West Carrollton football pride: “I see a big future for this program”

Senior receiver Austin Jones has had three different head football coaches in four seasons at West Carrollton. That’s a lot of turnover for any program.

However, when it was announced that Dion Black was leaving the staff at Trotwood-Madison to take over last winter, that created a buzz among the Pirates that had been missing. Black was the Rams’ defensive coordinator on the unbeaten Division III state title team in 2017.

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“The word around the school was we’re going to be something this year,” recalled Jones, who had celebrated just four varsity wins the prior three seasons. “I see a big future for this program. He brings motivation and more empathy to do stuff. … It was different. We never had a state-championship coach before.”

Winless through the first half of the season, West Carrollton landed the area’s first major upset with a 39-34 stunning of visiting Piqua (3-3) last week. Never mind it was the Pirates’ first win; this was epic stuff for an athletic program that has been mostly down the last decade.

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That includes the football team, which has won 13 combined games in the previous nine seasons. West Carrollton hadn’t won more than three games in any season during that span and hadn’t had a winning season since the 2009 team was 8-3 and lost to Tecumseh in the D-II postseason first round.

It takes a special calling to leave a program such as Trotwood’s, where deep playoff runs and state title appearances are the norm.

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“It was a dream of mine being a head coach,” said Black, a 1998 Patterson Co-Op grad who played defensive back at Urbana University. “I loved it at Trotwood. If I hadn’t had a head coaching opportunity, I’d still be there. (Rams head coach) Jeff Graham is my biggest supporter. He told me, I know this is what you want to do. Go ahead and take that leap of faith.”

West Carrollton hasn’t been the same since Black unleashed sophomore quarterback Kamaury Cleveland. He riddled Tippecanoe for 353 yards passing and three touchdown tosses in a 57-34 Week 5 shootout loss. But that served as a record-setting prelude for what he did to Piqua.

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Cleveland completed just 21 of 30 passes against Piqua, good for a single-game program record 383 yards passing and two scores. When the Indians committed to stop that air attack, Cleveland answered by rushing for 158 yards and three more scores.

Black has won over his youthful QB.

“He’s all passion, hard work and leadership,” Cleveland said. “He taught us that. He came from a good program. He taught us you can turn a losing program into a winning program. It’s pretty prideful. It will mean a lot to this school and the community if we can continue this.”

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Jones had 12 catches for 204 yards and two scores. He also became the Pirates’ all-time leader in TD receptions with 16. When the Indians leaned on him, that created space for sophomore Cedric Anthony, who added eight catches for 139 yards.

That added up to the most significant win for the Pirates (1-5, 1-2) in a decade. It also served notice that West Carrollton likely won’t be an easy out for the back half of its new Miami Valley League schedule, including Friday’s Week 7 game at Greenville (4-2, 3-1).

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“I was something magical,” said Black, who was bear-hugged by assistant coaches and doused with water on the field by jubilant teammates. “The kids were so excited. The community was excited. It was non-stop all weekend.”

• Springfield (5-1) is at Springboro (6-0) in a rare battle of D-I state-ranked teams. Springboro is No. 9 this week and Springfield No. 10.

The Greater Western Ohio Conference teams haven’t played since 2008, the first season following the North/South merger. Both are in D-I, Region 2 playoff contention. Neither team has defeated an as-yet winning team. Springfield lost 16-12 to unbeaten Fairfield in Week 2, although that will change in the remainder of the regular season.

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• Former Northmont head football coach Ned Booher died at Riverside, Calif., last week. He was 87.

Booher did for Northmont and the northern border of Dayton as what former Centerville coach Bob Gregg did for the Elks on the south end of town. The Thunderbolts had five undefeated teams under Booher, two each in the Southwestern Buckeye League and three in the Miami Central Conference.

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He was the T-Bolts’ main man from 1962-85, amassing a 182-53-5 record and producing many successful collegiate players. The Journal Herald chose Northmont the Team of the Decade for its success in the 1970s. Booher was inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1988.

He is survived by his wife Barbara and children Michael, Sheri and Michelle.

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