The 2009 JJHuddle Ohio High Football Preseason Power Poll is here!!


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 2009 JJHuddle 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 march towards the 2009 state championship

With the kickoff to the 2009 season just days away, we are proud to announce the Sixth Annual JJHuddle Ohio High Power Poll!

The Poll has been a huge success in past seasons and once again we
are excited to bring Ohio the best high school football coverage in the state
this season.

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

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

Week: Preseason  |  1  |  2  | 
3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  | 
8  |  9  |  Final

Division I


Cincinnati Elder (13-2, Division I State Runner-Up)

Elder moved back into the forefront in the GCL as well as
on the statewide stage with its run to the state title game. There had been some
lean times for the Panthers since winning back-to-back state titles in 2002-03. After winning the regional title, Elder downed Pickerington
Central 24-10 in a state semifinal before falling to Cleveland St. Ignatius
28-20 in the title game. Still, it was a major breakthrough for an Elder program
that had failed to win a playoff game in its two playoff appearances since
winning its last title in 2003.

“It was an exciting year,” said Elder coach Doug Ramsey,
who is starting his 13th year as the Panthers head coach. “I’m not
sure there were a ton of expectations for that team. That team was a big-time
overachiever. We won 13 games and we lost one to the eventual national champion
(Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas) and one in the state title game.”

Elder will have four returning starters on offense and
seven on defense.

“Our skill positions on offense should be pretty good,”
Ramsey said. “But we lost all five of our linemen from last year. We have a
chance to have a bigger line than we had last year. On defense, we don’t
normally have seven guys back. We expect the defense to play well.”

Mark Miller threw for 1,968 yards with 21 touchdowns
against just four interceptions.

“Mark understands the game,” Ramsey said. “He is a very
accurate quarterback and gets the ball to the open receiver.”

Alex Welch, who had four touchdowns among his 16 catches
last year, has already verbally committed to Notre Dame.

The schedule is tough as nails. Elder faces Illinois state
champion East St. Louis and Kentucky state champion Louisville Trinity. Elder
also faces Colerain, Lakewood St. Edward and Columbus DeSales in addition to the
usual GCL challenges.


Cleveland Glenville (11-1)

The Tarblooders won their first 11 games and
appeared to be a potential state championship contender. That streak including
an opening week win over rival Cleveland St. Ignatius. But St. Ignatius avenged
that early defeat with a stunning 8-7 win in a regional semifinal before going
on to the state championship itself.

As always, there are heavy graduation losses.
OL Marcus Hall and LB Jonathan Newsome signed with Ohio State. But coach Ted
Ginn Sr. has quite a bit of talent still on hand to try and make another title

S Christian Bryant has scholarship offers from
schools from coast to coast and could be the next spotlight player out of this
inner city school.

Latwaan Anderson transferred from Lakewood St.
Edward, where he was a defensive standout. Jayrone Elliott’s stock has also
risen with colleges during the spring and early summer.

Glenville is expected to win the Senate League
again. The nonconference is daunting with road games against St. Ignatius and
trips downstate to face Reynoldsburg and Huber Heights Wayne.


Cleveland St. Ignatius (14-1, State Champions)

Coach Chuck Kyle, back for his 27th year with
the Wildcats, welcomes back three players with starting experience on offense
and five on defense from his 10th state championship team. Kyle hopes to
maintain the momentum built on that title run.

“We had a couple of camps recently and the
kids were all like, ‘It feels like we just stopped (playing),’ ” Kyle said. “Now
the kids know what the reality is about winning a state championship. What you
hope is that you get to practice an extra five weeks because last year, that
really did help our young kids get more experience during our playoff run.”

LB Scott McVey issued an early commitment to
Ohio State after a dominant four-sack performance in the state title game win
over Cincinnati Elder. For the year, McVey had 94 tackles and 34-1/2

“Scott’s the type of kid, he’s a very focused
athlete,” Kyle said. “He loves playing the game. It’s almost like, ‘That’s (his
recruitment to Ohio State) done, now let’s get ready to play the season.’ He’s
glad it’s out of the way so he can play the game for his team. He had an amazing
season last year.”

Kevin Johnson, who rushed for 302 yards and
four TDs last year, was a state qualifier in the 100-meter dash and is a
Louisville recruit. Brendan Carrozoni is being heavily recruited as a tight end. Mark Myers started a few
games for departed senior Andrew Holland last year at quarterback.

The schedule has Glenville at the beginning
and rival Lakewood St. Edward at the end with a ton of challenges – including
Clayton Northmont, Mentor, Massillon Washington and Cincinnati St. Xavier — in
the middle.


Cincinnati Moeller (11-2)

John Rodenberg stepped in as the Moeller coach last year
and led the Crusaders to a playoff berth. Moeller dropped its first-round game
to Colerain 17-10. Rodenberg’s team could be poised to go deeper in 2009 with
seven starters back on offense and eight returning on defense.

“We were excited with the way we got into the playoffs,”
Rodenberg said. “We beat St. Xavier and Lakewood St. Edward. Unfortunately, we
got in there and lost to Colerain. We have a lot of guys coming back. We hope
they can play up to their potential. Our region is extremely tough, but if they
can do that we could be in the thick of it this year.

“We are excited to have that many starters back. That puts
me under a lot of pressure I guess,” Rodenberg joked.

All eyes will be on Andrew Hendrix, who issued a verbal
commitment to Notre Dame in late June. He threw for 1,609 yards with 11
touchdowns against seven interceptions last year.

“He’s got phenomenal arm strength and release,” Rodenberg
said. “He is very intelligent, he makes great decisions and he is a humble

LB Nick Galvin tallied 9-1/2 sacks as a junior. LB Marcus
Rush is a Michigan State verbal and OL Jeff Tanner is a Wake Forest verbal.


Colerain (11-2)

It has been a pretty good two years at the helm for Tom
Bolden, who followed the legendary Kerry Coombs as the Colerain coach in 2007.
In two seasons, the Cardinals have gone 21-3 under Bolden. Last year, Colerain
downed Cincinnati Moeller and Huber Heights Wayne in the playoffs before falling
to Cincinnati Elder 27-20 in double overtime in a heart-stopping regional final.
Middletown snapped Colerain’s string of 61 straight Greater Miami Conference
wins, but the Cardinals still won the conference title. Bolden welcomes back
seven starters on offense and six on defense.

“Without a doubt, we are still a young team,” Bolden said.
“We played six sophomores last year. They did not perform like sophomores. They
excelled. Defensively, we think we will be as athletic and as fast as we have
ever been.”

Greg Tabar is a caretaker in the option offense, although
he threw for 515 yards and six touchdowns last year. Tyon Williams and Trayion
Durham each eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark last year. Williams finished with 1,269
yards and 16 TDs rushing, while Durham had 1,032 yards and nine scores.

Colerain meets St. Xavier in the Crosstown Showdown and
visits Cincinnati Elder as well. Another Greater Miami Conference title will be
the goal when the conference season arrives.


Dublin Coffman (7-3)

After reaching the state semifinals with a 13-1 season in
2007, Coffman went 7-3 and finished 10th n the region to miss the playoffs. Mark
Crabtree, back for his ninth year at Coffman and 15th season as a varsity head
coach, has six starters back on offense and five on defense.

“I think our players were definitely disappointed about
missing the playoffs last year, but we had nobody to blame but ourselves,”
Crabtree said. “We started out 7-0, but we lost our last three games by a total
of 15 points. We weren’t probably athletic enough to make enough of the plays we
needed to defeat the teams we played at the end of the year. We lost to three
playoff teams there at the end.”

Cole Stoudt, whose brother Zack was the previous starter
and a Louisville signee last year, stepped in as the starter last year as a
sophomore. Stoudt, son of former NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt, is now regarded
as one of the state’s top 20 prospects in the 2011 class and has an offer to

“The first thing we saw with Cole was he does have the
ability to play at this level,” Crabtree said. “As a sophomore in high school,
you never know. He came in and competed against kids two years older than him.
He did a good job being a leader and taking charge. He was not intimidated by
the situation.

“It’s nice to know we have him for two more seasons. He is
mechanically sound and has the ability to make good decisions. His future is
pretty bright.”

Coffman opens with Powell Olentangy Liberty with a game at
Ohio Stadium as part of the Kirk Herbstreit Varsity Series. As always, the Ohio
Capital Conference Central Division – with the likes of Upper Arlington,
Hilliard Davidson and Worthington Kilbourne – looms large.


Huber Heights Wayne (8-4)

Wayne was off to a 5-0 start before Braxton Miller, its
standout quarterback, suffered a broken leg in a Week 6 game against Clayton
Northmont. Wayne still made the playoff field and swamped unbeaten Cincinnati
Woodward 52-0 in its opener before falling to Cincinnati Colerain 23-0 in the
second round. Miller has recovered from the injury and is considered
Ohio’s top prospect in the 2011 class. After throwing for 1,000 yards and
rushing for 500 as a freshman, he threw for 642 yards and five touchdowns in six
games before the injury.

“When you have a player like Braxton, you have to feel good
about that,” said Wayne coach Jay Minton, who returns for his 11th
year as the Wayne coach and 19th as a varsity head coach. “His
competitiveness and athletic ability, that is a combination that you don’t see
very often. He’s a special player who, when he steps on the field, he makes
everyone else around him better.”  

Minton has five starters back on offense and six on

“We feel we are pretty solid up front,” Minton said. “At
receiver, we don’t have that one marquee guy. With Braxton being there, you want
to make sure you have some guys who can run great routes and catch the ball.”

Brothers Terrence and Terry Talbott are Michigan recruits.

The schedule will be a challenge. Wayne opens against
Cincinnati Princeton in the Crosstown Showdown before going upstate to visit
Canton McKinley and hosting powerful Cleveland Glenville. Wayne also figures to
be in the GWOC hunt.


North Canton Hoover (12-2)


Hoover reached the state semifinals behind the
exploits of Ohio’s Mr. Football award winner and the Ohio High player of the
year RB Erick Howard (5-10, 210, Sr). Howard rushed for 2,387 yards and 31
touchdowns. He also registered 98 tackles, three sacks and eight
tackles-for-loss. Hoover dropped its semifinal game to Cleveland St. Ignatius


Cincinnati St. Xavier (4-6)

From 2005-07, St. Xavier posted a 40-2 record
with a pair of 15-0 state championship seasons. But the Bombers took a step back
in 2008, losing several tight games and posting a losing record.

“You never settle for anything but the best,”
said St. X coach Steve Specht, who is back for his fifth year with the Bombers.
“But we felt the schedule we had was brutal. We played a number of teams ranked
in the top 20 in the country. We didn’t stay healthy. We lost three games by a
total of seven points. I don’t look at last year as a failure. We had a group of
young kids who worked hard. The ball just didn’t bounce our way last year.”

Specht welcomes back seven starters on offense
and five on defense.

“Our offensive line should be the strength of
our team,” Specht said. “We bring back our quarterback and we feel he is a major
college prospect. We have a nice stable of running backs. We have to find some

Luke Massa split time at quarterback last year
nursing an injury. He threw for 752 yards and three touchdowns a year ago and is
a Cincinnati recruit.

“He is the smartest quarterback I have
coached,” Specht said. “He makes unbelievable decisions. He is very even keeled
and poised in the pocket.”

Matt James is considered one of the nation’s
top offensive line prospects with offers from a number of top schools, including
Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Ohio State.

“We have leaned Matt out a little bit and he
looks good,” Specht said. “Other than the fact he’s got size and athleticism, if
you come to our practices you’ll see a kid who works as hard in practice as he
does in a game.”

St. X opens with Cincinnati Colerain in the
Crosstown Showdown. Four state championship teams – Indianapolis Cathedral,
Louisville Trinity, Fort Thomas (Ky.) Highlands and Cleveland St. Ignatius – dot
the schedule. Plus, the usual Greater Catholic League challenges of Cincinnati
Elder and Cincinnati Moeller loom large.


Canton McKinley (6-5)

Former Miami (Ohio) assistant Ron Johnson took
over the McKinley program last year and led the Bulldogs to a playoff berth in
his first season. McKinley dropped its playoff opener to Federal League rival
GlenOak 14-7.

“It was very encouraging,” Johnson said. “We
came in following a 3-7 season and took the program over. We came in and played
so many young guys. We started out 0-2, but then we went on a pretty good run.”

Johnson welcomes back six offensive starters
and 10 on defense.

“It’s very exciting,” Johnson said. “Our kids
are locked in and focused. They got after it this off-season. I think this is a
mature, seasoned group and they have high aspirations.”

One of the youngsters that got playing time in
2008 was Kyle Ohradzansky, who started at quarterback as a sophomore. He threw
for 1,400 yards with 15 touchdowns against just seven interceptions.

DE Steve Miller is considered one of Ohio’s
top five junior prospects as he tallied 100 tackles, 11 sacks and 23
tackles-for-loss. He earned first-team All-Ohio honors as a sophomore and is in
line for a number of major college offers.

“He just plays with great effort,” Johnson
said. “He takes coaching very week. He is strong, uses good technique and just
plays very hard.”

McKinley could be a team to watch in the
Federal League. Nonleague games with Cleveland East Tech, Huber Heights Wayne
and rival Massillon Washington (which won that Week 10 showdown 17-0 last year)
all loom large.


Division II


Lexington (11-1)

The Minutemen were the No. 3 seed in Region 6
last year and their only loss of the season came at the hands of eventual
Division II state champion Sylvania Southview in the regional semifinals. This
season, they have larger plans in mind.

Courtney Avery has verbally committed to
Michigan and is ranked as the No. 28 senior in the state by Ohio High. He will
play corner in college and he previously committed to Stanford before switching
to UM. Avery has been Lexington’s varsity starting quarterback since the first
game of his freshman year and he was named first-team All-Ohio as a defensive
back last year. He was also stellar as a quarterback in 2008 when he threw for
2,600 yards with 26 touchdowns and just three interceptions (and completed 71
percent of his passes). Avery was named the Ohio Cardinal Conference offensive
player of the year.

Kevin Smith returns to lead the defense from
his linebacker spot and he had 80 tackles and seven sacks last year. He was
named honorable mention All-Ohio, first-team all-district and first-team
all-league. OL/DT David Willis is entering his third season as a starter and he
was named honorable mention all-district and second-team all-league. Zach Myers
and Willis are very comparable players. They are similarly-sized linemen that
start both ways and they claimed identical postseason awards last year (HM
all-district, second-team all-league).

Terrance Cyphers plays next to Smith at
linebacker and was nearly as productive last year. Cyphers had 78 tackles, five
sacks, one interception and was named second-team all-league. Tyler Hamman is
steady at strong safety and last year he had 65 tackles, one interception and
was named second-team all-league.

As if they weren’t already stockpiled with
talent, the Minutemen also welcome in a pair of talented transfers from
Mansfield Senior in Shaquille Jefferson and Kenya Coombs. Jefferson is the
younger half-brother of former Ohio State safety Jamario O’Neal and has
scholarship offers from Bowling Green and Central Michigan. Coombs was a starter
at quarterback and wide receiver at Mansfield, but he won’t play any QB for
Lexington unless something unfortunate happens to Avery.


Cincinnati Winton Woods (11-2)

The Warriors entered the 2008 playoffs as the
No. 1 seed in Region 8 and advanced to the regional finals where it fell to
eventual state runner-up Cincinnati Anderson in a tight 24-21 contest.

Dominique Brown runs the show at quarterback
and he is a verbal commitment to Cincinnati. He is ranked as the No. 56 senior
in the state by Ohio High and he was a second-team All-Ohio selection last year
when he rushed for over 1,000 yards earning unanimous player of the year
recognition in the Fort Ancient Valley Conference. 

Jeremiah Goins has rushed for over 1,000 yards
in each of the last two seasons (over 1,300 yards last year) and is closing in
on Winton Woods’ career rushing record. He was a second-team All-Ohio pick last

Avery Cunningham captains the defense from his
safety spot and he is ranked as one of the top 150 seniors in the state by Ohio

Head coach troy Everhart calls Cameron Brown
“a sleeper” and says he has the potential to be “one of the better defensive
linemen in the state.”

Corey Webber started as sophomore last year
and had four interceptions. As for David Hampton, he will be a defensive back in
college, but Everhart says he’s a very good high school linebacker even though
he’s a bit light to be playing the position.


Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit (9-3)

Walsh was the No. 1 seed in Region 9 of
Division III last year and the Warriors move up to D-II this season. RB Cameron
Ontko is ranked as one of the top 150 seniors in the state by Ohio High and is a
Wisconsin recruit. Connor Cook is one of the top 10
junior quarterbacks in the state according to Ohio High. He has a strong arm and
4.71 speed in the 40.

The bad news for the Warriors is they have to
replace all five starters on the offensive line, including second-team All-Ohio
selection Pat McShane who is playing college football at Indiana. They also must
replace second-team All-Ohio running back Armand Dehaney who signed with Ball

Head coach Gerry Rardin is entering his 29th
season at Walsh.


Avon Lake (8-3)

Avon Lake was the No. 5 seed in the Region 6
playoffs last year and lost at Medina Highland in the first round. The Shoremen
return an impressive group of players and should be better this season.

OL Christian Pace is a verbal commitment to
Michigan. He is ranked as the 17th-best senior in the state by Ohio High, making
him the highest-rated Division II player in the state.

OL/DL Dan Schneider is ranked No. 40 in the
state by Ohio High and was a second-team All-Ohio selection last year and is a
Pitt recruit.

Mike Mansnerus returns as the bell-cow
tailback. Last season, he piled up 1,700 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in just
eight games. OT/DE Brian Mihalek is the top player in Avon Lake’s junior class
and he will be a two-way starter.

“He has great tools,” head coach Dave Dlugosz
said. “Good size and good speed (4.8 in the 40).”

FB/LB Nick Marinkov returns as a two-way
starter and he is a strong and quick player that “plays downhill and has great
hands out of the backfield.” DL Jon Rodgers is coming off an injury and Dlugosz
is happy to have him back due to his good size and athletic ability. Jordan
Market and Kevin Morissette are returning starters that bring leadership to the
secondary. The latter also plays offense as a wideout.

Dlugosz is entering his 17th season at Avon
Lake and has a career record of 168-32. The Shoremen won a state championship
under his watch in 2003.


Logan (11-1)

The Chieftains were the No. 3 seed in the
Region 7 playoffs last year and lost to Louisville 7-0 in the second round in a
game where they turned the ball over seven times. (They knocked off Dublin
Jerome 23-7 in the first round.)

This year, they return one of the best
quarterbacks in the state regardless of division in Pat Angle. He was named
first-team All-Ohio last year and is entering his third season as Logan’s
starting quarterback. In 2008, Angle threw for 2,496 yards with 25 touchdowns –
both school records – and added 557 rushing yards and seven scores on the
ground. Angle set a school record when he threw for 324 yards in a 35-10 win
over Pickerington North last year.

Angle has a good No. 1 target in Mason Mays,
who was a second-team All-Ohio selection last year when he had 57 receptions for
852 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Michael Snider had over 100 tackles last year
and returns to lead the defense from his linebacker spot.

Ralph Robinson and Jeff Murphy are returning
starters, while Zach McDaniel was the backup tailback last year and moves into
the starting role this year.

Head coach Dale Amyx is entering his 20th
season at Logan and has a career record of 129-70. He has directed the
Chieftains to 12 Southeastern Ohio Athletic League championships and six trips
to the playoffs. He’s also been named SEOAL Coach of the Year five consecutive


Cincinnati Turpin (9-2)

The Spartans were the No. 4 seed in Region 8
last season (lost to Kings Mills Kings in the first round) and they have made
the playoffs four consecutive times. This year, with 14 returning starters (nine
offense, five defense) Turpin is primed for another quality season.

Wayne Dunham has racked up 2,679 career
rushing yards (1,221 last year, 1,458 as a sophomore in 2007) and 28 touchdowns
(15 last year, 13 in 2007) while averaging 6.4 yards per carry. He also has 24
career receptions for 311 yards and two touchdowns.

Jeff Groene is the best college prospect on
the team and he starts both ways at fullback and on the defensive line. In
addition to being a good blocker, he is a quality receiver out of the backfield
and has 25 career receptions for 215 yards (8.6 yards per reception) and four
touchdowns. He also has 73 career rushing yards (3.3 per carry) and six scores
on the ground.

Eric Martin took over starting quarterback
duties last year and was very solid in the role. He threw for 1,267 yards (57.2
percent) with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. He added 290 rushing yards
(3.8 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. Considering he was able to do all of
that as a sophomore, Martin’s numbers could rise exponentially in 2009.

“We have tons of potential this year,” Turpin
head coach Rob Stoll said. “Our backfield, if healthy, should be one of the best
in the city. Jeff Groene is a big, bruising, athletic fullback who is often a
lead blocker. Wayne Dunham is looking to completely re-write our record book
this year.

“Defensively, Matt Kelly and Ken Mason will
lead an athletic but inexperienced group. Our secondary returns four players
that received extensive playing time, led by Zach Page. Our defense should be
aided by a strong kicking game with kicker Alec Gates and punter Brogan Orcutt

Stoll is entering his eighth season at Turpin
and has a career record of 53-25.


Toledo Central Catholic (10-1)

The Irish rolled through the regular season
undefeated and were the No. 1 seed in Region 6 last year, but fell in the first
round of the playoffs at home to Powell Olentangy Liberty (which moved up to D-I
this year). This season, TCC is loaded with talent as usual.

TE/DL Jamaal Tarrent is ranked as one of the
top 150 seniors in the state by Ohio High and has a scholarship offer from
Akron. Last season, he had 36 tackles, 15 tackles-for-loss and nine sacks.

Chris Boles is ranked as one of the top 30
juniors in the state by Ohio High’s Mark Porter and he is one of two main
starters back on the offensive line.

Dempsey is also high on Kyle Cameron who is
ranked as one of the top 50 juniors in the state by Ohio High.

Dave Walender returns as the starting
quarterback and he threw for 1,147 yards (53 percent completion) with 12
touchdowns and five interceptions last year. Three of his interceptions came in
the final game of the season when Central Catholic was upset in the first round
of the playoffs.

Nate Hobbs is a talented athlete that will
play all over the field. He is even Walender’s backup at quarterback.Last
season, Hobbs had 29 receptions for 546 yards and five touchdowns. He added 12
carries for 62 yards and another touchdown. The bad news for the Irish was that
Hobbs missed the final three games of the season due to injury (including the
playoff game).

Zach Messer returns to lead the secondary and he
had 56 tackles from his strong safety spot last season.

Central Catholic also has a solid kicker in
Kyle Burkhardt (5-of-9 on field goals with a long of 48; 30-for-30 on extra

“We have a nice group of kids coming back,”
head coach Dempsey said. “We need our tailback situation to sort itself out and
we have about five candidates, but no one with varsity experience for a season,
or even a game. We have to throw the ball better this year and we have our
quarterback and receivers back. We need to mix in the pass to help our running
backs develop. We have a solid foundation on the offensive line, but we can’t
afford any injuries.”


Columbus Marion-Franklin (10-2)

Marion-Franklin was the No. 4 seed in this
region last year and defeated Columbus Beechcroft in the first round of the
playoffs before falling to Columbus DeSales (which has moved down to D-III) in
the regional semifinals.

Verlon Reed calls the shots at quarterback and
he is ranked as one of the top 150 players in the state by Ohio High. He has
scholarship offers from Bowling Green, Kent State, Syracuse and Toledo. As a
junior in 2008, Reed threw for 1,200 yards, ran for 700 and accounted for a
total of 20 touchdowns.

But it’s far from a one-man show at
Marion-Franklin. The Red Devils return all five starters on their offensive
line, led by massive OT Aaron Shelton (6-6, 320, Sr.).

Returning to lead the defensive line is
Matthew Williams who is a player that often controls the middle of the line of
scrimmage by himself.

One of the very few two-way starters on this
deep team will be Dominique Marsh at wide receiver and strong safety.

Head coach Brian Haffele is confident that he
has a dangerous team coming back and with good reason. The Red Devils have a lot
of talent and they’re looking to turn up the heat on their opponents this year.

“Every year our No. 1 goal is to win our
conference (Columbus City League South),” Haffele said. “We’re fortunate enough
to have won it each of the last five years. Offensively, we have a lot of
seniors. We feel good at quarterback and on the offensive line. Most of skilled
guys are underclassmen. We’ll probably start eight juniors – all first-time
starters – but four of them played in the playoffs against Beechcroft and
DeSales for us.


New Carlisle Tecumseh (11-1)

The Arrows were the No. 2 seed in this playoff region last
year and they won a first-round game at home over Mount Orab Western Brown
before falling to Cincinnati Anderson.

Tecumseh has a total of 10 returning starters, many of
which play both ways. Karson Williams is ranked as the No. 78 senior in the
state by Ohio High and he anchors both lines. Riley Gault threw for 768 yards
with four touchdowns and six interceptions and should be much better in his
second season in the starting role.

The Arrows can point to a pair of talented, experience
running backs to lead the offense. Last season, Dustin Holmes rushed for 977
yards (7.8 per carry) and Kyle Sanning wasn’t far behind him with 914 yards (6.1
per carry).

The leading returning performers on defense are Sanning
(110 tackles), Zeke Eier (106 tackles) and Dustin Holmes (91 tackles, four

“We return an experienced group of players that are
committed to the program,” head coach Kent Massie said. “They are a talented
group with a tremendous work ethic. The senior class will provide outstanding
leadership, focus and they have game-day experience.”


Louisville (12-1)

The Leopards were the No. 2 seed in the Region
7 playoffs last year and they advanced to the regional finals where they fell to
Columbus DeSales (which has moved down to D-III this year). Louisville defeated
Columbus Independence and Logan in the first two rounds of the postseason.

This year, the Leopards must say goodbye to
graduated quarterback Neal Seaman who was Ohio’s co-Offensive Player of the Year
in Division II last year.

The good news is that they return WR Bobby
Swigert who was a second-team All-Ohio selection last year (first-team
all-district, first-team all-league). He is ranked as the No. 45 senior in the
state by Ohio High and has scholarship offers from Akron, Ball State, Bowling
Green, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Colorado, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Kent
State, Miami U., Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Toledo, Western
Michigan and Wisconsin.

Hunter Potts was a second-team all-league
selection last year at linebacker and Joe Poyser was named honorable mention
all-league as a defensive lineman.

The team captains for 2009 are Swigert, Potts,
OT/DT Bob Gothot and TB/LB Jake Adkins.

Head coach Paul Farrah is entering his 10th
season at Louisville and has a career mark of 84-24. He is a former player at
Louisville and also played college football at Baldwin-Wallace as a defensive


Division III


Columbus DeSales (13-1)

DeSales has made the playoffs every season
since 1994 including two state titles and three runner-up finishes.

“Columbus has good football,” said head coach
Ryan Wiggins, who was the D-II co-coach of the year last year. “Northeast Ohio
was always the king and now I think it is leveled off in Columbus.”

As mentioned, DeSales drops to D-III with
Watterson this season.

“When you look at Division III you’ve got some
really good traditional powers in there. I think Division III is a very solid
division but our challenge with our regular season is getting enough points (to
get into the playoffs),” he said.

Besides Watterson, DeSales also has Cincinnati
Anderson, Cincinnati Elder, Cleveland Benedictine and Cincinnati LaSalle on the

The Stallions have a solid nucleus back,
especially upfront, to go up against that schedule.

WR/DB Chi Chi Ariguzo and OL/DL Travis 
Jackson both have numerous Division I college scholarship offers from some of
the top programs in the country and TE/DL Chris Rock is one of the top players
in the Class of 2011. RB Adam Griffin rushed for 800 yards last season as a role

Jackson ended his recruiting in mid-July committing to Michigan State.

DeSales will have a new quarterback under
center with the departure of Thomas Gentile and the starting job will come down
to Mitch Herbert, Nick Gentile and Sam Borghese (junior).

“There is no front-runner right now but the
thing about these guys is they are all good, athletic players,” Wiggins said.
“One of them will win the job and the others will fit somewhere else in our
scheme. We have a lot of good players. I think one of
the things that makes DeSales special is we have great tradition so we have a
lot of guys waiting in the wings.”


Steubenville (14-1)

Few teams, regardless of division, have
experienced the success Steubenville has the past decade. Since 1999, the Big
Red have missed the postseason only once, have won two state titles (2005, 2006)
and finished state runner-up last season. What’s more, this season has the
potential to mark Steubenville’s seventh straight undefeated regular season.

There is a good chance that streak will stay
alive with 15 starters returning.

“We have a good nucleus back and that is
always good to have and it is a nucleus we can build around,” said head coach
Reno Saccoccia, who was the D-IV co-coach of the year last season. “We have some
experienced players coming back but there is a difference between an experienced
player that is an underclassman and the experience of a senior leader.”

QB Dwight Macon is a Division I college
prospect with several scholarship offers already. He rushed for 837 yards and 12
touchdowns last season and passed for 2,424 yards and 28 touchdowns with only
four interceptions. He was the D-IV co-player of the year last season.

Steubenville moves up to D-III after two
successful seasons in D-IV.

“If you look at Division III and the way it is
set up, I can’t see any tougher division that is more competitive,” Saccoccia
said. “We are just concentrating on improving everyday and preparing ourselves
mentally and physically for a long and hopefully a long grind.” 


Youngstown Cardinal Mooney (9-3)

Mooney has been one of the top programs in the
state regardless of Division over the last several years winning two state
titles since 2004. After reaching the regional finals last season
in D- IV, the Cardinals make the jump up to D-III. Mooney returns eight starters on offense and
defense led by a solid nucleus of seniors.

“As any other successful Mooney team, senior
leadership is key,” head coach P.J. Fecko said. “The seniors are a very close
group and might be the hardest working senior group we have had at Mooney in

Mooney will be strong in the backfield with
Braylon Heard, Vinaopal and Griffin toting the ball. Donald D’Alesio and George
Lyras provide athleticism at wideout and in the secondary.

Team speed will also be key.

“This is not only the hardest working group
but also by far the fastest group we have ever had,” Fecko said.


Akron Hoban (9-5)

Hoban reached the state semifinals in Division
II last season before falling to eventual state champion Sylvania Southview
31-0. It was the first postseason appearance for Hoban since 2005, which was the
last season of an eight-year playoff berth run.

This season, Hoban drops back down to Division
III after four seasons in Division II.

“Division III has always been a strong
division in the state of Ohio year in and year out. As far as that goes, it is
not going to get any easier,” head coach Ralph Orsini said.

Hoban loses the bulk of its offensive
production from last season as WR/DB Brian Courdriet, WR/DB Ryan Ross, RB/DB
Xavier Kirksey-Ivery, RB/DE Lawrence Wynn and FB/LB Travis Howe each step into
starting roles.

“I think we have enough people coming back
where we have a chance of being a real good ball team. One area we really need
to address early is the inexperience factor.”

Guiseppe Frisone, Greg McMullen, Stephan
Veillette and Norm Jesser will be the anchor on defense at the linebacking

“Defensively, we ought to be a pretty good
ball team,” Orsini said.


Cincinnati Wyoming (7-3)


DL Jibreel Black (6-2, 260, Sr.) headlines an
experienced roster this season with scholarship offers to some of the top
schools in the country. He ended his recruiting in late June committing to
Indiana and will join his older brother Larry in Bloomington. Wyoming has made the playoffs three of the last four


Columbus Bishop Watterson (5-6)

Columbus Watterson made the postseason last year in Division II after
missing the playoffs for the first time this decade in 2007. But the
Eagles fell to bitter rival Columbus DeSales 20-17 in the first round.

Watterson also fell to DeSales 21-17 in the regular season.

(Division III) is still very
competitive,” head coach Dan Bjelac said. “I am sure there is a little
difference there if you analyze the points you need to get in the region to
makes the playoffs. But you’ve go to take care of things with the schedule you
play first and then that will take care of things with the playoffs.”

DeSales also drops into D-III and is in the
same region.

“We’ve played them a lot of times twice in a
season. But we don’t worry too much about it – we just do it and it is what it
is,” Bjelac said. “It will always be a good game, they are well-coached, have
some solid kids back and you approach it from that point.”

Watterson loses some key players on both sides
of the ball but have some talent returning including FB/LB Mark Theado, TE/LB
Matt Schweitzer, TE/DE Marc Elberson, QB Greg Hock and WR/DB Nick Liimatta on
offense and FB/LB Matt Redfield, QB/DB Dominic Clegg and Schweitzer on defense.

“I think we have had a very good offseason,”
Bjelac said. As I look at our senior group, I think they are a very close-knit
group. Obviously, though, there are always question marks.”


Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (7-3)

Heading into the final week of the regular
season last year, SVSM needed a win over Ursuline to earn a playoff berth but
the Fighting Irish fell to the eventual Division V state champ to keep them out.

SVSM will look to its defense early this fall
while some younger players gain experience on offense.

“It was interesting, I thought at the
beginning of last year our strength was going to be our defense but we lost
three kids with season ending injuries,” head coach Dan Boarman said. “We had to
play a bunch of younger kids.

“I think we’re going to be pretty strong
defensively. If our offensive line comes around, we could have a pretty good
offense, too.”

OL/DL Bryan Ausperk and RB/LB Brian Foster are
Division I college caliber players and will lead a senior group that last made
the postseason in 2007.

“We’re working hard,” said Boarman. “It is a
great senior class backed up by a good sophomore and junior class and I am
looking forward to the season.”


Hubbard (9-3)

Hubbard has been flying high since alumnus and
third-year head coach Brian Hoffman took over.

The Eagles are aiming to make the playoffs for
the fourth straight season and have only missed the playoffs twice since 1999.

Hubbard will have the talent at the skill
positions to get them off the ground early.

Andre Givens rushed for 1,433 yards and 18
touchdowns last season and Kurtis Drummond had 16 catches for 281 yards and four
touchdowns. On defense, he had 49 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions as
a cornerback.

Both are Division I college prospects with
scholarship offers in hand.

“(Givens and Drummond) are outstanding
athletes but the other guys are going to have to come together and elevate their
games in order for our team to continue to make strides this season,” said

Matt Shelton started six games under center in
2008 following the injury to then-senior Sam Bellino but Chase Myers will make
his case for the job this season as well.

“I like what both (quarterbacks) bring to the
table,” said Hoffman. “That is definitely one of the areas we are going to be
looking at hard in the preseason. To be honest, the one that starts the first
game will be the one that shows me the most leadership and that is what we are
looking forward to.”

Dom Dionisio will anchor the line on offense
for the returning skill positions.

“We feel good about building a line around Dom
and feel we have some underclassmen that will hopefully help us with that,”
Hoffman said.


Waverly (4-6)

Waverly took its lumps last season in D-IV with a lineup of
inexperienced players.

This season in D-III, those players are back and aiming to
reach the postseason for the third time on four years.

“We’re going to have just about everybody back from last
year,” head coach Rusty Wright said. “Those kids played for the first time last
year because they had a bunch of good football players in front of them. Last
year, they were just thrown in the mix and hadn’t really played.”

“It was a tough year but it was a growing year. We’re
coming back with a lot of good kids that got a lot of good time last year.”

Derek Roback is back at quarterback after tossing for 1,585
yards and 21 touchdowns while rushing for 480 yards and four more touchdowns in
his first season under center. He was an all-state receiver as a sophomore.

“It really took a year for Derek to learn, especially with
the offensive line that we had,” Wright said. “We expect Derek to be a lot
better quarterback this year. With Derek’s ability to make plays, hopefully the
burden won’t be all on his shoulders.”

Kevin Malone returns at tailback after missing six games to
injury last season and Price will be out wide for Roback after starting ten
games last season.

“We feel pretty good about what we got as far as skills guy
and the offensive line back,” Wright said.


Canal Fulton Northwest (8-3)

has made the playoffs eight straight seasons but if the Indians are going to win
their first state title it will have to happen within the next two. For the 11th
straight time, a levy failed to pass in the district, thus eliminating sports at
Northwest after the 2010-11 school year.

“We’re fighting for our lives here,” head coach Vic Whiting
said. “The kids on this football team have paid a price to be on this football
team. Not only do they work hard but they have to pay-to-play.

“We’ve got good kids and there is no doubt about that.
We’re going to be really young and we’re going to be small.”

Evan Bach headlines the roster after moving from receiver to the
backfield last season and rushing for 1,659 yards on 215 carries and 20

Bryan Jones is under center again coming off a 74-of-129 passing
effort for 975 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Defensively, the linebacking corps returns with Bobby Schilling
as the focal point.  He tallied 166 tackles as a junior with four sacks and two
interceptions. Mitch Lewis had 52, respectively.

But according to Whiting, Northwest will field its share of
underclassmen in 2009

“We have a lot of sophomore kids stepping up and there is
quite a bit of speed and skill in that group,” he said. “But you don’t know what
is going to happen because you don’t know how they are going to play on the
varsity level.”


Division IV


Kettering Alter (13-2)

Even though the Knights appeared due for a
championship, it’s doubtful any of their followers will ever forget the 2008
campaign, a most interesting season for the ages.

Alter had to forfeit its first two games of
the season against Kettering Fairmont and Bellbrook but wiped out the next eight
foes by an average score of 46-6. Then, behind superstar seniors – quarterback
Austin Boucher and running backs Chris Borland and Justin Hall – Alter proceeded
to plow through Region 16. The Knights dumped Coldwater in the third round and
eventually took down traditional power Steubenville in the Division IV state
championships at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.

The 21-6 victory represented the program’s
first-ever football state title and was extra sweet factoring in that the
Knights were nipped by Big Red in the 2006 D-III state finals – not to mention
the 59-52 loss to Coldwater in triple-overtime in the 2007 regional

Of course, head coach Ed Domsitz wants his
team to repeat as winners of the Greater Catholic League North Division, but
there is good reason to believe the Knights can make another deep run in the
postseason with all the top players in tow.

Cody Taulbee appears capable of handling much
of the running chores, LB Cody Conley is the team’s leading tackler from a year
ago and s Cody Byers is a Division I college prospect with sub-4.6 speed and the
ability to make lots of plays in the secondary.

The defense is especially stout with OLB Chris
Bockrath and possibly Nolan Plate able to flank Conley and oxen like DE John
Doncaster and DT Andrew Bonnano up front.


Ironton (8-4)


The Fighting Tigers are theoretically the top returning team in this region with
Martins Ferry shifted over to Region 13 and state semifinalist New Lexington now
in Division III. Longtime coach Bob Lutz led the Tigers to a 5-5 mark in 2007
after a one-year hiatus and is now primed to return his team to the spotlight.
Ironton took out Westfall before losing to New Lex at the end of last season.


Elyria Catholic (6-4)

Head coach Ben Malbasa enters his third season
at EC with a team capable of adding to the school’s lengthy tradition (three
state titles, but none since 1984). The Panthers return nine starters on defense
and seven offense.

Points should not be a problem. Josh Russ, a
Cincinnati commit, was first team All-Ohio last year as a receiver (35 catches,
651 yards, eight TDs). Danny Reaser, an honorable mention All-Ohioan, returns
after throwing for over 1,800 yards and 14 TDs in eight starts. Alex Allicea
rushed for over 1,000 yards and 15 TDs. Three starters return on the offensive

Defensively the Panthers will be stout. EC is
led by All-Ohio S Nick Ksenich (107 tackles), DB Zach Rogers (five
interceptions) and LB Buddy Davalia (19 tackles-for-loss). LB Corey Campbell, LB
Adam Kirsch and LB Mike Betka each added over 77 tackles.

As usual, a daunting schedule awaits with
non-league games against Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, Shaker Heights (D-I) and
Akron Hoban (D-II). The North Coast League White Division is no cake walk.


Martins Ferry (11-2)

The Purple Riders are going to leave teams
black and blue this season.

David Bruney, who enters his 31st year as
Martins Ferry head coach, has immense offensive and defensive lines, several
players who can bench well over 300 pounds and a pair of punishing runners who
double as hard-hitting inside linebackers.

TB Patrick Allen, for example, runs with a low
center of gravity and sheer force, which he also displays in the weight room
with a bench press of 380 pounds and a box squat of more than 600.

“He’s pretty amazing,” Bruney said. “He’s got
good feet and good hands and he’s tough enough that he helps us on defense, too.
He played some defensive end last year.”

Also in the backfield and playing at
linebacker next to Allen is FB Devon Parson, another physical specimen.

Handing off to those two and directing the
offense for the first time will be QB Marco Ricchetti, who played wide receiver
and corner last season. Ricchetti, who has 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash, is one
of seven new starters on offense but also one of eight returning letterman who
will appear on that side of the ball.

Ferry’s 4-4-3 defense welcomes back six
starters, including TE Jordan Burress and OL Dalton Leach up front. Burress is a
Division I football prospect who also excels on the basketball court. Leach is a
wrestler and the strongest player on the team. Wells, another hoopster in the
winter, joins them on both lines and plays end on defense.

Jack Beavers, a rising junior, mans the other
DE spot while Cody McGee and youngster Michael Rose (5-9, 170) are expected to
flank Allen and Parson as outside linebackers. The secondary features a pair of
tall and fast defenders with Ricchetti and sophomore Tyrell Simmons (6-3, 185)
along the back line.

Martins Ferry, which lost to New Lexington in
the D-IV regional finals last season, opens its schedule against three Division
III opponents in Rayland Buckeye Local, Richmond Edison and Cadiz Harrison
Central. The season debut game with Buckeye Local should feature a taste of
revenge as the Purple Riders lost to that team on the road last season, 21-14,
after losing grip of seven fumbles and a 14-0 lead.

On most Friday nights, Martins Ferry may
simply overpower foes. Extending the season all the way into December, though,
will take more than brawn.


Chagrin Falls (8-4)

The Tigers are on the prowl again after
advancing to the postseason last season in D-III and attaining immediate status
as a contender in D-IV.

Posting seven wins while facing a loaded
regular-season schedule last season, Chagrin Falls earned the No. 5 seed in
Region 9 of the Division III playoffs and then promptly knocked off powerful
Youngstown Liberty in the first round. Proving they were a tough out, the Tigers
lost a tight 21-17 contest to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit in the second round to
finish at 8-4.

It’s safe to say coach Mark Iammarino’s squad
will carry confidence into the 2009 season despite the loss of several key
players including Andrew Klindera, Matt Diles, Jack Karlovec and Dan Mignogna.
In fact, the roster is headed by 25 seniors, including several of the top
players in the Chagrin Valley Conference. Also, Falls returns several
underclassmen who earned valuable time last season.

The offense returns seven starters and a dozen
lettermen, including a pair of skill players who were named All-Ohio last season
in RB/LB Chris Gorman and QB Chris Trinetti.

Gorman is sturdy and dependable and makes a
living between the tackles. He wasn’t always a first option out of the spread
but managed to put together some big games and rambled for more than 100 yards
in both of the postseason affairs. Meanwhile, Trinetti is coming off a
record-breaking season as he set a new school mark with more than 1,900 yards
passing and 18 touchdown tosses. He added 225 yards rushing a four more scores
on the ground.

Trinetti is missing some of his top receiving
targets from last season, but the Tigers believe they have an emerging weapon in
TE/DL Connor Clegg, who can get open against smaller defenders. Clegg also is an
outstanding blocker.

The Tigers run a 4-3 defense and will feature
15 letterwinners on that side of the ball, including six first-teamers from a
year ago. LB Bobby Winkelman enters his third straight season as a starter and
is expected to lead the team in stops.

Put it all together and Chagrin Falls has star
power, size, speed, depth, postseason experience and a hunger to rule the roost
in Division IV.


Plain City Jonathan Alder (8-3)


For the second straight time, the Pioneers made the postseason with an 8-2
regular season and promptly lost in the first round. Last year it was a 12-10
defeat at the hands of Dayton Oakwood, which unseated the fourth-ranked team in
the region. Coach Steve Coate has a chance to one-up the recent trend,
especially with powerful Coldwater out of the region.


Williamsport Westfall (8-3)

In just two years at Westfall, head coach
Scott Keller has put together an impressive 21-4 record with two Scioto Valley
Conference titles and two D-IV playoff berths. The trend should continue. Riding
an SVC record 26-game win streak, the Mustangs are the team to beat in the
conference – again. Westfall returns seven starters on defense and five on

“With 25 lettermen returning we expect to
field an experienced, veteran team,” Keller said. “This senior class is among
the hardest working and most disciplined that we’ve ever had here.”

Overall the program has been to the postseason
six straight years. It’s won the SVC three straight times.

The roster has been bolstered by an influx of
Grove City and Central Crossing players from that district’s levy fail on Aug.

“Our defense was young and very inexperienced
last year,” Keller said. “We really believe that with a year under their belt,
and seven of them back on that unit, our defense should be our greatest strength.

“Offensively we need to find a quarterback
that can effectively manage a team.  We really feel like we have enough weapons
surrounding that position, that what we’re looking for is a quarterback that can
protect the football and move the chains.”


Clarksville Clinton-Massie (10-1)

The Falcons had almost an identical season to
that of Brookville, plowing through the regular season unscathed but losing in
the first round of the Region 16 playoffs.

Clinton-Massie posted shutouts in three of its
first four games and also routed a very good Waynesville team to set the season
in motion. Falcon fans thought destiny lay ahead after C-M finished off Plain
City Jonathan Alder in Week 10.

However, heartbreak ensued in the form of a
33-27 overtime loss at home to Hamilton Badin.

“I think that’s definitely a motivator for
us,” said head coach Dan McSurley. “They were up 21 at half and we came back and
tied the game. Our quarterback got hurt and we had to play Jake (Richardson).

“It was a tough loss but is gave us an
opportunity to face an outstanding spread team and we got guys some really
valuable playoff experience, including our future quarterback.”

McSurley enters his 14th year at C-M with
eight starters back on defense and six on offense. The Falcons return some
serious size as RT Mike Stenger, LG James Ebby, C Paul Singleton and RG/DE Corby
Running are imposing getting off the bus, let alone in full pads and helmets.

With that core group returning, RB Jordie
Scanlon could surpass his production of last season, when he rambled for 1,300
yards on the ground.

Most teams will have major problems dealing
with C-M’s power rushing game but the hope in Clarksville is that the offense
will find even another gear with Richardson under center. He is slippery and
ideally suited to run Clinton-Massie’s triple option.

The two most impressive athletes on the team,
though, are Running and MLB Gunner Calhoun. Running is a state wrestling champ
and also anchors the 4×100 relay team. Calhoun has led the football team in
tackles the past two seasons and also is a star on the baseball diamond for the


Kenton (7-3)


Coach Mike Mauk has another solid squad heading into this season. The Wildcats return nine starters on offense, including four lineman and standout sophomore QB Maty Mauk, the coach’s son. The Wildcats will continue to use a five-wide attack. Defensively the Widlcats will be tough as well with six starters back.


Marion Pleasant (10-2)

There aren’t too many prospects in Division IV
who are on par with TE/DE Brad Harrah, a hulking youngster who already is
committed to play major college ball for Big East member Cincinnati.

“He had about 10 to 12 Division I offers,”
Marion Pleasant assistant coach Aaron Cook said. “He’s a 4.0 student and just a
great talent and we need to make sure he’s a big part of what we’re doing.”

Fortunately for the Spartans, that shouldn’t
be a problem since the quarterback is Kubbs, who will log his third year on the
varsity at Pleasant and for his father, 20-year head coach Chris Kubbs.

“Cory is a smart kid,” Cook said. “He’s a
coach’s son so he plays hard and with intelligence just like you’d expect. He
knows our offense inside and out.”

The younger Cory Kubbs, though, will be
stepping into the starting quarterback role for the first time now that the
fantastic career of Cody Harris is completed.

“He was all-state last year and broke every
school record we have for a quarterback,” Cook said.

Even with the change at quarterback and the
departure of three running talents and two-way stars in Cory Snyder, Kyle Beck
and Jake Lawrence, the Spartans aren’t likely to panic. In fact, it’s just not
in their nature.

Pleasant has won the Mid-Ohio Athletic
Conference 17 straight times and also has overcome opening-season, nail-biter
losses to St. Henry the last two seasons. The Spartans were nipped 14-13 at home
by St. Henry last August then ripped off nine convincing wins in a row to earn
the No. 3 seed in Region 14. The Spartans proceeded to take out Pemberville
Eastwood in the playoffs before losing 28-21 in overtime to Ottawa-Glandorf.


Division V


Youngstown Ursuline (15-0)

Youngstown Ursuline put together an extremely impressive list of wins last season, including regular season victories over Massillon Washington, Warren Harding, Youngstown Mooney, and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, along with two playoff wins over previously unbeaten Kirtland and Findlay Liberty-Benton. The Irish won their first state championship since 2000.

Several key players are gone from last year’s team, but a solid core returns, especially at the skill positions. Jones and Teague bring speed and experience to the running back position, while Kempe and Harris both have experience at quarterback.

One question mark is the status of Ohio State verbal Jamel Turner at defensive end. As of press time, it was unclear whether Turner would be back for his senior year at Ursuline.


St. Henry (6-4)

Two years removed from its last state title, the Redskins might have just what it takes to get No. 7.

Stahl, Schwieterman, Fortkamp, Fishbaugh and Wuebker all earned all-conference honors last season on a team that lost to Marion Local, Anna and Delphos St. John’s by seven points or less. Only Coldwater beat the Skins by double-digits.

St. Henry has gone 6-4 each of the last two seasons and seven wins likely gets them in the postseason. As usual, the Skins open with Marion Pleasant in a great match up of small school powers. St. Henry has won four straight in the series, including a 2006 playoff meeting. The last two openers have been decided by four points total.


Hamler Patrick Henry (12-1)

The train kept rolling for Hamler Patrick Henry last season. The Patriots won their seventh straight conference title – the longest in the history of Ohio’s oldest high school sports conference, the Northwest Ohio Athletic League – and their fifth appearance in the regional finals in six years before losing to state runner-up Liberty-Benton.

“I think we had a very good season with what we wanted to get into, and I think we lost to a very good football team,” head coach Bill Inselmann said. “So I think we achieved most of our goals.”

This year’s team returns a good core of five starters on offense and six on defense, including a 1,600-yard rusher in Buenger and an experienced QB in George. But the wide receiver position as well as the lines could need some development.

“The biggest rebuilding area probably in the last eight years we’ve had to have at a key position is our wide receiver position,” Inselmann said. “We lost some good ones there and lost all of our depth, so wide receiver is going to be our biggest question mark going into the season.

“It’ll be an interesting season depending on how our youth develops on the offensive line, defensive interior and especially at wide receiver.”

But coming into the season, Patrick Henry remains a program with big expectations. 

“One of the biggest things we have going right now is our kids are confident,” Inselmann said. “They believe they can win, so that’s probably something I think that’s really picked up over this last eight years.”


Anna (9-2)

The Anna football program continued to make strides last season, posting their best record yet since joining the powerful Midwest Athletic Conference. 

“I think we progressed pretty well from the beginning of the season to the end,” head coach Bryan Rioch said. “I think we got a lot better. Obviously going 9-1 in the regular season in that league and your two losses for the year are coming to Coldwater and to Marion Local, you have to be pretty happy with that.”

The loss to Marion Local came in the opening round of the playoffs – a spot where Anna would rather not see a conference opponent.

“One of the rationales for going into that league was once you get into the playoffs, you have an opportunity to be as good as anybody and win the whole thing,” Rioch said. “It was a little disappointing to run into Marion Local after already playing them the week before. But getting away from that, just taking a look at the whole thing, I think the program generally took a step forward.”

This year’s team returns seven starters on offense and six on defense, and there’s some talk in MAC country that this could be Anna’s year. Rioch says the team’s main question mark is in the trenches.

“We have a lot of question marks in terms of line play,” Rioch said. “We graduate four of our five offensive linemen, and we were pretty good up front. We feel we have some young kids that can step up potentially. We won’t be as big, but we’ll be probably more athletic. All our skill kids are back, which is a big positive.”


Coldwater (12-1)

One of Ohio’s premier small-school powerhouse programs, the Cavaliers arrive in Division V after winning Division IV state championships in 2005 and 2007 and advancing to the regional finals in 2008. The Cavaliers have won six of the last eight conference titles in the Midwest Athletic Conference, the state’s strongest small-school affiliation.

The Cavaliers lost several pieces from last year’s team, including Ohio State signee Adam Homan. A new group is ready to take over this year, led by University of Cincinnati verbal commitment Eric Lefeld. Wenning is a standout QB with big game experience.


Cuyahoga Heights (9-2)

The Redskins returned to the playoffs for the 11th time in 12 years after missing the postseason in 2007 by a fraction of a computer point. The team’s two losses came to two of the best teams in Division V – Kirtland and Youngstown Ursuline – and the Redskins fought hard in each game.

“I thought we had a good year,” head coach Al Martin said. “We lost a tough game to Kirtland somewhere towards the beginning of the season. We played well but made a couple of mistakes, and they beat us 14-7. From there on out, I thought we got better. By the end of the season, we were a pretty good team.”

This year’s team returns 14 starters (six offense, eight defense); including a major college prospect in Zach D’Orazio. Martin feels the offensive line may need some time to develop. But with much of the team coming back, the Redskins appear set to keep on winning and make another run at the postseason.  

“I think we have a lot players coming back that got a lot of experience last year,” Martin said. “We did graduate some very important seniors, but at programs like ours at our level – D-V and D-VI – that’s always going to happen. You always have to have younger kids coming in to replace them. But we really like a lot of the kids coming back, and we think the experience last year in the playoffs will be a big help to them.”


Wheelersburg (10-2)

Despite having a young team and losing their starting quarterback to injury in the first game, Wheelersburg put together a strong season in 2008, winning nine regular season games and advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

“We were really tickled with last year’s group,” head coach Rob Woodward said. “We only had seven seniors going into the year. To go 10-2 was tremendous.”

This year’s team returns six starters on offense and eight on defense. Expectations will be high but Woodward says the team must take things to the next level in order to surpass last season’s performance.

“We return a lot of individuals on both sides of the ball,” Woodward said. “With already having success, they need to understand that the work ethic, the level of work and intensity needs to be raised. They can’t maintain the same work ethic from last year or things will turn out basically the same as last year.”


Minford (8-3)

Things continue to look up for the Minford football program. The team earned their second straight playoff berth last year – their fifth postseason appearance in school history and the fourth one in eight years. Head coach Brent Daniels has led the Falcons to consecutive successful seasons during his time at Minford.

“This is our second year running the Wing-T offense and me being the head coach,” Daniels said. “We had some good kids that put a lot of time in the weight room during the offseason, which is a good reason why we were as successful as we were last season.”

This year’s team appears to be a very experienced group, returning ten starters on offense and seven on defense.

“We’ve got all of our skill guys back from last year,” Daniels said. “We have to replace a couple linemen, but overall we hope to be pretty good this year.

Not surprisingly, the excitement and expectations surrounding this year’s team are at a high level.

“The expectations are high this year,” Daniels said. “I guess you could say the bar’s been set here a little bit finally. I think they realize what’s at stake this year and what we’re expected to do this year. The excitement’s there. I think everybody’s ready to get the football season kicked off, and we’re just going to see what happens.”


Defiance Tinora (7-3)

With most of their players returning from 2007’s playoff team, expectations were high for Tinora in 2008. But tough losses to three playoff teams, including Division VI state champion Delphos St. John’s, left the Rams out of the postseason.

Head coach Ken Krouse says there was some disappointment in finishing out of the playoffs.

“The bar has been raised for our program,” Krouse said. “Ten years ago, you take (the 7-3 record) and run, but with the success we’ve had recently, obviously we wish we had won our league and gotten to the postseason, which we didn’t.”

The good news for the Rams is that last year’s team was still mostly underclassmen, and this year, nine starters return on both sides of the ball. The expectations will be to make noise in the postseason again, but the Rams will have to do better against the three teams that bested them in 2008.

“It’s the same as what we faced last year,” Krouse said. “Our games 1, 2, and 4 are huge, and those are the three games we lost, with Liberty Center, Delphos (St. John’s) and then Sherwood Fairview being our first league game. It is huge that we get off to a good start.”


Findlay Liberty-Benton (14-1)

The Eagles were nothing short of dominant in 2008. After winning 14 straight games – nine of which were shutouts and none of which were closer than 20 points – Liberty-Benton was defeated by another unbeaten team, Youngstown Ursuline, in the state finals. 

“We fell a little short of what we wanted to do once we made it up to Massillon,” head coach Tim Nichols said, “but I think it’s something that hopefully will help benefit our program down the road – that we had a team that did achieve that level and hopefully will inspire kids to try to get back to that. It was just a great experience. That’s why you coach and play. Once you do it once, you want to do it again.”

Nichols cites a strong group of seniors for last year’s success, most of whom had played together since sixth grade.

“You just can’t put a price on senior leadership, and we had that,” Nichols said. “Things just came together. We stayed injury free for the most part, but when you just get a group of kids that stayed together that long, I think good things are going to happen for you.”

This year’s team returns just one starter on offense and two on defense.
Missing is QB/DB Aaron Craft, the reigning Division V Offensive Player of the Year.
He has decided to forgo his senior season on the grid iron to focus on
basketball. He has committed to Ohio State to play basketball. Regardless, Nichols thinks last year’s seniors set the tone for more success in the future.

“I hope we can continue on and play at a pretty good level,” Nichols said. “There’s going to be some new names and new faces, but I think once again those seniors provided what needs to be done in the offseason and preseason. We’re probably not going to change too many things.”


Division VI


Delphos St. John’s (13-2, State Champions)

The Blue Jays experienced quite a turnaround in Allen County, going from a 2-8 finish in 2007 to the D-VI state title last season. This year, DSJ should be a favorite to repeat. Whatever holes there are are overshadowed by the tremendous amount of talent that returns elsewhere.

LB Chris Pohlman was second-team All-Ohio last season after registering 158 tackles and returns to a unit that allowed just 13.7 points in 13 wins. Also back on defense are LB Joel Pohlman (124 tackles), FS Tyler Bergfield (68 tackles, six interceptions) and SS A.J. Klausing (99 tackles, six interceptions).

QB Wes Ulm spearheads the offense and is one of the state’s top dual threat QBs. Last season he passed for 1,172 yards and rushed for 1,027 more. Ulm accounted for 27 TDs.

RB Jordan Leininger is a beast out of the backfield where he ran for 1,222 yards and 15 TDs last season. C Alex Recker and OT Austin Vogt anchor an experienced – and big – offensive line.

Said head coach Todd Schulte, who will go for his 100th career win this season (98-31 in 11 years): “We start off with two tough non-league opponents in Tinora and Lima Central Catholic, followed by the meat-grinder called the MAC.”


Bucyrus Wynford (11-1)

Wynford’s drop from D-V to VI made Region 21 the toughest in the state. The Royals have put together three undefeated regular seasons in the last four years and are riding a 33-game North Central Conference win streak. Don’t expect that trend to end this season.

Wynford has the state’s No. 46-ranked senior prospect overall and the No. 3 ranked QB in Tyler Brause, who despite coming from a small school,
is a Kentucky recruit . Last year, he accounted for 30 TDs, while throwing for 1,795 yards and rushing for another 698.

WR Chris Brown (special mention All-Ohio) and
TE/DE Teven Eatmon (also a Kentucky verbal) give Brause two huge targets in the passing game on non-option plays. Eatmon caught only five passes last season, but four went for TDs.

Defensively Wynford will be led by LB ZakNiedermier (71 tackles), LB Zach Chatlin (60 tackles, four sacks), McNulty (48 tackles, 12 sacks), DE Zach Brewington (43 tackles) and Brown (38 tackles).

Said head coach Travis Moyer (83-25 in 10 years): “We’re excited about the opportunity to compete for championships.”


Newark Catholic (6-4)

After winning its eighth state title in 2007, the Green Wave was denied a playoff berth last year. NC is eager to get back to the dance.

“We return a very humble yet motivated senior class,” head coach Bill Franks (64-26 in eight years) said. “They have had great success in the offseason in basketball, wrestling, baseball and track and field. Our younger group has had a tremendous offseason, and are learning how to follow the example that is set for them.”

OT/DT Josh Hendershot (6-4, 265, Sr.) is committed to Toledo and also had offers to Indiana, Bowling Green, and Eastern Michigan.

Schedule-wise, the Green Wave face a usual daunting opener in Amanda-Clearcreek (away) before opening Mid-State League competition that includes three D-III playoff teams from 2008 (Granville, Bexley and Licking Valley).

“There are no off weeks,” Franks said. “We must be fully prepared every time we step on the field.”


Norwalk St. Paul (12-1)

St. Paul has reached at least the regional final each of the last five years.
The Flyers could do it again should a couple holes be filled.

“We return almost all of our skill positions
on both offense and defense,” head coach John Livengood said. “We lost two
outstanding offensive tackles, an outstanding defensive tackle and an
outstanding running back.  If we can replace these key positions, we will
be in position to make a good run.”

Quarterback Eric Schwieterman gives St. Paul
an advantage most teams don’t have. The reigning D-VI state offensive player of
the year, Schwieterman returns to lead an offense that set new school records
last season for points (621; 47.8 per game) and yards (6,014; 462.6 per game).
Individually, Schwieterman had his hand in 32 TDs, while passing for 1,778 yards
and rushing for 985. He also kicked 53 PATs and six field goals.

Dan Tracht (32 receptions, 598 yards, seven
TDs) and Wilde (17 receptions, 425 yards, eight TDs) return as the main targets
in the passing game, while Brian Griffin (46 carries, 361 yards, seven TDs) will
carry the workload in the running game.

Defensively the Flyers return nearly everyone
from a unit that allowed just 9.5 points and 174 yards per game.

Linebacker Brian Boose is the top returning
tackler (109 stops), while Schwieterman (84 tackles), Griffin (88 tackles) and
Brian Roberts (88 tackles) also carry solid credentials.

St. Paul owns 12 playoff appearances – all
under Livengood (166-49 career record in 18 years) – including six straight.


Maria Stein Marion Local (11-3)

After a two-year run in D-V (which produced a state title and a final four appearance last year), the Flyers are back in Region 24 where they won three D-VI state titles and made four state finals from 2000-2006.

Uh-oh is right.

Although Ben Smith (1,575 yards rushing last year) is the only player Goodwin pin-pointed as a key returner, rest assured ML doesn’t rebuild. It reloads.

“We will be starting a lot of juniors, which we haven’t done in a couple of years,” head coach Tim Goodwin (111-27 in 10 years) said. “If the seniors provide the leadership, the juniors can provide some depth of talent. We could be a physical team by the end of the year.”

Developing toughness will be key for a squad that plays in the state’s toughest affiliation – the Midwest Athletic Conference. Last year the Flyers finished 6-2 in the MAC, losing to Coldwater and Anna. ML avenged its loss to Anna with a win in the regional quarterfinals.

“We face a tough challenge week one, in (D-III) Lima Shawnee,” Goodwin said. “The league (MAC) looks deep. Anna, St Henry, St Johns all return quality players in mass. Coldwater will be good as usual.  Versailles will be much improved this year.  Our return to D-VI leaves us a little more wiggle room with computer points than being in D-V the last two years. 

“We hope to somehow qualify for the playoffs and make a nice run once we are there.”


Ada (12-1)

The Bulldogs have quickly become one of D-VI’s top programs. Ada has been to the playoffs three years in a row and has state semifinal (2007) and regional final (last year) appearances to its credit. Expect another solid run this season with 12 starters back (six on each side of the ball). The Bulldogs averaged 41 points per game last year and allowed just 13.

Mitchell Faine is one of the state’s most talented QBs regardless of division and returns after throwing for 3,846 yards and 37 TDs last season. A second-team All-Ohio selection, Faine also rushed for 650 yards and 16 TDs.

Heath Jackson (74 receptions, 1,068 yards, 10 TDs), Alex Weber (46 receptions, 543 yards, six TDs) and Matt McBride (28 receptions, 400 yards, three TDs) provide a solid stable of receivers.

Defensively, LB Aaron Weyer and LB Matt McBride are the top returning tacklers (each had 70 last season). Weyer also had nine tackles-for-loss and four sacks, while McBride had a team-high four interceptions.

“The offense has a good nucleus back with (Faine) and three of the top four receivers back,” head coach Mike Fell said. “We will need to find three offensive linemen and a running back. The defense is made up of good athletes, but we need to find some new leadership.”

Toledo Christian replaces Fort Loramie on the schedule and Fell circled a Week 10 match-up with Lima Central Catholic as key.


Mogadore (10-2)

The Wildcats – one of the state’s top programs regardless of division – are looking for their 11th straight trip to the playoffs and 23rd overall. Can they do it? Yes.

Mogadore returns 16 starters, including nine on defense. DL/FB Jake McAvinew, who registered 92 tackles, including 12 sacks, was second team All-Ohio as a DE last year, while LB/TB Kodey Chance added 105 tackles. The entire LB and DB corps returns.

Offensively the Wildcats have more than enough options. Although they must replace both tackles and the QB, four backs return who accounted for 2,500 yards and 36 TDs.

Chance leads the group (1,202 yards and 13 TDs), while FB Mike Leymon (659 yards, 10 TDs), Mcavinew (603 yards, 10 TDs) and Phil Laston (306 yards, three TDs) are more than capable of carrying the load.

Senior Drew Babbit (5-9, 155, Sr.) steps in at QB. Two targets he’ll want to hit often are TE/OLB Landon Trainer (18 catches, 407 yards, seven TDs) and SE/FS Matt Traugh (11 cathces248 yards, two TDs).

Kevin Pollock is a three-year starter at center.

A tough nonleague schedule with Mineral Ridge, Smithville (on schedule for first time since 1996) and Northwestern awaits. A small sophomore class (20 boys in school and six on the football team) hurts depth. Head coach Matt Adorni is 45-16 in six years.


Sidney Lehman Catholic (11-2)

The Cavaliers have had great success the last two years making a regional final (2007) and a state semifinal (last season). Despite the loss of 13 seniors, expectations are high again.

S David Spearman is a defensive standout (77 tackles, five interceptions), while Kaleb Goings is one of D-VI’s top running backs (1,409 yards, 20 TDs).

Ryan Jacob and Matt Pulfer anchor the offensive line.

The Cavaliers have added Jonathan Alder, Delphos Jefferson and Elmwood to the schedule.

Said longtime head coach Richard Roll: “If the progression continues, we should have a successful season.”


Columbiana (7-4)

The Clippers have made the playoffs four straight years and five of the last six. Columbiana was a regional finalist in 2005 and 2006. This is the Clippers first year in Region 23 after having their prior success in Region 21.

If size equals state titles, you might pencil Columbiana in for a late season run.

Head coach Bob Spaite (102-49 in 15 years at Columbiana) said his offensive line is a strength and the numbers back it up. The five returning starters (OL/DL Matt Douglass, OL Josh Batcha, OL/LB Mike McMaster, OL/DL Rex Smith and TE/LB Ken Shea) average 6-2, 253.

The line will have to be good early as an inexperienced backfield takes formation. The Clippers must replace RB Brian Warchol who finished as the second leading rusher in school history.

Defensively the Clippers return six starters, including three of four starting defensive linemen and all of their OLBs. Breaking in new corners is a concern. Grant Crider is back at free safety after earning first team Inter Tri-County League honors last year.

A hefty schedule, and one Spaite calls “the toughest in the 93 years of Clipper football,” awaits.

“We open with a tough, physical perennial D-VI power in Steubenville Catholic Central,” Spaite said. “Next is Leetonia, our oldest rival and always one of the best teams in the area. Then we finish our non-league schedule with one of Youngstown’s tough guy’s and one of the great traditional football powers in the area, Struthers.

The fourth year of the ITCL will once again be very, very competitive. In fact brutal might be a better word.”


Leetonia (8-3)

After making the playoffs the last two years in Region 21, Leetonia moves to Region 23. The Bears plan on maintaining their playoff streak.

“Moving into a different region this year is an interesting change for us,” head coach Matt Altomare (16-6 in two years) said. “We are anxious to try to accomplish our goals of winning the league title and advancing in the playoffs. The Inter-County League is a very competitive league and we hope to make our community proud.”

Leetonia has finished first or second in the ICL eight of the last nine years and has the firepower back to continue that trend.

The Bears return seven starters on each side of the ball but must replace three All-Ohio players, including one of the program’s best ever in Josh Selway (QB/DB).

RB/CB Kyle Gray is a beast on both sides, having rushed for 500 yards and registering 80 tackles a year ago. Justin Colella (13 receptions, 383 yards, seven TDs; four interceptions), Devan Miller (64 tackles, eight sacks) and Seth McNally (63 tackles) are two-way standouts as well.

Two keys for Leetonia will be the play of FB A.J. Bailey and Ryan. Bailey rushed for 411 yards and nine TDs last year before having a season-ending ankle injury in Week 4. LB Andrw Ryan led the team in tackles last year before being lost to a knee injury in Week 5.

A Week 10 meeting with McDonald could decide the ICL race.

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