BETHEL – The cross county rivalry of Bethel-Tate and Felicity-Franklin High Schools takes on new meaning this school year as the athletic teams now compete in the same Southern Buckeye Conference-National Division.
For Bethel-Tate’s boys soccer team coached by Dave Schellenberger, it’s a chance to improve on their 8-8-2 (3-5-2 SBAAC-American) mark from a year ago as they flip leagues with last year’s National champ, Batavia.
The Tigers return the league Player of the Year in senior Jason Altmayer along with fellow first team selection Adam Shinkle. Junior Evan Iding is also expected to put the ball in the net a time or two.
Last season ended in mid-October with Bethel-Tate holding a brief lead on an always touch Madeira team, only to fall short 3-2. Altmayer had both goals for the Tigers.
“We hope to go two to three rounds in tournament play,” Schellenberger said. “Our goals are to improve each day and stay healthy.”
Schellenberger is in his 23rd year at Bethel-Tate.
The Tigers host Georgetown to start the season Aug. 26 and then travel to Felicity-Franklin Aug. 28. The Cardinals then travel to Bethel-Tate for a rematch Sept. 30.
Under first-year coach Gerald Dogan, Felicity-Franklin’s boys struggles to a 1-13-1 record last fall. The Cardinals lost some all-league seniors, but do return junior Austin Paskow as a first-team selection.
Last season, Felicity-Franklin defeated St. Bernard and tied Clermont Northeastern and Dogan is hoping a year of hard knocks pays off.
“Our team play gained a lot of experience in the offseason,” he said.
In addition to Paskow, the Cardinals return starters Kyle Louderback, Kevin Arkenau, Austin May and Dylan Foster.
After their opener against Reading, Felicity-Franklin hosts St. Bernard Aug. 21, Blanchester Aug. 26 and Bethel-Tate Aug. 28. Their first road game is at Georgetown Sept. 2.
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.