CW Indians preparing to defend their OCC football title

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By Rick Palsgrove
Eastside Editor

Messenger file photo
Canal Winchester running back Stephan Byrd (42) carrying the ball last year in a game against Franklin Heights. “Stephan is one of the top running backs in Central Ohio if not the state,” said Canal Winchester Indians varsity head football coach Josh Stratton.

The Canal Winchester Indians varsity football team will begin the defense of its 2018 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division championship when it opens the season with a non-league game on Aug. 30 at home against Thomas Worthington.

The Indians finished last year’s regular season 9-1 overall and 5-0 in conference play.

“We have a ton of potential this year, but potential doesn’t mean squat if you don’t have consistent committed work,” said Canal Winchester Indians head football coach Josh Stratton. “Time will tell.”

Stratton said the Indians have several top players to watch.

“Jack Beeler is a three year starter at quarterback and he has had a great summer so far,” said Stratton. “Mike Wilson, Hunter Allen, and Chris Snyder will anchor a great defensive line as well as help up front on offense.”

Stephan Byrd is the team’s top returning rusher.

“Stephan is one of the top running backs in Central Ohio, if not the state,” said Stratton. “He will also play linebacker, too.”

Tyler Toledo is a three year letterman on both sides of the ball.

“Tyler’s a great cover guy on defense and an explosive offensive player,” said Stratton. “Kevin Prior is our returning All-OCC center and he is the leader of our offensive line. Blaine Riley will be at linebacker and he has big shoes to fill to graduating Darren Davis. Avery Musick is our returning All-OCC and District kicker. He is one of the top kickers in the state of Ohio. Avery will also play wide receiver for us.”

Elijah Bulluck is the other returning wide receiver.

“Eli will also play some corner for us as well,” said Stratton. “He is a big, strong, long player that can be a match up issue for some teams.”

Stratton said Dominic Davis is returning after a year off due to injury.

“He was a two way player as a sophomore,” said Stratton. “Very dynamic player.”

Logan Beckwith returns as free safety.

“He is the quarterback of our secondary,” said Stratton.”

Stratton said Jordan Crump will be the surprise of Central Ohio this year.
“He will play corner and slot back for us. I’m glad he’s on our team,” said Stratton.

Hunter King is the other returning starting on the offensive line.
He’s a tremendous leader of that unit,” said Stratton.

When asked who the strong teams are in the OCC Capital Division this year, Stratton said, “Every game in our league is an important game. In fact, every game on our schedule is important. In the state of Ohio there are no weeks off.”

Canal Winchester continues its neighborhood rivalry game with Groveport on Oct. 11 at Groveport Madison High School.

“I love our rivalry with the team in red and black,” said Stratton. “It’s healthy and competitive. It’s our number one goal every year.”

High school football in Ohio is rich in traditions and when asked if he had particular favorite tradition, Stratton said, “I don’t really have one. I love practice and how we practice.”

See the Canal Winchester Indians’ 2019 varsity football schedule below:

7 p.m. Aug. 30………Thomas Worthington
7 p.m. Sept. 6…………..at Olentangy Berlin
7 p.m. Sept. 13……………………Teays Valley
7 p.m. Sept. 20…………at Westerville North
7 p.m. Sept. 27……………………..Grove City
7 p.m. Oct. 4……………………….New Albany
7 p.m. Oct. 11………at Groveport Madison
7 p.m. Oct. 18……………at Franklin Heights
7 p.m. Oct. 25………………………….Newark
7 p.m. Nov. 1…………………….at Big Walnut

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