By Josh Brown
MIAMI COUNTY — During Troy Moore’s tenure on the Troy boys golf team, the Trojans have been very successful.
During his senior year, how the team fares will largely be on his shoulders — and expectations are still high.
The Trojans return only two golfers from last year’s Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division runner-up squad, but with a talented freshman and a number of inexperienced upperclassmen filling out the ranks, Troy is expecting to once again be competing for the top spot in the division.
“We were second in the North last year, and we were third at the sectional. In my two years as coach so far, we’ve qualified for district both years,” Troy boys golf coach Mark Evilsizor said. “In Troy Moore’s three years on the team, we’ve won the North twice and were runner-up once. So yeah, the expectations are high for this season, too.”
Moore is back for his senior year and will be looked at to provide leadership, while sophomore Nate Uhlenbrock is the only other returning varsity player from a year ago after the graduation of Dalton Cascaden, Grant Kasler and Matt Monnin and one other departure.
“Troy will be our No. 1,” Evilsizor said. “He’s played a lot of tournament golf. He’s a good leader, and he’s definitely going to be the leader of the team. This is his group, and I expect real big things for him. And Nate got the chance to play a full year of varsity golf as a freshman, and we expect him to step up his game this year.
“Right before tryouts, Peyton Wheat moved back to Oakwood. That was a big blow, but it also allows other kids to come in and step up.”
After that, the varsity experience gets thin — but the talent is still there.
“I wouldn’t say we’re a young team, as a lot of our kids are juniors and seniors. We’re just inexperienced,” Evilsizor said. “Most of the guys are going to need to learn on the run, but if they just focus on playing their games, things will work out.”
One big addition to the team will be freshman Holden Scribner, who posted the team’s best qualifying score in the preseason.
“Holden has a lot of skill,” Evilsizor said. “He’s been playing tournament golf for years. We’ve known he was going to be a good golfer for years, and now he gets to play at the varsity level. I expect him to play real well for us. The biggest thing for him will be pacing himself — not getting too high or too low at times, just keeping a nice, steady pace.”
Also joining the team will be senior Tyler Lambert and juniors Ryan McClurg and Keaton Pfeiffer. Four other players — seniors Alex Gigandet and Luke Schroeder and juniors Austin Rank and Jack Johnston — could rotate in at times, as well.
“Tyler has played football up to now and is a baseball player, too, so he’s an athlete. This year, he decided it’d be better to play golf,” Evilsizor said. “He’s a good athlete and a competitor. And Ryan and Keaton both started with me as freshmen. They’ve been in the program since I’ve been coach, and they’ve done a nice job of steadily improving their games.”
When it comes to the GWOC North, the Trojans will be facing off against a very familiar adversary.
“Butler will be the team to beat again, I think,” Evilsizor said. “They have a new coach this year, but they’ve got a state-level golfer back and at least four extremely solid golfers. They’ll be our top competition. The league is going to come down to Butler and us again.
“We’ve got them at home this year, and the last couple years the team that has had the home match between us has won the division. So hopefully that pattern continues,” he said with a chuckle.
Troy will actually get two early looks at Butler today, hosting the Aviators and Northmont at Miami Shores before Friday’s preseason GWOC tournament at Beechwood.
“This is a group that expects to win and do well,” Evilsizor said. “We’re not going to use our inexperience as an excuse. It’s just a matter of being smart on the golf course and playing to our strengths. If we can do that, then, no matter the inexperience, we’ll do well.”
* Miami East
The Miami East Vikings were a juggernaut last season, going 22-1, winning the Cross County Conference and coming a couple unfortunate postseason occurrences shy of a potential state run. And with the graduation of only one player, the Vikings expect more of the same.
Ryan Bergman was the lone graduate from last year’s team as Miami East welcomes back a ton of talent and experience. Seniors Scot Kirby, Kley Karadak and Devyn Carson and juniors Dylan Martinez and Walker Henley will look to lead the team to the highest level.
“We expect to win the CCC, set more records and have a potential run at state,” Miami East coach Terry Henley said. “Last year, the injury of a key player at sectional and a ruling on my senior’s lost ball during district play halted our opportunity last year.”
The Newton Indians have a pair of veterans to lean on this year — including the top individual golfer in the Cross County Conference last season — and a quartet of freshmen looking to help lead the team to the top of the league.
Brock Jamison returns to lead the way after being named the CCC Golfer of the Year last season, and fellow upperclassman Wade Ferrell will provide veteran leadership after a number of graduations from the team.
“Brock finished the Golfer of the Year in the CCC last year and Wade finished in the top 15, both in their junior years,” Newton coach Randall Jamison said. “We have a great all-around class that will compete in every match. Four freshmen have made the team and will have a key role in our success, along with our returning players from last year.”
Milton-Union graduated its top two golfers from last year, but Bulldogs coach Brett Barnes thinks that, with work in the lower part of the lineup, the team can compete near the top of the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division.
Junior Parker Puthoff, who was No. 3 last year, should lead the team this season, with senior Grayson Galentine, junior Connor Staley and sophomore Hayden Davidson among those in the lead in the competition for the other varsity spots.
“Parker played the third position last year and will replace Joey Smedley as this year’s No. 1,” Barnes said. “The rest of the squad overall is young and battling for position. Grayson has the potential to be in the top six, as does Connor and Hayden.
“The season outlook will depend on how two-through-six improve throughout the year. We believe we can be an upper-level team in the Buckeye Division of the SWBL.”
Covington will rely heavily on its top two returning golfers this season, but how much success the Buccaneers have as a whole will depend on how the rest of the lineup grows and improves as the year progresses.
Senior Levi Winn returns after an All-Cross County Conference season, and he and sophomore Andrew Slusher should provide the top two scores for the Buccs, who finished tied for second in the CCC last year and were the sectional runners-up. Also returning is senior James Grilliot, with he and junior Derek McCool, sophomores Ryan Gengler and Braden Miller and freshmen Hunter Alexander and Jack Shell competing for spots three-through-six.
“We will be a mixture of experienced and inexperienced golfers this season,” Covington coach Bill Wise said. “Winn and Slusher should be solid each match, but we will need some of the other golfers to step up and provide a couple of good scores.
“If my top two golfers play well each match, we should be competitive in the league. Our goals this season are to place in the top three at league and qualify for districts as a team.”
* Troy Christian
First-year coach Curt Gillespie takes over a Troy Christian program this year that graduated a host of players from last year’s team and will be looking to improve from day to day in the Metro Buckeye Conference.
Senior Robbie Lybarger is the lone upperclassman on the team, with sophomores Kyle Ward and Ben Schenk returning from last year’s team. Freshmen Andrew Newcomer, Quinn Lockhart, Sean Burr, Ethan Bonham and Joe Hall will round out the roster.
“We’ve got eight kids — five freshmen, two sophomores and one senior,” Gillespie said. “Robbie’s got a good game, so he won’t just be leaned on for experience. Kyle’s got a strong game, too, as he putts well and has hit some bombs in practice.
“Looking at last year’s records, we expect Dayton Christian and Miami Valley to be pretty strong. But more than anything, I want the guys to continue to play the game of golf. I think every coach’s goal is for their players to be better at the end of the year than the beginning, to be honest. As long as we see the team get better, that’s always what we want most.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.