High-SchoolOhio: ESPNHS Magazine

The future is bright for Moeller baseball

April, 5, 2012
This story originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of ESPNHS Ohio.

By now you’ve probably seen our preseason POWERADE FAB 50 and wondered to yourself, “Where’s Moeller?” This year marked the first time the Crusaders failed to crack the top 50 rankings since the 2009 poll was released.

“With who we graduated last year, we’re not as high as usual, and that’s fair,” says Moeller skipper Tim Held. “But this team isn’t a year away. I think we’re ready now.”

While Division I favorite Vandalia-Butler and preseason No. 42 Lakota East feature veteran lineups and clear-cut aces, Moeller’s optimism stems from its emerging young stars Cameron Whitehead and Zach Shannon. Whitehead, a junior C/1B, has the potential to be an All-State-caliber player this spring, while Shannon, a sophomore 1B/RHP, is ready to make a splash with the five-time state champs after starring on the freshman squad last spring.

Graduation may have gutted this squad, but it could be the proverbial team no one wants to see come playoff time.

“All the pieces are there,” says Held. “It’s going to be a good product.”

Senior Ty Amann is the old head on the roster and will complement the youth movement with the experience he gained during the team’s 2009 championship run. He hit a shade over .400 last spring and was 15-of-15 on stolen bases.

The Crusaders don’t feature a hard-throwing hurler but go five deep in a rotation anchored by seniors Brian Burkhart and Phillip Diehl and southpaw John Tanner.

“We might not have a clear No. 1 guy, but I have five guys I can roll out any day, in any inning,” Held says.

As is often the case with a young, unproven roster, there are likely to be some growing pains early in the season. But with the program’s rich pedigree combined with its blossoming stars, don’t expect the Crusaders to be absent from the national spotlight for long.

David Auguste covers high school sports for ESPNHS. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ESPNHS_Auguste or email him at David.Auguste@espn.com.

Taft hoops ready to make the leap to Division II play

November, 29, 2011
This story originally appeared in the Holiday issue of ESPNHS magazine’s Ohio edition.

If you missed the ESPN 30 for 30 “Guru of Go,” don’t sweat it — Taft will be performing a re-enactment of Loyola Marymount’s run-and-shoot attack all over the country this winter.

“It’s like organized chaos,” says head coach Mark Mitchell. “Every three to eight seconds, there’s going to be a shot that goes up. We play both offense and defense fast.”

That exhilarating style of play had scoreboard operators working overtime and produced the first title (Taft won the D-III crown) in any sport for a school trying to debunk the myth that nothing good happens in that part of Cincinnati.

“The title was significant for us being an inner-city school,” says Martin. “It was a galvanizing moment. It proved good things can come to the inner city.”

With four starters back this winter, there may be even more good news on the horizon for the Taft community.

Running the show is 5-foot-8 senior guard Orlando Berry (15 points, nine assists last year), while classmate Jaelean Lowe, who averaged 12 points a game, is deadly from beyond the arc. Senior Adolphus Washington, an Ohio State football recruit, also brings plenty of talent to the hardwood. He tallied a team-high 18 points in the state final and averaged 18 points and 15 boards a game on the season.

Seniors Dwayne Stanford II, who will play football at Oregon, and Jamaine Freeman are athletic, intelligent players, while senior transfer Jabari Watkins brings lockdown defense to the squad. Things will get tougher for Taft after a move up to D-II play, but Mitchell is confident his team will be up to the challenge.

“You can’t rest on what you’ve done if you want to continue greatness,” he says. “Anyone can win one. Now win two and that puts you in good company."

David Auguste is an associate editor for ESPNHS and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @ESPNHSAuguste or email him at David.Auguste@espn.com.