There were plenty of players worth watching in the area this past season.
The annual Times Recorder Prime Time list features some of the best we saw.
Maysville senior running back Chase Roberts was tabbed our offensive player of the year, while Zanesville senior linebacker Leondre Crosby earned our defensive player of the year award.
Chad Grandstaff led the Blue Devils to a 9-1 mark and a regional final to take home our coach of the year honors.
A healthy Roberts displayed why he was one of the area’s most dynamic playmakers. He accounted for nearly 1,250 all-purpose yards and 20 touchdowns for the 8-2 Panthers. Those numbers not only made him the Muskingum Valley League running back of the year, but also a first-team East District selection.
Crosby was a force in the middle, collecting more than 80 tackles in the regular season, including 17 for a loss, and led a unit that posted five shutouts. His numbers led to earning the district’s co-defensive player of the year and the ECOL’s defensive player of the year. He also accounted for more than 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns in the regular season at running back.
Grandstaff led Zanesville back to the playoffs after a 5-5 campaign in 2014. With many of those players returning, the Blue Devils were in the mix for the East Central Ohio League title and took great strides in a 9-1 regular season. They also reached the final four for the second time in three years.
The backfield was highlighted by a trio of senior quarterbacks, Derek Grandstaff from Zanesville, Tyler McGee of Tri-Valley and Tanner Ashcraft from Maysville. Grandstaff led the area with 1,375 yards and 13 touchdowns, McGee totaled 1,200 yards and 16 TDs and Ashcraft threw for 800 yards and 14 scores.
Rosecrans junior Travis Johnston, the area’s leading rusher, and Scotties’ leading rusher, junior Cody Collins, joined Roberts at running back. Johnston led the area with more than 1,200 yards and scored 16 times on the ground, and Collins was a steady force, churning up more than 730 yards and 12 TDs.
Our wide receivers included Zanesville senior Alessio Amato, Tri-Valley junior Colin Slaboden, Rosecrans junior Aaron Gehlken, New Lexington senior Andrew Spicer and West Muskingum junior Cameron Strauss. All five had at least 28 receptions with Amato leading the area with nine touchdowns catches.
The offensive line has plenty of size and strength with Zanesville seniors Tavian Butts and Coulter Wilson, Rosecrans senior Gabe Skrobot, Crooksville senior Joel Taylor, Tri-Valley senior Ethan Atkinson and Maysville seniors Tyler Jenkins and Nik Smith.
Tri-Valley sophomore Chase Dinan was our placekicker after making 6-of-8 field goals, going a perfect 6-of-6 from 40 yards or less. He also made 47 of 49 extra points.
The defense is just as stout. Tri-Valley seniors Grant Nolder and Owen Burkhart, Zanesville senior Javier Madinger-Rush and junior R.J. Harris, Sheridan junior A.J. Bryant, Maysville senior Tahlor Macenko and Philo senior Jacob Skinner make up the line. They all earned district honors with several of them consistently making plays at or behind the line of scrimmage.
Our linebackers featured Tri-Valley senior Christian Nezbeth, Maysville senior Clay Mercer, Crooksville senior Dalton Banik and junior Chaz Love and Sheridan senior Deryk Grosse, along with Crosby. The group had plenty of athleticism and made plays across the field for their respective teams, while usually contributing on the other side of the ball.
Zanesville senior Ben Kaufman and Maysville senior Chase Himmelspach highlight a deep secondary with Morgan senior Braydon Hoskinson, Tri-Valley senior Matt Lawler, and Crooksville senior Daulton Finck. Kaufman led the area with six interceptions, Himmelspach grabbed four and Lawler caught three picks, while Finck and Hoskinson highlighted the efforts of their respective teams.
Tri-Valley senior Quentin Gaiters was named punter of the year after averaging 37 yards on eight punts. He also played a key role in the secondary, grabbing three interceptions.