OVC expansion highlights 2014 sports year

Published 5:59 pm Thursday, January 1, 2015

Jim Walker



The local sports year of 2014 was a time to grow.

The Ohio Valley Conference shrank to four teams when River Valley headed for the Tri-Valley Conference. But the OVC then expanded its membership by adding Ironton, Portsmouth and Gallipolis.

The three teams should create a strong competition in all sports and bolster what was a good year for the league.

The highlight of the league’s year was the Fairland Lady Dragons first-ever state tournament appearance.

Individually, Chesapeake Lady Panthers Jordan Porter won the Division II state discus championshiop and Coal Grove junior high jumper Brandon Adkins was the state champion in Division III.

Here is a brief capsule rundown of the local events of the past sports year:


Ironton High School enshrined five new members into its athletic Hall of Fame: former NFL linebacker Danny Pride, college football coach Mark Snyder, outstanding all-around athlete Ralph Snead, Ohio State golfer Justin Collins and All-American track star Anissa Campbell.

Chesapeake High School inducted four new members to its athletic Hall of Fame: All-Ohio fullback Randy Bone, three-sport star and Marshall baseball player Aaron Rice and twin brothers Brian and Scott Davis, both three sport standouts.

St. Joseph Female Flyers junior guard Hannah Miller eclipsed the career 1,000-point scoring mark with 14 points against Charleston Catholic.

Chesapeake senior golfer Drew Oxley signed to play golf at Shawnee State University.

After one season and winning the OVC with a playoff appearance, Fairland football coach Cullen Homolka took a job as director of player personnel for North Carolina State University.


The Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers beat Chillicothe 50-42 on Feb. 6 to give the program its 400th victory overall.

South Point Pointers’ senior guard Brandon Barnes set the boys’ all-time career scoring record by getting his 1,447th point.

South Point won the boys’ Ohio Valley Conference basketball title while the Fairland Lady Dragons took the title for the third straight year.

In girls’ sectional play, Chesapeake stunned top-seeded Oak Hill 54-47. Also winning sectional titles were Fairland and South Point.

Boys’ sectional winners were: Coal Grove, Chesapeake, St. Joseph, Fairland and South Point.

Six wrestlers advanced to the district tournament: Logan McCloud and Joey Haynes of Chesapeake, and Austin Earles, Clayton Edmonds, Darren Bishop and Chris Chianesi of Fairland.


The Fairland Lady Dragons won a third straight Division III district title.

Chesapeake lineman Mark McMillian signed to play at Kentucky Christian University.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association passed a competitive balance proposal to amend how schools are placed in divisions for post-season tournaments.

Fairland senior wide receiver Kyle Sowards signed to play football at Alderson-Broaddus.

The Fairland Lady Dragons beat Sugarcreek Garaway 52-46 to earn the program its first-ever trip to the state tournament. They lost to Versailles in the state semifinals.

The Lady Dragons 6-foot-4 senior center Terra Stapleton — a Michigan signee — was named the Associated Press Div. III Co-Player of the Year.

Other area girls named All-Ohio were: Ironton’s Lexie Barrier, South Point’s Brett Justice and Aundrea Bradburn, Fairland’s Kelsey Riley, Coal Grove’s Jacy Jones, St. Joseph’s Hannah Miller and Amber Neal, and Symmes Valley’s Kalli Hunt.

South Point’s Brandon Barnes was a second team All-Ohio selection. Also named All-Ohio were: Coal Grove’s Conor Markins, Fairland’s Evan Maddox, South Point’s John Johnson, Chesapeake’s Gage Rhoades St. Joseph’s Wulf Goheen, Symmes Valley’s Tyler Rowe and Green’s Trent Marcum.

Fairland named former Marshall defensive back Rashad Jackson as the new head football coach.

Former Ironton All-Ohio and Marshall all-conference golfer Nathan Kerns announced he was joining the NGA professional golf tour.

Dragons senior Chad McComas signed to run cross country at Shawnee State.

Symmes Valley lineman Ben Ferguson signed to play football at Wilmington College while Vikings’ lineman Phillip Combs inked to play football at Alderson-Broaddus.

Symmes Valley senior Cory Thacker was the state powerlifting champion in Divisions 1-2-3 after winning Divisions 4-5-6 in his 125-pound weight class the previous year.


The Rock Hill girls’ softball team beat Vinton County 12-4 in the season opener as coach Sammy Gue won his coaching debut.

The Ohio State football coaches’ clinic honored former Ironton head coach Bob Lutz, Ohio’s all-time winningest coach. He was honored along with Mount Union’s Larry Kehres, college football’s all-time winningest coach by percentage.

Fairland’s Terra Stapleton played in the annual Ohio-Kentucky All-Star basketball game.

Chesapeake’s Blake Lester struck out 19 batters as he pitcher a no-hitter and beat River Valley 4-0. On the same day, South Point’s Brandon Boggs pitcher a five-inning perfect game in an 11-0 win over Coal Grove.

South Point Lady Pointers Lakin Adams signed to play volleyball at Alice Lloyd College.

South Point’s Brandon Barnes and Fairland’s Terra Stapleton played in the coaches annual North/South All-Star game.


Coal Grove senior guard Conor Markins signed to play basketball with Wheeling Jesuit. The Hornets’ senor golfer Luke McGraw signed to play at Shawnee State.

South Point won the OVC in baseball and softball.

Coal Grove won a fifth straight OVC boys’ track championship while the Chesapeake won the girls’ track title.

Winning softball sectional titles: Symmes Valley and South Point. Boys’ baseball sectional winners: South Point.

Former Ironton golfer Josh Zornes was named second team All-MidSouth Conference for Shawnee State.

South Point’s Tia Pettigrew signed to play volleyball at the University of Northwestern Ohio.

Coal Grove won the boys’ Division III district track title.

Rock Hill senior infielder and outfielder jack Goodwin signed to play baseball with Muskingum University.

Symmes Valley senior Nicole Davis signed to run cross country at the University of Rio Grande.

Qualifying for the state track meet: Coal Grove’s Austen Pleansants (discus), Eli Willis (pole vault), Brandon Adkins (high jump) and 4×200 relay team of Conor Markins, Mason Nance, Ian McFarland and Tanner Henry; Chesapeake’s Jordan Porter (shot put and discus), South Point’s Tori Koukos (100-meter hurdles).

South Point senior guard Brandon Barnes signed to play basketball at Ave Maria University in Florida.

Ironton Middle School sprinter McKenzie Long won the state 200-meter dash.


Chesapeake Lady Panthers’ Jordan Porter won the state Division II discus title and was fifth in the shot put. Coal Grove junior Brandon Adkins was the Division III state high jump title.

Beloved youth and high school coach B.J. Hannon died at the age of 86.

Ironton began installing field turf on its football field. The project was privately funded.


Coal Grove Hornets’ senior lineman Austen Pleasants gave a verbal commitment to play football at Ohio University.

The University of Rio Grande voted to leave the Mid-South Conference and join the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Ironton’s Nathan Kerns earned his first professional golf victory at the Meadowlands Golf Tournament July 1-3.

The Ironton Little League 7-8-year-old All-Stars won the first-ever state tournament for their age group.

The Ironton 9-10-year-old All-Stars won the District 11 title for a state berth while the Ironton 11-12-year-old girls finished as state runners-up.

The Ironton Junior League 13-14-year-old All-Stars won the state title and earned a trip to the regional tournament.

The Rock Hill Little League 11-12-year-old boys won the District 11 title and earned a trip to the state tournament.


South Point Pointers’ senior running back Mason White was selected to play in the Blue-Grey Combine All-Star Game.

Travis Wise was named the new boys’ head basketball coach at South Point.


In a rarity for sports, a football officiating crew included grandfather Jim Mahlmeister, son Jimmy Mahlmeister and grandson Justin Mahlmeister.

Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ Jordan Hannan had 16 aces in a volleyball game against Chesapeake to place her among the all-time state leaders.

Chesapeake won a sixth straight OVC golf championship.

In golf, Coal Grove won the Division III sectional as Brent Morgan was medalist. Chesapeake claimed the Division II sectional.

Rock Hill cross country runners Seth Miller and Sarah McFann broke school records during the Piketon Invitational.


The Ohio Valley Conference expanded by voting to add Ironton and Portsmouth.

Chesapeake’s Derek Lemley was second in the Division II district golf tournament and earned a trip to the state meet. Coal Grove’s Brent Morgan was fifth in the Division III district tournament.

Lemley was named the coaches’ District Golfer of the Year in Division II while Morgan won the same honor in Division III for the second time.

South Point set a school record for wins (16) and won the Division II sectional soccer title. The St. Joseph Female Flyers won their second straight Division III sectional soccer title.

Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ junior guard Lexie Barrier gave a verbal commitment to attend Virginia Tech.

Qualifying for the state cross country meet were Fairland Lady Dragons’ senior Shanan Ashton and Rock Hill Redmen junior Seth Miller and sophomore Brandon McCormick.


Ironton in Division V and Symmes Valley in Division VII qualified for the postseason football playoffs.

Coal Grove won the OVC football championship.

Fairland High School’s athletic program was placed on three-year probation and fined $5,000 for violations of OHSAA bylaws. Both penalties have been appealed.

Rick Marcello resigned as the South Point football coach due to personal reasons.

Coal Grove senior golfer Brent Morgan signed with Division I St. Bonaventure.

Fairland Lady Dragons’ senior guard Caitlin Stone signed to play basketball at the University of Urbana.

The OVC voted to accept Gallipolis as the eighth member.

In a trio of basketball signings at St. Joseph High School, Wulf Goheen inked with Kentucky Christian while Bri Bridges signed with Kentucky Christian and Hannah Miller signed with Shawnee State University.


All-Ohio football selections:

Ironton’s D’Angelo Palladino (first team, district offensive player of the year), lsaac Sherman (third team), Tristan Cox, Desmond Young, Caleb McKnight all in Division V;

Chesapeake’s Brad Meadows and Nate Smith, Rock Hill’s Drew McClaskey, South Point’s Reed Murnahan, Fairland’s Nathan Campbell, all in Division V;

Coal Grove’s Isaiah Gunther (third team), Austen Pleasants, David Abrams, Austin Ruggles, all in Division VI;

Symmes Valley’s Tyler Dement (second team), Collin Webb (third team), Tanner Mays and Brandon Meadows, all in Division VII.

South Point upset Coal Grove 42-41 to give Travis Wise his first coaching career win.

South Point Pointers’ senior soccer standout Matt Krivan signed with Shawnee State.