On The Lighter Side: Football, Football, Football


Gry Housteau’s “On the Lighter Side” column

Mike Edwards of Glenville High School is one of the talented Tarblooders that many high school football fans in Ohio might not even know about. He’s off to a great start this season as a two-way performer at cornerback and wide receiver. He’s not a top target for Ohio State but he’s still hoping for a chance to be a Buckeye. Some of his personal story is profiled here in this edition of On The Lighter Side.

With very limited personal exposure to the Kirk Herbstreit’s Varsity Football Series this past weekend, by just about all accounts it was once again a big success. The only game I actually attended was the Cardinal Mooney against Covington Catholic contest at Fawcett Stadium after Ohio State took care of business against Youngstown State on Saturday.

But while I was at that game, where the Cardinals handily disposed of the Colonels, I had a chance to chat with Jim Herbstreit, Kirk’s dad and Varsity Football Series organizer, and he was very positive and excited about the future of this prestigious event.

It wasn’t exactly a great weekend for a lot of the Ohio teams but it was certainly a great weekend overall for high school football fans who had a chance to witness a game or two or three if they chose to.

Thanks to Kirk and Burger King, of course, the Varsity Football Series in its current format is just another reason to take pride in high school football in Ohio.

As far as Ohio State is concerned, other than the injury to Beanie Wells, things went about as well as they possibly could as the Buckeyes did what they needed to do to start the season off successfully.

Seeing Terrelle Pryor for the first time in a Buckeye uniform, running things with poise and confidence when he was inserted into the game, was a beautiful thing to see to say the least. What is there not to be excited about the future of this young man? Seeing him go for the goal line in the manner that he did on his first touchdown run as a Buckeye, the first of many to come over the next three seasons, I felt as if I was watching a Jeannette High School game once again.

Unfortunately for Ohio University, things probably won’t be a whole lot better for the visiting team in Ohio Stadium this weekend as the Buckeyes tune up for their Sept. 13 contest with the Trojans of USC. With Beanie Wells out of action for this one, Maurice Wells, Brandon Saine and Boom Herron will all get a chance to build confidence in their own respective games and make Ohio State stronger and deeper for the long term.

Looking back at week two, once again I went 2-1 with respect to the games that I had predicted an outcome for in this column last week. Doing the math correctly, I stand 4-2 in the prognostication department after the first two weeks of the season.

On Friday night, I came away very impressed with what I saw on my visit to Garfield Heights. Obviously Melvin Fellows, an OSU commit, was the main attraction for me, and he didn’t disappoint, but I became a big fan of Freddy Swift, the senior running back for the Bulldogs.

Swift, who ran the ball 28 times for 223 yards, scored four touchdowns and he left an indelible impression on me with his speed and his burst and his ability to change direction on a dime. In my humble opinion, Swift, along with a major talent like Fellows, gives Heights a legitimate chance to make some noise in the playoffs in Division I, Region I.

In the 32-10 victory for Garfield Heights over Parma, another player that caught my eye was Brian Schwartz for the Redmen. Schwartz, a playmaker at wide receiver who has yet to attract the attention of any college recruiters, is a legitimate talent and worthy of at least a look from at least some lower-level D-I programs.

On Saturday, after the Buckeyes did away with the Penguins, I traveled north on I-71 before heading east on Rte. 30 toward Canton, where I missed only the opening kickoff and a few plays of the initial drive by Cardinal Mooney, a drive that resulted in the game’s first score that put the Cardinals up 7-0 over the Colonels.

Unfortunately I didn’t think Mooney would be able to right the ship after their opening loss to the D-I Mentor Cardinals and predicted defeat for my hometown Cardinals in this contest. But Mooney scored early and often en route to a 57-0 victory that evened their record at 1-1.

A seemingly much-improved Alex Zordich at quarterback directed a potent running attack for the Cardinals that featured fellow juniors Braylon Heard, Ray Vinopal and Karrington Griffin. All three of their talented running backs found the end zone on at least one occasion during the game.

Of course Johnny Simon, another OSU commit, was the main attraction for me in this game and he helped earn the Cardinals a shutout with his play on the defensive line, but I think Heard was probably the most impressive player of them all in this contest. In addition to his exploits on offense, Heard picked off an enemy aerial and returned it for a touchdown that gave Mooney a 14-0 first-quarter lead at the time. Heard along with Vinopal were both members of Mooney’s 4X100 state championship relay team.

And finally on Labor Day Monday, Glenville traveled to Wheeling, W. Va. to participate in a holiday event there and came away with their second victory of the season, 34-13, against a talented Thomas Jefferson team from the Pittsburgh area.

Unfortunately I had to cancel my plans to attend the game but the victory by the Tarblooders will still count in the win column for me. No MVP award, however, can be handed out for this contest.

And speaking of Glenville, my regular weekly feature highlights one of the Tarblooders best players that many high school football fans in Ohio aren’t even aware of.

After the first two weeks of the high school season, WR/DB Mike Edwards is one of the many reasons why the Tarblooders have gotten off to an undefeated start.

“These last two weeks have been hard because we had two tough games but nobody ever quit,” Edwards said. “We’ve all been working hard and it’s all paying off. I think there’s a great chance for us to have a very successful season.”

Individually, Edwards has gotten off to a great start on both sides of the football this season. After a solid two-way performance against St. Ignatius in week one, Edwards unofficially had three catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns on offense and was stellar on defense once again in week two.

“This year I feel that I’ve been more focused and I’ve been more willing to do whatever because I feel that, being a leader of this team, I’ve got all eyes on me so I feel like I’ve got to do everything right and work hard every chance I get,” Edwards said. “It’s just the little things that I’ve been doing this year that I didn’t do last year that has been carrying me through this season so far.”

Edwards definitely seems to have his groove on this year.

“I think everything is starting to click and this is what I’ve been waiting for and this is what I’ve been dreaming of, for my chance to be on top,” Edwards said. “There’s not too many people that get a chance to play both ways at Glenville or start both ways at that. And then play on special teams as well. So I’m trying to make the most of it.”

He’s working hard for his teammates who he claims, collectively, are a major motivating source for him.

“Just to see the smiles on everyone’s face is what carries me on,” Edwards said. “My team carries me on and I feel that I have to work hard for them, or I’ve got to make a play for them because they look for me to make plays. So I feel like I owe that to them.”

Whether Edwards is a better player on offense or defense for Glenville is a whole separate topic for discussion in itself. If the first two weeks of the season are any indication, an argument can be made for him on either side of the ball.

“Some people like me on offense but I like myself better on defense,” Edwards said. “I think I’m more aggressive and I’m more comfortable on the defensive side of the ball. I’m not saying that I’m not comfortable on the offensive side because I am because I’ve been working at it this year. And by me working at it, catching balls after practice, running extra routes or maybe just running bleachers, I feel it’s made me a better player on offense and I feel confident now on both sides of the ball.”

Edwards, a product of the Cleveland Muni Football League, attended Benedictine High School in his freshman year.

“I started playing when I was about seven in the muni league, that’s what we all play around here, we all play in the muni league,” Edwards said. “I’ve always been one of the best players on my team, but I ain’t never been the best players on the team. I’ve always played a big role on my team since I was younger so this is not really new to me. That’s why I can take this leadership role and I can run with it for my team this year because I’ve been doing it my whole life. But it just fits better as I’ve gotten older.”

The way Edwards tells it, he played a lot in his freshmen season but not as much as he wanted to on offense.

“That’s where I really wanted to play when I was growing up,” Edwards said. “I didn’t think I was going to go to college for defense until I came to Glenville and (Head Coach Ted) Ginn told me that I was a better defensive back than I was a receiver. By him telling me that, I trust him enough to know that if he tells me that then I got to work hard at defensive back. So I started taking defensive back more seriously.”

At Streetsboro High School in his sophomore year, Edwards played defensive back and receiver full time but was more of a standout on the offensive side of the ball.

“I had 12 touchdowns as a sophomore and I was probably one of the best players that ever came through there,” Edwards said. “They were trying to keep me over there, it was a big deal, but I wanted to be around people that cared about me and people that loved me and I wanted to be a part of a family atmosphere.

“And I also wanted a better chance to go to Ohio State. I didn’t think I was going to be able to go to Ohio State from Streetsboro and by coming to Glenville I knew that I had the opportunity that if I worked hard then I should be able to go there one day.”

Edwards wasn’t happy at Benedictine and that prompted his move to Streetsboro.

“They recruited me when I was playing muni league,” he said. “I was recruited by St. Ed’s and St. Ignatius and all those types of schools but I chose Benedictine because my parents thought that would be a good school for me. I was never big on going to a school like that from the beginning but I wanted to do it because my mother wanted me to go to a school like that to get a better education.”

It really didn’t go well for Edwards on the football field or in the classroom at Benedictine.

“I played (on the freshman team) but I just felt like I was never a part of the team,” he said. “I just was like a sweet player that they wanted to get the ball to but I never felt a part of team. I didn’t really like how it was over there so I had to get out of there but my father wasn’t ready for me to go to Glenville.”

So Edwards attended Streetsboro for a year.

“He wanted to see how I would do out there where we lived at the time,” Edwards said. “I worked hard going into my sophomore year training and catching balls because I wanted to play receiver. After two or three days I was starting on the varsity at receiver. And when they seen that I could play corner too I played both ways. And I was taking kicks back and doing all kinds of things.”

As it turned out, after a successful season on the gridiron in his sophomore season at Streetsboro, Edwards was running track that spring at Glenville.

“I was working out with Cordale (Scott) a lot because we ran track together,” Edwards said. “We were going to camps together and Cordale liked me at receiver. We all thought I was going to play receiver but then when it came down to it at practice, Ginn put me at defensive back one day and ever since then I’ve been working hard at it and I never thought twice about it.

“I’ve always been willing to do whatever I had to do to get on the field and if I had to play defensive back last year to get on the field then that’s what I was willing to do. And I played a big role at defensive back last year, I believe, and that’s what got me in the position that I am now.”

Ironically, Edwards has since been reunited at defensive back with Jason Pinkston at Glenville where they now both start at cornerback for the Tarblooder defense. The two played together at Benedictine in their freshmen year.

“Me and Pinkston were the two corners that played for the freshmen at Benedictine so we already knew each other’s style of play,” Edwards said. “Pinkston is still the same type of player he was. He was aggressive and he had a nose for the ball. We were both two good corners but we were two different corners. I was the faster one but he was always the one that always had the nose for the ball. You never had to worry about him on the other side and he didn’t have to worry about me on the other side. And now he’s living up to what he can do at Glenville so everything is going good.”

According to one assistant coach at Glenville, neither player individually is of the elite caliber that Ted Ginn Jr. was when he was at Glenville, but he thinks this might be the best pair of cornerbacks that Glenville has ever had at one time.

“That means a lot if you think about the corners that have come through here,” Edwards said. “Ted was probably one of the best corners that I’ve ever seen play. To this day I still watch film on him to see how I can play different or what I can do different. So by saying we might be the best two corners that they’ve ever seen there is a big thing right there.”

Whether or not this talented pair of corners is good enough to help Glenville get to that elusive state championship game this year, something they’ve never done, and win it will be determined as the season goes on.

“As seniors we always hear about that 2004 team when Jamario (O’Neal) and Freddie (Lenix) were playing and we all just sit back and talk about how everybody thinks that’s the best team that ever came through here and how we always have to hear about them and we just want to leave our own legacy,” Edwards said. “Ginn tells us that we are legends every day and if we’re legends then we believe that we can leave something behind that’s never been done before and that’s going to a state championship. So we want to do whatever possible to get to the state championship and win it.”

Whether it matters or not, some people will never give Ginn the credit he deserves for what he’s done at Glenville until one of his talented teams win a state championship.

“In my eyes I really don’t think that matters,” Edwards said. “Ginn is always going to be the same person to us, we’ll always love him whether he gets a state championship or not. But to us, yeah winning a state championship for him, is important to us. I also think it’s important to him on the inside but I also know that this is all for the kids and for our lives. But I think winning a state championship will hold Ginn and his status on a whole other level and I think he deserves that.”

A victory over Gahanna Lincoln in week three will potentially get these Tarblooders on a par with the 2005 team of Rob Rose, Ray Small and Bryant Browning.

“That was the first and only class to go 10-0 like that,” Edwards said. “So we just feel like if we can go 10-0 then that’s leaving something behind right there. But we’re thinking way past 10-0. If we can go 15-0 then that would be so good.”

Individually, Edwards is still trying to achieve his personal goal of becoming a Buckeye.

Ohio State will always be the school of my dreams even if I didn’t end up going there,” he said. “Even if I didn’t get the offer I will still always like Ohio State because that’s always been the school I looked at coming up. Being an Ohio kid you always want to go to Ohio State so if I were to get that offer I would take it.”

With their 2009 recruiting class already filling up at Ohio State, Edwards, who already has offers from schools like Illinois, Wisconsin and most of the other Big Ten schools, knows it will be disappointing if that offer never comes.

“Yeah I know for a fact in my heart that yes it will be disappointing because I’ve always wanted to see if I was able to get that offer or if I was that type of person that could go to Ohio State,” he said. “There’s not too many people that you know that get a chance to go to Ohio State so yeah deep down inside it would be disappointing. But I probably wouldn’t show it, I would probably just move on and do what I got to do and go wherever I got to go because that’s the type of person I am. I’m going to strive on to be successful in life. I won’t let it bring me down but I probably would be disappointed.”

But if the Ohio State offer did come his way?

“I think about it sometimes but I really try not to think about it,” he said. “I just want to go out every weekend and perform. I feel like if I go out and perform and I do what I got to do on the field, the film will show for itself and people like Ginn can help me out. I just got to let things develop and things work out and the let the people that’s above me do their work too because that plays a big part in it also.”

Whether he gets an OSU offer or not, going to Glenville has certainly been a good thing for Edwards.

“It’s been great,” he said. “Just the love and the passion and the dedication to the game and to your life have made it all worth it. There’s a lot of pride and love in our family at Glenville and it’s really something special.”

Week Three predictions

With only two high school games on the docket for me this weekend, I’m going to go with Pinkerton Central, with OSU commits Jamie Wood and Zach Boren, to defeat Westerville North and then Glenville, of course, to defeat Lincoln on Saturday night.

And finally if you know of a student-athlete in Ohio that deserves to be profiled here On The Lighter Side or a student-athlete with a personal story of triumph or success, please send me an e-mail at
garyhousteau@bucknuts.com so that I can share that story in the future right here On The Lighter Side.


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