It’s Here!! The 2008 ONN/Ohio High Football Preseason Power Poll


JJ’s Ohio High Power Poll

After months of research, talking to coaches and players alike, we have compiled all our information and present the highly-anticipated 2008 ONN-Ohio High Preseason Power Poll!

With the season just days from kickoff, check out the top teams in the state in each Division as they prepare for their quests for the 2008 state championship trophy.

We are proud to announce the Fifth Annual ONN/JJ Huddle’s Ohio High Power Poll. The Poll has been a huge success the last several seasons and we are excited to work with the Ohio News Network once again to bring Ohio the best Ohio high school football coverage in the state.

Like years past, this preseason poll will remain as is until the third week of the season has been completed and then we will restructure the standings accordingly.

Teams with links are teams we previewed over the course of the last six weeks.

1 St. Ignatius Cleveland St. Ignatius (8-3)

This could be a team that helps St. Ignatius get back into the state title picture. Coach Chuck Kyle, back for his 26th year with the Wildcats, welcomes back nine players with starting experience on offense and four on defense.

2 St. Xavier Cincinnati St. Xavier (15-0)

It has been quite a three-year run at St. X for head coach Steve Specht. Since taking the Bombers’ head coaching job in 2005, his teams have combined to post a 40-2 record with two 15-0 state championship seasons. The Bombers have also won four straight GCL South titles.

3 Pickerington Central Pickerington Central (11-1)

The Tigers were the state runner-up in Division II in 2006 before moving to D-I last year. Jay Sharrett, back for his sixth year as the Central head coach, has just three starters back on offense and four on defense. But most of them are well known players. DB PatWhite has verbaled to Michigan State, while FB/LB Zach Boren and WR/DB Jamie Wood are ticketed for Ohio State.

4 Elder Cincinnati Elder (7-4)

Elder has taken a back seat to St. Xavier the last several years. But coach Doug Ramsey, starting his 12th year as the Panthers head coach, has some experience back with seven starters on offense and five more on defense returning. Nick Gramke is a building block at tailback. He rushed for 924 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior. Josh Jones, a Cincinnati recruit, added 38 catches with six TDs.

5 Glenville Cleveland Glenville (10-3)

Glenville should be back in the mix in 2008, despite losing the usual complement of Big Ten signees like WR Cordale Scott (Illinois) and DT Shawntel Rowell and FB/LB Jermil Martin (both to Ohio State). DL Jonathan Newsome and OL Marcus Hall each have offers from a number of schools. Hall is considered one of Ohio’s top five prospects and Newsome is an Ohio State recruit.



Macedonia Nordonia (10-2)

Al Huge, an assistant at Nordonia since 1997 and the defensive coordinator since 2002, will be Nordonia’s first-year head coach in 2008. He replaces Jason Hall, who left for Massillon Washington after one year as the Nordonia head coach. Running back John Hamilton headlines solid returning cast.

7 Hilliard Davidson Hilliard Davidson (7-3)

Davidson won the 2006 Division I state championship, but ended up 10th in the region in 2007 and missed the playoffs. Brian White, returning for his ninth year at Davidson and 11th season as a varsity head coach, has five starters back on offense and six returning on defense.

8 St. John's Jesuit Toledo St. John’s (6-5)

St. John’s got into the 2007 Division I playoffs as the seventh seed in Region 2. St. John’s then dropped a memorable playoff opener with a 40-33 five overtime defeat at the hands of No. 2-seed North Canton Hoover.This year, Titans coach Doug Pearson welcomes back four starters on offense and five on defense.


Colerain Colerain (12-1)

It was a stunning first year at the helm for Tom Bolden, who stepped in last year after Kerry Coombs left to become an assistant at the University of Cincinnati. The Cardinals won their first 12 games before dropping a regional final to nemesis St. Xavier. Those two teams will be rematched in the opening week of the 2008 season. It will be interesting to see if Colerain can maintain its three impressive winning streaks, including 29 straight regular season games (since 2005), 43 consecutive home games (since 1999) and 58 straight Greater Miami Conference games (since 1999).

10 Princeton Cincinnati Princeton (8-3)

Princeton could be another team to watch the GMC. Third-year head coach Bill Leach welcomes back five starters on each side of the ball. Spencer Ware was a strong dual threat quarterback as a sophomore, throwing for 2,200 yards and 17 TDs against six interceptions and rushing for 982 yards and 18 scores. Jeff Duckworth added 62 catches and seven TDs receiving. Dwayne Woods had three interceptions on defense.

1 Howland Warren Howland (11-1)

Howland finished the regular season with the No. 1 seed in Region 5 last year, but was bounced in the second round of the playoffs. This year, the Tigers return a talented group that includes 13 starters (9 offense, 4 defense). Howland is a legitimate D-II state championship contender.

2 St. Francis DeSales

Columbus St. Francis DeSales (12-1)

Columbus DeSales stormed through the 2007 regular season with a perfect record and was the No. 1 seed in the Division II, Region 7 playoffs last year. This year’s team will need several inexperienced linemen to step up, but the Stallions return a lot of talent on both sides of the ball.



Cincinnati Anderson (13-2)

Cincinnati Anderson rolled to the first state championship in school history last season with a 31-25 win over Louisville in the title game. With a host of returning starters, many believe the Redskins will be even more talented this year.

4 Louisville Louisville (12-3)

Louisville finished the regular season with the No. 2 seed in Division II, Region 7 last year and promptly advanced all the way to the state championship game. This season, the Leopards have to replace a talented graduated class, but plenty of talent returns, including quarterback Neal Seaman.

5 Avon Lake Avon Lake (11-1)

Avon Lake is a perennial playoff team and the Shoremen are well-stocked with talent as usual this season.

6 Padua Franciscan Parma Padua Franciscan (7-4)

Parma Padua Franciscan made the playoffs last year with the No. 4 seed in Division II, Region 5 and it returns a whopping 17 starters. “We think we have a good group coming back and we want to capitalize on it,” head coach Tony Shuman said.

7 Bishop Waterson

Columbus Watterson (6-4)

The Eagles saw their eight-year playoff streak surprisingly end last year. However, they are hungry to get back to the postseason this time around. RB Kevin Obyc rushed for 342 yards and six touchdowns last year. RB/DB Jordan Gelhaus added 238 yards and three touchdowns. Watterson must replace second-team All-Ohio DL Matt Grieser, second-team All-Ohio LB Drew Dabbelt and standout QB Mason Takacs.
8 Central Catholic Toledo Central Catholic (8-3)

Toledo Central Catholic returns an impressive group this season and the Fighting Irish have high expectations. With Iowa recruit Brad Rogers and Alabama recruit Mike Marrow pacing the ground attack, TCC will rely heavily on its running game.

9 Tallmadge Tallmadge (10-2)

Tallmadge was the No. 2 seed in Division II, Region 5 last year and the Blue Devils return one of the state’s top running backs in Tyler Fortner who had 1,600 rushing yards and 20 TDs last year.

10 Carroll

Dayton Carroll (10-2)

Dayton Carroll was the No. 6 seed in Division II, Region 8 last year and knocked off Cincinnati Withrow on the road in the first round of the playoffs. Led by running back David McComas, Carroll is looking to take the next step in the postseason this year.

1 Northwest Canal Fulton Northwest (12-1)

Northwest has made the playoffs each of the last seven years for 11th year head coach Vic Whiting. Division III AP poll champion and a regional finalist from a season ago, the Indians return 12 starters and 22 lettermen from last year’s team and look to make a push for the postseason once again.

2 Clyde Clyde (11-2)

Clyde is 30-7 in three seasons under head coach Marc Gibson, including last season’s regional finals finish. This season, Clyde is in position to continue that success with a wealth of talent returning to the field, including three-year starter and 2007 Division III Offensive Player of the Year Alex Gillett under center.

3 Walsh Jesuit Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit (9-2)

Walsh Jesuit reached the regional semifinals last season against a brutal schedule before being upset by Region 9 surprise Cortland Lakeview. The Warriors lose some key players from last year’s team but return a good core of players to build on last year’s success and will contend for the region title.

4 Aurora Aurora (9-2)

Aurora will be aiming for its fourth straight playoff appearance and fifth since 2000 this season. This season, the Greenmen return 14 starters from last year’s 9-2 team and are hopeful in getting back to the state tournament.

5 Indian Hill Cincinnati Indian Hill (10-3)

Indian Hill has been the top seed in the Region 12 playoffs each of the last four seasons but has failed to advance past the regional tournament. The Braves hope to buck the trend this season with one of the most prolific passers in the state under center for the third straight year in Bo Cordell, who has thrown for over 5,300 career yards, 55 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and a 66 completion percentage. He was a Division III first team All-Ohio selection in 2007.

6 Hubbard Hubbard (7-4)

In head coach Brian Hoffman’s first year at the helm of his alma mater, Hubbard reached the postseason but bowed out in the first round. This season, the Eagles return a flock of talent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, which should give them a good chance for a longer playoff run.

7 Lakeview Cortland Lakeview (10-3)

The glass slipper just didn’t quite fit for Cortland Lakeview last year. After making its first playoff appearance since 2000, Lakeview was the surprise of Region 9 knocking off No. 4 seed Aurora and top-seed Walsh Jesuit before falling to state semifinalist Mentor Lake Catholic 28-13 in the regional finals. Lakeview has to find six starters to replace this season, including three players that each started 33 games. But the Bulldogs boast 12 lettermen returning from last season’s squad.

8 Canton South Canton South (6-5)

In a seemingly level playing field in Region 11 heading into the 2008 season, Canton South could very well make a push for the title and a berth in the state tournament. The Wildcats have done nothing but improve as a program in the first two seasons under head coach Moe Daniska with its second playoff appeanace in school history, its first postseason win and its first back-to-back postseason berths.

9 Licking Valley Newark Licking Valley (13-2)

For the second time in school history last year, Licking Valley finished state runner-up, falling to Sunbury Big Walnut in the Division III title game. Player of the Year contender Storm Klein leads the Panthers into 2008 as the Panthers look to fill some key positions.

10 Big Walnut Sunbury Big Walnut (14-1)

Sunbury Big Walnut was the toast of Division III last year hoisting the state championship trophy in December with a 17-10 win over Newark Licking Valley. But with the departure of 20 seniors, Big Walnut will be a new-look football team this season personnel-wise.

1 Coldwater Coldwater (14-1)

Coldwater experienced one of the finest postseason runs in recent history last year, not only knocking off previously unbeaten and heavily favored Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in the D-IV state championship game, but the Cavs outscored their postseason opponents by a whopping 128 points. The encore could be eerily similar.

2 St. Vincent-St. Mary Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (9-3)

With a pair of losses to perennial power Cardinal Mooney last year, including a Week 12 setback, the Fighting Irish discovered the steps they needed to take in the off-season to reach the next level. Second-year head coach Dan Boarman said his team has had a solid off-season and will hopefully take it to the next level in Region 13 and beyond.

3 Steubenville Steubenville (12-1)

Steubenville completed a remarkable fifth straight unbeaten regular season last year and eventually earned their way to the regional championship game against Cardinal Mooney. Despite dropping a 35-20 decision.

4 Archbishop Alter Kettering Alter (11-1)

Two years ago, the Knights reached the D-III state finale against Steubenville (a 34-33 loss) and dropped into D-IV last season. Alter was one of the favorites in Region 16 last year, if not the entire division. Head coach Ed Domsitz’s Knights ran into a streaking Coldwater squad that eventually went on to win the state title. This year, Alter will look to seniors Chris Borland, a 6-0, 215-pound linebacker/running back, and Austin Boucher, a 6-1, 205-pound quarterback. Borland is a Wisconsin recruit and Boucher is verbally committed to Toledo.

5 Cardinal Mooney Youngstown Cardinal Mooney (14-1)

Mooney’s bid for a third D-IV state title in four years came up two points shy last season (Coldwater posted a 28-27 win in the finale). Despite the loss, Mooney will no doubt be one of the top favorites this season, as has been evidenced by nearly every coach pointing to a possible Mooney-Coldwater rematch.

6 Licking Heights Pataskala Licking Heights (10-2)

The Hornets have been mentioned by a few coaches as one of the teams that should be a favorite because they return a lot of kids. Heights did reach the regional semis and could be the top dog as St. Clairsville and Westfall will both have to replace several players.

7 Ironton (5-5)

After and uncharacteristic .500 season in his first season back as head coach at Ironton, Ohio’s all-time active leader in coaching wins Bob Lutz should see a return to form in 2008. With 15 returning starters, including the entire starting offensive backfield, the orange and black should be a top contender in not only the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League, but also in Division IV, Region 15.

8 Fostoria Fostoria (8-3)

Fostoria garnered the No. 2 seed in Region 14 last year, only to be knocked off by Ottawa-Glandorf in the quarterfinals. This year, the Redmen will once again be one of the top teams in the region, if not the favorite. Senior Micah Hyde returns to lead the offense, which should provide plenty of fireworks for Fostoria fans.



Massillon Tuslaw (7-3)

Experience is going to be one of the Mustangs’ top strengths this season. A lot of veteran players return to a team that had made the playoffs two out of the last three seasons. Although reaching the postseason in Region 13 is going to be a difficult task, Tuslaw should be a contender for one of the eight spots.

10 Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (9-2)

Although CVCA returns a lot of familiar faces, depth could be a concern for 12-year head coach Ray Carroscia. CVCA should have enough firepower to end Tuscarawas Valley’s three-year reign atop the Principals Athletic Conference, but the Royals’ large senior class hopes to go further in the postseason in ’08. Fifteen returning starters and “good team chemistry” has Carroscia excited.



Youngstown Ursuline (12-3)

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.

2 St. Henry St. Henry (6-4)

Normally a team that missed the playoffs the year before wouldn’t be considered a state championship contender the following season, but the St. Henry Redskins are anything but a normal team.

3 Liberty-Benton Findlay Liberty-Benton (12-1)

With five straight playoff appearances after never previously having a postseason berth, the Liberty-Benton football program has established themselves as one of the new powers in Division V. This year’s team has a chance to be the best one yet, as a strong core returns, led by junior All-Ohio QB/DB Aaron Craft.


Patrick Henry

Hamler Patrick Henry (12-2)

It was business as usual for Hamler Patrick Henry in 2007, putting together a 12-win season and a trip to the state semifinals. The showing further solidified the Patriots as one of Division V’s top programs. This year’s team returns 11 total starters – six on defense and five on offense.


Marion Local

Maria Stein Marion Local (15-0)

A year after dominating Division V – its first after moving up from D-VI – Maria Stein Marion Local enters 2008 riding a 27-game win streak and with two straight state titles. What do the Flyers do for an encore? How about add another trophy to the case. This year however there are some holes to fill. Four starters are back on both sides of the ball.

6 Anna Anna (7-3)

After having made the playoffs in each of the program’s first six seasons, the Anna Rockets made a giant leap in competition in 2006 by moving to the Midwest Athletic Conference. The team has put together a winning season in each of their first two seasons in the mighty MAC, and they will enter 2008 with goals of returning to the playoffs.



Defiance Tinora (9-2)

In 1968, a group called the “Super Sophs,” led Ohio State to a national championship. Defiance Tinora didn’t quite get that far in 2007, but the Rams had their own group of Super Sophs – led by a freshman quarterback – that put together an outstanding season. This season, the sophomores are now juniors, and Tinora, with 18 starters returning, is definitely a team to watch.

8 Waynedale

Applecreek Waynedale (9-3)

With 11 starters returning from a 9-3 playoff squad including 2,000 yard rusher Thad Nofsinger, the Apple Creek Waynedale Golden Bears appear set for another golden season in 2008. “We’re excited,” head coach Matt Zuercher said. The core of returning players along with the playoff experience received in 2007 make Waynedale a good bet to have a similar showing in 2008.

9 Gates Mills Gilmour Academy (9-2)

Once a team without much of a playoff tradition, Gates Mills Gilmour Academy has become a fixture in the postseason in recent years. The Lancers have put together an impressive streak of five postseason appearances in six years and a strong overall record to help create a new tradition of football success. Gimour is looking to add to its legacy this year.

10 South Range North Lima South Range (12-1)

South Range has become a fixture in the Region 17 playoff scene, and even though the team was hit hard by graduation as only five starters return, there’s no reason to believe the Raiders won’t be in the middle of the postseason picture again.


St. Paul

Norwalk St. Paul (11-2)

Over the last 13 years, Norwalk St. Paul has added its name to Ohio’s top football programs regardless of division. The Flyers own 11 playoff trips since 1995 and have reached at least the regional final each of the last four years. This season both trends should continue. Offense will be St. Paul’s strength. The Flyers return eight starters from a unit that averaged 39.6 points per game.

2 Sidney Lehman Catholic (9-4)

The Cavaliers goal is simple – make the playoffs. “That’s our only one,” head coach Dick Roll said. “We don’t have a league and that’s the only thing we have to shoot for. That’s how we approach it.” Lehman made the state semifinals in 2001 and should approach that plateau again. The Cavs fell one game shy last season.

3 Mechanicsburg Mechanicsburg (7-5)

Is this the year Mechanicsburg takes the next step in the postseason? On paper it looks like it might be. With 15 starters back from last year’s regional semifinalist, the Indians appear to be the team to beat in Region 24. Once the season starts, we’ll find out if they are.



Bascom Hopewell-Loudon (14-1)

Bascom Hopewell-Loudon is no stranger to success. But this season some new Chieftains will be trying to get a taste of it. After a 49-5 run the last four years that includes state final (2007), state semifinal (2005) and regional final (2006) appearances, H-L will have some holes to fill. The Chieftains lost five All-Ohio players from last year’s squad that went 14-1 and fell in the D-VI state final to Newark Catholic (28-14).

5 River Hannibal River (10-2)

Last year the Pilots made their second playoff appearance in three years and fourth overall before losing to Shadyside 26-13 in the regional semifinals. Defense was River’s calling card and it should be again. Seven starters return from a unit that allowed seven points or less in eight games.

6 Malvern Malvern (8-3)

In nine years at Malvern, head coach Dave Tucci has led the Hornets to 55 wins and three playoff appearances, the most recent coming last year. One absence for the coach, though, is a playoff win. That could come this season. Losing its three games last year by a total of nine points, Malvern returns enough to challenge for an Inter-Valley Conference championship and deep playoff run.

7 Arlington Arlington (10-3)

Arlington was the region’s surprise team last year when it made the school’s first playoff appearance and advanced all the way to the regional final (lost to Ada 31-28). A second playoff trip should be just a matter of months away. First year head coach Dick Leonard moves up after being an assistant.



Ada (9-5)

Ada enters the season with a new quarterback for the first time in four years. Gone is prolific passer Zac Dysert who finished his career in the state semifinals last season with the second most career passing yards in OHSAA history (11,174). Stepping into those huge shoes is junior Mitchell Faine. Aiding Faine’s transition will be the return of 11 starters.



Monroeville (6-5)

Head coach Steve Ringholz continues his reign at Monroeville where he enters his 30th season with the Eagles among the state’s top 20 coaches in career wins (229-93-1). Monroeville has been to the playoffs seven straight seasons and 12 times overall and should add to both tallies.



West Unity Hilltop (8-3)

It took nine years, but head coach Mike Bumb and his West Unity Hilltop football team finally reached the mountain top. Last season the Cadets earned the school’s first postseason berth. The players, coaches and community may not have to wait as long for a return trip.



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