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Local Teams dominate prep sports in 04-05


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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Plenty to celebrate with prep stars

By Tom Groeschen

Enquirer staff writer


The Cincinnati area won 12 team championships in the 2004-05 season:

1. Middletown boys' cross country

2. Taylor girls' cross country

3. Roger Bacon girls' volleyball

4. Colerain football

5. St. Xavier swimming

6. North College Hill boys' basketball

7. Elder baseball


8. Seton bowling

9. Cincinnati Country Day boys' lacrosse

10. Anderson boys' lacrosse

11. Moeller volleyball

12. Kings boys' tennis*

*Team tennis is not sanctioned, though individual titles are.

Cincinnati has long been a strong prep sports town, and the 2004-05 school year saw some of the area's most dominant teams ever.

Colerain football (15-0, Division I state champion), North College Hill boys' basketball (27-1, Division III state champion) and Elder baseball (28-1, Division I state champion) were among those producing overpowering seasons, as The Enquirer looks back with its annual prep Salute To Champions.

In football, Colerain rolled to the championship with a runaway victory margin of 39.8 points a game. The closest comparison among local unbeaten big-school state champions is the 1976 Moeller team, which won by an average of 37.5 points.

"I still don't know how that happened," Colerain coach Kerry Coombs said of the victory margins. "We were able to stay healthy, and a lot of things fell into place."

Colerain was rated No. 5 nationally by USA Today.

In girls' volleyball, Roger Bacon (27-2) owned Division II and beat several larger Division I powers, including Mercy, Seton, Ursuline and McAuley. The Spartans finished No. 15 in the national PrepVolleyball.com ratings.

In cross country, individual state champion Jeff See led Middletown to a 31-point Division I team victory. Taylor won its second girls' Division II state title in three years.

In boys' basketball, North College Hill won by 40.7 points a game and was led by Ohio Mr. Basketball O.J. Mayo. NCH finished No. 17 in the USA Today ratings.

In boys' swimming, St. Xavier won its seventh straight state title and 27th overall. Senior Kit French led the Bombers to a comeback win on the last day of the state meet.

In baseball, Elder lost just once against a back-breaking schedule and outscored opponents 55-11 in seven postseason games. Elder was No. 17 in the latest USA Today ratings, with the final poll due June 30.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

SALUTE: Fall sports

By Tom Groeschen

Enquirer staff writer

FUTURE STAR: St. Xavier football quarterback Robby Schoenhoft committed to Ohio State last preseason, making his announcement in July at the EA Sports "Elite 11" quarterback camp in California. Camp counselors, including 2003 Heisman Trophy winner Jason White of Oklahoma, voted Schoenhoft most likely to win a national title in college football. "I told Robby, 'God threw a lightning bolt down on you when he gave you that arm,' " St. X coach Steve Specht said. Schoenhoft led St. X to an 11-1 record, including three comeback wins in Greater Catholic League South play.

FUTURE IS NOW: In summer 2004, Ursuline's 15-year-old Kelsey Linden- schmidt became the youngest winner in 81 years of the Women's Ohio Amateur Golf Championship. Lindenschmidt could not accept the tournament's prize, a gold necklace, per Ohio High School Athletic Association rules on eligibility. In the fall, she finished third in the Ohio prep state tournament as a sophomore and led the Cincinnati area in scoring (36.2 per nine holes). As for that gold necklace, they're holding it for Lindenschmidt until she leaves high school.

TV TIME: Cincinnati football fans saw a local first on Labor Day weekend, with live network TV (Channel 19) of prep football games. Moeller played Louisville St. Xavier, Elder played Highlands and Anderson played Colerain with live (and some tape-delayed) TV coverage.

RIVALRY GONE AWRY: Elder blasted Western Hills 64-6 in the most lopsided football game of their storied - well, once-storied - series. The West Side giants played to a 10-10-1 draw through their first 21 meetings, but Elder holds a 47-7-1 edge since 1950. In the 2004 game, two-time defending state champ Elder led 50-0 at halftime. Coach Doug Ramsey played all reserves after halftime, and the Panthers did not throw a pass in the second half.

BACKYARD BRAWL: The hype was through the roof as Lakota East (8-0) visited Lakota West (7-1) late in the football season. The Butler County schools dubbed it "The Backyard Brawl," and East bloodied West's nose 38-15. A crowd estimated at 8,000 jammed Lakota West's 4,000-seat Firebird Stadium for the event, which featured massive traffic jams and a helicopter delivering the game ball. West laughed last when it made the playoffs and East did not, but East claimed Lakota supremacy. Backyard Brawl '05, anyone?

SURPRISE: The CHCA boys' soccer team was 7-7-2 in the regular season but was the last Cincinnati boys' squad standing in the postseason. CHCA lost 1-0 to Cuyahoga Valley Christian in the Division III state final. The Eagles played Division II powers Badin and Alter and were in a highly competitive Miami Valley Conference that included state-ranked Cincinnati Country Day and Summit Country Day. "We beat the heck out of each other all season," CHCA coach George Stinson said. "I think it actually helped us."

BACK AGAIN: The Indian Hill girls' soccer team lost in the Division II state final for a second straight year despite losing seven seniors from the year before. "This team is completely different from last year in every single way," all-state defender Sam Schoeny said. "It's no better. It's no worse; it's just different. It was a great run."

REMEMBER WHEN: Members of the ill-fated 1995 Colerain football team enjoyed the 2004 Cardinals' run to the state title. The '95 Cardinals reached the state final but were barred from playing after it was discovered the team used an ineligible player all season. "You still wonder, 'What if?' " said David Murphy, quarterback of the '95 team. "Would we have won?" About 30 members of the '95 team went to Canton for the '04 Division I championship game. "This is for the '95 team and all the Colerain teams that went before us," said Terrill Byrd, all-state defensive lineman on the '04 team.

HE SAID IT: Mister Simpson, Colerain's standout football fullback who is headed to Michigan, drew big laughs at a reception honoring the state champs. Colerain fumbled five times (losing three) in the first six minutes of the title game but still won 50-10. Said Simpson, "I want to thank God for being with us ... especially when we were fumblin'."

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

SALUTE: Winter sports

By Tom Groeschen

Enquirer staff writer

JOHNNY AND O.J.: St. Xavier senior Johnny Wolf and North College Hill sophomore O.J. Mayo, the area's top prep basketball stars, tangled Dec. 21 in a game at St. Xavier. The game was sold out several days in advance. NCH led by two points at halftime, but St. X won 78-63 after NCH's other star, Bill Walker, got into foul trouble. Mayo had 31 points and Wolf 22. Wolf electrified the partisan St. X crowd when he stole the ball from Mayo with 24 seconds left, then dunked over a trailing Mayo. "I knew as soon as I got the ball that's what I was going for," Wolf said.

KLONNE RETURNS: Former Moeller football coach Steve Klonne returned to the head coaching ranks over the winter. Klonne was named McNicholas head coach for 2005, as former head coach John Rodenberg took the Covington Catholic job. Klonne, forced out at Moeller in 2001, was a McNicholas assistant from 2001-04. "I don't think I have anything to prove, after 35 years of coaching," said Klonne, who won two state titles and a USA Today national championship (1982) at Moeller. "At this point," he said, "I'm just doing this because I enjoy the kids and still have a passion for the game."

ANDREWS LEAVES: Princeton boys' basketball coach Paul Andrews won his 300th career game, after announcing that the 2004-05 season would be his last. Andrews won a couple of city championships and also had strong teams at Taft and Woodward in his earlier years. "I never made it to the state (tournament), but that's life," Andrews said. "It's been a fun ride." Andrews left the door open to return to coaching someday.

WIRE TO WIRE: Mount Notre Dame lost Ohio Ms. Basketball Mel Thomas from its 2003-04 team, which won the Division I girls' state title. Yet, the 2004-05 Cougars led the Enquirer area girls' basketball poll all season and also finished No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll. Senior frontcourt players Michelle Jones (signed with Cincinnati) and Cassie Brannen (signed with Northern Kentucky) led MND to a state tournament runner-up finish. "We're especially proud of this group," MND coach Scott Rogers said. "In past years there was a lot of attention on Mel, and deservedly so. But this group was intent on proving themselves."

BATMAN AND FRIEND: North College Hill basketball star O.J. Mayo gets the national media spotlight, but teammate Bill Walker is also rated a national Top Five sophomore. Walker and Mayo were childhood friends in the Huntington, W.Va. area before moving to Cincinnati. "We've been together since Pampers," Walker said. Walker also doesn't mind the attention Mayo receives: "I'm used to it. My character is Robin, and he's Batman. He's in the public eye, but we both know that Batman and Robin do the dirty work together."

GOOD BLOODLINES: Lesslee Mason-Cox, eldest daughter of former NBA All-Star Mark Aguirre, averaged 20 points a game for the Winton Woods basketball team. Lesslee has committed to Ohio State. "Mark said he'll be at a basketball game thinking college coaches want to talk to him, and they come up to him and say, 'So tell me about your daughter," said Tina Mason-Cox, Lesslee's mother. Aguirre, now an assistant coach with the New York Knicks, said: "It's great when I'm in Cincinnati; everyone knows (Lesslee). They don't notice me."

GOLDEN GIRL: Brittany Hill of Indian Hill achieved a rare double, so rare it had never happened. Hill became the first athlete to win a diving gold medal and a gold in a swim event (200 freestyle relay) in the same year, at the Division II girls' state meet in Canton. Hill is headed to UCLA next season.

BIG WIN: Zach Marshall of Mason, an offensive lineman signed with Maryland, won the first wrestling title in school history at 275 pounds. Marshall won the state finals 7-6 in dramatic fashion, with a takedown in the final two seconds. Marshall wrestled the final two periods with his head bandaged after sustaining a cut late in first period. "You could see on his face that he was not going to let anything stand in his way," Mason coach Jerry Schrock said.

BREAKING THE ICE: Moeller became the first Hamilton County school to reach the state hockey final four, which has been held for 28 years. The Crusaders lost their state match 5-0 to Ohio power Lakewood St. Edward. "We're proud of what the kids did," Moeller coach Mike Reeder said. "They hung together all year. It was a blast."

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

SALUTE: Spring sports

By Tom Groeschen

Enquirer staff writer

DUNCAN WATCH: New Richmond senior pitcher David Duncan went 9-1 with a 0.65 ERA this spring, and he was projected to be selected during rounds 2-5 in the Major League Baseball draft. "In preseason, we had 15 scouts just watching him throw in a scrimmage," New Richmond coach Brian Benzinger said. "Something tells me that's not how they handle 10th-round picks." It's not, but Duncan's financial demands played a part in him slipping to the 14th round (Minnesota Twins). Three teams offered to pick Duncan in the second round on draft day, but Duncan's family wanted about $150,000 more than the $500,000 most teams offered. Duncan will go to Georgia Tech if he can't strike a pro deal.

EARLY JUMP: Athletes are committing to colleges earlier and earlier nowadays. Withrow football players Kallen Wade (Notre Dame) and Brandon Miller (Cincinnati), Lakota East basketball player James Dews (Miami Hurricanes) and Mount Notre Dame girls' basketball player Lee Stephens (Furman) all were juniors this school year, but all recently made oral commitments to Division I colleges.

HARMONY SWITCH: The Harmony Community School, a charter school in Roselawn, announced this spring it will make a big change for 2005-06. The school has converted to a prep school format and will drop out of the Ohio High School Athletic Association after the 2005 football season. Basketball will be the premier sport, as Harmony will play a national schedule and try to get its athletes qualified to play college ball. School director Deland McCullough, a former Miami University star football running back, is overseeing the move.

GCL PRIDE: The Greater Catholic League celebrated its 75th anniversary this season. GCL stalwart Elder closed the season in style, winning the school's 12th Division I state baseball title. The GCL also won state team titles in swimming (St. Xavier) and boys' volleyball (Moeller) this school year. Roger Staubach, a former Purcell quarterback who gained fame as a Heisman Trophy winner (Navy) and Super Bowl champion (Dallas Cowboys), said his GCL days were the building block for his career. "We competed at probably the highest level in high school, really, across the country," Staubach said.

DOMINANCE: It's a golden age for Cincinnati Division I schools in the major sports of football, boys' basketball and baseball. The area has won three straight Division I football titles (Elder in 2002 and '03, Colerain in '04), two of the last three boys' basketball championships (Moeller '03, Hamilton '04) and three straight baseball titles (St. Xavier '03, Moeller '04, Elder '05). The only Division I "major" not won recently was the '05 basketball title, with St. Xavier runner-up to Canton McKinley.

700 CLUB: Moeller baseball coach Mike Cameron this spring reached 700 career wins. His victory total ranks first in Cincinnati-area history, third in Ohio history and among the top 35 all time nationally. Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. is among 26 former Moeller players who have been big-league draftees under Cameron. "It's not about wins and losses with Coach Cameron," Griffey said. "We had some knuckleheads on our team, and I was one of them. He cared more about how we handled ourselves on and off the field, and he taught us a lot about life."

DREAM RIDE: Harrison was No. 7 in the final Enquirer Division I girls' softball area coaches' poll, but the Wildcats finished as state tournament runners-up. Senior pitcher Sarah Beatty led the way for Harrison (25-9), whose tournament trail included victories over 2004 Final Four team Milford, state No. 2-ranked Greenville and defending state champion Toledo St. Ursula. "We'll be back," Harrison coach Jesse Dornan said.

KINGS TENNIS: The Knights, coached by Steve Contardi, became the first Ohio team to win a state singles title, state doubles championship and team championship in the same year. John Allare won the singles title over teammate Doug Matthews, and the doubles championship team was Matt Allare and Ra'ees Ismail. Kings capped it all by winning the Division I team title, 3-0 over Toledo St. John's. "It's something we've talked about since junior high," Matthews said of the team title. "We've dreamed about it, and we finally got it."

SEE THEM RUN: Middletown senior Jeff See and Mason junior Angela Bizzarri each three-peated at the state track meet. See won his third straight Division I boys' 1,600 title and also won the 800. Bizzarri won her third straight Division I girls' 3,200. They each have led their team to a state track team title, Middletown winning in See's freshman year (2002) and Mason sharing the girls' title in 2004

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