Posted: 2:22 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Wells looks to revitalize Middies


Wells looks to revitalize Middies photo
Chris Wells
Wells looks to revitalize Middies photo
Members of the Middletown High School football team, including Jordann Thomas (with ball), practice at Barnitz Stadium on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

By Rick Cassano

Staff Writer


Middletown High School’s football team is coming off a 1-9 campaign that produced zero wins in the Greater Miami Conference.

Chris Wells isn’t promising a certain number of victories in his first year as head coach. He doesn’t view his job that way.

“You never shoot low. You always have the highest goals and aspirations,” Wells said. “But our goal is to be as good as we can be in the areas of character and toughness. Only by taking care of that stuff can you have longevity in success.

“Success is the peace of mind that you have by doing all that you can to be the best you can be. That’s what we’re learning, and that’s what we’re living by. The scoreboard isn’t always the indicator if you’re truly successful or not.

“I think we have the athletes that can make plays. Are we confident enough after the experiences the guys had last year? I think we are. We should have confidence in ourselves.”

These Middies will have a new look. Offensively, they’re going to spread things out and try to be more balanced after running the triple option last year. Defensively, they’re switching from a 50 to a 4-2-5.

“We’ve got some size, but we feel like our skill sets are more in the area of quickness,” Wells said. “We want to combine that with being tough.

“Quickness without tough doesn’t get you anywhere. You can be as quick as you want, but that football field is only so wide. You can’t run forever. You’ve got to hit somebody.”

There’s a lot of experience returning on defense: senior cornerback Dalaquan Wright (5-10, 145), senior strong safety Chris Richardson (5-11, 165), senior inside linebacker Onajai Davenport (6-2, 205), senior end Kyle Junior (6-4, 245), junior free safety Vincent Calhoun (5-11, 164), junior tackle George Beard (6-0, 250) and junior linebacker Jamar Thomas (5-7, 190).

Also back, but on the uncertain list, is senior Y’vonte Glover (6-1, 225). Slated to be a full-time linebacker and part-time fullback, Glover is sidelined indefinitely with a back injury.

“It’s a pretty serious injury,” Wells said. “I’ve had a couple different reports on when he might be back. I’ve heard early season, I’ve heard late season. Where the truth is, I have yet to find out. We’re just hoping he’s able to make a return.”

Wells said junior Soulin Fowlkes (5-9, 230), a nose guard and tackle, has had an excellent preseason. The MHS coach pointed to Junior, Davenport and Wright as his defensive leaders.

“We feel like we’re a pretty aggressive bunch up front,” Wells said. “We’re going to bring pressure, but not just to bring it. We don’t want to be predictable and blitz every time.”

Junior quarterback Allante Simmons (5-10, 180) returns to direct the offense. He totaled 1,151 yards on 253 carries last season while throwing for 517 yards. Fumbling has been an issue for him.

“He was upfront with me about the fumbles, but it hasn’t been a problem so far this year,” Wells said. “I think our guys are excited about being more of a balanced team and having the capability of running and throwing.”

Senior Jordann Thomas (6-2, 200) and junior Tyrell Preston (6-1, 162) are returning wide receivers, and senior E.J. Colson (5-9, 170) has moved from the secondary to a running-back position.

They’re among the Middies’ top playmakers. Wells said junior Tavon Helvey (5-6, 145) and sophomore Jaevan Wright (5-7, 136) are players to watch at slotback, as are senior wideouts Jordan Long (6-2, 152), Devin Crew (6-0, 170) and Bobby Prather (5-7, 160).

“We want to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers,” Wells said. “Football is not that complicated. Try to get the ball to the right guys. With that said, that can’t happen unless you block.”

Senior tackle Nick Bittinger (6-2, 290) returns to anchor the O-line. Other potential impact players up front are seniors Lorin Johnson (6-2, 205), Louis Major (6-2, 205) and Maliki Dunlap (6-0, 205), and junior Tytus Miller (6-2, 275).

“I have confidence in them,” Wells said. “They weren’t at all intimidated by Centerville’s size (in a scrimmage). That’s probably one of the biggest D-lines we’ll see.”


Coach: Chris Wells, first season

OHSAA designation: Division I, Region 2

Playoff history: 5-6 in six appearances (1987, 1989, 1990, 2009, 2010, 2011)

2013 record: 1-9 overall, 0-7 in the Greater Miami Conference (ninth, tied)

Schedule: Aug. 29 — vs. Thurgood Marshall at Welcome Stadium, 7 p.m.; Sept. 5 — Pickerington Central, 7:30 p.m.; Sept. 12 — Reynoldsburg, 7:30 p.m.; Sept. 19 — Lakota West, 7:30 p.m.; Sept. 26 — at Hamilton, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 3 — Sycamore, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 10 — at Mason, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 17 — Fairfield, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 24 — at Lakota East, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 31 — Princeton, 7:30 p.m.


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