PLAYERS TO WATCH
RB/LB Brad Rogers (5-10, 220, Sr.), FB/LB Mike Marrow (6-1, 240, Sr.), WR/ATH Nate Hobbs (6-0, 180, Jr.), OL/DL Doug Williams (6-2, 260, Sr.), DL Jamaal Tarent (6-2, 250, Jr.), FB/LB David Pickerel (6-1, 220, Sr.), QB/DB/ATH Eric Bates (6-1, 170, Sr.).
2007 Record: 8-3, Regional quarterfinalist
Toledo Central Catholic returns an impressive group this season and the Fighting Irish have high expectations.
Rogers is ranked as the No. 54 senior prospect in the state by Ohio High magazine. Last year, he had 635 rushing yards and 12 TDs offensively, and 56 tackles including 11 for loss defensively. Rogers has already committed to the University of Iowa as a running back.
“He had a great year for us last year despite the fact he missed games 7-10 with a high ankle sprain,” head coach Greg Dempsey said. “He still played a little on defense, but couldn’t run the ball effectively. It was pretty bad for a sprain.”
Iowa obviously felt that Rogers was one of the top running backs in the Midwest and he jumped at the chance to be a Hawkeye.
“It was his first offer and he went and visited and loved it,” Dempsey said. “He also had offers from most of the MAC schools, as well as Northwestern and Indiana. Ohio State was talking to him a little bit as a fullback, but Iowa wanted him as a tailback.
“Brad is a no-frills guy. A few schools wanted him to come to their summer camps, but he said, ‘Why would I go to summer camps when I know I’m going to Iowa?’ They built a relationship with him early and that was important.”
There will certainly be plenty of talent in TCC’s backfield this season as Rogers pairs up with his new teammate, Marrow. Marrow is ranked as one of the top 125 seniors in the state by Ohio High magazine and is a transfer from New Albany in the Columbus area. His father took a job as the tight ends coach at the University of Toledo.
“In the short time I’ve been around him, I can tell you he works his tail off,” Dempsey said. “He traveled all over this summer to visit colleges.”
Hobbs is a two-way starter who had three interceptions last year.
Williams is the only returning starter on the offensive line.
Tarent is the top junior on the team and he is being recruited by Alabama, Nebraska and Penn State.
Pickerel and Bates started as sophomores, but missed all of last season with injuries. Their return will be a boost to the team.
In terms of goals, Dempsey just wants to get better each week and see where the chips fall.
“In some ways, I don’t know what to expect,” he said. “I’d like to think we’ll compete for our league title and the playoffs. We should have a strong running game with two good running backs. We need some guys to step up for us up front; we might have some sophomores up front. We should be pretty big up front though. We also need a quarterback to step up and take charge of the offense.”
The Fighting Irish are expected to qualify for the Division II, Region 6 playoffs. They won the state championship in 2005, and another Region 6 team (Piqua) won it all the following season. If Central Catholic is able to get back to the playoffs, Dempsey knows it will be a tough road to state.
“We’ve had a lot of state champions come out of this region,” he said. “It’s a tough, deep region with a lot of different types of teams. More than anything, you’ll see physical teams that run the ball and play great defense. That’s what I think makes it difficult.”
The Fighting Irish must replace OL Eric Herman who was a first-team All-Ohio selection last season.
8/22 Bowling Green
8/29 at Dublin Scioto
9/5 Whitehouse Anthony Wayne
9/12 Toledo St. John's Jesuit
9/19 at Oregon Clay
9/26 at Toledo Start
10/3 at Toledo Rogers
10/10 at Toledo St. Francis DeSales
10/17 Toledo Whitmer
10/24 Toledo Waite