Weaver looks to 21 returning lettermen to keep BW atop the OCC Capital standings
By GARY HENERY
News Managing Editor
With the graduation of 19 seniors, Big Walnut will enter the 2012 football season without that Friday night experience that led the Golden Eagles to a 9–3 campaign and a share of the 2011 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division championship with New Albany and Olentangy Orange with a 6–1 record.
Joe Weaver, entering his fourth season as head coach with a 25–10 (.714) record, will look to 21 returning lettermen to lead Big Walnut into what looks to be another challenging season.
“While we lost a lot of Friday night experience to graduation we return a group of hard-working players with experience who love to play the game,” said Weaver who shared Capital Division Coach-of-the-Year honors with New Albany’s Mark Mueller and Orange’s Brian Cross.
Heading up the roster of returnees are six seniors in quarterback/linebacker Carson Chatterton, wide receiver/defensive back Seth Myers, fullback/linebacker Alex Clark, tight end/defensive lineman Brant Weiss, wide receiver/defensive back Gabe Kitchen and offensive/defensive lineman Julian Simon along with two juniors in offensive/defensive lineman Austin Crow and running back/linebacker Alec Eisnnicher.
“Carson is a leader on the field as well as in the classroom and Seth is a talented athlete on both side of the line,” Weaver said. “Alex returns to start at fullback and Gabe gives us experience and speed at wide receiver. Brant gives us physical strength on the line and Julian is a strong linemen with quick feet.”
Chatterton and Myers were named to the All-OCC football squad, Chatterton as a Special Mention selection and Myers as an Honorable Mention choice. Myers was a Second Team Division II All-Central District honoree. Clark was the recipient of last season’s Most Improved Player Award after rushing for 367 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Also back are seniors Dakota Conley (RB/DB). Chad Harness (RB/LB), Brandon Koon (OL/DL), James Miller (TE/DL), Anthony Roberto (WR/DB), Logan Williams (OL/DL), Trevor Williams (WR/DB) and Dominic Zitello (OL/LB) along with juniors Grant Burks (RB/LB), Austin Carr (RB/LB), Austin Hale (OL/DL), Austin Thomas (WR/DB) and Joel Windle (RB/DB).
Chatterton, Conley, Harness, Kitchen, Myers, Simon, Weiss, Zitello and Trevor Williams return as two-year letter winners. Burks, Carr, Clark, Crow, Eisnnicher, Hale, Koon, Miller, Roberto, Thomas, Windle and Logan Williams return as one-year letter winners.
Weaver’s returning veterans are being counted to fill the huge cleats of 19 Golden Eagle seniors who graduated with 25 victories, an OCC Capital Division title and two consecutive OHSAA State Playoff appearances, reaching the Division II Region 7 finals last season.
Six seniors dominated the podium at last season’s postseason awards banquet, including Grant Beam (Golden Eagle Award), Tyler Beam (Most Valuable Offensive Player), Garrett Dandrea (Most Valuable Defensive Player), Jason Griffith (Most Valuable Defensive Player), Corey Gibson (Special Teams MVP) and Brandon Sholl (Iron Eagle Award).
Eleven Golden Eagle seniors were voted to the All-OCC Capital Division squad, including Trent Fielding, Lucas Garcia, Tyler Beam, Dandrea and Griffith. Second Team selections were Joey Johnson, Seth Wandling, Grant Beam, Gibson and Sholl. Tyler McKenzie was named Special Mention.
Seniors awarded Division II All-District honors included First Team honorees Dandrea, Fielding and Griffith along with Gibson, Second Team; Tyler Beam and Sholl, Special Mention; and Garcia and Wandling, Honorable Mention.
Associated Press Division II All-Ohio recognition went to Fielding (Second Team Offense) and to Dandrea and Griffith (Honorable Mention).
Weaver said key losses on offense included were Tyler Beam at quarterback, Garcia at running back and Gibson in the Golden Eagles’ kicking game.
“Tyler was a great leader and a competitor at quarterback while Lucas was a very talented running back,” Weaver said. “We are looking to Carson and Dakota to step in and get the job done.”
Tyler Beam led the Golden Eagles’ attack, totaling 1,690 yards in total offense while accounting for 21 touchdowns, rushing for 722 yards and 10 touchdowns while completing 82 of 150 passes (.547) for 968 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Gibson was a perfect 43-for-43 in point-after attempts, adding eight field goals to lead the team in scoring with 67 points. He also averaged 32.2 yards per punt while his kickoffs forced opponents to start their offensive series deep in their own territory.
“Gibson is a key loss,” Weaver said. “Not only for his ability as a placekicker, but for his punting as well … he was very efficient.”
Weaver said sophomore Tyler Satterfield, who kicked for the Golden Eagle JVs as a freshman last season, and Clark will handle the kicking chores in 2012.
Weaver said key losses up front included Fielding and Griffith along with Dandrea at linebacker.
“Trent was aggressive up front while Jay gave us strong, physical presence,” Weaver noted, “and Garrett was the leader of our defense.”
Weaver is looking to Simon and Hale to replace Fielding and Griffith on the line with Eisnnicher taking over for Dandrea at the linebacking corps.
Looking ahead to Big Walnut’s 2012 season, which opens Friday with Westerville Central at 7:30 p.m. at Golden Eagle Stadium, Weaver sees a very competitive schedule.
“The Capital Division is loaded with teams which have talent from top to bottom. Every team has the ability to make a run at the division championship,” Weaver said. “ Our goal will be to play each and every week with a sense of urgency … there is not a down week on our schedule.”
The Golden Eagles open their Capital Division schedule against long-time rival Olentangy at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 14, in Sunbury. Ed Terwilliger’s Braves replace Hilliard Bradley in the division following the OCC’s realignment this summer.
Weaver will be assisted on the sidelines by Scott Wetzel, Mike Adams, Brian Mackey, Charlie Rowley and Mike DeLaney.