Imagine trying to tread water with someone holding onto your feet
and handcuffs on your wrists. That’s what life is like in Division I’s
Region 4. Ohio is undoubtedly one of the country’s top high school football
states. And Region 4 is undoubtedly Ohio’s toughest territory.
Cleveland has great football. So does Columbus. But Southwest Ohio is
where it’s at this fall.
Imagine trying to tread water with someone holding onto your feet and handcuffs on your wrists. That’s what life is like in Division I’s Region 4.
Ohio is undoubtedly one of the country’s top high school football states. And Region 4 is undoubtedly Ohio’s toughest territory. Cleveland has great football. So does Columbus. But Southwest Ohio is where it’s at this fall.
Heading into Friday’s games, Region 4 had more undefeated teams and less winless teams than any other D-I region in the state.
That’s no coincidence.
Region 4 is a gauntlet.
Earlier this week Huber Heights Wayne head coach Jay Minton said, “A lot is on the line right now for the playoffs.”
He’s not joking.
Region 4 is home to arguably Ohio’s top three big school conferences – the Greater Catholic League South, the Greater Western Ohio Conference and the Greater Miami Conference. There’s a reason these three affiliations have “Greater” in their titles, because this year they seem to be “greater than thou” – as in their opponents.
Through the first three weeks, the GCL South is 12-0. Elder, St. Xavier, Moeller and LaSalle are each 3-0.
Elder is ranked No. 3 in the country by USA Today. In that same poll, St. Xavier is No. 21.
In the MaxPreps national poll, Elder is No. 2, St. Xavier is No. 19 and Moeller is No. 22.
Combined, the GCL South has already beaten the best teams from Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana.
Don’t be surprised if one of them ends the season as the best team in Ohio.
History dictates it will happen.
In the last eight years, Region 4 is 5-2 in D-I state championship games.
This season the only question is whether or not the Region 4 winner will be healthy enough come the state semifinals.
In addition to the GCL South, the GWOC and GMC can hold their own.
Colerain – which has won nine straight GMC titles – began the season ranked nationally and started 0-2 with losses to Elder and St. Xavier. The Cards crushed Dupont Manuel (Ky.) 42-0 Friday for their first win.
Middletown is 3-0, while Lakota West, Princeton, Sycamore and Oak Hills are 2-1.
The GWOC Central snuck four of its six teams into the postseason last year, but that’s not likely to happen again with the region’s depth. Three teams though could get in.
Centerville, Wayne and Northmont have been playoff staples of late and appear to be again.
The Elks lost to Moeller 21-19 Friday in Region 4’s only meeting of undefeated teams to drop to 2-1. Wayne, with wins over Canton McKinley and Princeton, lost to Cleveland Glenville Friday for its first loss, while Northmont dropped a road decision at Westerville South. Northmont, now a deceiving 1-2, owns a win over Lakota West and a loss at Cleveland St. Ignatius. Northmont led that game 20-0 before falling 27-20.
Other GWOC Central teams in Region 4 include Fairmont (whose losses are to defending D-IV state champion Kettering Alter and Lakota West) and undefeated Beavercreek. GWOC South squads in Region 4 include undefeated Lebanon and Springboro and 2-1 Fairborn.
All told, there is not a winless GWOC team – regardless of division – after three weeks.
In addition to the power conferences, Region 4 added Cincinnati Anderson this season, which during a two-year stay in D-II advanced to two straight state championship games. The Redskins, 2007 state champions, are 3-0.
Individually, Region 4 has no equal either.
Of Ohio’s Top 10 college prospects in the Class of 2010 according to Ohio High Magazine, seven reside within Region 4.
Lakota West LB Jordan Hicks is the state’s top senior prospect and is ranked No. 2 nationally by ESPN. He has offers from Ohio State, Texas, USC, Florida and Alabama among others.
Other top seniors in Region 4 are Andrew Norwell, OL, Anderson (Ohio State commit); Matt James, OL, St. X (offers from Ohio State, Alabama, LSU, Penn State, Tennessee, Miami); Alex Smith, TE, Lakota West (offers from Illinois, UC); Andrew Hendrix, QB, Moeller (Notre Dame commit); Spencer Ware, QB, Princeton (LSU commit); and Alex Welch, TE, Elder (Notre Dame commit).
Region 4 is also home to Ohio High’s No. 1 and No. 4 ranked prospects in the Class of 2011 (juniors), in Wayne QB Braxton Miller and Springfield LB Trey DePreist. Both have an offer from Ohio State.
Tough doesn’t even cut it.
“You divide your season into sections,” Minton said. “This first three games is the part where you establish yourself.”
Heading into Week 4, Region 4 has clearly established itself as Ohio’s best. No doubt. None.