Ohio High School Football Preview: Division V


St. Henry 2006 State Champs

Today we continue our six-week long Ohio high school football 2007 season preview with Division V.

The following is an overview of the Division and what teams we will be previewing this week. There’s plenty of depth this year in Division V and the crop of teams that make up this year’s field is impressive despite the loss of several to other divisions.

Kirk Larrabee has more.

There’s plenty of depth this year in Division V. Even though the division lost state finalist Warren JFK to Division VI as well as semi-finalist Amanda-Clearcreek and traditional power Marion Pleasant to Division IV, the crop of teams that make up this year’s field is impressive.

In addition to an already-deep list of annual playoff contenders, this year’s Division V field is joined by 2006 Division VI state champion Maria Stein Marion Local; traditional power Youngstown Ursuline; and 2006 Division VI playoff qualifiers Cleveland Cuyahoga Heights, Liberty Center, and Sycamore Mohawk.  

Each region boasts several quality teams, and while the playoffs are months away, the potential postseason match ups that exist are scintillating.

Region 17 brings the possibility of Youngstown Ursuline going up against South Range or Chanel and also boasts several other big names such as Cuyahoga Heights, Columbiana Crestview, Smithville, Mineral Ridge, and Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas.

Region 18 is strong at the top and features some of the top powers of Northwest Ohio football in 2005 state champ Hamler Patrick Henry, Liberty Center, Findlay Liberty-Benton, Sycamore Mohawk, and two teams that on paper appear to be loading up for a deep playoff run in Sherwood Fairview and Lima Central Catholic.

Region 19 features two of Columbus’s finest in Bishop Ready and Gahanna Columbus Academy along with Barnesville, a 11-1 squad in 2006.

Then Region 20 is home of four of the Midwest Athletic Conference’s most powerful teams in Marion Local, Versailles, Anna, and defending champion St. Henry (above) along with regional finalist West Jefferson.   

With so many top teams along with several outstanding and exciting players, Division V appears fairly open and should be fun to watch this year. Here is a look at some of the teams of interest in this year’s Division V field.

Anna (6-4)

     Things were a bit different for the Anna Rockets in 2006. After making the playoffs every season since their varsity program’s inception, a spot in the top small school conference in the state – the Midwest Athletic Conference – meant that the postseason wouldn’t come as easily. After making their way through the rugged conference schedule for the first time, the Rockets fell short of the postseason for the first time in their history.
     With six starters back on each side of the ball, Anna could find themselves back in the postseason this year. But while head coach Bryan Rioch feels the team has perhaps the best offensive and defensive lines to date, there are other areas where the answers aren’t as clear.

Bedford St. Peter Chanel (10-2)

     The Chanel program has been on a roller coaster ride the past six seasons. The Firebirds captured a state title in 2001 but soon fell upon hard times, including an 0-10 mark in 2004. Last season, however, Chanel appeared to get back on track with nine regular season wins and a playoff victory.
     Chanel has some areas to address on defense with just four starters returning but returns seven starters on offense, including 1,900-yard rusher Aaron Roberson.

Findlay Liberty-Benton (12-2)

     The reigning Region 18 champion will be looking to put on an encore performance with a new man in the head coach position as five-year assistant Tim Nichols moves up in place of Scott Garlock, who took a position as the quarterbacks coach at the University of Findlay.
     There will be several new starters for the staff to work with as the Eagles graduated 19 seniors and bring back four starters on defense and five starters on offense, led by quarterback Aaron Craft, who stepped up in a major way as a freshman, throwing for 23 touchdowns.

Gahanna Columbus Academy (8-4)

     A state champion in 2003, the Vikings played through two losing seasons in 2004 and 2005 before returning to the postseason last year. Things look strong at the offensive skill positions as senior Chris Crockett, who is getting looks from major college programs, is coming off a season of just under 2,000 yards rushing and 37 touchdowns.

Hamler Patrick Henry (8-3)

     A state championship is a hard act to follow, but Hamler Patrick Henry came up with a worthy second act last season to their 2005 crown by winning a fifth straight conference title and advancing to the postseason. Patrick Henry returns five starters offensively and four on defense. A solid core returns but the Patriots will be looking to work on experience and depth.

Lima Central Catholic (11-2)

     After going 15-35 over five seasons, the Thunderbirds have made a big rise to prominence with consecutive 11-2 campaigns. This year, with 14 starters returning and only seven seniors gone from last year’s team, things look good on paper for Lima Central Catholic to take the next step. The Thunderbirds boast two 1,000-yard rushers in returning starter Chris O’Brien and Lima Bath transfer Todd Ruggley, along with a mammoth offensive line that returns five of six starters, including two 300-pounders.

Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas (7-3)

     Despite not having much luck reaching the postseason in recent years, the St. Thomas Aquinas Knights could be set to surprise some people in 2007. The Knights jumped out to a 7-0 start to the 2006 season but fell to three tough opponents to close out the year and miss the playoffs. This year’s team returns plenty of experienced players with six starters back on each side of the ball, including the entire offensive line.

Maria Stein Marion Local (13-2)

     After a 1-2 start, Marion Local went on a tear last season that continued all the way through the state championship game as the Flyers moved through the Division VI playoffs to capture their third state crown.
     The Flyers move up to Division V this year and bring back a strong group of skill players led by three-year starters Chris Stuckey and Ben Schaefer, who was the MVP of the championship game. Linebackers Luke Homan and Greg Koesters are also three-year starters who each hit the 130-tackle mark last season. The focus will be replacing players lost from the offensive and defensive lines.

North Lima South Range (12-1)

     The South Range Raiders have become a fixture in the postseason. Last year, despite having lost the bulk of their state semifinalist squad from the year before, the Raiders posted an unbeaten regular season and advanced all the way to the regional finals.
     The expectations will remain the same for this season. South Range returns five starters on each side of the ball and a good group of senior players.

Sherwood Fairview (10-2)

     Led by a high-powered offense that features a Division I prospect at quarterback in Ryan Radcliff, this year’s Fairview team is expected to do big things. It started last season with a playoff berth and a defeat of defending state champion Hamler Patrick Henry, but this year’s team expects to do more.
     The Apaches scored over 40 points on seven occasions in 2006 and can be expected to put up huge numbers in 2007 behind players like Radcliff (4,611 yards, 57 touchdowns) and All-Ohio performer Ben Wonderly (103 catches, 1,500 yards).

St. Henry (14-1)

     St. Henry added to the rich winning tradition of their football program in 2006 by winning their sixth state championship. Only three schools – Cleveland St. Ignatius, Cincinnati Moeller and Newark Catholic – have won more titles in the history of the OHSAA playoffs. This year’s path might be more difficult for the Redskins as just one player who was in the original starting lineup of last year’s team returns. At the same time, the expectations remain high as the team returns plenty of seniors, especially up front.

Versailles (5-5)

     First year head coach Jason Schondelmyer came to Versailles last season with huge shoes to fill, taking over for a retired coaching legend in six-time state champion Al Hetrick. The Tigers finished 5-5 in Schondelmyer’s first season.
     The Tigers are expecting to be improved this year across the board. Seven starters return on each side of the ball, and Schondelmyer feels the team will boast much improved experience, strength and speed from last year’s edition.

West Jefferson (12-1)

     The Rough Riders were one of Ohio’s top teams last year, finishing with an unbeaten regular season and advancing to the Region 19 finals. Several key players must be replaced on each side of the ball, but expectations for this year’s team remain at a very high level.

Youngstown Ursuline (5-5)

     Always a team to watch, Ursuline will be attempting to make it back to the playoffs after falling short last season in Division IV. The Irish boast possibly the state’s top overall junior in Darrell Mason. A rugged schedule will be the main obstacle, as usual. 

* Each of these teams will be featured in an article with in-depth, detailed information about returning players, the coach's thoughts on the season and schedule information.

Barnesville (11-1)

     The Shamrocks rode an unbeaten regular season to a No. 1 seed in Region 17 before falling to state runner-up Warren JFK. They make the move to Region 19 this season.

Bucyrus Wynford (9-2)

     Rising program that is coming off two consecutive playoff berths and has had 21 wins over the past two seasons.

Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy (7-3)

     A state runner-up in 2005, the Eagles carried high expectations in 2006 but fell upon some tough luck early. Will they be back in 2007?

Cleveland Cuyahoga Heights (10-2)

     The Redskins, who were the No. 1 seed in Division VI, Region 21 last season, move up to Division V and add more quality to an already-loaded region.

Columbiana Crestview (9-3)

     The Rebels are again expected to bring a solid team and hope to get past conference foe South Range, who bested them twice in 2006.

Defiance Tinora (8-3)

     A playoff qualifier in 2006, the Rams have been singled out as a team to keep an eye on by opposing coaches.

Columbus Bishop Ready (7-3)

     Quality team that missed the playoffs after dropping three games to tough opponents. Opposing coaches have singled Ready out as a team that could make noise this year.

Gates Mills Gilmour Academy (7-3)

     The Lancers boast mammoth offensive lineman and University of Virginia recruit Matt Mihalik.

Lewisburg Tri-County North (9-2)

     The Panthers posted a strong 9-1 record in the regular season but fell as a first-round victim of state champion St. Henry.

Mineral Ridge (6-4)

     The Rams jump up to Division V after spending time in Division VI. “Probably the scariest team on our schedule is Mineral Ridge,” said South Range head coach Dan Yeagley. “They return a lot of starters from last year’s team and they’re very well-coached. They’re big and they have some good running backs.”

Smithville (9-2)

    A familiar face in the postseason, the Smithies had an impressive 2006 campaign and will be looking to continue their yearly success.

Sycamore Mohawk (9-2)

     Yearly playoff contender moves back up to D-V after spending two seasons at Division VI.

West Lafayette Ridgewood (10-1)

     Posted an unbeaten regular season before falling in the first round of the playoffs. 

West Salem Northwestern (10-1)

     Like Ridgewood, Northwestern had a perfect record in the regular season before falling early in the postseason.

* Several of these teams will be featured in-depth, detailed information about returning players, the coach's thoughts on the season and schedule information.

Name Position School
Aaron Craft QB Hamler Patrick Henry
Chris Crockett RB Gahanna Columbus Academy
Darrell Mason ATH Youngstown Ursuline
Aaron Roberson RB Bedford St. Peter Chanell
Ryan Radcliff QB Sherwood Fairview
Devin Schie RB Sugarcreek Garaway
Ben Wonderly WR/DB Sherwood Fairview

Week 1
  Anna @ Sidney Lehman Catholic
  Barnesville @ New Concord John Glenn
  Delphos St. John’s @ Lima Central Catholic
  Findlay Liberty-Benton @ Sycamore Mohawk
  Liberty Center @ Defiance Tinora
  Marion Pleasant @ St. Henry
  North Lima South Range @ Mogadore
  Smithville @ Akron Manchester
  West Jefferson @ Mechanicsburg
Week 2

Delphos St. John’s @ St. Henry

Week 3
Anna @ Versailles
Centerburg @ Gahanna Columbus Academy
Lewisburg Tri-County North @ Covington
St. Henry @ Maria Stein Marion Local
Week 4
  Anna @ Coldwater
Hamler Patrick Henry @ Liberty Center
Lisbon David Anderson @ North Lima South Range
Youngstown Ursuline @ Massillon Washington
Week 5

Bedford St. Peter Chanel @ Canton Central Catholic

  Columbiana Crestview @ North Lima South Range
  St. Henry @ Coldwater
  Versailles @ Delphos St. John’s
  Youngstown Ursuline @ Chardon
Week 6

Defiance Tinora @ Defiance Ayersville

Barnesville @ Shadyside

Hamler Patrick Henry @ Delta

Maria Stein Marion Local @ Versailles
Plain City Jonathan Alder @ Columbus Bishop Ready
St. Henry @ Anna
Youngstown Ursuline @ Warren Harding
Week 7

Anna @ Delphos St. John’s

  Columbus Bishop Ready @ Lima Central Catholic
  Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas @ Warren JFK
  Mineral Ridge @ Columbiana Crestview
  Newark Catholic @ Gahanna Columbus Academy
  West Jefferson @ Lancaster Fisher Catholic
Week 8

Coldwater @ Versailles

Maria Stein Marion Local @ Delphos St. John’s
North Lima South Range @ Columbiana
Week 9

Anna @ Maria Stein Marion Local

  Dola Hardin Northern @ Findlay Liberty-Benton
  Hamler Patrick Henry @ Sidney Lehman Catholic
  North Lima South Range @ Mineral Ridge
  Sherwood Fairview @ Defiance Ayersville
  Versailles @ St. Henry
  West Salem Northwestern @ Smithville
  Youngstown Ursuline @ Youngstown Cardinal Mooney
Week 10
  Bedford St. Peter Chanel @ Garfield Heights Trinity
Canton Central Catholic @ Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas
Defiance Tinora @ Sherwood Fairview
Newark Licking Valley @ Gahanna Columbus Academy
Youngstown Ursuline @ Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary


* Final Four: Bedford St. Peter Chanel, Lima Central Catholic, Gahanna Columbus Academy, Maria Stein Marion Local

* Championship Game: Lima Central Catholic over Maria Stein Marion Local

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