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Monroe features strength at the skill spots

WOODSFIELD — Monroe Central High head coach Josh Ischy may not frequent casinos or plan trips to Las Vegas, but the Seminoles’ third-year mentor is ready to push his chips to the middle of the table this season.

There’s optimism despite a 21-man roster and no scrimmages allowed as per the OHSAA, as Ischy has eight lettermen returning as his squad preps for Friday’s opener at Union Local, including some gifted two and three-year veterans on the offensive side of the ball.

“We’re fairly strong at the skill positions, but graduation took four off our O-line so we only have one returner in the trenches,” said Ischy. “We definitely have some athletes, most who play multiple sports.

“The key is if we can develop some people up front.”

Leading the eight-man senior contingent is three-year letterman Alex Kilburn (5-11, 215), who totaled 882 yards and 10 TD’s on 140 carries a year ago in earning special mention all-Ohio. “(Alex) runs hard and has a big tackle to run behind is classmate Garet Cramer (6-0, 285), another three-year letterman.

“(Cramer’s) athletic for his size and will need to lead the way until the rest of the O-line gains experience.”

Senior wideout Auston Hogue (5-11, 155), who had nine receptions for 110 last fall, aims for his second letter.

Other senior line candidates are John Peterson (6-6, 220), Payton Robison (5-9, 255), who injured his knee two years ago and returned to the sport, David Habig (6-0, 185), and Brian Meade (5-9, 190). Cole McCammon (5-9, 150), who transferred back after spending a year at Beallsville, is in the receiving mix.

Ischy may only have five juniors, but he’s excited about the possibilities of quarterback Malachi Rose-Burton (5-11, 175), versatile back/receiver Dillon Lincoln (5-8, 155) and speedy wideout Michael Bunning (5-7, 145).

Rose-Burton, who tore a miniscus in a non-contact scrimmage and wore a brace all season, rehabbed and came back in February, only to break his non-throwing wrist in summer league basketball. He rushed for 402 yards (74 carries) and 6 touchdowns, while the two-year letterman completed 72-of-145 for 848 yards and seven TDs.

“(Malachi’s) an athletic kid and good in the classroom,” said Ischy, who hopes his revamped offensive line can keep him upright and “from getting dinged up too much. If we protect him he can make good decisions and get it to our receivers.”

Bunning, a threat on special teams to take it to paydirt, is after his third varsity letter, while Lincoln (15 catches, 282 yards, 3 TDs) is a two-year letterman who also excels on special teams.

Rounding out the junior group are linemen Dustin Landefeld (5-10, 235) and Rally Chaplin (5-8, 170).

A pair of sophomore lettermen are Jayke Vinskovich (5-9, 230) and receiver Xavier Kinney (5-10, 180).

Other 10th graders are lineman Aaron Fletcher (5-9, 225), two-way back Travis Berry (5-9, 165), and Terry Price (5-8, 145).

A trio of freshmen include Landen Lydick (5-10, 190), running back Kyle Kemp (5-9, 155), and receiver Carter Knowlton (5-10, 155).

“We’ll play a 3-3-stack defense with Kilburn and Cramer our anchors up front,” said Ischy, “and I feel we have the athletes on the edges and secondary to remain solid.”

“We’ve got three good receivers in Lincoln, Hogue and Bunning, as well as McCammon, while Kinney has shown a lot of promise.”

The ‘Noles went 2-8 in Ischy’s inaugural season and 4-6 a year ago, finishing 11th in D7 Region 27. “If we can mesh some new kids into the offensive line we’ll be competitive,” added the MC boss.

Assistant coaches at Monroe Central are defensive coordinator John Ischy, brother of the Seminole chief; line coach John Speelman; receivers/secondary coach Curtis Nixon, strength and conditioning coach Brian Longwell, interior line Justin Kilburn, assistant line coach Owen Hartshorn, and Adam Blackstone.

Only one change in the Monroe schedule has a first-ever visit to D5 Buckeye Local in Week 5 in place of Fort Frye.

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