As the calendar prepares to turn from December to January, it’s a perfect time to look back at some of the bigger stories to impact the Brown County sports world. There were coaching and conference changes, personal triumphs and tragedies and teams that exceeded expectations in what turned out to be quite the year in the area. Let’s look back at some of the top games, teams and moments from the year in sports.
#10 – Western Brown girls soccer falls to Mariemont in sectional opener
It wasn’t the result the Lady Broncos were looking for, but the game itself was undeniably one of the best games this year. The Lady Broncos and the Lady Warriors battled through 80 scoreless minutes in regulation, fought through exhaustion in the 30-minute overtime period before finally deciding the game in penalty kicks. Western Brown would lose the game, but anyone who was able to witness the battle were winners.
#9 Eastern wins second game behind Rigdon buzzer-beater
Much like the moment above, this particular entry was not a news story, but a battle between two very good teams. The Eastern Brown Warriors basketball team blew out Blanchester in their season-opener, but when the team returned to the court the next week their opponent would not go down as easy. Eastern rallied from a late deficit to knock off Williamsburg on a buzzer-beating jump-shot from junior Blake Rigdon, who had to go coast-to-coast in less than four seconds to even get a shot off.
#8 Fayetteville baseball falls in district finals
The Fayetteville-Perry baseball team started their season this spring in Cocoa Beach, Florida and finished it just one win away from advancing to the regional semifinals. The team knocked off Lockland, Cincinnati Christian and New Miami in their postseason ride before falling to Lehman Catholic.
#7 Runners, golfers battle for state berths
Individual athletes from schools around the area had success this fall, with Eastern’s Blake Rigdon and Felicity’s Jared Boeckmann each advancing to the state cross-country championship race. Rigdon also joined Ripley golfer Scottie Ott in advancing to the district golf championships earlier this year.
#6 Western Brown, Bethel Wrestlers have success at State tournaments
Bethel’s wrestling squad finished the 2014-2015 campaign as one of the top 16 teams in the state, as the team fell in the regional finals. It’s easy to see why, with both Jeffrey Botts and Aric Peters advancing to the state tournament. Peters would place fourth in the 120 pound weight class. He was not the only local wrestler to enjoy state success, as Western Brown’s Brandon Lucas finished fifth in the state as a freshman. Teammate Malachi Marlow also had a strong campaign last year, winning his weight class at the Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference meet and advancing to the state tournament as well.
#5 Sizer, Overstake named coaches at Western Brown
Shortly after former Western Brown head coach Evan Dryer announced he would leave the school for the same position at Oak Hills, the Broncos turned to a familiar face to lead the program. Don Sizer was named the team’s head coach last winter, returning to the team he had coached from 2003 to 2008. Football was not the only sport at Western Brown to undergo a regime change, as former Greenfield coach Dennis Overstake joined the team this past summer as the girls’ basketball coach after Kyle Fender stepped down in March.
#4 Fayetteville moving to the SBAAC in 2017
Thanks to the merger of Glen Este and Amelia, the SBAAC was left with a decision to make: who should replace the Barons? They appear to have found at least a temporary solution, as Fayetteville was officially tabbed as the pick to join the league in football only starting with the 2017-2018 school year. There is still some debate to be done, however, as Norwood is also leaving the league in 2017, forcing the conference to make more changes in the future.
#3 Nate Allen’s Death
Fayetteville’s football team endured a tumultuous 2015 campaign as just one week into the season assistant coach Nate Allen was killed in a car accident. The team and the community joined together and rallied around his family, with “Play for Nate” shirts dotting the stands at both home and road contests. The Rockets’ were led on the field by Caleb Dowers, who set a single-game school record with over 300 rushing yards against then-unbeaten Miami Valley Christian Academy.
#2 Bethel Football to the state playoffs, Essig hired
Bethel-Tate’s football program also enjoyed success this past season. For the first time in school history, the Tigers and head coach Bill Jenike advanced to the state playoffs, where the team fell to eventual state champion Coldwater. The team’s performance on the field brought the community together off it, as the Tigers were given a send-off by the Bethel community the day of the game. Shortly after the team’s final game, Jenike announced his resignation due to logistical issues. The team hired Western Brown offensive coordinator Jeff Essig as their new head coach roughly three weeks later.
#1 Georgetown boys’ fall in district finals, Underwood retires
The Georgetown boys’ basketball team finished a strong season with a loss to Tri-Village in the district finals in Dayton. After the season, the G-Men bid adeiu to longtime coach Jerry Underwood, who retired. The team finally named baseball coach Daniel Oliver his replacement in August.