Cal Ripken Jr. Joe DiMaggio. Ray Stevens. All known for streaks.
So is the Batavia High School boys soccer team, a squad with 11 consecutive league titles under its belt. The Bulldogs move out of the Southern Buckeye Conference National – where they went 8-0 in the league and 12-5-1 overall – into the big-school American this season.
“For us to keep the streak is a very important thing for us,” said head coach Kevin Scheel. “It’s a bigger challenge moving into the other side of the league against some bigger schools. The main thing for us is really playing smart and possessing the ball and not trying to force the through ball.”
Some of that responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Ryan Turner, who Scheel called “a delivery specialist.” In other words, he is the playmaker charged with feeding primary scoring threats Jake Greiner and Austin King.
Morgan Walker and co-captain Austin Hatfield are strong in the air and anchor the midfield. Co-captain Garrett Krauss is a physically intimidating veteran presence on defense, playing in front of the third captain, senior Tyler Large, who is playing his first season in goal.
Batavia opened with a 2-1 loss at McNicholas Aug. 16 and goes on the road Aug. 19 to face Mariemont. The Bulldogs get their first taste of SBC American play in the home opener Aug. 26 against New Richmond.
Amelia finished 8-4-4 overall and 6-2-2 in the SBC American, just behind champion New Richmond’s 7-1-2 league mark. Seven Barons were named all-league and all but one return.
Seniors Anthony Alberty and Alec Holste were SBAAC-American first team in 2013, as was current junior Scott Ervin. Senior Elliott Stockton was second team a year ago along with juniors Brogan Couch and Randy Ervin.
Holste, Scott and Randy Ervin and Alberty return as captains. Coach Eric Burger will also look to junior forward/midfielder Keeghan Manzi. The Barons bring back eight starters overall.
“Experience will be high,” Burger said. “(We) need to be more consistent in scoring goals. Things are starting to come together, but there’s still a long way to go. Players are playing very hard and are receptive to tactical information.”
After a visit to Winton Woods, Amelia returns home to host township rival Glen Este Aug. 23. Their first league game is against Norwood Aug. 26.
“The league and overall schedule is extremely tough,” Burger said. “We need to play well on a daily basis to achieve success. Batavia and New Richmond are the teams to beat.”
Amelia has won four of the last five SBAAC-American titles.
Glen Este was 11-6-1 overall last season, but just 2-4 in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference. The new head coach of the Trojans is Jason Williamson.
The top Trojan is looking for leadership from seniors Sam Rowe and Tanner Korfhagen along with junior Caimen Pardue.
“We lost seven seniors last year,” Williamson said. “We’re relying on a lot of young guys, but I think we’ll still turn heads in our conference play.”
Glen Este hosts their first two games, Aug. 19 with Harrison and Aug. 21 with New Richmond. They swing back up Clough Pike to face Amelia Aug. 23.
McNicholas High School posted a 10-4-5 overall record under first-year head coach Jason Peters last season. McNick went 5-0-2 in the Greater Catholic League Coed Central, a record that landed the Rockets a league title and Peters coach of the year honors.
What will he do for an encore after graduating 11 seniors?
“Although we may not have the most experienced squad this year, we have a talented group of players,” Peters said. We will rely on leadership from our more experienced players … and we expect contributions from (the) juniors. Overall we are excited and looking forward to a good year.”
The experienced players include a trio of seniors in defender Trevor Hogue with midfielders Christian Null and Justin Brunot. Also back are junior midfielders Griffin Garrison and Tristan Bently.
New varsity players include junior midfielders Jake Round, Zach Arnold and Blake Murphy. Sophomore forward J.T. Tilley could be a solid scoring threat.
The Rockets open the season Aug. 16 against Batavia. McNick hosts league rival Middletown Fenwick Sept. 30 and squares off against King of the Hill rivals Anderson Aug. 23 on the road and at Turpin Sept. 13.
New Richmond – as mentioned – won the SBC American title in 2013, posting a 7-1-2 mark in the league while going 11-4-3 overall. The Lions fell 2-1 against league rival Western Brown in the second round of the sectional tournament.
Head coach Doug Flamm was SBC American coach of the year and graduated five seniors who earned first-team all-SBC honors, plus two more who were second-team selections.
Meaning there’s something of a youth movement afoot along the river.
“We lost a lot of seniors and senior leadership from last year,’ Flamm said. “We are young, but talented.”
Among the talented players are Jake Hayden, Grant Anderson, A.J. Hobbs and Clayton Farmer.
The Lions opened with a 3-0 win at Finneytown Aug. 16. New Richmond host Madeira for its home opener Aug. 19 and begins league play Aug. 26 at Batavia before hosting Amelia Aug. 28.