Brock Netter, Staff Writer
Needless to say, this past football season — one that was in doubt at one time — was as successful as they come.
Southern Ohio Sports Authority was right there every step of the way, covering individual milestones, improbable feats and wins that changed history.
After a fun-filled year, take a look at our All-Area team, which consists of 25 area players who were at their best throughout the fall season.
Zeke Brown | Senior | Waverly
As one of the most incredible athletes in Southern Ohio, Brown’s gifts were used in the most versatile ways possible. Offensively, he scored more than 12 total touchdowns. But defensively, that’s where he made his money, racking up over 70 tackles and coming up with a pair of interceptions for the SOC II champion Tigers. He was named the co-SOC Defensive Player of the Year and the Division IV Defensive Player of the Year for good reason.
Tramel Byrd | Senior | Paint Valley
Over the last five years, the Bearcats have constantly had that standout back who is a flat-out workhorse. This year was finally Byrd’s turn, and what a season he put together. Shouldering a huge offensive load, he ran the ball 116 times for 1,290 yards, tops in the SVC, alongside 15 touchdowns. He helped Paint Valley earn a playoff victory and was named the co-SVC Offensive Back of the Year while earning first-team all-district honors.
Brayden Campbell | Senior | Northwest
Campbell set records last season. However, he wanted more this year and he got it. As he led the Mohawks through a wild SOC I campaign, they finished on top with the outright conference championship for the first time in school history. Campbell ran for over 900 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was named the co-SOC I Player of the Year and was a first team all-district honoree.
Treylan Davis | Senior | Jackson
Davis was never a top target, despite being a complete mismatch at 6-foot-5. But he made the most of his chances when he got the ball. Mainly used as a blocker, the West Virginia signee caught nine passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. But he did most of his damage opening holes for a team that ran for 1,443 yards. He was an all-FAC and first-team all-district honoree.
Conor Dickens | Senior | Oak Hill
There’s nothing ostentatious or flashy about Oak Hill’s game. The Oaks line up and run you over. The team possessed a stable of backs, but Dickens emerged as the go-to in critical situations … and delivered every time. He ended the season with 73 carries for 517 yards and a team-high five touchdowns, helping the Oaks earn their first home playoff win since 2012. He was an all-SOC and first-team all-district selection.
Will Futhey | Junior | Waverly
Futhey is one of the top two receivers in the area, and he’s not number two. Throw the ball his direction and it’s a catch, and possibly a touchdown. After a huge sophomore year, the 6-foot-5 junior maintained his consistency by hauling in 44 catches for 865 yards and 15 touchdowns for the 8-1 Tigers. He was an all-SOC II and first-team all-district honoree, to no surprise.
Levi Gullion | Junior | Piketon
It’s quite possible that Gullion is the most underrated player in the state. Yes, that’s a mouthful but he’s certainly not underrated in Southern Ohio. He ended a spectacular season completing 140-of-239 passes for 2,260 yards and 19 touchdowns. And he added 97 carries for 585 yards with 15 more scores, including a 605-total-yard, eight-touchdown masterpiece against Minford, which earned Piketon its first playoff win since 2012. He was the co-SVC Offensive Back of the Year and a first-team all-district selection.
Eric Hurtt | Senior | Adena
Whether it’s on offense or defense, Hurtt brings the hurt. He’s a powerful brute who led the charge up front offensively for a team that scored just over 40 points a game. Defensively, he finished with 44 tackles from his linebacker position for a unit that gave up just 12.9 points per night. He was the SVC Offensive Lineman of the Year and made first team all-district as a linebacker.
Isaac Little | Senior | Unioto
With clutch throws, hard-nosed runs and leadership qualities to match, Little had all the elements you could want out of any football player. With a new system allowing him to showcase his talents, he took advantage by finishing 100-of-178 passing for 1,492 yards and 11 touchdowns, alongside 760 rushing yards and 15 additional scores. He was an all-SVC and a first-team all-district honoree.
Dillion Mattox | Senior | Eastern
Despite having less than 30 kids, Eastern put fear into opponents. Mattox was a key reason why. He finished the season with over 1,200 rushing yards and more than 13 touchdowns, which also broke the school’s single-season rushing record for the 5-3 Eagles. He was the co-SOC I Player of the Year and a first-team all-district athlete.
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Isaac McCory | Junior | Chillicothe
Anytime a tackle was made, it was a near guarantee that No. 40 was in on the play. The Cavaliers, as a unit, gave up just 14.5 points per game because of McCory’s leadership and hard-nosed style of play from his linebacker position. His tenacity and effort is part of how the Cavaliers put together an undefeated conference season and won the FAC outright.
Matthew Miller | Senior | Wheelersburg
Wheelersburg had a lot of talent. The Pirates just needed to figure out who their go-to receiver was. Enter Miller. He made a splash in the season-opener against Chillicothe, catching six passes for 143 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and kept that momentum going. He ended the season with 44 catches for 620 yards and nine touchdowns, earning all-SOC II and first-team all-district honors.
Nick Mills | Senior | Paint Valley
Mills was the anchor of an offensive line that paved the way for the Bearcats to score 45 points per game. And defensively, he was an absolute nightmare as he finished with 54 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and four sacks, which led the SVC. He was named the SVC co-Defensive Lineman of the Year and earned first-team all-district honors.
Mikey Nusser | Senior | Southeastern
After graduating its most successful senior class in school history, Southeastern took a huge drop, but Nusser was still running guys over. As the feature back, he finished the season with 134 carries to the tune of 1,002 yards and 10 touchdowns. Although the Panthers won one game, he still earned all-SVC honors and was named first-team all-district.
Ty Perkins | Sophomore | Valley
Perkins is the only sophomore on the All-Area list, which gives you an idea of how good he is. The 6-foot-3 receiver spent the season challenging defensive backs to stop him, yet very few could. He finished the season with 29 catches for 647 yards and five touchdowns as he led the Indians to two playoff victories over Northridge and Worthington Christian. He was an all-SOC II and first team all-district selection.
Tristan Prater | Junior | Jackson
Ever since Prater stepped onto the football field, he’s been a Sportscenter highlight reel waiting to happen. See his play at Logan this season or last season against Chillicothe for further evidence. Jackson’s go-to receiver hauled in 29 catches for 527 yards and eight touchdowns for the 5-2 Ironmen. He was an all-FAC and first-team all-district selection.
Blake Richardson | Senior | Wheelersburg
The Pirates established their identity early and were able to have a more balanced attack with Richardson as their top lineman. On the year, the offensive line gave up just 10 sacks, mostly keeping opposing defenses in front of them. But Richardson was able to enjoy the fun as well, rushing for two touchdowns on the year. He was named the SOC II Lineman of the Year and earned first-team all-district honors.
Drew Seymour | Senior | Chillicothe
Chillicothe could be a power-running team or one that opts for an aerial assault. It had the talent to be multidimensional because of guys like Seymour providing protection for a team that scored just under 25 points a game. Defensively, he was part of a unit that allowed under 15 points per game as well. He was an all-FAC and first-team all-district selection.
Haydn’ Shanks | Senior | Waverly
Is there anything really left to be said about Shanks? He checks every box you want from a QB1. Toughness. Leadership. Playmaker. He has “it.”. Fully healthy this year, he ended the season by completing 180-of-268 passes for 2,574 yards and 31 touchdowns, which made him the school’s all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns. He was the SOC II Player of the Year, the Division VI Offensive Player of the Year, and of course, SOSA’s co-Player of the Year.
Kam Smith | Senior | Chillicothe
Last season, Smith turned into the Cavaliers’ QB1 down the stretch. He resumed duties under center this season, which proved to be the right decision. He was 44-of-74 passing for 641 yards and nine touchdowns, while adding 70 carries for 471 yards and three additional scores, leading the Cavaliers to a 6-2 record. He was the FAC Player of the Year alongside first-team all-district honors.
Evan Spires | Junior | Jackson
It’s quite possible that there’s no player who is as versatile and dangerous on both sides of the ball as Spires has shown himself to be. After starting the season at running back, he took over under center for four games after an injury and elevated his game. He finished the season 37-of-58 passing for 588 yards and nine touchdowns, while adding 59 carries for 340 yards and three rushing scores. He was an all-FAC and first-team all-district selection.
Preston Sykes | Senior | Adena
Everyone knew what Adena had, but it’s unreal what Sykes accomplished this year. Under center, he was 51-of-83 passing for 875 yards with 12 touchdowns to just one interception. Rushing, he had 93 carries for 807 yards and 16 additional touchdowns. Oh, and then defensively, he added 49 tackles, three interceptions and a pair of touchdowns. Unreal. He was the SVC Defensive Player of the Year, the Division VI co-Defensive Player of the Year, and most importantly, SOSA’s co-Player of the Year.
Nate Throckmorton | Senior | Adena
Pick your poison. It was either Sykes or Throckmorton with the ball most of the time. Either way, the ball was crossing paydirt. The Warriors’ senior back ended the season with 108 carries for 937 yards and eight scores, alongside 14 catches for 257 yards and two more tuddies. He also had three interceptions, defensively. He graduates as part of the most successful class at Adena as well as being an all-SVC and first-team all-District honoree.
Elijah Vogelsong | Senior | Minford
Anytime Vogelsong takes the field, his team always has a chance. He’s one of the most dynamic athletes in Southern Ohio and constantly had his team in positions to win games. Despite Minford not having the success hoped for, Vogelsong still dazzled, piling up over 1,500 yards of total offense and more than 15 touchdowns. He was an all-SOC II and a first-team all-district honoree for his efforts.
Andrew Welch | Senior | Waverly
Those skills players at Waverly can’t do what they do on the outside without guys like Welch up front in the trenches. A mammoth of a human being, respectfully speaking, the 330-pounder had little trouble opening holes and holding his blocks, allowing his team to put up 45 points per night. His work up front earned him honors as an all-SOC II and first-team all-district recipient.
Honorable Mention Selections
Cameron Loar, Piketon; Josey Kelley, Westfall; Joel Barnes, Chillicothe; Grant Mastin, Jackson; Jayden LeBeau, Miami Trace; Logan Bennett, Adena; Maddox Fox, Unioto; Phoenix Wolf, Waverly; Luke Leith, Symmes Valley; A.J. Dallmayer, Washington; Cavan Cooper, Paint Valley; Logan Clemons, Eastern; Ben Nichols, Zane Trace; Matthew Risner, Minford; Ryan Sissel; West