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(No) surprise: Alter GCL North team to beat - DDN, Aug 22, 2014

August 22, 2014
Archbishop Alter High School

The road to a Greater Catholic League North Division high school football championship goes through Alter. That’s an easy call; no team other than the Knights has won the last 12 seasons.

What isn’t such a sure thing is whether Alter can do it again. Or is this the season North rivals Chaminade Julienne, Fenwick and a rebooted Carroll make championship drives?

“You don’t think those teams are pumped to play us?” said Alter coach Ed Domsitz after learning the Knights were, not surprisingly, picked by GCL coaches in a preseason poll to repeat as champs. “We’re not going to beat these people forever. You always just hope it’s another year when it ends.”

Alter has the numbers (mid 70s), tradition (13 straight postseasons) and senior experience to lean on. Mixing all that into another deep playoff run — let alone winning the North or perhaps a Division IV state title — is the challenge.

“With what we’ve got coming back, we could be anywhere from 5-5 to maybe a state championship,” Domsitz said. “We’re not afraid to talk about that here, but we’re a long way from that now.”

CJ ended a 21-year run at West Carrollton Middle School’s football stadium last year by landing a contract to play home games at Wayne. The WCMS field is now home to Dayton Christian.

  • All the GCL games in all divisions will start at 7 on Friday nights. This is in line with a growing trend throughout the state to hike up start times.
  • The three-division GCL changed its name to the GCL Co-Ed for the Central and North divisions last year. That might be its proper relabeling, but it’s rare to hear that reference.
  • Former Fenwick coach Fred Cranford has a hard act to follow. He led Loveland (15-0) to the D-II state title last season.

Team effort

  • Alter: As always, seniors will make the difference. DL Kraig Howe (6 feet 4, 260 pounds) has 119 career tackles and is verbally committed to Pitt. RB/DB Nick Coleman (6-0, 175) went for 1,248 yards rushing and 14 TDs last season. He’s committed to Notre Dame.

Another senior, Dean Lemon (6-2, 225), is the son of former Central State head coach Theo Lemon and is a D-I prospect at DT.

Last season was the title year that slipped away from Alter after losing 21-14 to eventual two-time state champ Clinton-Massie in the regional final. The Knights’ defense posted four shutouts and allowed seven or less points in seven games. Anything close to those defensive numbers could have the Knights playing in December.

  • CJ: Head coach Marcus Colvin will lean on junior QB Jacob Harrison. Here’s why: The lefty was first team All-Ohio, the GCL North offensive player of the year, threw for 2,771 yards, ran for 594 yards and accounted for 32 TDs.

Receivers Tyler Traylor (54) and Zach Burneka (39) have 93 catches between them and more than 1,300 receiving yards.

  • Fenwick: Joe Snively is in his second season as the Falcons’ head coach and is confident Fenwick is postseason bound.

If that is to happen, it’ll be rooted in the play of first team All-GCL North players Billy Hinton (6-1, 200), a senior WR/LB, and senior OL/DL Ben Stegbauer (5-11, 240). Fenwick also should eventually benefit from LB Andy Riazzi, a junior transfer from Alter.

  • Carroll: New favorite son Ben Rulli (2003 Carroll graduate) is in his first season as the Patriots head coach and succeeds Bob Levy. Carroll absorbed a stunning 70-14 walloping at Fenwick to end last season.

Re-establishing itself as a league and playoff contender is the ultimate goal. Carroll put nine teams in the postseason from 1999-2010 and advanced to state semifinals in 2004-05. “We will re-energize the Carroll community and make them proud of their boys on Friday nights this fall,” said Rulli.

“I’m pretty sure people are overlooking us, which is fine.” – Fenwick coach Joe Snively.

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