Maria Stein Marion Local ran the show in Division V last season, becoming the 10th team in state history to win four or more state championships. The state title followed a Division VI championship in 2006, meaning the Flyers have won 27 straight games going into the 2008 season. Could the Flyers do it again in 2008? Or will the state runners-up Youngstown Ursuline be the team to beat?
Maria Stein Marion Local ran the show in Division V last season, becoming the 10th team in state history to win four or more state championships. And they did it in dominant fashion, blowing out every opponent in their first 14 games. That run included seven shutouts (three in playoff games) and a 35-14 win over Division IV state champion Coldwater in Week 2. The Flyers edged Youngstown Ursuline 20-14 in the state championship game.
The state title followed a Division VI championship in 2006, meaning the Flyers have won 27 straight games going into the 2008 season.
Could the Flyers do it again in 2008?
Or will the state runners-up Youngstown Ursuline be the team to beat?
Both of those squads have big goals in mind, but they won’t be the only ones. Division V is crowded with quality competitors, including St. Henry.
Remember the Redskins?
TEAMS TO WATCH
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.
Second-team All-Ohio selection Eric Niekamp leads a quality core of returning players that could become one of the best teams in Region 20.
“We feel that we have the linemen and skilled people to compete every week in our league,” said head coach Bryan Rioch. “With that said, our league has produced six state champions in the last three years. Needless to say, we must be prepared to play for 48 minutes each week.”
|Applecreek Waynedale (9-3) Released 7/11|
Led by 2,000-yard rusher and All-Ohio selection Thad Nofsinger and 10 other returning starters, Waynedale will be a team to watch in 2008.
“I think I have a group that’s hungry to get back into the postseason and improve on last year,” head coach Matt Zuercher said.
In addition to the returning starters, several players who will be stepping into the starting role for the first time already have plenty of experience under their belts. The Golden Bears will have goals of advancing deeper into the playoffs, and the school and community will be expecting more as well.
“They see the players that are coming back and the experience that that group got, and the bar is going to be raised again this year,” Zuercher said. “I think the community expects that as well, which is good. It’s the way it should be.”
|Bucyrus Wynford (10-1) Released 7/18|
The Wynford Royals stayed on a roll in 2007, putting together their second undefeated regular season in three years and moving their overall regular season record in that time to 29-1. But a second consecutive opening round playoff loss has left the team hungry to get back to the type of playoff success the Royals had in 2005, when they advanced to the regional finals.
“I think everybody from our standpoint was extremely disappointed in the way our season ended last year in terms of getting beat in the first round,” head coach Travis Moyer said. “These kids going into this year have worked extremely hard to make sure that doesn’t happen, but obviously we’ve got a lot of legwork to do before that point to get that opportunity.”
Four starters return on offense and three on defense, which leaves some areas that will need to be addressed.
“From an offensive standpoint, we’ve got some major question marks, but we’ve got some guys who worked extremely hard this offseason to become the best that they can in terms of athletes,” Moyer said. “Defensively, we’ve lost a lot a good players also and we’ll have a big challenge there in replacing some of those kids.”
|Casstown Miami East (8-3)|
The tide has turned in Casstown. After five straight losing seasons including a winless campaign in 2005, the Miami East Vikings put together their first ever playoff season in 2007.
The 2008 season marks the 50th year of the Miami East football program, and with 17 starters returning from the 2007 squad, it could be the best year yet. Among the players returning will be All-Ohio running back Sam Smallwood, who rushed for 1,440 yards and 21 touchdowns and needs just 183 yards to become Miami East’s all-time leading rusher.
“We need to keep believing in our teammates and ourselves,” head coach Max Current said. “The keys to our success will be to eliminate offensive turnovers and create more defensive turnovers. We need to start the 2008 season the way we finished in 2007 when we won our last six games.”
|Cleveland Cuyahoga Heights (9-1) Released 7/18|
The Redskins made the jump to Division V last year with expectations of continuing their streak of 10 straight postseason berths, but those expectations came to a crushing halt when the team missed out on the playoffs by a measly 3.5 third-level computer points.
This year’s team returns four starters on offense and three on defense.
“We’ve lost a lot of skill over the last two years,” head coach Al Martin said. “We’re really going to have a lot of new kids at the skill spots, so that’s somewhat of a concern. The good thing is we have two really good quarterbacks, and they gained a lot of experience last year.”
Last year’s team set a school record for fewest points allowed in a season, but many players will be gone from that unit.
“Defensively, I think we have a long way to go before we get back to where we were at the end of last year because we graduated a lot of talent there as well,” Martin said.
|Columbus Bishop Ready (12-2) Released 8/1|
On paper, Columbus Bishop Ready lost quite a bit from last year’s regional champion, graduating 16 seniors including two first-team All-Ohio players. But as far as expectations go, nothing has changed.
“We expect to make it to the playoffs,” head coach Larry Wolf said. “We have enough quality kids coming back. Obviously we’re weak in some areas and we’ll have to make some people grow up in a hurry, but the expectations absolutely remain the same.”
Four starters return on each side of the ball along with All-Ohio kicker Mike Morgan, along with several younger players who saw a good deal of playing time last season. A tough schedule awaits the Knights, including an early-season marquee matchup against West Jefferson.
“We’ve got to hit the ground running,” Wolf said. “There’s no room for error.”
|Defiance Tinora (9-2) Released 8/8|
Tinora might have been one of the younger teams in Region 18 last season, fielding only five seniors and a freshman starting quarterback. But that didn’t stop the Rams from making a run to Week 12 of the postseason.
“I think we fielded seven or eight sophomores on each side of the football,” head coach Kenny Krouse said.
With 18 starters returning (nine offense, nine defense), this year’s team will carry a goal of winning multiple postseason games.
“That’s been our goal and not just to be a one-hit wonder,” Krouse said.
Tinora will face a challenging schedule that includes four 2007 playoff teams along with three-time state champ Delphos St. John’s. Even with the goal of advancing in the playoffs in mind, Krouse says his team will not be looking past the schedule.
“I think they realize it’s really tough to get in,” Krouse said. “It’s not easy.”
|Findlay Liberty-Benton (12-1) Released 8/1|
The turnaround for the Liberty-Benton program continues to reach new heights. The Eagles’ playoff berth in 2007 was their fifth straight after previously never having had a playoff appearance. With nine starters returning on defense and five on offense including All-Ohio selection Aaron Craft, this year’s senior-laden team appears loaded and set to possibly go even further than last season’s regional finals appearance.
“We’re going to have some expectations,” head coach Tim Nichols said. “We’ve been awfully pleased with what’s happened over the winter; it’s been one of our better ones we had in a while. We’re just anxious to get summer going.”
While having Craft back at quarterback for a third season will be a luxury for the offense, it was defense where he received All-Ohio honors, and it’s the defense as a whole that seems to be the team’s top strength.
“I’m excited,” Nichols said. “I think we have a chance to make it pretty tough for teams to find the end zone on us.”
|Fredericktown (10-3) Released 7/25|
It was a memorable season for the Freddies, who entered the playoffs as a seven-seed and made a run all the way to the regional finals.
“It was great for our program,” head coach Luke Beal said. “We were able to generate a lot of excitement, and we’ve been able to bring a lot of that momentum into our offseason with our younger kids.”
With four starters back on each side of the ball, Fredericktown will have some areas where there is some youth. But Beal feels there will be a lot to work with.
“We’ll be young, but we did have a lot of younger kids that might not have been starters last year that did see a lot of action,” Beal said. “Our numbers are really good right now, and I think the success we’ve had the last two years has really helped that. They’ve really bought into the types of things we’re doing.”
The team lost first-team All-Ohio quarterback Merritt Zollars to graduation, but Beal feels that Thomas Hinkle, who will be moving from receiver, has a chance to be a quality successor.
“He’s always been a quarterback, but last year we had a first-team All-Ohio quarterback,” Beal said. “We had to play him somewhere on offense last year, so he got a lot of experience at wide receiver.”
|Gates Mills Gilmour Academy (9-2) Released 7/11|
The Gilmour Lancers have found themselves on a streak of success, landing in the playoffs five out of the past six seasons after only having just one previous postseason berth. This year’s team is hoping to have what it takes to make it six of seven.
“All in all, it was a pretty satisfying year, but there’s going to be some big holes to fill going forward,” said head coach Bob Spicer. “Our entire offensive line has graduated, but we do have just about all our skill players back, including one of the better quarterbacks around in Billy Urban and our running back Tommy Hallal, who had 25 touchdowns last year and was first-team all-state.”
QB Billy Urban and RB Tommy Hallal along with WR Luke Cangelosi, DT Marc McDonald, LB Will O’Brien, and DL JohnYoung form a solid group to build around, and Spicer feels another good season could be in order if the line questions are answered.
“That’s the core group for what we think will hopefully be a good season,” Spicer said. “We’re not certain because we have to stay healthy. We have some major holes to fill on the offensive line. If we’re able to find some people there, we should be ok.”
|Hamler Patrick Henry (12-2) Released 7/18|
Patrick Henry once again showed last season why they are one of the premier programs in Division V, returning to the state semifinals for the third time in four seasons. Eleven starters return to this year’s team, led by All-Ohio selection and major college prospect Cody Pettit. Pettit will lead two experienced lines, but new starters will have to step up in other areas.
“It’s going to be one of the biggest and most athletic lines that I’ve ever had in my 18 years coming into this next year at Patrick Henry,” head coach Bill Inselmann said. “However, we lost a very, very good group of skilled athletes.”
Even though the Patriots will have to look for some new playmakers, nothing has changed as far as expectations.
“We think we will find the skilled kids to be able to do good enough things to be able make us competitive and have an outstanding season,” Inselmann said.
While Region 18 features many teams that are no stranger to the playoffs, the Hillsdale Falcons will be aiming to make their first ever postseason appearance this year. The program made big strides in 2007, posting a program-best eight-win season, and 19 starters return from that team with goals of finally reaching Week 11.
“We feel like we should have another very solid team,” head coach Tom Williams said.
Naturally, expectations and hopes for this year’s team are high across the school and community.
“I think people expect us to do fairly well, which is a big difference,” Williams said. “I think in the past, people just kind of expected that we wouldn’t be very good year in and year out. Now, people are excited.”
But Williams says that the new expectations also create a level of stress the team might not be used to. Will they be ready to handle it?
“You never know,” he said. “You just kind of have to wait and see. Once you get into the two-a-days and scrimmages and stuff like that, you have a better idea of how the team’s done and what their mindset is.”
A strong core of seniors will be looking to lead Johnstown-Monroe into their third straight playoff appearance. The Johnnies advanced to round two in 2007 and will have hopes of progressing even further in 2008. Plenty of production returns on defense, led by seniors Kurt Sammons (121 tackles, 17 TFL, two sacks) and Josh McClellan (102 tackles, five interceptions). Senior fullback Will Carter posted 57 carries for 464 yards and nine touchdowns in 2007.
Head coach Phillip “Tiger” LaVerde is two-for-two in his two seasons at Kirtland High School, leading the Hornets to the postseason in each year – no small feat for a program that had two total prior postseason appearances.
The Hornets return a strong core of players, led by Northeast Lakes District Defensive Player of the Year and All-Ohio selection Rossi Santo. Santo put up strong numbers on each side of the ball in ’07, with 27 touchdowns on offense and six interceptions and 90 tackles on defense.
Joining Santo will be two more first-team all-district performers in Dominic Samf (800-plus yards receiving) and two-way standout Ben Madden (1200 yards passing, 90 tackles).
The Hornets have fallen short in each of their playoff appearances the past two seasons, but the goal in 2008 will be to advance.
“We want to make a third straight trip to the playoffs,” LaVerde said. “We want to win some playoff games.”
Longtime head coach Rex Lingruen thought his young Liberty Center squad would be a year away in 2007, but the Tigers showed strong strides by earning a spot in the playoffs.
“We only had eight senior boys, and they gave all they could,” Lingruen said. “For what we had, I thought we overachieved and did a nice job.”
With eight starters back on offense and seven on defense, this year’s team will be expected to make some noise.
“It could be pretty promising,” Lingruen said. “Most of our line returns and most of our backfield returns also, so offensively we’re going to be a little more explosive. Defensively, we’re returning most everybody, so we’re pretty optimistic right now.”
The preseason selection of many (including Ohio High) to win the 2007 state championship, Lima Central Catholic did not quite reach that goal but still put together another solid season.
“I think you’d have to consider the season a success,” head coach Jerry Cooper said. “We won ten games and won our league outright. Our only losses were to two really good football teams, but obviously it was disappointing from the standpoint that we thought we might have had a team that could compete at the top of Division V but fell short when we played against those really good teams.”
Five starters return on offense and four on defense for the Thunderbirds, who appear to have put past struggles behind them to establish a winning program and should have another successful season in 2008.
“We feel we have a pretty good nucleus to build around,” Cooper said. “We had a real successful JV team last year that only lost one game and our freshmen went undefeated, so we have some real building blocks. It’s just going to be a matter of, can we take what we learned over the past three years and establish a real winning tradition?”
|Lore City Buckeye Trail (10-1) Released 8/15|
After an unblemished regular season and a tough opening round playoff loss to Fredericktown, Buckeye Trail hopes that the 2008 season results in their third consecutive playoff berth. Five starters return on each side of the ball, but the team will also be young in some key areas, particularly at the skill positions on offense.
“We are going to be younger this year, obviously,” head coach Randy Thompson said. “We’ll be playing a lot of sophomores along with some of those veterans we have back. I think we have seven or eight lettermen from that team last year, so we have some kids to work with and build around.”
Regardless, the expectations remain high for the Warriors after two consecutive conference titles and postseason appearances.
“Our kids know what it takes to win those (conference) championships, and hopefully they can build upon that,” Thompson said. “They know the work ethic that’s required to be good.”
|Maria Stein Marion Local (15-0) Released 7/11|
The Flyers met and exceeded expectations in 2007, putting together an historic season in the process.
“This was the first time since 1971 that a Marion Local football team’s gone undefeated, and it was our first year up in Division V, so you put those two things together and it was really an incredible year,” head coach Tim Goodwin said.
The 2007 Flyers were led by five exceptional three-year starters, all of whom were lost to graduation. This year’s squad returns four starters on each side of the ball, and it will be up to this year’s group of seniors to step into the roles that last year’s leaders held in order to continue the success.
“This year’s senior class is very athletic,” Goodwin said. “They did some real good things for us as juniors, but they were role players last year. There’s a big difference between their role last year and what they have to do this year, so it will interesting to see what happens. I think we will have good competition in those spots, and as a coach that’s what you want.”
|Milford Center Fairbanks (9-2) Released 8/15|
Former Marysville defensive coordinator Morgan Cotter made a great first impression in his debut season at Fairbanks, guiding his new team to a nine-win season and a playoff berth.
“The kids were real receptive to what we wanted to do as a coaching staff,” Cotter said. “We had some great senior leaders – kids who were selfless and were willing to move positions to do different things… We had great community support for what we were doing and the changes we made, so it was a great positive season for being a first-year head coach and coming into a new situation.”
The encore could be even better as 16 starters return including the entire offensive and defensive lines.
“Looking at that standpoint, I’m real excited about being able to move the football and being able to control both offensive and defensive lines at the line of scrimmage,” Cotter said.
The Falcons are coming off their fourth ever playoff appearance and third in seven years, with their 8-3 mark being the second-best in school history. Second-year head coach Brent Daniels says the goal for this season is to improve on that mark.
“This year, the players are ready to build on that season,” Daniels said. “The players are working hard in the offseason and doing what it takes for the program to be successful year after year.”
Minford appears to have a good core of both seniors and underclassmen in place.
“We have a hard-working senior class that will be helped by some of our juniors and sophomores,” Daniels said. “Our juniors and sophomores will be looked at to fill most of the skill positions.”
|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.
“We have a couple people here and that that have gotten a lot of playing time, and the young kids saw the work ethic of the seniors and saw what it takes to be successful, so I really believe it will carry over to this year,” head coach Dan Yeagley said.
The Raiders return some solid players and one of Division V’s most talented quarterbacks in Jack Dawson, but Yeagley says the defensive progress will be a big key.
“Defense could be the big question,” Yeagley said. “We’re going to have to really work hard in the off-season defensively because we lost everybody. We have a lot of holes to fill there.”
|Rockford Parkway (8-2) Released 8/1|
Parkway made their way to the top half of the rugged MAC conference last year, finishing with eight wins and falling just short of a playoff berth that would have been the school’s first since 1999 and second overall.
“It was just great to see a great group of guys that worked hard and really committed themselves to make Parkway football a success, and see it happen in wins and losses as well,” head coach Ed Kuhn said.
Parkway will try to keep it going in 2008, returning six starters on offense and four on defense, including the entire offensive line.
“We’re really looking at that to be one of our strengths this year,” Kuhn said. “That hasn’t happened around here for a long time, to return that type of a crew on the offensive line… but we do lose a lot of quality players, which you do every year. That’s part of high school football. But we’re excited about our possibilities.”
|St. Henry (6-4) Released 7/18|
The St. Henry Redskins have followed an unusual pattern since 2003, missing the playoffs completely in odd-numbered years while winning state championships in even-numbered years.
If that pattern continues, St. Henry might be in store for big things in 2008. And, as luck would have it, the Redskins appear to be stacked with experience and loading up for another run.
Due to injury and graduation, the Redskins had a chance to give several young players some experience last season. As a result, this year’s team has plenty of promise and expectations, returning eight starters on each side of the ball.
“Everywhere on offense and everywhere on defense, we have people back,” head coach Jeff Starkey said. “They have to take that next step forward to become a competitive team in our football league week in and week out, which is pretty tough to do.”
The Mathews Mustangs put together a special season in 2007, advancing to the playoffs for the second time in three years and posting an unbeaten regular season record for the first time in program history.
“We certainly felt that we were capable of that, but I don’t know if you ever expect that to happen,” head coach James Parry said. “To be part of the first undefeated team in the history of our school, I think it was a really special season for everybody involved.”
Mathews will return 11 starters (six offense, five defense) from last year’s team and will have goals of similar success and playing further into the postseason.
“We’re obviously losing some nice players, but at the same time, there’s enough there that if we have a few kids step up, we have a chance to be successful again,” Parry said. “Whether that happens or not, that’s part of the fun of coaching.”
After a 1-2 start, Waynesville rebounded last season for a 7-1 finish and the program’s third ever playoff berth. Head coach Glen Burchfield feels as if the rare postseason berth might have resulted in a “happy-to-be-there” approach during the first-round 45-21 loss to West Liberty-Salem, but this year’s team appears determined to prevent that from happening again.
“One of the goals that I know the seniors have set for this upcoming year is they want to be the first team to win a playoff game,” Burchfield said.
The team will have eight starters back on each side of the ball and plenty of experience to work with.
“We do bring back a lot of speed,” Burchfield said. “We’re not going to be very big, but we’ve got some kids who can run. Obviously a lot of them have experience as well since we several kids who played as freshmen and sophomores, and we have a great senior class as far as leadership.”
It was another great year for the Rough Riders, advancing to the regional finals for the second straight time before bowing out to state champion Marion Local. Will the success carry over into 2008?
“We graduated a lot of good players again,” head coach Shawn Buescher said. “But we feel very good about the nucleus we have coming back. If we continue to have the offseason that we feel like we’ve had up to this point and continue to build off that, we feel like we could come back and have another productive year.”
Five starters return on each side of the ball for West Jefferson. Buescher feels this year’s team will be strong at the skill positions but will need to work on rebuilding the offensive line.
“We have to replace our entire offensive line,” Buescher said. “That’s going to be a project for us.”
|West Lafayette Ridgewood (9-2) Released 8/8|
After losing almost every single starter from their 2006 squad that posted an unbeaten regular season, expectations were that Ridgewood might face a rebuilding year in 2007, but those expectations were proven wrong.
“We thought last year was going to be a year where we were really going to have to reload and rebuild, but our senior group with a lot of help from the juniors below really came through and had a tremendous year,” head coach John Slusser said.
This time around, hopes and expectations are high as 13 starters return (seven offense, six defense) from last year’s playoff squad, including All-Ohio performer Derrick Young and plenty of size on the offensive line.
“People are pretty excited, including the coaches,” Slusser said. “We’ve got a lot of people back this year. I would say with this team, there’s as much or more excitement (from the community) as any of the teams we’ve had in the past”
|West Salem Northwestern (9-2) Released 8/8|
The Northwestern Huskies couldn’t hold off conference foe Apple Creek Waynedale, who dealt the Huskies each of their two losses. But head coach Mike Thut says the team put together a very positive campaign in 2007.
“I was real happy with our players because last year I felt we were undersized and didn’t have a whole lot of experience,” Thut said. “We had a lot of first year starters, and they stepped up in a real big way.”
This year’s team faces the transition from a senior-laden team to a very young team.
“We’re going to have to replace a lot of kids,” Thut said. “We lost eight starters on each side of the football. The returning starters are real good players; I’m real happy with them. The other young men are going to have to step up. We’re going to be playing a lot of sophomores this year.”
|Wheelersburg (8-4) Released 8/15|
The Pirates were back in the playoffs in 2007, notching a first-round win over Ridgewood before falling in overtime to Fredericktown. New head coach Rob Woodward takes over for Tony Smith.
Fifteen seniors graduated, including first-team All-Ohio quarterback Drew Spradlin. The Pirates lost a good amount of production from their offense but return their second-leading rusher and fourth-leading receiver in Schankweiler, along with two of their top four leading tacklers on defense in White and Lang.
|Youngstown Ursuline (12-3) Released 7/25|
The Fighting Irish loom large as potentially the team to beat not just in Region 17, but all of Division V. Six starters return on each side of the ball from last year’s Division V runner-up, including at least three major college prospects in Darrell Mason and Dale Peterman and monster defensive end Jamel Turner, who won first team All-Ohio honors as a sophomore. Ursuline will be breaking in a new quarterback after losing Division V offensive player of the year Lamar McQueen to graduation and lost some quality players in the trenches from last year’s team, but the team should have a solid defense led by a strong secondary and is loaded at the skill positions.
Head coach Dan Reardon calls his skill positions group the strongest he’s had in his time at Ursuline.
“We should be very, very good at the skill positions in general,” Reardon said. “We return just about all of our offensive production as far as rushing yards and receiving yards.”
The main question mark, as it often is with this team, will be whether or not the Fighting Irish can survive a brutal landmine-filled schedule that ranks as possibly the toughest in Division V.
“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,” Reardon said. “The thing is when you have challenging schedule, you have to come to play every week and requires you to maintain focus and be at your best. I think our kids understand that.”
ALSO KEEP AN EYE ON
Moving down from Division IV, the Blue Streaks put together a solid season and returned to playoffs for the first time since 2002.
|Baltimore Liberty Union (7-3)|
Three losses to playoff teams prevented the Lions from a spot in the playoffs.
|Bedford St. Peter Chanel (6-5)|
The Firebirds look to bounce back after a first-round playoff defeat.
The Golden Eagles went on a streak of seven straight wins during the regular season last year, which was enough to lead them to a postseason berth.
|Bloomdale Elmwood (7-3)|
The Royals fell short of the playoffs in 2006 but posted their third straight season of seven wins or more. “We will be young but growth should develop quickly and we should be able to establish a competitive team,” head coach Dean Zeigler said.
|Cincinnati Deer Park (9-3)|
Just four years separated from an 0-10 season, The Wildcats made great strides in 2007, reaching the playoffs and bringing home a victory. The team will be looking to continue to build on that success this year but graduated first-team All-Ohio running back Ben Rascona.
|Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy (8-3)|
A state runner-up in 2005, CHCA fell short of the playoffs in 2006 but rebounded to make a postseason appearance in 2007.
|Coal Grove Dawson-Bryant (7-2)|
The Hornets missed the playoffs by less than 0.2 percentage points last season.
|Columbiana Crestview (7-3)|
With 12 starters and 14 lettermen returning, Crestview could be back in the thick of things in Region 17. “We have graduated a ton of key players over the past two seasons, so we just want to be competitive from week to week,” head coach Paul Cusick said.
|Delphos Jefferson (7-3)|
Area coaches have singled out the Wildcats as a team to keep an eye on this year.
|Frankfort Adena (7-3)|
The Warriors fell short of making their third straight postseason appearance but still put together a solid season.
|Mineral Ridge (8-2)|
Dom Leone’s Rams are always a team to watch and have been singled out by other coaches as a team that could make noise this season.
The Rangers fell short of the postseason in 2007 but had a solid year, including two wins over playoff teams.
|Sherwood Fairview (9-2)|
The Apaches face the tall task of having to replace starting quarterback and Division V offensive player of the year Ryan Radcliff, who signed with Central Michigan. New head coach Dave Robinson takes over for Bob Olwin, now at Versailles. This year’s team will feature senior WR/DB and two-time All-Ohio performer Ben Wonderly.
Sycamore Mohawk (5-5)
After reaching the playoffs eight straight seasons, the Warriors saw their streak come to an end last year after finishing the season at .500. But four of Mohawk’s losses came against playoff teams, and Division VI state finalist Hopewell-Loudon was the only team to defeat the Warriors by more than seven points.
This year’s Mohawk squad will be young and breaking in a new quarterback and new starting backfield, but will be solid in other areas. “The offensive line will be much bigger and more athletic than last year’s,” said head coach Erik Baker. “The defense should be solid and very fast in the perimeter.”
OTHER TEAMS PREVIEWED
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES
Thad Nofsinger, TB/LB, Apple Creek Waynedale
Tommy Hallal, TB, Gates Mills Gilmour Academy
Billy Urban, QB, Gates Mills Gilmour Academy
Rossi Santo, RB/DB, Kirtland
Jack Dawson, QB, North Lima South Range
Darrell Mason, RB, Youngstown Ursuline
Dale Peterman, WR, Youngstown Ursuline
Jamel Turner, TE/DE, Youngstown Ursuline
Aaron Craft, QB, Findlay Liberty-Benton
Ben Wonderly, WR, Sherwood Fairview
Sam Smallwood, RB, Miami East
Seth Millar, RB, Waynesville
D.J. Mendenhall, QB, West Jefferson
Kurt Sammons, TE/LB, Johnstown-Monroe
GAMES TO WATCH
St. Henry at Marion Pleasant, West Jefferson at Mechanicsburg, Apple Creek Waynedale at Zoarville Tuscarawas Valley, Massillon Tuslaw at North Lima South Range, Defiance Tinora at Liberty Center, Fredericktown at Sparta Highland, Granville at Johnstown-Monroe, Ironton at Wheelersburg, West Lafayette Ridgewood at Shadyside, Anna at Sidney Lehman Catholic, Miami East at Milton-Union
Danville at Apple Creek Waynedale, Findlay Liberty-Benton at Arlington, Bucyrus Wynford at Sycamore Mohawk, Waynesville at Clinton-Massie
Jeromesville Hillsdale at Loudonville, Columbus Bishop Ready at West Jefferson, Licking Heights at Johnstown-Monroe, Portsmouth at Wheelersburg, Belpre at Glouster Trimble, Mechanicsburg at Milford Center Fairbanks, Rockford Parkway at Marion Local, Milton-Union at Waynesville
Kirtland at Cuyahoga Heights, Coldwater at Marion Local, Massillon Washington at Youngstown Ursuline, Sherwood Fairview at Defiance Tinora, Sycamore Mohawk at Bascom Hopewell-Loudon, Miami East at Covington, Anna at Rockford Parkway
Fredericktown at Danville, Coldwater at Anna, St. Henry at Marion Local, Antwerp at Defiance Tinora, Portsmouth West at Chesapeake, Williamsport Westfall at Richmond Dale Southeastern, Columbus Academy at Granville
Delta at Hamler Patrick Henry, Columbus Bishop Ready at Plain City Jonathan Alder, Sugarcreek Garaway at West Lafayette Ridgewood, Anna at St. Henry, Rockford Parkway at Coldwater, Cincinnati Wyoming at Deer Park
Bucyrus ay Bucyrus Wynford, Lima Central Catholic at Columbus Bishop Ready, Minford at Wheelersburg, West Liberty-Salem at Springfield Central Catholic
Archbold at Hamler Patrick Henry, Findlay Liberty-Benton at Dola Hardin Northern, Johnstown-Monroe at Danville
Youngstown Mooney at Youngstown Ursuline, Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph at Bedford St. Peter Chanel, Liberty Center at Delta, Hannibal River at Lore City Buckeye Trail, Wheelersburg at Waverly, West Lafayette Ridgewood at Malvern, Waynesville at Lemon-Monroe, Deer Park at Cincinnati Indian Hill
West Salem Northwestern at Apple Creek Waynedale, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary at Youngstown Ursuline, Lima Central Catholic at Ada, Marion Local at Anna, Milford Center Fairbanks at Waynesfield-Goshen, West Jefferson at Licking Heights
OHIO HIGH PREDICTIONS
Findlay Liberty Benton over Hamler Patrick Henry
Youngstown Ursuline over North Lima South Range
Columbus Bishop Ready over West Lafayette Ridgewood
St. Henry over Marion Local
Youngstown Ursuline over St. Henry