The last season of Greater Catholic League Coed North Division prep football is expected to look pretty familiar.
Perennial champion Alter is the unanimous No. 1 selection in the preseason coaches poll, and the Knights’ roster includes 33 seniors.
“Being voted No. 1 doesn’t mean a whole lot preseason, but it’s OK. I understand. We’ve won a lot the last 15 to 18 years,” Alter coach Ed Domsitz said. “But things are changing with high school football and the GCL. It’s going to be a little bit different world over the next few years, so we’ll see how we adjust.”
Chaminade Julienne was second, Fenwick third and Carroll fourth in the voting. The four North schools will combine with Badin and McNicholas to form one six-team division in 2019 — Purcell Marian and Roger Bacon are moving to the Miami Valley Conference.
Alter has a 20-game GCLC winning streak and has captured the last two North crowns. The Knights’ last league win was a 34-6 conquest of CJ in Week 10 last year, but the Eagles turned right around the next week and ousted Alter 49-28 in the Division III playoffs.
The Knights have a couple big names in senior quarterback Connor Bazelak (67-of-134, 1,097 yards, 11 TDs), who’s committed to Missouri, and senior running back John Bivens III (132 carries, 1,308 yards).
Bivens, though, missed the last two games of 2017 with a knee injury, and Domsitz said he’s not ready to return at this point.
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“If John Bivens was healthy, I would think we’d be as good offensively as maybe we’ve been in years, depending on how well the offensive line comes along,” Domsitz said. “I can’t say John won’t be able to start the season. All I can say is that he’s not ready right now to play football.
“He’s had a couple surgeries on the knee … it’s the nerve damage that’s the problem. He’s ahead of where he should be in terms of rehab, but it’s a long process. We’ll see what the doctors say. We’ll see what his mother and dad say. We’ll see how John feels.”
Fenwick is under the direction of first-year head coach Dan Haverkamp. The former St. Xavier assistant said he’s thrilled with how smooth the transition has been.
“We’ve had really good turnout,” Haverkamp said. “The players bought in right away. I’ve been incredibly proud of our senior leaders with the initiative they’re taking within the team. We’ve got the potential to do some great things.”
The Falcons were 6-4 last year under John Aregood. Haverkamp said he’s keeping the same coordinators — Matt Money and George Moore will run the offense and defense, respectively — and has added former Lebanon assistant Ryan Taylor and former Roger Bacon head coach Kevin Huxel to the staff.
“Every assistant who was on last year’s staff wanted to stay on, so even with the coaching change, there’s still a lot of stability in the program,” Haverkamp said. “And John Aregood has been great. We’ve met and talked, and he’s definitely been a resource for me and someone I could lean on, which is greatly appreciated.”
Haverkamp said Fenwick will stay with a 3-4 base defense, and he’s sticking with his plan to use an offense that marries the spread and the option. Senior quarterback Sully Janeck and senior running back Caleb Davis return in the backfield.
“You’ll see a little bit more throwing than what Fenwick’s seen previously,” Haverkamp said. “We’ll definitely still be a run-first team, but in that spread element.”
GCLC North: The Vote
Here’s how the coaches voted in the preseason Greater Catholic League Coed North Division football poll, with point totals and first-place votes (in parentheses):
1. Alter (4) 16
2. Chaminade Julienne 12
3. Fenwick 7
4. Carroll 5