High school sports reporter Bailey Johnson builds trust with players

High school sports reporter Bailey Johnson often writes for Columbus Dispatch about the special bond between coaches and players.

Doral Chenoweth, The Columbus Dispatch

On Gannett Ohio’s new list of the state’s top boys soccer players, nine of the 21 players are from central Ohio, including three of the top five.

Talent is abundant in the Columbus area square – talent that will be on show this fall when the football season really kicks off.

And although some players, like Pickerington North’s Uche Odemena, have joined Crew Academy, there are still plenty of high-end high school-level players to see.

Here are six names to watch out for this fall in central Ohio:

Parker Cameron, Olentangy Liberty

Cameron was named No. 2 on Gannett Ohio’s list of the state’s 21st Top Players and was All-Ohio First Team, Central District Player of the Year, and First Team All-OCC-Central last season. Although he only scored three goals that year, all three were game winners. Soccerwire.com recently named Cameron an All-American.

Although Cameron is currently struggling with an injury, he is expected to return to play in October and plans to take on a bigger offensive role in his senior season.

Kameron Kist, New Albany

New Albany finished Division I runners-up last year, and if the Eagles are able to go a step further and win a state championship this season, Kist will be a big part of it. As a junior, the midfielder scored 12 goals and added 10 assists while being named Second Team All-Ohio, First Team All-District, and OCC-Ohio Player of the Year. He ranks third on Gannett Ohio’s list.

Jayden Lunsford, Dublin Scioto

Lunsford was voted # 5 on Gannett Ohio State’s 21st Best Players list after scoring 16 goals and 12 assists as a junior. The senior midfielder / striker was the All-Ohio second team in Division I, all-county first team and shared OCC Capital Player of the Year while helping the Irish to an OCC championship.

Chase Alwood, Canal Winchester

The senior striker, voted No. 7 on Gannett Ohio’s list, scored 32 goals and added 10 assists as a junior at Bloom-Carroll for a total of 42 points. Alwood scored five goals in the 7-1 win over Fairfield Union, which helped the Bulldogs win the MSL Buckeye for the fourth year in a row. The Lancaster Eagle Gazette named Alwood Young Footballer of the Year 2020. He will play his senior season with Canal Winchester.

Gabe O’Reilly, St. Charles

O’Reilly ranks 12th on Gannett Ohio’s list, and St. Charles trainer Chris Vonau calls him “the whole package.” The senior midfielder lived up to that claim in his time with the Cardinals, playing a variety of roles and scoring nine goals with six assists last season to lead the team. He was named the Second Team All-Ohio, the First Team to the All District, and the All-CCL.

Andrew Shaffer, DeSales

Shaffer scored 20 goals for DeSales last season when the Stallions won 10-9-1 and won a Division II district championship, their sixth in the past seven years. He was named the All-Ohio First-Team, All-District First-Team, and All-CCL-First Team for his junior efforts, which more than doubled his nine goals in year two, 2019.

bjohnson@dispatch.com

@baileyajohnson_

Get more high school sports news by listening to our podcasts