The Clinton-Massie Falcons continued their success with their football program last season with another solid run in the Division IV Playoffs, finishing as a regional runner-up and winning 12 games.

Though they didn't win a third consecutive state championship, the Falcons did win at least 10 games in a season for the ninth straight season, plus reached the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season and the 14th time since 1998.

As head coach Dan McSurley (174-48 at CM, 194-68 overall) enters his 20th season with the Falcons and his 25th overall as a high school varsity football head coach, Clinton-Massie looks to continue their streak of playoff appearances, as they want to make yet another strong run during the '15 playoffs.

Last season, the Falcons finished 12-1 overall, 7-0 in the South Central Ohio League, winning their ninth consecutive league title while also extending their league winning streak to 45 games. Their last league loss came in '07.

In their 13 games last season, the Falcons shut out their opponents six times, outscoring their opponents, 584-109. From Weeks 3-6, CM outscored the opposition, 239-0 with wins over Jonathan Alder (49-0), McClain (71-0), Washington (70-0) and Hillsboro (49-0). Also in Week 10, they shut out East Clinton, 64-0, and in Week 1, the Falcons blanked the Wildcats of Blanchester, 42-0.

The first six games of '14 saw CM allow just seven points, coming in Week 2 in a 42-7 win over Waynesville.

"So far this summer, we don't have any season-ending injuries, but we do have some kids who have gotten nicked up," McSurley said. "We are always looking to improve, and we did a lot of good things in the scrimmages. The guys are understanding their roles."

The Falcons have eight players returning to the offensive side of the ball this season and five back on defense, along with having 15 seniors on the roster in '15.
One plus for the Falcons on the offensive side of the ball is their entire offensive line is intact, they have a three-year quarterback who is a state champion and they are surrounded by other talented players who look to make their mark on the program like those before them.

"We have a mix of players this year, and though we have age, some of them haven't experienced the lights of Friday night," McSurley said.

The returning quarterback is senior Hunter Fentress, who has a career record of 26-2 as a starting QB. Last season, he passed for 1,800-plus yards and 19 touchdowns. He also totaled 450 yards of rushing and 13 scores on the ground.

"Hunter is a good kid, and we want to throw the ball with him more this season," McSurley said. "We want to utilize the wide receivers more, because we have some outstanding wide receivers.

"Hunter's ability to read a defense and do what we ask of him is invaluable."

The outstanding wide receivers McSurley spoke of are Bryce Boyd, Tommy Williams and Luke Richardson.

"Bryce caught the game-winning pass against Chillicothe last year, all but winning the league title for us," the CM head coach said. "Tommy has put in a lot of good work, and Luke has been dynamic for us the past couple weeks. Our receivers will keep a defense honest."

At running back for the Falcons will be third-team Division IV All-Ohio selection Davey Tunon, who will be a senior this season. Tunon rushed for just over 1,300 yards in '14 with 18 touchdowns.

Also at running back is JT Wolf, who is the younger brother of both Bayle and Chayse Wolf, who made a big impact on the Clinton-Massie football program during their respective tenures as Falcons.

"JT is every bit as solid as his brothers," McSurley said. "He's about 6-1 and 195 pounds."

Also on offense keep an eye on tight end Trey Uetrecht, a sophomore.

Then there is the offensive line for the Falcons, starting with first-team All-Ohio center Jake Garrison. Garrison is a Division I prospect, and the Falcons plan to use him in a variety of ways on the offensive line.

There is also right tackle Ryan Weiss (13 starts), Jacob Cantrell (13 starts), Wyatt Jefferson and Isaac Green. Also on the o-line is Cody Messer.

"Having the offensive line back is a great asset, but each week we have to scheme differently and ask them to do different things," McSurley said. "They have to adjust their blocking assignments weekly, and having a veteran group helps with that, but it takes time to develop continuity.

"These guys know the concepts, and they are like having an extension of the coaching staff on the field."

The summer for the Falcons has gone as expected, being they were regional runners-up in '14 and two-time state champions before that.

"We've been looking good this summer," McSurley said. "We had good 7-on-7s. We made some mistakes, but we beat some good teams also."

Massie's defense is what excites the 25-year head coach. Even though they have just five players returning to the starting lineup, the potential for this defense of the Falcons is great.

CM lost a good deal of talent from their defensive backfield, but McSurley was quick to credit defensive coordinator Aaron Seewer and defensive backs coach and former CM player Drew Frey.

"Our defensive backs are coached very well, and it starts with that," McSurley said of how to replace the talented roster lost to graduation from last season. "The kids understand what is expected and how to execute."

The defensive backfield this season will include identical twins Cole O'Bryon and Devon O'Bryon, who are both around 6-0, 175 pounds, along with Luke Richardson, Tommy Williams and Boyd.

 

At linebacker will be Wolf, Max Keeley, Weston Trampler and Uetrecht, and at defensive end will be Garrison, Kolten Chandler and Jackson Grigsby. The interior line will be by committee, but one player who will see time is Triston Hill, a junior.

Special teams for the Falcons will see junior Chris Demler take over as the field goal kicker, and Boyd will be the punter.

"Chris hit a 45-yard field goal in a scrimmage," McSurley said. "He has a strong leg, and that will show on kickoffs. When he made the field goal, it was a fun atmosphere where he had to make it with a lot of noise behind him.

"We are going to utilize our special teams with our punt return game and our kickoffs. Both will be big weapons for us."

New to the non-league schedule for the Falcons will be Steubenville in Week 2, a game that McSurley said will be the test that will let him and the state know where Clinton-Massie stands. CM will also face Indian Creek (Indiana) in non-league play Week 3.

"We’re going to go out and play loose and have fun," he said. "We'll see at the end of the game where we stand. After Week 2, we'll know what type of team we are.

“We just have to take this season one game at a time. Blanchester always plays us physical, and they and the game against Chillicothe were two of our toughest regular-season games last year."

Even though the Falcons didn't win a third consecutive state championship last season, they still had 12 wins and lost to a very good Archbishop Alter football team that finished as state runners-up. McSurley spoke about what his team has to do to have success in their region (Division IV, Region 16) once again.

"To be quite honest, Kettering Alter had more experience than us last season, but we felt we matched up well with them," he said. "This year, it is kind of flip-flopped in the region. They are a solid program, and I believe they are still the team to beat in the region.

"To win the region, you will have to go through the GCL (Greater Catholic League)."

The Falcons open their '15 season on Friday, Aug. 28 vs. Blanchester in their annual Cider Keg game.