By Josh Brown
MIAMI COUNTY — Winning a regular season poll championship takes special players and coaches.
Which is exactly what Covington had.
The Buccaneers swept the top honors in Division VII Wednesday when the All-Southwest District awards were announced. Quarterback Nathan Blei was named Offensive Player of the Year, linebacker Deron White was named Defensive Player of the Year and first-year coach Tyler Cates was named Coach of the Year as Covington put five players onto the all-district list.
Seniors Blei and White were named to the All-Southwest District first team, as were senior offensive lineman Seth Thomas and senior defensive back Branden Robinson. Lance Miller also earned honorable mention.
The Buccaneers went 10-0 during the regular season and won an outright Cross County Conference championship, spending the later part of the season as the top-ranked team in the state in the D-VII poll — and retaining that No. 1 spot in the year’s final poll heading into the postseason. After a rout of Hillcrest Academy in the opening round of the playoffs, the Buccs’ season was ended by defending state champion Fort Recovery.
Troy Christian, which finished the season ranked No. 5 in the final D-VII state poll and hosted a playoff game for the first time, had the most All-Southwest District selections of any Miami County team with eight players, including five first team selections. Quarterback Hayden Hartman, running back Jacob Calvert, wide receiver Jacob Brown, offensive lineman Seth Douglas and linebacker Caleb Salazar — all seniors — were named first team, and Peyton Forrer, Peyton Spurlock and David Blake all earned honorable mention.
Lehman also had a trio of All-Southwest District players. Junior linebacker Brandon Barhorst and sophomore kicker Michael Denning were named to the first team, and Owen Smith earned honorable mention.
For Bradford, junior offensive lineman Josh Phillips was named first team and Hunter Penkal earned honorable mention.
* Division III
The Tippecanoe Red Devils enjoyed a successful first season in the Greater Western Ohio Conference and were second away from upsetting the No. 1-seeded team in the D-III, Region 12 playoffs, falling 41-40 to Franklin.
Wednesday, the Devils were honored with seven All-Southwest District selections.
Junior running back Cole Barhorst, junior kicker Caiden Smith, senior defensive back Cade Rogers and senior punter Aaron Hughes were all named to the second team, and Matt Garber, Austin Subler and Quenten Williams each earned honorable mention.
The Piqua Indians, which narrowly missed the postseason, also had five all-district selections. Senior offensive lineman Nate Monnin and senior defensive lineman Tristen Cox were both named first team, and senior running back Allen Schrubb, senior defensive back Dylan Cole and junior linebacker Ben Schmiesing all were named second team.
* Division V
Milton-Union won its first postseason game since 2012 this season, and on Wednesday three Bulldogs were named to the All-Southwest District team.
Senior defensive lineman Keaton Lucous and senior defensive back Krue Thwaits were both named first team, while junior defensive lineman Tyler Courtright was named second team.
* Division VI
Miami East made its fifth straight trip to the postseason — and the Vikings had five players selected to the All-Southwest District team.
Senior running back Arron Adams and senior defensive lineman Gunnar Gearhart were both named to the first team. Senior linebacker Levi Adducchio and senior kicker Colton Kowalak were both named to the second team, and Omar Seleme earned honorable mention.
The Bethel Bees, who narrowly missed out on a trip to the playoffs, had three all-district selections. Senior linebacker Ian Anderson, senior defensive back Nate Rimkus and junior offensive lineman Hunter Shelley all were named to the first team.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.