XENIA — Xenia head football coach Maurice Harden was named Ohio’s Division II co-Coach of the Year by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association on Wednesday as it unveiled its all-state honors.
Upon learning the news of his award, he was simply left speechless.
“I’m extremely humbled and thankful for such an award,” Harden said. “It says a lot about our players, it says a lot about our coaches, our program and our parents and community.”
Finding himself in a rare situation as the leader of the Buccaneers, Harden said he was caught off guard and didn’t know what to think initially about being named coach of the year in the state. He certainly didn’t have that trouble during the course of the 2022 season in what was a memorable year for his squad.
Harden led Xenia to a 10-0 regular season, which the school is recognizing as the first occurrence in its football history, in addition to its second Miami Valley League title in four seasons. Xenia also made the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year and earned its highest seed in being No. 2 in Region 8.
”The level of support given to us by the community to go with all the levels of work and preparation we have done is great to receive this kind of recognition,” Harden said.
He shares the honor with Dave Bors of Painesville Riverside located in the Cleveland area.
Also ramping up his excitement is that three of his Xenia players also were named first-team all-state by the OPSWA.
Trei’Shaun Sanders was one of eight running backs to be given the honor after rushing for 1,757 yards and scoring 24 touchdowns for the Bucs in the 2022 season.
Jamell Smith on the defensive line was also one of eight selected after leading the league with 25 tackles for loss, nine sacks and four fumbles forced, including one returned for a touchdown, in addition to compiling 94 total tackles.
Tremell Wright was one of six wide receivers and tight ends picked for the first-team after producing 1,128 yards receiving in making 60 receptions of which 17 ended by scoring a touchdown.
Sanders, Smith and Wright combined to set 10 Xenia single season and career school records during the 2022 season. Sanders set the new single season touchdown and rushing yards marks. Wright has the new single season receiving yards, total receptions and receiving touchdown records, while also setting new career records for reception yards (1,774), total receptions (104) and interceptions (12). Smith now has the career sack record (21) and tied for the single season mark.
Being named second-team was offensive lineman Gabe Funk, who helped anchor the push up front for the Buccaneers’ offense which set a school record for total yardage (4,807) and points scored (446) in a single season.
Selected as honorable mention picks were offensive lineman Gunnar Stephan and linebacker Ronnie Butler.
A total of 10 others players from Greene County also are all-state selections in other divisions.
Bellbrook had four players make the D-III teams. Sam Vine was first team at offensive line, while linebacker Sam Barhorst and punter Carson Labensky were second-team picks. Eldon Korber was honorable mention at defensive back.
In D-V, two Greeneview players were honored. Hawkeye Hickman earned first-team honors for his play on the defensive line, and Sean Leonard was a third-team selection at kicker.
Cedarville also had four players selected in D-VII. Wide receiver Jackson Howdyshell made the second team, while honorable mention picks were QB Jackson Pyles, wide receiver Josh Flora, and offensive lineman Chase Baldwin.