After improving from 1-9 overall and 0-6 in the Southwest Ohio Conference in his first season as Ross’ head football coach to 5-5 and 2-4 last season, Kenyon Commins’s main goal this season was to take another step forward.
He won’t know whether the Rams are ready to make that move at least until they open against local rival Badin on Aug. 30 at Hamilton High School’s Virgil Schwarm Field.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
“We have confidence that we’re heading in the right direction, but we don’t have confidence that we’ll improve our record,” the third-year coach and former Rams assistant said. “We’ve gotten better as a team. Their work ethic is a product of a community build on work. Where we end up with our record, I don’t know. That’s the fun thing about it. We’ll find out on Friday nights in the fall. We can do all the things we want and say all the clichés we want, but it comes down to those 48 minutes on Friday night in the fall.”
Commins likes the progress his team had displayed since the start of practice, especially in two primary areas.
“Going into fall camp, we wanted to see competition at some spots, namely up front on the offensive and defensive lines and in the backfield and wingback position,” he said. “Second was communication. We live in a world where everything is communicated electronically. On the field, that can be a hurdle, but they’ve done a great job with that, up front and in the backfield.”
The Rams also went into camp trying to figure out who would be their quarterback. C.J. Boze was last season’s starter as a sophomore until an ankle injury sent him to the sidelines and opened the way for freshman Brayden Fraasman, but Fraasman suffered a broken arm during baseball season, opening the door for Boze to reclaim the job.
Linebacker Ethan Mills, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound senior, and 6-3, 270-pound junior offensive linemen Kaden Rogers are the only returning Rams to earn SWOC post-season honors. Both were second-team picks. Commins also expects significant contributions from 6-1, 180-pound senior cornerback Zach Ungermann, a transplant from California.
“He came to us from the baseball team,” Commins said. “He came to weights a few times to feel out the atmosphere. My senior baseball guys have done a good job working on him. It’s been an absolute pleasure to watch him.”
»RELATED: Week 1 Schedule
Other pleasant surprises included the development of players such as 6-foot, 185-pound senior running back-linebacker Hunter Baumann, 5-10, 189-pound senior running back Mekhi Bouldin and 6-1, 24-pound junior offensive lineman Griffin Peacock.
“We knew they could be good football players, but they’ve matured, mentally and physically,” Commins said. “Peacock wasn’t expected to create a lot of competition, but he’s done a good job, mentally and physically.”
Commins looked around for some wood to knock on when asked about Ross’s injury situation going into a scrimmage on Thursday against defending Division IV state-champion Wyoming.
“It’s been fine,” he said. “Typical bumps and bruises. We’ll hold out some guys against Wyoming. We’re trying to compete as best we can. Knock on wood I didn’t just jinx it. We’ve had the typical things. Nothing too serious. We’ve been happy. I give a lot of credit to the stretching and conditioning we did in the off-season. We’ve pushed the kids since December of last year.”
Scrimmaging opponents as accomplished as Wyoming isn’t the same as playing for real, something for which the Rams were ready. After Badin, Ross is scheduled to christen the new artificial turf on its home field against Monroe on Sept. 6 and travel to Western Brown on Sept. 13 before opening SWOC play at Harrison on Sept. 20.
The Ross Rams were looking forward to matching up with the “other” Rams team from up the road. Coached by Nick Yordy, Badin knocked off Ross, 41-20, in last season’s opener and went 8-4 overall and 5-2 to win the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed Central Division championship.
“I don’t think we’d have it any other way,” Commins said. “They made a great run last year. Their coach is doing great things with their program. We both got our jobs at the same time. They’ve had more success and they have more tradition. On our part, we’re excited to see where we are.
“Like everybody else, we’re champing at the bit.”
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.