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River High School

Flannery Eyeing Another Playoff Run for Pilots

HANNIBAL — River High veteran coach Mike Flannery has his eye toward another Pilots’ post-season run for the 2022 version, which kicks off Thursday when he takes his 41-man roster downstream against Division III Marietta.

Entering his 20th season at the Hannibal school campus, after previous stops at Paden City and Flagler Palm Coast (FL), the former record-setting quarterback at West Liberty University has 16 lettermen back and an experienced line from an 8-5 squad which reached the third round of the OHSAA Region 27 tournament.

“We’re looking forward to playing (at Don Drumm Stadium) for our opener, plus we have six home games,” said Flannery, who was QB for his father Martin Flannery’s 10-0 team which became the OVAC’s first Regional champ 50 years ago in the OHSAA’s inaugural season for playoffs.

Flannery’s 10th playoff trip with the Rivermen last fall included wins over county rival Monroe Central (49-6) and at previously-unbeaten Berne Union (53-21), before the Pilots fell 43-28 to Shadyside in a D7 regional semifinal.

As much as the RHS mentor is excited about his club fortunes, he’s aware a few of his three-sport standouts had major surgeries and are hopeful to return before the regular season concludes.

Standout two-way senior lineman Marshall Bier (5-10, 285), an all-District tackle, and another line vet, two-year letterman Mason Randall (6-0, 190) are working their way back, as is versatile senior Brody Lollathin (5-11, 180), who had 14 TDs a year ago as a receiver (39 catches, 710 yds) and rusher (55 totes, 389 yds). “(Brody’s) a gamer who earned several post-season awards and I can’t wait to get him back on the field.”

A welcome return goes to three-sport standout Ty Long (6-2, 195), who missed all of last season with a fracture but is penned in as one of River’s running backs and a critical linebacker slot.

“(Ty) did everything right to get healed up so he could return and play basketball, but he’ll be a big part of what we do offensively.”

A pair of seniors ready to see duty on both sides of the ball are big target River Thompson (6-4, 195) and Clee Mitchell (5-9, 140). Flannery likes what Thompson can do as he had 49 catches a year ago, while Mitchell’s speed adds to what should be an outstanding receiving corps.

Travis Childress (6-0, 260) returns to the O-line, along with Brayden Strawn (5-9, 200) and newcomer Chattum Lively (5-11, 190). Rounding out the seniors is placekicker Max Castro (5-9, 170), an exchange student from Mexico.

A 15-man junior class is led by returning QB Kabel Isaly (5-10, 160), a second-team all-Ohio talent who threw for 2,003 yards (139-for-215) and 24 TDs, while he ran for 213 (4 TDs).

“There are a lot of expectations on (Kabel), but we don’t put any pressure on him,” added Flannery. ” He has a certain persona about him and shows poise and calmness.”

A trio of junior lettermen eying touches in the backfield or at receiver are Talon Ady (5-10, 170), Colton Cisar (6-0, 160) and Noah Ruble (6-3, 180).

Slated as part of the running game are solid veteran Kaden Johnson (5-10, 230) and Finn Bowers (6-0, 205), while both figure to handle linebacker duties.

An offensive line returnee is standout Cooper Cordery (5-10, 250), while Pilots in the trenches looking to fill roles are Zeke Zola (5-8, 250), Matt Gregg (6-0, 230), whom Flannery said, “had a really good summer during workouts,” and Dominic Asturi (5-10, 190).

Hunter Nething (5-10, 240) is a backfield/linebacker candidate, while Chase Hoskins (5-10, 185) can fill in on either side of the line. Maddox Mozena (6-1, 175) returns to as a receiver/d-back, while Devin McElwain (5-11, 150) is a wideout/linebacker. Kaleb Headley (5-7, 130) is a receiver/defensive back.

The sophomore class returns two projected starters, including center Peyton Blue (6-0, 250), whom Flannery said, “wears the center medal well and is very athletic,” as evidenced by his MVP honors a few weeks ago at a PBR baseball clinic at Ohio State.

Lucas Dennis (5-9, 150) should be in the Pilots’ run game mix and returns at cornerback, while two-way line candidates are Derek Smith (6-4, 285) and Blake Devier (5-8, 280). Jackson Dietrich (5-5, 130) and Caden Conner (5-4, 120) are defensive back hopefuls.

River’s freshman class numbers 10, including a pair of quarterbacks Flannery hopes to groom in Wyatt Majors (5-7, 140) and Aiden Milhoan (5-7, 135). A trio of running backs are Brody Mozena (6-0, 150), Trail Thompson (5-9, 152), and Braden Johnson (5-7, 150).

Wide receivers are Hunter Strawn (5-9, 140) and Everett Edgell (5-8, 110), while good size among the linemen has Carter Piatt (5-5, 190), Brody Stewart (5-9, 177) and Brayden Schmidt (6-0, 160).

“We have some interchangeable pieces at running back and receiver,” said Flannery, who noted most of his team plays three sports.

Graduation stripped River of a trio of OVAC and BACF All-Star game performers in twins Austin Creamer and Avery Creamer, who totaled 23 TDs, rushed for 1,583 more, and stood out as linebackers the past three seasons. Another departure was OVAC All-Star Brody Longwell, who had 29 catches for 505 yards and 8 TDs. Also gone is reliable placekicker Zack Hocutt (47 PATs, 1 FG), Chase Siburt and Kylie Miller.

River’s early slate has a Week 2 road trip to first-time foe Trimble, a visit to Monroe Central, before a second Thursday game Week 4, hosting Magnolia on Hall of Fame night. Also new is home tests versus Shenandoah and Philip-Barbour WV.

Pilots’ assistant coaches are Terry Snively, Matt Abbott, Tyler Abbott, Joe Asturi, Eric James, Kyle Ritz, Chase Lawrence, Chris Wisvari, Kevin Welsh, Andrew Harper and Tim Tisher.