will have five mandatory conditioning days before full contact is allowed. Most teams will practice through Saturday and Sunday is a mandatory day off, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Mukes is well acquainted with Warriors football. He was a wide receiver standout for Schneider in the mid-1980s, starred at the University of Cincinnati and has been on Wayne’s staff for 20-plus seasons.
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He’s also one of the few coaching holdovers since Wayne played in three D-I state championships from 2010-15. Gone from the staff of those great teams are former offensive coordinator Brian Blevins (now at Greenon), retired defensive coaches Mike Garinger and Pat Wood, and Minton.
“The biggest thing is having that voice,” Mukes said. “Growing up, you always respect that chair. Now that I’m in that chair, sometimes I might have to make decisions that aren’t popular, but that’s OK. That goes with the territory and I’m excited about the challenge.”
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Junior Cam Fancher inherits the challenge of succeeding Rashad McKee as the Warriors’ quarterback. A three-year starter, McKee had a combined 6,645 yards passing and 62 touchdown passes. Fancher is a converted receiver who had 32 catches for 447 yards (14.0 per catch) and four total TDs last season.
“(Fancher) was waiting in the wings and he was too athletic to be standing on the sidelines so we played him at wide receiver,” Mukes said. “I’m sure he looks forward to the challenge and we look forward to it, too.”
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Here’s five more story lines to watch for this season:
• Coaching changes always create the most intrigue, none more so than at Wayne and Miamisburg. Former Northmont head coach Lance Schneider resurfaces as Miamisburg’s head coach. That was a sentimental pick that made sense: He was raised mostly in Miamisburg and his father Mike and grandfather Hank also coached the Vikings.
Lance Schneider has been an assistant for at least two programs since relinquishing the Northmont position following the 2014 season. He succeeds Steve Channell, who resigned to take over at Hamilton, then didn’t get the job.
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• All area affiliations had significant coaching changes. That includes Cody Byrd, who succeeded Ben Rulli at Carroll in the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed. Matt Burgbacher also surprisingly left a great four-year run at Troy to take over at Tippecanoe, where he graduated. Among his Red Devils assistants is his father, Charlie Burgbacher, the longtime Tipp head coach.
Taking over at Troy is Danny Gress, a former standout linebacker at Northmont who was promoted.
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• The Greater Western Ohio Conference is down to 10 teams. The GWOC American Division is Beavercreek, Centerville, Fairmont, Springfield and Wayne. The GWOC National is Lebanon, Miamisburg, Northmont, Springboro and Trotwood-Madison.
The other 10 former GWOC schools left to revive the Miami Valley League. The MVL Miami Division consists of Butler, Greenville, Piqua, Tipp and Troy. The MVL Valley is Fairborn, Sidney, Stebbins, West Carrollton and Xenia.
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• This is the final GWOC season for Lebanon and Trotwood. Lebanon will leave for the Eastern Cincinnati Conference and Trotwood will be an independent following the revoke of its membership after this school year.
• The OHSAA’s inclement weather policy has been tweaked.
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Previously, any lightning sighting resulted in a 30-minute delay, which was restarted after each additional strike. Now, “under certain atmospheric conditions, lightning flashes may be seen from distant storms,” explained an OHSAA release. “In these cases, it may be safe to continue an event if no thunder can be heard and the flashes are low on the horizon.”
It’s on game officials to make that call.
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