BARNESVILLE — Winning breeds excitement.
That’s what is happening in western Belmont County as Barnesville is coming off of a fine 6-3 COVID-shortened season which ended in a loss to Fort Frye in the Division V, Region 23 semifinals. That, coupled with the Shamrocks run to the D-III state baseball semifinals, has the tiny community abuzz and the football roster growing.
“The numbers have been going up every year that I’ve been here, which is a good thing,” head coach Blake Allen, who is in his fifth season, said. “We’re trying to build a program here. We’ve also got good junior high numbers.
“I think there might be a carryover factor as we’re coming off a really good season. We’ve got some kids that have come out that might’ve played when they were younger and took a couple of years off, but that’s all right. We tell the kids that football is more than just learning the game. It teaches you so many life lessons.
“We made it to the regional semifinals, so that meant we were one of the final four teams in our region,” Allen said. “We feel like we can build on that. We were kind of knocking on the door, doing special things and the baseball team had a magical run that a lot of people were excited about.
“There’s a lot of excitement around the town.”
A lot of that success — in both sports — was due to a talented group of seniors.
The class included Jake Boulet, A.J. Detling, Ayden Hannahs, Gage Hannahs, Justin Jackson, Connor Johnson, Jacob Starr, Isaac Thompson and Cameron Woods.
Coach Blake Allen discusses the upcoming campaign
Ayden Hannahs passed for 932 yards and 10 touchdowns while only being picked off twice. He was 54-for-84. Gage Hannahs, meanwhile, ran 124 times for 751 yards and scored six rushing touchdowns.
“There were a lot of those kids that played as freshmen and got a lot of experience. They had a great year last season and great careers. We probably lost seven or eight starters on each side of the ball from that class, but we’ve got a big senior class returning. Some of them didn’t start the last couple of years because they were behind the seniors, but they’ve been around the program and it’s their time to shine.”
The Shamrocks return 14 letterwinners, including senior two-way lineman Gavin Carpenter (5-8, 255) who has earned three letters so far. Senior wide receiver/defensive back Spencer Bliss (5-9, 155) is one of five two-year veterans, along with senior running back/defensive back Owyn Wise (5-10, 165); senior wide receiver/linebacker Chase Conner (6-0, 170); senior running back/linebacker Connor Jones (5-10, 200); and two-way senior lineman Jadyn Lucas (6-0, 300).
Bliss landed 21 receptions for 314 yards and six TDs.
Other returning lettermen include senior offensive lineman/linebacker Austin Mayhugh (5-8, 205); senior offensive lineman/linebacker Logan Shepherd (5-8, 235); senior two-way lineman Orion Smith (6-2, 185); senior two-way lineman Avery Clouse (6-0, 240); senior two-way lineman Arick Clark (6-2, 240); senior tight end/linebacker Ethan Spangenburg (6-0, 225); junior quarterback/defensive back C.J. Hannahs (5-8, 145); junior offensive lineman/linebacker (5-7, 160); and junior two-way lineman Quentin Leasure (5-11, 330).
Rounding out the roster is senior tight end/linebacker Kevan Johnson (6-1, 190); junior tight end/linebacker Jordon Smith (5-11, 145); junior wide receiver/defensive back Corbin Wise (5-11, 170); junior two-way lineman Hunter Phillips (5-0, 115); and junior wide receiver/defensive back Bryce Castle (5-9, 155); and sophomore wide receiver/linebacker Taison Starr (5-8, 160); sophomore running back/linebacker Elye Wise (5-8, 165); sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Jason Castello (5-7, 135); sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Luke Detling (5-6, 130); sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Aydon VanHorn (6-0, 155); sophomore running back/linebacker Karson Milhoan (5-6, 140); sophomore running back/linebacker Jaxon Wiley (5-6, 145); sophomore running back/linebacker Hayden Jurco (5-8, 115); sophomore two-way lineman Hank Johnson (5-9, 195); sophomore two-way lineman Jacob Smith (5-9, 200) and sophomore two-way lineman Chase Riley (5-11, 280). Shepherd, Johnson, and C.J. Hannahs were also members of the baseball squad.
The Shamrocks do have an impressive 20-member freshman class that has a couple of players that will see varsity time.
That group is led by tight end/defensive end Luke Taylor (6-1, 190) and running back/linebacker Salvador Almaraz (5-11, 240). Others are wide receiver/defensive back Ayden King (5-10, 150); wide receiver/defensive back Eli Messenger (5-8, 130); running back/defensive back Bode Carpenter (5-2, 115); wide receiver/defensive back Aden Zumock (5-4, 100); quarterback/linebacker Casey Carpenter (5-9, 160); tight end/linebacker Seth Yost (5-11, 140); placekicker/punter Evan Lough (6-1, 140); wide receiver/defensive back Connor Wilson (5-3, 110); wide receiver/defensive back Bradey McIntire (5-10, 150); running back/linebacker Camden Carpenter (5-8, 145); two-way linemen Marshall Meade (5-11, 210); Luke Castello (5-6, 180); Montgomery Evans (5-9, 220); Braden Butler (5-9, 220); Blake Kirk (5-9, 220); Isayah Green (5-8, 190); Landon Lucas (5-8, 380); and tight end/linebacker Karter Kaplet (5-6, 150).
Offensively, the line will be the strength for the Shamrocks as three starters return in Gavin Carpenter, Jadyn Lucas and Quentin Leasure who have all played and started.
“We feel good about our line.”
Shepherd is the center, with Carpenter at one guard. Lucas and Leasure are the tackles. Clouse and Mayhugh are both competing for the other guard spot.
C.J. Hannahs will move under center. He did see some action last season when Ayden Hannahs was banged up.
Chase Connor, if needed, can move in from wide receiver to play quarterback.
Casey Carpenter is another backup, as is Van Horn.
Connor Jones will be the fullback with Owyn Wise also in the backfield mix. Elye Wise and Almaraz will also see playing time.
Bliss will be counted upon to make huge contributions like Gage Hannahs did last year.
Allen is expecting big things from Chase Connor who has moved from tight end to the wideout position. Allen is also expecting contributions from Luke Detling, Starr and Jason Castello.
Spangenburg will man the tight end slot. Taylor will see a lot of time, as well.
Defensively, the Shamrocks will lineup in their traditional 40 front.
Gavin Carpenter and Jadyn Lucas will man the tackles, while Jones and Conner will play at linebacker. Orion Smith is one end with Shepherd, Clouse and Taylor all competing for the other.
In addition to Jones at middle linebacker, Spangenburg, Elye Wise and Mayhugh are battling for the other spot.
Bliss and Owyn Wise are the corners, with Hannahs at one safety. There are several others competing for the other safety slot.
Gavin Carpenter returns as the kicker. Bliss will take over as the punter.
New to the schedule is Shadyside.
“That’s an old-school rival for us. I think we’ve played them more times than anyone else in our history,” Allen said. “I’m glad to have them back.”
Steubenville Catholic also returns after a few years off the schedule.
The Shamrocks open the season on Thursday against Buckeye Local.
“We know they’ve got size and big backs. They want to play a physical game,” Allen noted. “We know they want to come out and punch us in the mouth, so we’ve got to be ready to play.”
Only one newcomer to the staff in Devin Nicholes, who has previously served on the staff. Others are D.J. Butler, Bryce Allen, Dylan Rogers, Matt Johnson, Tony Starr and Chris Hannahs.