XENIA — Make way everyone. They’re coming.
The Warner Middle School eighth grade football team completed an undefeated season on Wednesday with a 44-14 victory at Fairborn. With it came an outright Miami Valley League championship.
The team made it back-to-back seasons without a loss after finishing the year Wednesday with the dominating win to go 8-0 two years in a row.
And dominating has been the word to describe the Bucs two-year run.
“I’ve doing this for 17 years in middle school,” head coach Joey Steward said. “This is hands down the most well rounded team I’ve ever in my life coached. Hands down.
“They’re the best. I’ve never had a team better than them.”
And now that they’ve finished their run at the middle school level, high school and varsity football can start to be targeted next.
On hand after Wednesday’s game was varsity coach Maurice Harden to present a trophy to the squad and speak to them on what they have accomplished and what they have ahead of them next.
That would be getting ready to join a high school team which is on one of the best runs in school history after making four straight playoff appearances, winning two league titles and producing the first 10-0 regular season in 2022.
Preparing the team on the field has been the coaches, but off of it has been the parents. Steward said he always sees positive reinforcement being provided to the kids and it makes it one of his favorite parts about coaching at the level.
“There’s never any negativity,” Steward said. “They want the best for the kids and they want the same for the community. You couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Another favorite part?
“Beating Fairborn two years in a row is definitely up there,” Steward said. “Everything about them I love and there hasn’t been more special moments than beating Fairborn two years in a row.”
Jaxon Austin got the scoring started with an early touchdown reception. Blake Sutton-Shumway got to show off his leg with a 44-yard field goal make late in the quarter.
From there Xenia took over with Sincere Valdez extending the Bucs lead first. T. T. Thompson followed with consecutive touchdown runs.
Late in the game, Max Greene got to find the end zone as well before J. T. Madison capped off the scoring in the final minutes.
The seventh grade class is taking up the mantle behind the eighth graders. That group is also unbeaten this year after also beating Baker Middle School 46-14 on Wednesday to give the now 6-1-1 Skyhawks its first loss.
The team has one more game left against Troy on Wednesday. One of the last messages left by coaches for the eighth graders was to come out and support them in their final game to try and have the group sweep the league titles.
Parents of Xenia players could not contain their excitement as they exited Memorial Stadium. Several could be overheard already starting to talk about next year and how they cannot wait for their eighth graders to enter high school and try to continue their impressive run.
“They have got to stay close,” Steward said. “They have to keep the camaraderie. They are a special group and I think they’ve got that between them.”
Surrounded by their coaches and parents, Warner’s eighth grade team heard one final speech from Steward, the rest of the team’s coaches and enjoyed a final moment together as their season ended Wednesday.
“They’ve just have taken it all in,” Steward said. “They’re all coachable, their grades are good and their attitudes are good. They are all great kids and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
The next stop is the next level, where Xenia football looks to be in good hands in future seasons.
WARNER MS EIGHTH GRADE ROSTER
1 — Blake Sutton-Shumway
2 — Ramone Hoyt
3 — Gage Stephan
5 — Sincere Valdez
6 — Ti Combs
7 — Emani Rackley
8 — Sonny Mounts
9 — Brenden Channels
13 — Kyle Bowman
14 — Mason North
15 — Uriah Thomas
20 — Estevan Barajas
22 — Xavier Hedger
23 — Robbie McBride
25 — Gabe Bowman
33 — TT Thompson
35 — Logan Shaw
41 — JT Madison
42 — Bryson Grigsby
45 — Robert Russell
47 — Marcus Cumberland
50 — Matthew VanDyne
55 — Tony Cassanio
56 — Preston Fouts
61 — Aiden Hawley
66 — Kaleb Hise
72 — Brady Brown
75 — Brody McManes
77 — Max Greene
79 — Kameron Williams
81 — SJ Hoagland
87 — Jaxon Austin
88 — Anthony Caudill
97 — CJ McCray
See more photos from both the seventh and eighth grade games on our website.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on X (formerly Twitter) @Steven_Wright_.