Hagerstown went undefeated in the regular season.
Richmond won its first outright North Central Conference championship in about a decade.
National Trail overcame years of frustration to post a six-victory season, the program’s most victories in many years.
All three teams are represented on this year’s Palladium-Item All-Area Football Team.
For the Tigers, quarterback Cole Bartlett ran an efficient offense as he scored 33 total touchdowns.
For the Red Devils, defensive back Jimmy Bailey helped serve as the backbone to a Richmond D that kept points off the board.
For the Blazers, coach Tony Sonsini engineered a turnaround that had National Trail battling for both the top of the Cross County Conference and a playoff spot late in the year.
Bartlett is this year’s Offensive Player of the Year, Bailey is the Defensive Player of the Year and Sonsini is Coach of the Year.
“I think the biggest thing is the kids bought into everything myself and our coaching staff put out there, from the offseason weights, to the summer practices, to the two-a-days,” said Sonsini, who recently completed his second year as head coach of the Blazers. “Our big thing this season was change. Our kids really embraced that.”
Bartlett embraced his many roles on the field for the Tigers.
He rushed for 1,083 yards and passed for another 1,547. He had 16 touchdowns passing and another 17 rushing.
Bartlett intercepted passes on defense and kicked the extra points for the Tigers, too.
“Our team got along great,” Bartlett said. “Our coaches did an excellent job preparing us to get wins.”
And win the Tigers did. Hagerstown rolled to a 9-0 regular season and claimed the outright Tri-Eastern Conference championship in dominant fashion.
“You just have to go in thinking, ‘Give it my all. Give it everything I’ve got,'” said Bartlett, who will play Division I baseball next year at Missouri. “You just know the person next to you is going to do the same.”
Bailey gave his all during his senior season.
After starting 0-2, the Red Devils rebounded to win eight straight games, including a 7-0 stretch in the North Central Conference that netted Richmond its first crown since 2001, and its first perfect NCC season since 1999.
“This season was amazing,” Bailey said of the Red Devils’ 8-3 finish. “It was amazing to be with that group and we played really well.
“I just hope they continue winning next year and the years to come. I’m just glad I spent four years with this group.”
Bailey was a playmaker on defense. He finished with 43 tackles and four interceptions, including an eye-popping 105-yard return for a touchdown at Marion.
“He’s a good athlete, a great student,” said Richmond coach Matt Holeva, who was under strong consideration for Coach of the Year after leading the Devils to an 8-3 season in his first year. “He’s more to this program than just a football player. We’ll miss him a lot.
“He’s about as good as it gets.”
There was much good this season for the Blazers across the border in Ohio.
Sonsini’s charges recorded Trail’s first winning record since 1998. That drought included a 32-game losing streak that was snapped in 2009, then another 22-game skid ended last season.
“I feel like we’re going in a good direction,” Sonsini said. “I’m really excited about the future of National Trail. I couldn’t do it alone, without my staff. My staff was a big help this year.”
Click through the photo gallery above to see all the members of the 2012 Palladium-Item All-Area Football Team.
Honorable Mention Selections
* Richmond: Skyler Coleman, Taylor Kidd, Jalen Bailey
* Hagerstown: Jacob Leitner, Trevor Bradway
* Winchester: Devin Grilliot, Jacob Sofonko
* Lincoln: Grant Renforth
* Union City: Grant Shoemaker
* Northeastern: Joey Claypoole, Ryan Bowling, J.J. Fleming
* Centerville: Jacob Haist, Caleb Stevens
* Union County: Wyatt Krom, Evan Bourne
* Eaton: Blake Reynolds
* National Trail: Luke Shook
* Preble Shawnee: Christian Letner
* Tri-County North: Billy Derringer, Ryan Patrick
* Twin Valley South: James Cottingim, Cody Clayton