Prep football: New Miami taking positive approach with small roster

John Singleton
Caption
John Singleton

Pessimism is not dominating New Miami High School’s football program.

Certainly there will be challenges in 2017. The Division VII Vikings have less than two dozen players, are coming off a 1-8 season and have been voted last in the Miami Valley Conference Gray Division coaches poll.

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Yet veteran coach John Singleton said New Miami is taking a positive, energetic approach to the campaign.

“In the two-a-days we had, we had one what I would call mediocre practice that I got a little upset with,” Singleton said. “Other than that, we’ve had a great camp. The kids are coachable. They’ve worked hard. They’ve been fun to coach.

“Our young ones are helping lead the old ones. They’re very competitive, and they’ve kind of given us an energy. As long as we stay healthy — and that’s the key — we’ll compete.”

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Junior tight end/linebacker Ronnie Bowman (6-2, 200) leads the returning players for the Vikings, who only have three seniors.

New Miami finished last season with just 14 players.

“I felt bad for my kids last year because they were playing places they shouldn’t have been playing, but they wanted to play. They never quit on me,” Singleton said. “Football’s a hard sport, and it’s changed a lot. It’s gotten bad publicity the last few years, and people are kind of shying away from it.

“But our freshman class is our biggest class, and we’ve got a real good eighth-grade class that’s got some size to it. Hopefully we can gain some experience and maybe pull off a couple upsets because nobody’s giving us much of a chance.

“I think we’ll compete with people where they didn’t think we could compete. I don’t know if we have enough in the rear end right now to get us over the top, but these kids won’t lay down.”

Junior Bruce Montgomery (6-1, 245), an offensive tackle/defensive end, and junior two-way tackle Eric Tatman (5-8, 210) are among the top returnees.

The spread offense will be under the direction of freshman quarterback Trey Robinette (5-8, 160).

“He throws a pretty good ball, but he’s also dangerous if he gets outside,” Singleton said. “He hasn’t shown that freshman deer-in-the-headlights look yet, so we’re hoping it stays that way. They get bigger and stronger every Friday night.”

Robinette’s top receiving targets will be Bowman, sophomore Danny Spivey (6-1, 180) and freshman Jordan Robinette (5-8, 145), Trey’s brother. Spivey played quarterback in 2016.

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Senior Brody Honaker (5-9, 180), junior Dalton Garrett (5-9, 205) and senior Franklin Gray (5-6, 135) will handle the bulk of the running duties. Garrett has the look of a fullback and will be the power runner.

The offensive line will include sophomore Austin Hart (5-10, 255) at center, Tatman and Montgomery at tackle, and junior Robby Hundley (5-4, 150) and freshman Dylan Spivey (5-8, 180) at guard. Hundley played center last year.

“We think we have some weapons,” Singleton said. “We’re going to rely on our quickness and try to spread the ball out to a couple of our athletes and let them make plays for us.

“We’re not going to abandon the run. We’ve got a couple decent running backs. But we’re hoping to set up the run with the pass a little bit more this year.”

Defensively, the Vikings are switching from a 4-3 to a 50 this year. One of the biggest reasons is senior nose guard Eric Roberts (5-9, 150).

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“We found him as a nose guard last year,” Singleton said. “He had been a wideout, and he wasn’t having any fun. He said, ‘Coach, I’ve always been a lineman,’ so we switched him to nose. He’s ultra-quick, so we’re going to turn him loose and let him try to give other teams headaches.”

Also on the line are Tatman and Hart at tackle, and Montgomery and junior Nate Hobbs (6-4, 185) at end. Bowman and Garrett are the linebackers.

Danny Spivey will play the monster position, Jordan Robinette and Honaker are the cornerbacks, and Trey Robinette will play safety.

Hobbs and Jordan Robinette are vying for the punting job. Singleton said Hundley is the place-kicker, “but we’ll still probably go for two a lot.”

“We joke at New Miami that you will play more than one position here,” Singleton said. “The kids accept it. They have worked real hard in conditioning. We just say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to play.’ ”


NEW MIAMI VIKINGS

Coach: John Singleton, fourth season (11-18 at New Miami, 48-74 overall)

OHSAA designation: Division VII, Region 28

Playoff history: 0-1 in one appearance (2008)

2016 record: 1-8 overall, 0-3 in the Miami Valley Conference Gray Division (fourth)

Schedule: Aug. 26 — vs. Gamble Montessori at Woodward, 6 p.m.; Sept. 2 — Marion Elgin, 6 p.m.; Sept. 8 — at Deer Park, 7 p.m.; Sept. 15 — Jefferson, 7 p.m.; Sept. 22 — at Cincinnati Country Day, 7 p.m.; Sept. 28 — at St. Bernard, 7 p.m.; Oct. 6 — Lockland, 7 p.m.; Oct. 13 — Cincinnati College Prep Academy, 7 p.m.; Oct. 20 — vs. Clark Montessori at Withrow, 7 p.m.; Oct. 27 — Dayton Christian, 7 p.m.

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