If you’re looking for a favorite to win this year’s Division V crown,
the place to start the search might be at Youngstown Ursuline. The Fighting Irish returned to the playoffs with a vengeance in 2007
after a two-year absence, cruising all the way to the state finals
before falling in a hard-fought contest to Marion Local. Ursuline returns six starters on each side of the ball.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
RB Darrell Mason (6-1, 217, sr.), WR Dale Peterman (5-11, 170, sr.), OL/DL Dan Baco (6-1, 270, sr.), TE/DE Jamel Turner (6-2, 215, jr.), WR/DB Justin Austin (5-11, 180, sr.), WR/DB L.J. Stevens (5-8, 170, sr.), RB/LB Allen Jones (5-11, 195, jr.), WR/RB/DB DeAndre Harris (5-10, 185, jr.)
2007 Record: 12-3, state runner-up
If you’re looking for a favorite to win this year’s Division V crown, the place to start the search might be at Youngstown Ursuline.
The Fighting Irish returned to the playoffs with a vengeance in 2007 after a two-year absence, cruising all the way to the state finals before falling in a hard-fought contest to Marion Local.
“Last offseason, we set a goal of winning the state championship, so we obviously came up a little short on that,” head coach Dan Reardon said. “That being said, I think we obviously had a lot of success last year. Our graduating seniors were a great group of young kids, and they were my first group that came all the way through with our system and everything, so it was extremely gratifying for me and the coaching staff to watch them mature and watch them accomplish a lot of their goals and just turn into good young men.”
This year’s team is using the loss to Marion Local as motivation and hopes to return to the title game again, this time bringing home a victory.
“Unfortunately the way the system’s set up, only one team in each division finishes the season with that great feeling of walking off that championship field with a win,” Reardon said. “The disappointment we felt on that day, even though we did accomplish a lot during the season, I think that’s motivated our team during the offseason and given them something extra to shoot for.
“I think we’ve had a real good offseason. I think our kids are working very hard. Since I’ve been here – I’m going into year number five – this is going to be the strongest team we’ve had from top to bottom. We have more kids hitting strength goals and conditioning goals and things like that then we’ve had in previous years. I think that’s a testament to their work ethic and their desire to improve.”
This year’s Ursuline squad returns six starters on each side of the ball. On offense, the Irish could be a handful for opposing defenses as they will feature major college prospects Darrell Mason and Dale Peterman, among others.
“We should be very, very good at the skill positions in general,” Reardon said. “We return just about all our offensive production as far as rushing yards and receiving yards go. We do have to replace our quarterback, who had an outstanding year for us last year, but the nice thing is we have three guys competing for the quarterback job, and whoever it ends up being, they’re going to have a lot of experienced guys to hand the ball off to and throw the football to.”
Sophomore Paul Kemp (5-11, 170), junior Dawalyn Harper (6-1, 210) and senior Jimmy Myszanski (5-8, 190) will be the three players competing to fill the shoes of All-Ohio selection and Division V offensive player of the year Lamar McQueen.
“Just like any other year, taking care of the football will be key,” Reardon said of his quarterbacks. “They don’t have to win a game for us. They have to manage the game.”
The Irish must deal with some turnover on the offensive line, but Reardon feels as if there are some candidates to step right in.
“We lose a couple of linemen up front, but we are returning guys who have played,” Reardon said. “It’s not like we’re returning guys with no experience whatsoever. We graduate Harold Coates, we graduate Justin Brown, Michael Paul Jenkins and Ryan Kelly, who all played for us up front on both sides of the ball, so we’re going to have to come together there. Our skill positions I think have a chance to be very, very good this year, as good as they’ve been since I’ve been at Ursuline. That’s a nice luxury to have, because if you have good skill, you don’t have to be necessarily mauling people up front. I think the fact that our skill returns so many guys is going to help our young quarterback and is going to help some of those new offensive linemen as they mature the first couple of weeks.”
On defense, Ursuline could have one of the top secondaries in Division V.
“I think our secondary is going to be very, very talented,” Reardon said. “We have five or six young men who have a chance to be outstanding football players, and all of them played a lot last year, so I think our secondary certainly has a chance to be a strength. We graduate an outstanding linebacker, Nick McGahagan, who we’re going to have to fill his shoes, but we’re moving some personnel around and I’m confident. The kids that we’re moving, Darrell Mason was a secondary player for us last year and we’re planning on playing him as an inside linebacker for us this year to try to pick up some of the slack where Nick left off.
“D-Line-wise, we anticipate that being a union played out by a committee of young men. We do have a lot of two-way players, but we also have pretty good depth this year I think. As I mentioned, in the secondary we have five or six kids who could jump in without missing a beat. D-Line and O-Line wise, we have seven or eight guys who can rotate those five positions offensively and three or four positions defensively. I think we’re going to be able to play a lot of guys, which obviously makes you better.”
Ursuline looms large as likely the team to beat in Region 17, but the Irish’s trademark rugged schedule means that getting to the postseason might not even be a sure thing. This year’s slate includes Massillon Washington, Warren Harding, Mentor Lake Catholic, Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.
“It’s a very challenging schedule as always,” Reardon said. “I don’t know that there’s any gimmes on it. When you look at it, it’s very challenging, but I also know that we have a chance to have a very good football team. But the thing when you have a challenging schedule is you have to come to play every week, and it requires you to maintain focus and requires you to be at your best. I think our kids understand that, and that’s one thing that our senior class from last year understood and one thing they did a very good job at. They were a very focused group. Our upcoming seniors need to be great leaders from that standpoint and understand how critical every game is.”
8/22 EAST TECHNICAL (CLEVELAND)
9/6 @ LAKE CATHOLIC (MENTOR)
9/12 WASHINGTON (MASSILLON)
9/26 WARREN G HARDING
10/3 @ CANTON CENTRAL CATHOLIC (CANTON)
10/9 BUCHTEL (AKRON)
10/17 CARDINAL MOONEY (YOUNGSTOWN)
10/24 ST VINCENT-ST MARY (AKRON)