by Mark Schmetzer, Enquirer Contributor
St. Xavier edged out Moeller for last year's Division I district golf championship in a tiebreaker.
Coach Rick Bohne's Crusaders got the last laugh by bouncing back to win Moeller's first state golf championship.
Bohne has just two of last year's top five players returning in seniors Jake Fox and Michael O'Brien, which makes inexperience a concern.
"We have some talent, but we lack overall experience and depth," Bohne said. "Hopefully, our regular-season schedule will help prepare us for the postseason."
Moeller is hoping senior Aidan Brown, last year's sixth man, and junior Nick Benza, the No. 7 player, will step up to fill two open slots in the starting lineup. Bombers coach Alex Kepley has different issues. He has nine of St. Xavier's top 10 players back from last year's team, including four seniors - Kirran Magowan, Domenic and Paul Maricocchi and Ben Wright.
While Bohne is counting on the schedule to toughen up his Crusaders, Kepley suggests that in-house competition will prove invaluable to St. Xavier.
"It will internally be a very competitive year with this many strong returning players," Kepley said.
Kepley and Bohne both identify Elder as one of the teams that could challenge in Division I.
"This team is determined to advance further than last year's seventh-place district finish," Panthers' coach Matthew Robben said.
McNicholas coach Justin Lenczicki has all five starters back from the team that won the Division II district championship and finished sixth in the state, led by juniors Chris Dunne and Ty DeBonis.
"This will be a big year for this team," Lenczicki said.
The Rockets could be challenged by a Fenwick team led by junior Miles Jena.
Tiebreaking procedures cost Cincinnati Christian its first trip to the Division III district tournament last season, but Cougars' coach Scott Osborne has all five starters back, led by individual district qualifiers Brady Roberts and Owen Hallbach. Robert became the first player in school history to qualify for the state tournament.
"We will know pretty early in the season how we stack up against some of the best teams in Division III," Osborne said.
One of them is Seven Hills, which welcomes back junior and sectional medalist Jack Lane from the team that finished 10th in the state.
"The biggest obstacle for the team will be living up the high expectations going into the upcoming season, along with playing in a competitive league," Stingers coach Doug Huff said.
New Madeira coach Jeff Evans has three golfers back, including seniors Connor Hjelm and Zach Evans, from the team that tied Indian Hill for the Cincinnati Hills League regular-season championship and finished second to Wyoming in the CHL tournament.
Coach Greg Faulhaber has junior Hunter Folan and sophomores John Pettengil, Thomas MacTaggart and Jack Gardner returning to a youthful Cincinnati Country Day team that shook off a rough regular season and qualified for the district tournament, where the Indians finished fourth out of 12 team.
"This positive postseason experience should bode well for them throughout the fall," Faulhaber said.
Players to watch
Jake Fox, Moeller, Senior - Last year's Enquirer Division I co-Player of the Year, Fox helped the Crusaders win their first state championship.
Joey McCarthy, St. Xavier, Junior - Helped the Bombers win the district tournament in a tiebreaker with Moeller and led them in scoring at the state tournament.
Chris Dunne, McNicholas, Junior - Led the Rockets to the Division II district championship and in scoring at the state tournament on his way to being named the Enquirer's Division II Player of the Year.
Connor Hjelm, Madeira, Senior - Named a first-team all-star by the Enquirer on its Division II team and by the Cincinnati Hills League after finishing second to Mariemont senior Will Grimmer in the league tournament.
Brady Roberts, Cincinnati Christian, Junior - Became the first Cougars golfer to qualify for the state tournament, where he finished in a three-way tie for third.
Season starts: Thursday.
Sectionals: Division III, Sept. 29, Indian Springs-Walden Pond; Division II, Sept. 30, Pipestone, Miamisburg, Oct. 1, Sharon Woods; Division I, Oct. 6, Glenview, Oct. 7, Miami Whitewater and Beavercreek Golf Club.
Districts: Divisions II-III, Oct. 8, Weatherwax; Division I, Oct. 15, Weatherwax.
State: Division II, Oct. 16-17, North Star, Sunbury; Division III, Oct. 16-17, Ohio State University Scarlet Course; Division I, Oct. 23-24, OSU Scarlet. [Read More]