I6 SUNDAY, AUGUST 24, 2014 /// THE ENQUIRER

Doryan Beach and his Withrow
football teammates looked forward to
summer football practice.
With so much going on in Hyde
Park – a new coach leading the Tigers
into a new conference, and the team
playing on new artificial turf – the
players’ energy level was off the
charts.
“It’s indescribable,”
Beach, a senior wide
receiver, said. “Coming
to practice, working
hard, taking drills way
too seriously – we have
to step our game up. We
don’t want to embarrass
the people who got the
new field for us.
“Everybody loves going to prac-
tice.”
Withrow teacher and former Ti-
gers’ assistant Ryan Drake, more
recently an assistant at Walnut Hills,
is scheduled to open his first season
as head coach when Withrow plays
Fairfield on Aug. 28 at Lockland’s
Roettger Field in the Skyline Chili
Crosstown Showdown.
The Tigers are due to christen
their new artificial turf with a home
game against Kettering Alter on Sept.
5. Their first game in the Eastern
Cincinnati Conference after seven
seasons in the Cincinnati Metro Ath-
letic Conference is scheduled for
Sept. 19 against Milford.
“It’s going to be a big challenge,
but it’s also going to be a big opportu-
nity, not just for football, but for all
the sports,” said Drake, fully aware
that defending Division II state-
champion Loveland also plays in the
ECC.
“Our kids will have the opportunity
to be in more sports, like tennis and
golf and lacrosse.”
Drake said part of the ECC’s
strength is in numbers.
“We’ve been playing good competi-
tion in the CMAC, but what we’re
going to be exposed to now is all the
other teams have depth,” Drake said.
“We normally had the biggest
squad in the CMAC. The other teams
had guys playing both ways, and
they’d normally get tired in the third
and fourth quarters. With the ECC,
everybody has offensive and defen-
sive units.”
Withrow won the last two outright
CMAC football championships and
four in seven years, while sharing the
title with two other teams in 2011.
The school was looking for more
competition and hoping to offer a
wider variety of sports for its stu-
dents when it inquired about joining
the ECC about three years ago, athlet-
ic director Darren Braddix said.
“We’ve had soccer for 10 or 12
years, and the CMAC didn’t offer
soccer,” Braddix offered as one ex-
ample. “We want our student body to
be able to be competitive in all the
sports we offer.”
Cross country and bowling also are
sports played by Withrow students
for which the CMAC doesn’t sponsor
competition and the ECC does, ac-
cording to each conference’s web site.
Beach admits catching some flak
from friends on other CMAC teams
for deserting the conference, but
most of them were supportive.
“Most of them were excited for
us,” said Beach, who went to grade
school at All Saints. “Everybody in
the CMAC is looking at us to see how
we do. We want to make everybody
look good. We feel like, if we play
well, everybody else will take the
CMAC more seriously.
“Playing in the CMAC was fun. You
got to play with people you grew up
with. Everybody knew everybody. I
will miss the CMAC.”
Beach’s perception of the ECC is
that it’s more of a run-oriented con-
ference than the CMAC.
“I can’t tell you much about the
conference, but I played against some
of those kids when I was a baby,” he
said. “They’re a lot more disciplined.
That’s one of the things about the
league we’re going into – it’s more
disciplined.
“They play a lot more sound, fun-
damental football. They play the
same way from the third grade up.
We’re being taught a lot more about
discipline. Coach Drake is teaching us
how to be disciplined.” ■
At Withrow,
what’s new
is almost
everything
By Mark Schmetzer
Enquirer contributor
Senior receiver Doryan Beach, senior defensive back Kymari Gates and their Withrow teammates will be competing for the first
time in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference. The Tigers also have a new head coach, Ryan Drake. THE ENQUIRER/SCOTT SPRINGER
Drake
(Listed in alphabetical order)
Anderson
Coach: Jeff Giesting (55-25)
Last season: 3-7 (2-4). Division: II
Key players: Sr. C Jake Bridges; Sr. LB Cody
Coffey; Sr. S Dereck Mahlenkamp; Sr. LB
Chris Koelle.
Game to watch: Turpin, Oct. 10.
Outlook: The Redskins have a small senior
class that Giesting describes as “close-knit.”
Quarterback Kevin Rogers, last year’s top
passer and rusher, and leading receiver
Chet Barger graduated, but Giesting isn’t
too concerned. “We have several skill play-
ers with experience,” he said.
Glen Este
Coach: Nick Ayers (9-11)
Last season: 5-5 (4-2). Division: II
Key players: Jr. QB Tyler Pilcher; Jr. OL/DL
Clayton McCune; Jr. OL/DL Seth Crissman;
Sr. DB Peyton Burdick; Sr. LB Matthew Ken-
nedy
Game to watch: at Amelia, Aug. 29.
Outlook: Pilcher led the ECC in passing
with 1,632 yards and 19 touchdowns last
season, allowing Ayers and his coaching
staff to focus on improving the lines. “We
have a strong team coming back in 2014,”
Ayers said. “This is a hungry senior class
that agrees with its coaches that we under-
achieved last season.”
Kings
Coach: Andy Olds (136-42)
Last season: 7-4 (5-1). Division: II
Key players: Sr. DE/WR Tommy Bruns; Sr. RB
Deandre Barnett; Sr. DE Kyle Hanford; Jr.
OL Jake Bedinghaus; Jr. OL Aaron Wyatt
Game to watch: Loveland, Sept. 26.
Outlook: The Knights return 10 starters
from a playoff team, but must replace their
quarterback and the ECC’s leading receiver.
Sophomore Tyler Knecht is the projected
starter at quarterback, and freshman Justin
Wise could be a pleasant surprise, Olds said.
“We have some very exciting guys filling
those spots, but simply have not had many
Friday night reps,” he said.
Loveland
Coach: Fred Cranford (15-0)
Last season: 15-0 (6-0). Division: II
Key players: Sr. RB Nate Slagel; Sr. WR/FS
Giovanni Ricci; Sr. OL Ian Leever; Sr. DB Jeff
Prifti; Jr. DL Jake Saunders
Game to watch: at Kings, Sept. 26.
Outlook: The Tigers are deep, with junior
quarterback Drew Plitt and sophomore
running back Luke Waddell. Plitt took over
as the starter three games into last season
and Waddell became the featured back af-
ter Slagel was lost with a season-ending
knee injury in week 8. “We are very athletic
and have a talented mix of returning start-
ers and underclassmen,” Cranford said.
“We will have very solid leadership and
confidence coming off the state champion-
ship season.”
Milford
Coach: Shane Elkin
Last season: 3-7 (0-6). Division: I
Key players: Sr. QB/DB Drew Ashcraft; Sr.
RB/DB Jack Young; Jr. WR/DB Ben Green-
well; Sr. DL/TE Dominick Hathaway
Game to watch: Shroder, Sept. 12.
Outlook: Sixteen starters return for the Ea-
gles, including four all-ECC picks, and they
could be fortified by players from winning
junior varsity and freshman teams. “For
over 20 years, we have finished in the top
half of our league only three times,” Elkin
said. “The climate and culture of the entire
program needs to change before our play-
ers truly believe they can win.”
Turpin
Coach: Rob Stoll (97-39)
Last season: 4-6 (2-4). Division: II
Key players: Sr. DB Zach Bernard; Sr. WR Da-
vid Eckert; Sr. LB Jeff Dedeker; Sr. OL Ben
Moher; Sr. OL Timmy Brodbeck
Game to watch: at Anderson Oct. 10
Outlook: The Spartans were offensively
challenged last season, ranking last in the
ECC in passing, total offense and scoring
and second-last in rushing. Stoll anticipates
improvement. “We will be young in many
places, but will rely on veterans such as Ber-
nard and Dedeker to rebuild the defense
and Eckert, Moher and Brodbeck to lead
the offense,” Stoll said. “Depth at skill posi-
tions such as tailback and good team speed
will make Turpin formidable.”
Walnut Hills
Coach: George Kontsis (29-32)
Last season: 4-6 (2-4). Division: II
Key players: Sr. QB Kevin Blount; Sr. WR
Reid Finley; Sr. C Kam Johnson; Jr. LB/TB Jer-
emiyah Hairston; Sr. LB Austin Douglas
Game to watch: Withrow, Sept. 26
Outlook: Blount returns for his third sea-
son as a starter, and Finley, Johnson, Hair-
ston and Douglas all started last season.
Kontsis likes his team’s depth and offensive
line, and believes the linebackers will be
the backbone of the defense, but he’s con-
cerned about both sides of the passing
game – his wide receivers and secondary.
“Loveland, Kings and Glen Este all have a
good opportunity to win the ECC champi-
onship,” he said.
Withrow
Coach: Ryan Drake (first season)
Last season: 8-3 (6-0 Cincinnati Metro Ath-
letic Conference). Division: II
Key players: Sr. WR Doryan Beach; Sr. QB/
WR Tra’von Barnes; Sr. OL/DL Isaiah Hill; Sr.
RB/LB Shaquille Hinkston; Sr. CB Kymari
Gates
Game to watch: at Walnut Hills, Sept. 26
Outlook: New season, new conference,
new coach. The Tigers jump to the ECC af-
ter winning the CMAC title last season, but
they must replace 33 seniors, including 12
all-CMAC picks and defensive end and con-
ference co-player of the year Deshannon
Oats. Drake, most recently a Walnut Hills
assistant who knows the ECC, said, “I
wouldn’t be surprised to see another team
from our conference making a deep run in
the playoffs in 2014.”
EASTERN
CINCINNATI
CONFERENCE
By Mark Schmetzer
Enquirer contributor