The 2018 Miami Valley Conference Gray Division prep football favorite is a unanimous one.
Defending champion Dayton Christian got every No. 1 vote in this year’s preseason coaches poll after a 9-2 season that included a trip to the Division VI, Region 24 playoffs.
“Well, that’s an honor,” fifth-year Warriors coach Ken Moyer said. “It’s a reflection of the work that our players have put in and the skill that they’ve played with. It’s fun to be around such a great group of kids and help them not only grow physically, but grow emotionally and spiritually. That’s what gets me out of bed every morning.”
Lockland placed second in the coaches’ voting, followed (in order) by St. Bernard, Clark Montessori, New Miami and Cincinnati College Prep Academy.
Dayton Christian had five seniors named to last year’s Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association D-VI All-Ohio squad — quarterback Shawn VanNoy, wide receiver Tywon Berry and linebacker Seth Yunker were second-teamers, while wide receiver/outside linebacker J.T. Thornhill and cornerback/wide receiver David Moyer were honorable-mention picks.
“We lost some great players, but we have some good young players coming back,” Ken Moyer said. “Potential doesn’t mean a whole lot. Guys have to go out and play well.
“I think we’ll be a little bit different team this year. Last year we were very explosive. I think this year we’ll be very, very strong and physical up front, so we may be a grinder team.”
DCS is 0-2 in two trips to the postseason. The Warriors took a 45-7 beating from Lima Central Catholic in 2017.
“We were an 8 seed playing a 1 seed, and there was a reason they were a 1 seed — they were better than us,” Moyer said. “We’ve got to get better.”
Dayton Christian returns three All-MVC offensive linemen in seniors Trevor Warren and Josh Moyer, along with junior Noah Luiken. Junior nose guard Tiray “Tank” Jamison will be a key player on the D-line.
Junior Seth Griswold is switching from running back to quarterback and will also play middle linebacker. Among the skill guys on offense are junior wide receiver Sam Dimario (also a cornerback), junior running back Matt Batson (also a linebacker) and senior running back Ethan Powell (also a cornerback).
“We had special players outside last year with Tywon Berry and J.T. Thornhill,” Moyer said. “We don’t have anyone of that level returning, but we may have some guys that can grow into that.”
New Miami is under the direction of first-year coach Jessie Hubbard. The Vikings have enjoyed one winning season (2014) since making the D-VI playoffs in 2008.
Hubbard believes much brighter days are looming in the village. New Miami was 2-8 a year ago, so he wasn’t surprised by the No. 5 placement in the preseason poll.
“I see us finishing way higher than fifth, that’s for sure,” Hubbard said. “I’ve got them believing now that they have a chance to be very, very, very good, and they’re buying in. I think it’s starting to absorb now that the 2-8 stuff’s in the past.”
The Vikings have a lot of returning players with a sizable, veteran offensive line keyed by seniors Bruce Montgomery, Erik Tatman and Robbie Hundley. That’s a good thing because New Miami will be running the ball most of the time and hopes to wear opponents down.
“Just staying healthy … that’s our biggest worry,” Hubbard said.