Countdown to Kickoff 2018: Nine returning players to watch this HS Football season – 28 days until Week 1

Posted By on Aug 4, 2018 | 0 comments

Alex Brasky | @BataviasBestHS
Saturday, August 4, 2018 |


Taking a look back at the statistics from a season ago, there were a number of local athletes who recorded breakout campaigns on the gridiron. However, with graduation taking many of those who put up big numbers in 2017, only a few of those names remain as we look ahead to 2018.

With just 28 days to go until Week 1, I’ve compiled a list of nine players to watch for this upcoming HS Football season:




Ray Leach (Senior RB|Batavia)

Ray has been a stud for Batavia for the past three seasons, and is finally entering his senior campaign looking to lead the Blue Devils to their fourth Section V Title during his time in the blue and white. It was a down year for Leach in 2017, as the then junior RB recorded just 1,134 rushing yards and 15 TDs during an injury-plagued season which ended in the Class B Semifinals. I’m expecting the Batavia RB to bounce back with a massive statistical campaign in 2018.


Josh Barber (Junior LB|Batavia)

During his sophomore season Josh was one of the Blue Devils’ most-important defensive players, recording 59 solo tackles – the second-most in the local area. This year as a junior I expect Josh to take on an even larger role within the Batavia defense, while also serving as one of the team’s secondary ball carriers on offense. He is another important player for the Blue Devils in 2018 as they look to regain their championship form.


Chris McClinic (Senior RB|Alexander)

Chris’ 2017 season was one that will be remembered forever by Alexander Football fans. The Trojans’ RB recorded 1,900 rushing yards and 28 rushing TDs during a year which the team reached the Sectional Finals for the second-consective season (won title in 2016). I anticipate Alexander will make it back to the Section V Finals once again in 2018, and if they are to do so their efforts will depend heavily upon McClinic, who I expect will add to his incredible totals from last year.


Terrez Smith (Sophomore RB|Alexander)

Terrez was the thunder to teammate Chris McClinic’s lightning last season, providing Alexander with a one-two punch whose statistics rivaled that of any team in Section V. He will likely build on his over 900 yards rushing and 14 rushing TDs from a year ago which will help vault the Trojans’ offense to a new level as one of the most-talented units throughout the LCAA/GRAA and Section V.


Dylan Busch (Junior QB|Alexander) 

Rounding out what is certain to be an electrifying Alexander offense, Trojans’ signal-caller Dylan Busch is back for his junior season after serving as a complimentary threat to his team’s ferocious rushing attack in 2017. This year, although both of the Trojans’ running backs are also returning to the backfield, I anticipate the coaching staff will get Busch more-involved early during the regular season. The Trojans’ lack of an elite passing game hurt them during the postseason last year, and if Busch can take that step forward they will be extremely difficult to beat.


Bryce Yockel (Junior RB|Cal-Mum/Byron-Bergen)

Bryce burst onto the scene last year as the primary ball carrier for the Section V Champion Cal-Mum/Byron-Bergen Red Raiders and finished as one of the top-backs in all of the local area. He completed the season with 1,393 rushing yards and 14 rushing TDs – both marks which I expect him to improve upon during what will be his junior season.


Mason Compton (Senior RB|Attica)

Mason went under the radar as one of the top-ball carriers in the local area last season. Finishing the season with over 1,000 yards rushing and 12 rushing TDs in 2017, he will be the driving force for the Blue Devils’ – who will be forced to endure an extremely difficult regular season slate this year.


Matt McFarland (Senior QB|York/Pavilion)

Statistically speaking Matt was the top-pocket passer in the local area a season ago and is back to lead a York/Pavilion team who is hoping to get back on the winning track. The team is full of experienced veterans, and with McFarland’s leadership they should be able to become more competitive this season.


Sebastian Hackett (Senior RB|York/Pavilion)

Sebastian just missed the 1,000-yard mark last year, finishing with just over 940 yards rushing and 8 rushing TDs. He and his teammate, QB Matt McFarland, should compliment each other well this season as the Knights move forward under new leadership.




I’m sure many more names will make their presence known in the coming weeks and months. Perhaps I’ll update this list mid-season. Stay tuned.

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