GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — It’s back … and Point Pleasant pretty much owned it.
After a six-year absence, Ohio Valley Publishing is glad to welcome back a former area tradition with the announcement of the 2015 OVP Super 25 Football Team.
Only players on programs within Gallia, Mason and Meigs counties were eligible for consideration, and the selections were made by the three full-time sports writers at our trio of local daily publications — The Daily Sentinel, Gallipolis Daily Tribune and Point Pleasant Register.
The selection process was based on overall contributions to each individual’s’s team — whether it be on offense, defense or special teams — and how those efforts impacted outcomes on Friday night. This area “all-star” squad was also assembled to reward and acknowledge some of our finest local athletes for another memorable season of high school football.
There were 11 offensive players and 11 defensive players chosen, as well as three all-purpose choices for players that just did a little bit of everything well. A player of the year was chosen on each of side of the ball and a coach of the year was also honored by OVP.
In all, the overall goal for the selection committee was to come away with the tri-county’s 25 best football players. There were also several very good football players who did not make this list, though all were given consideration.
We’ll start this list, however, by announcing that ninth-year Point coach Dave Darst and fifth-year River Valley coach Jerrod Sparling shared OVP Super 25 Coach of the Year honors. Darst guided PPHS to its eighth consecutive postseason, while Sparling led the Raiders to their first playoff berth in the school’s 24 years of existence.
Three area teams — PPHS, RVHS and South Gallia — enjoyed playoff berths this past fall, but nobody enjoyed the 2015 campaign more than the Big Blacks.
Point Pleasant amassed 730 points, 5,009 rushing yards and 6,594 all-purpose yards in 13 games, which led to a 12-1 overall mark and the program’s third-ever state semifinal appearance. The Big Blacks also fell to eventual Class AAA state champion Wheeling Park (35-14) in their lone setback.
Point Pleasant led the OVP area with 10 overall selections, which included nine players to go along with Coach Darst. A third of those young men were also honored with player of the year honors.
Senior Cody Mitchell was the only unanimous choice for the three special awards, but the future Marshall player came away with the Offensive POY honor after coming up a mere 271 yards short of two miles this season in all-purpose yardage.
Mitchell amassed 3,249 total yards and 51 touchdowns during his final campaign, which included 2,332 yards and 42 scores on 178 rushing attempts. Mitchell also led PPHS in receiving with 15 catches for 213 yards and four scores.
Other Point Pleasant players joining Mitchell as offensive selections to the OVP Super 25 squad were junior running back Grant Safford (156 carries-1,584 yards-21 touchdowns), junior lineman Seth Stewart and senior lineman Alec Stanley.
PPHS senior teammates Tannor Hill and Cody McDaniel, a lineman and linebacker respectively, shared Defensive Player of the Year honors after each played integral parts in the Big Blacks’ smothering scheme.
Hill finished the season with 69 tackles, including 16.5 for loss, while also recording 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and blocking a pair of kicks. McDaniel led the Big Blacks with 145 tackles, including 2.5 for loss, and also recorded three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and forced one fumble.
The Big Blacks also landed senior lineman Dakota Swann (56 tackles-4 sacks), senior linebacker John Sommer (106-5) and senior defensive back Garrett Litchfield (95-2 INT).
Meigs and RVHS finished with four selections apiece, but the Marauders trailed only PPHS in the number of players chosen to the squad following a 6-4 campaign. MHS landed two offensive selections, one all-purpose choice and one defensive honoree.
Junior Cody Bartrum was chosen as the quarterback after the D-4 Southeast District POY went 157-of-267 passing for 2,206 yards and 17 touchdowns. Senior wideout Colton Lilly earned a spot as Bartrum’s top target, posting season totals of 809 yards and eight TDs on 52 catches.
Senior Kaileb Sheets was an all-purpose choice after amassing 665 rushing yards and six scores on 101 carries to go along with 720 yards and six scores on 56 catches. Senior lineman Colton Atkinson was a defensive selection after notching 69 tackles, including 14 for loss, while also recording 2.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.
The Raiders — who went 7-4 while posting their first winning season since 2003 — landed senior wideout Kirk Morrow on the offensive team, while senior linebackers Mark Wray and Justin Arrowood were chosen to the defensive side of the ball.
Arrowood led RVHS with 105 tackles and also recorded two sacks, while Morrow led the receivers with 829 yards and 10 touchdowns on 48 catches. Wray — who went 17-of-23 in PATs while also booting three field goals of 30-plus yards — recorded 93 tackles to go along with an interception.
The Rebels — who went 6-5 after being eliminated by AP Poll champion Danville in the D-7 playoffs — joined RVHS with three players on the OVP Super 25 squad. Senior Isaiah Geiger was named a running back on the offensive team, while senior Landon Hutchinson and junior Johnny Sheets were respectively chosen as a cornerback and a lineman for the defensive unit.
Geiger rushed for 1,260 yards and 11 touchdowns on 113 carries, while Hutchinson made 33 tackles and came away with two interceptions. Sheets finished the season with 28 tackles, including 10 for loss, to go along with four sacks and a fumble recovery.
Southern and Wahama were next with two selections apiece after each program posted identical 4-6 marks. Eastern (2-8) and Gallia Academy (1-9) rounded out the selection with a pick apiece, while Hannan (0-8) did not have a player make the OVP Super 25 team.
The Tornadoes were represented by senior Joe Beegle on the offensive line and also by senior defensive back Tommy Ramthun, who finished the season with 52 tackles and two interceptions.
The White Falcons landed senior Jesse Hesson on the offensive line, while senior Jared Nutter was chosen as an all-purpose player. Nutter rushed for 540 yards and 15 scores on 108 carries while also adding 519 receiving yards and three TDs on 46 grabs.
EHS senior Ross Keller rounded out the offensive team as a lineman, while Blue Devil senior Kole Carter was the final all-purpose choice after amassing 931 passing yards, 899 rushing yards, 94 tackles (12 TFL) and 21 total touchdowns.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.
2015 OVP Super 25 Football Team
QB: Cody Bartrum (MHS)
RB: Cody Mitchell (PP), Grant Safford (PP), Isaiah Geiger (SG)
WR: Kirk Morrow (RV), Colton Lilly (MHS)
OL: Seth Stewart (PP), Alec Stanley (PP), Ross Keller (EHS), Joe Beegle (SHS), Jesse Hesson (WHS)
DL: Tannor Hill (PP), Dakota Swann (PP), Colton Atkinson (MHS), Johnny Sheets (SG)
LB: Cody McDaniel (PP), John Sommer (PP), Justin Arrowood (RV), Mark Wray (RV)
DB: Garrett Litchfield (PP), Landon Hutchinson (SG), Tommy Ramthun (SHS)
Kole Carter (GA), Jared Nutter (WAH), Kaileb Sheets (MHS)
Offensive Player of the Year
Cody Mitchell (PP)
Co-Defensive Players of the Year
Tannor Hill (PP) and Cody McDaniel (PP)
Co-Coaches of the Year
Dave Darst (PP) and Jerrod Sparling (RV)