Pound for pound, ounce for ounce the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference turn outs just as many quality college players as any other league in this city. The 2008 season will be no different with top-notch talent sprinkled throughout the CMAC.
The departure of two of the league's best coaches (Doc Gamble & George Kontsis) leaves the CMAC up for grabs. The question is, which squad will rise to the top and knock heir apparent Withrow off their reigning title.
AIKEN Division: II HEAD COACH: Troy Green (4-16, 2 years, 26-44, 7 years overall) 2007 RECORD: 3-7, 1-6
OVERVIEW: Troy Green has struggled to find enough players and the chemistry to get things turned around for Aiken. Hope springs eternal for the Falcons in 2008 in a topsy-turvy league.
Line play will be huge on both sides of the ball for AHS as there are no returning playmakers on either side. Lineman Marshall Donald anchors the offense up front. On defense, stud in the making, junior DL Jamel Grissom lays the groundwork for a bright Falcon future.
HUGHES CENTER DIVISION: II HEAD COACH: Denny Doppes (0-0 1st year, 0-0 overall) 2007 RECORD: 7-3, 3-3
OVERVIEW: New head coach Denny Doppes has big shoes to fill and his work cut out for him. The Big Red graduated a great senior class from a 7-3 team in '07 and lost a great leader in former helmsman George Kontsis.
Doppes looks to "Mr. Do It All" in senior BJ Lowery for leadership on both sides of the ball. Lowery may be one of the most unheralded players in the city. He intercepted four balls and was a force on kickoff and punt returns as a junior.
If HCHS can get the ball into scoring position look for mighty-mite kicker Cherif Sow to put points on the board with his foot. It might be a tough year for Hughes Center but don't be surprised if they exceed expectations.
SHRODER PAIDIEA DIVISION: V HEAD COACH: Clint Kirker (8-12, 2 years, 8-12 overall) 2007 RECORD: 3-7, 1-5
OVERVIEW: Being the small fish in a big pond makes losing hard to swallow during the regular season. SPA found out in basketball that those lumps pay big dividends come post-season. That same philosophy should apply to the football team this fall.
Loaded with some of the CMAC's top offensive under classmen the Jaguars look to make it to the Division V playoffs in '08. Sophomore running back Winston Willks has a world of talent but needs to become more consistent. He ran for 471 yards and 5 RuTDs in three games last season. The other seven games he amassed jus 180 yards on the ground on 65 carries and 0 RuTDs. Classmate Alex Springs had 1,344 PaYds and 9 PaTDs in '07.
Chris Pinnock and Jared Ward lead the way on a defense that was young a year ago and has now bloomed into something that could be very special in '08. Sophomore Antwan Tolliver could be the "x-factor" on special teams.
TAFT DIVISION: II HEAD COACH: Mike Martin 2007 RECORD: 6-3, 4-1
OVERVIEW: Head coach Mike Martin and AD Anthony Booker think that this might be the best Taft team in years. Why not with big-time star Tommie McBride leading the way. McBride was the CMAC Defensive Player of the Year in '08.
Great teams start with solid play on the line. One the Tri-State's fastest rising stars in Cornelius Carridine joins classmate McBride up front for the Senators. The youngster has been "Wow-ing" scouts at off-season camps all summer long. The small but powerful Josh Cobb also joins them to make a very formidable front.
Running back Abraham Johnson and wide receiver/defensive back Anthony Benton look to be the game breakers for a very experienced Taft squad.
WESTERN HILLS DIVISION: I HEAD COACH: Chris McFarland (1-9, 1 year, 1-9 overall) 2007 RECORD: 1-9, 1-5 OVERVIEW: Coach McFarland has an uphill battle losing kids to Elder and Oak Hills every year. Never the less the Mustangs might be ready for a call back to respectability in '08. The team will have to play much better defense though. West High gave up no less than 32 points in their nine losses last season.
There is a good nucleus of talent to build around with seniors Josh Davis, Armondo Thomas, Chris Foster, Brandon Fullback and D.J. Alexander.
WITHROW DIVISION: II HEAD COACH: Antonio Davis (0-0 1st year, 0-0 overall) 2007 RECORD: 9-2, 6-0
OVERVIEW: A new era begins at Withrow in '08. Antonio Davis replaces the legendary Doc Gamble at head coach. The Tigers lose some the leagues top offense talent but the cupboard is not bare.
The offense will be led by Nebraska recruit Jelani Alford. He will run behind a line that features two of the CMAC's best in Josh Bryant and Mike Jones. Hidden weapon Seydina Sow was a stud with his foot going 25-26 on XP's and connecting on four FG's a year ago.
Hard hitting Jowann Peterson and Anthony Berry lead the way on defense. The Tigers gave up fewer than 18 points seven times in the teams last eight games in '07.
WOODWARD DIVISION: II HEAD COACH: B.T. Sherman 2007 RECORD: 6-4, 4-2
OVERVIEW: The Bulldogs are feeling like the CMAC title is there for the taking in 2008. Woodward will be one of the most explosive teams in the TriState next season.
Division I prospects running back Erik Finklea (642 RuYds & 7 RuTDS) and quarterback Orlando Spikes (400 RuYds & 678 PaYds) pace a talented group on offense. Darrien McCoy will lead the way up front. McCoy was a frst team all-league lineman as a sophomore in '07.
Defensively Demarkus Brown and rising star DeShon Payne will be asked to set the example for a cast of young and eager players. Punter Larry Woods gives the Bulldogs a secret weapon n the field position game.