Prep football: Hamilton will take search for first win to Oak Hills

The Hamilton High School football team is looking for a little brightness after a gloomy start to the 2018 campaign.

Big Blue are 0-3 and began Greater Miami Conference play with a 40-6 beating at the hands of Fairfield last Friday, and HHS coach Chad Murphy said there wasn’t much good that came out of it.

“We just got whupped,” he said. “Fairfield’s a good football team, no doubt about it. We took one on the chin. It’s part of the game. It’s about how you recover from it and how you move on from it.”

Hamilton now must travel to Oak Hills on Friday night to face a squad that’s on the upswing.

The Highlanders, coming off a winless season, are 2-1 with victories over East Central (Ind.) and Dayton Dunbar. Oak Hills opened the GMC with a 20-6 loss to Mason.

“We’re not quite there, but we’re getting there,” third-year Highlanders coach Kyle Prosser said. “I know it’s kind of a cliche, but what it takes is one day at a time, one game at a time, and playing hard and staying healthy. It’s just mentally staying strong throughout a whole game instead of reverting back to that, ‘Uh-oh, here we go again.’

“We’ve got a lot of things squared away in the program from top to bottom. Our kids culturally … I know that’s the big word right now … understand how things need to be done on and off the field and having that mentality every day of, ‘We’re not mediocre.’ ”

Oak Hills is a spread team that likes to throw the ball around a bit. Senior quarterback Ethan Myers (6-3, 175) leads the conference in passing yards — he’s 46-of-87 for 495 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions. Jacob Berkemeier (6-4, 195) has been the No. 1 target with 14 receptions for 170 yards and two TDs.

The offensive line returned practically no experience, but Prosser said it’s coming together. The Highlanders use an odd-front defense led by linebackers Sebastian Bachler (5-11, 210) and Andy Lawson (5-11, 200).

“We’re not the biggest team in the world, but we are pretty athletic,” Prosser said. “Offensively, we spread it out and like to get the ball to a lot of weapons. We’ve just got to make sure we’re doing what we’re coached to do and not go outside of what we are and who we are.”

Prosser said he isn’t looking at Hamilton’s record.

“It’s the little things that are hurting them,” he said. “They’re athletic, there’s no doubt about that. I remember watching their freshman team last year and going, ‘Good Lord, this has got to be the biggest freshman team I’ve seen in years.’ ”

Two Big Blue offensive standouts went down with injuries in the Fairfield game. Murphy said sophomore running back Keyshawn Stephens will play Friday, while junior quarterback/cornerback Khaliyal Sowell is questionable.

Junior Jayden Marshall is also returning from an injury. He’s a utility man on defense at safety, outside linebacker and cornerback.

“We feel like we’ve got a good football team. We just need some confidence right now,” Murphy said. “Obviously there’s negativity everywhere, but our kids are positive. I feel like if we can just get one win, we can roll from there. We’re not going to understand momentum until we get it and keep it.”

This contest will be a Pink Game to increase breast cancer awareness. It’s also Youth Band Night at Oak Hills.

Friday’s game

What: Hamilton (0-3, 0-1 GMC) at Oak Hills (2-1, 0-1 GMC), 7 p.m.

Where: Rutenschroer/Maher Field at Betz Memorial Stadium, 3200 Ebenezer Road, Green Twp.

Series: Tied 7-7, with Hamilton winning 41-21 last year

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