MVP Football Preview Excerpt:
A look at Division I, Region 2 and what to expect this season. We look
at the top teams, players and offer up our playoff predicitons. Who has what? And what will they do?
JJHuddle’s Region 2 Previews and Predictions
TEAMS TO WATCH
Canton McKinley (8-3, D-I R2 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – DE Sevon Pittman (6-5, 235, sr.), RB Saveon Holloway (5-11, 197, sr.), DB Jermaine Edmondson (6-2, 173, sr.), RB Robert Elijah Beach (5-10, 180, sr.), WR Tyler Foster (6-2, 184, sr.), WR/DB Zach Sweat (5-11, 180, sr.), WR Malcolm Robinson (6-1, 182, sr.), OL Kevin Mills (6-5, 260, sr.), LB Chad Fite (5-11, 202, sr.), DL Antoine Miles (6-3, 240, jr.)
* Outlook – Despite being the No. 1 seed, the Bulldogs were upset in the first round of the playoffs by Medina. This year McKinley’s roster should yield another postseason berth. Pittman is one of the most sought-after seniors in Ohio and committed to Michigan State (despite offers from Ohio State and Alabama). Edmondson is also a Michigan State recruit, picking the Spartans over Nebraska, Purdue, Illinois and others.
Sylvania Southview (10-1, D-I R2 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – DB Allen Gant (6-1, 201, sr.), RB/DB JeQuillan Bowers (5-10, 175, sr.), LB Jay Fisher (5-10, 205, sr.)
* Outlook – The Cougars have been to the playoffs seven of the last eight years and were D-II state champions in 2008. Defense will be a strength this year with Fisher (78 tackles), Gant (70 tackles) and Bowers (43 tackles). Gant has committed to Michigan.
Whitmer (12-2, D-I State Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – DB Mark Meyers (6-1, 180, sr.), OL Storm Norton (6-8, 295, sr.), LB Jamar Ridley (5-11, 220, sr.), DE Chris Wormley (6-4, 225, sr.), LB Michael Bodi (6-2, 215, sr.)
* Outlook – The Panthers won the region last year and don’t be surprised to see them do it again. Scoring on Whitmer is going to be difficult for opponents with the likes of Wormley (Michigan recruit), Meyers (Kent State offer), Ridley and Bodi on that side of the ball.
Toledo St. John’s (11-2, D-I R2 Finalist)
* Players to Watch – RB/LB Kent Kern (6-1, 220, sr.), K Brandon Smith (6-1, 202, sr.), OL Troy Favorite (6-6, 300, sr.), OL Christopher Costa (6-3, 275, sr.), QB Brogan Roback (6-4, 170, jr.), OL Matt Miller (6-5, 250, jr.)
* Outlook – The Titans returned to the playoffs after a two-year absence last year and are poised for another postseason berth. Smith is one of the state’s better kickers and Kern has committed to Miami (Oh). Favorite, Costa and Miller (Toledo offer) anchor a solid OL. Roback (Bowling Green offer) is one of Ohio’s top junior QB prospects. He completed 119-220 passes last year for 2,179 yards and a school record 25 TDs. Roback also ran for 416 yards and four TDs.
Massillon Washington (7-4, D-I R2 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – RB/DB Alex Winters (6-1, 180, sr.), LB Robbie Plants (6-1, 195, sr.), DB Garrett Kreiger (5-10, 180, sr.), LB Brandon Jackson (6-0, 190, sr.), OL Ben Hampton (5-10, 255, sr.), QB Kyle Kempt (6-5, 185, jr.), RB Kentrell Taylor (6-1, 240, jr.), OL DeVante Oliver (6-4, 285, jr.)
* Outlook – The Tigers and head coach Jason Hall (23-13 in three years) may be a season away from something really special. That being said, they’ll be plenty good enough this year too. Kempt (111-of-205, 1,643 yards, 14 TDs, four INTs) has already been offered by Stanford and Tennessee. Taylor (364 yards, six TDs) and Winters (219 yards, three TDs) offer versatility in the run game. Defensively, Massillon will be led by Winters (54 tackles), Plants (53 tackles, six TFL), Kreiger (49 tackles) and Jackson (12 tackles). New additions to the Tigers schedule include Maumee, Akron Hoban, Woodson (Washington D.C.) and Red Lion Christian (Delaware).
Twinsburg (10-2, D-I R2 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – DB London Carter (5-9, 165, sr.)
* Outlook – The Tigers, who have made the playoffs the last three years, have a new head coach in Joe Schiavone and are moving up to the Valley Division of the Northeast Ohio Conference, which means a tougher schedule and new games against Solon, Strongsville, Brunswick and Mentor.
Medina (9-3, D-I R2 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – QB Mason Schreck (6-5, 212, sr.)
* Outlook – The Bees, who pulled off a huge win over Canton McKinley in the first round of last year’s playoffs, will rely heavily on the arm of Schreck, who’s more than capable. Schreck owns an offer from Toledo.
* Players to Watch – RB Brionte Dunn (6-1, 225, sr.), WR/DB Deshawn Hall (6-2, 205, sr.), OL Steve Mathie (6-5, 280, jr.)
* Outlook – The Eagles are looking to crack the postseason again after having a string of three straight playoff berths snapped last year. Dunn is on Ohio State commit and the state’s No. 1 RB prospect. He has a chance to become Stark County’s all-time rushing leader. Glenoak should have a heck of a battle at the QB position. During the offseason, senior QB Jon Spohn and junior QB Reid Wortsell transferred in. Spohn comes from Uniontown Lake where he started all 14 games last year and led the Blue Streaks to the D-II state semifinals (1,566 passing yards, 11 TDs; 394 rushing yards, five TDs). Wortsell, many believe, was in line to be Canton McKinley’s starting QB this season. The Eagles return seven starters on defense.
Said head coach Scott Garcia (30-17 in five years): “Last season we were unable to finish games. We lost four games in the fourth quarter where we had a lead in the third.”
Avon Lake (8-3, D-II R6 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – DB Brett Bass (5-10, 185, sr.), OL T.K. Burk (6-5, 295, sr.), QB Chris Jedlicka (5-10, 190, sr.), OL Ryan Pivcevich (6-1, 220, sr.), FB/LB Nick Skuggen (6-1, 212, sr.), TB Dontez Smith ((5-8, 180, sr.), DL Nick Stueber (6-0, 220, sr.), OL/DL Mac Wightman (6-3, 280, sr.), OL/DL Jake Young (6-2, 254, sr.)
* Outlook – The Shoreman join D-I (where they will be the smallest school) after making the D-II postseason 12 of the last 13 years. Avon Lake was the D-II state champion in 2003 and runner-up in 2004. Head coach Dave Dlugosz (184-34 in 19 years) says the Shoreman are “cautiously optimistic. We have a senior laden team, but a lot of the seniors and inexperienced. They will have to mature quickly.”
* Players to Watch – RB Nick Roberts (5-11, 180, jr.), OL Tim Reagan (5-9, 230, sr.), OL Brent Suplita (6-4, 230, sr.), DB Scott Suren (6-4, 175, sr.), LB Dom Tischler (5-8, 165, sr.), DB Keith Yohman (5-9, 160, sr.)
* Outlook – According to head coach Luke Beal (second season at Brunswick), the Blue Devils enter 2011 with a number of question marks. Overall team speed is a strength, but there are just four returning starters on each side of the ball. Roberts (160 carries, 740 yards, seven TDs) is the leading returning rusher. Suren is a D-I prospect who tied a school record last year with eight INTs (63 tackles). Tischler 47 tackles) and Keith Yohman (41 tackles) help anchor the defense. Junior Dan Yohman (6-1, 175) will be the QB after making his first start in Week 10 last season.
* Players to Watch – OL Tad France (6-5, 260, sr.), WR/DB Demetrius Walton (6-2, 185, sr.), LB Malik Merriweather (6-3, 200, sr.), DL Jarad Williams (5-11″, 230, sr.), DL Holden Vazur (6-0, 230, sr.), DL Tracy Sprinkle (6-5, 260, jr.), RB Jumarr Lewis (5-10″, 170, so.)
* Outlook – The Pioneers are starting a new era under HOF coach Kevin Fell who comes over from Amherst with a career record of 234-111-2 in stints at five schools. Fell will implement the spread. Elyria opens a new stadium this season and has several D-I prospects in France (Kent State commit), Walton and Merriweather. Sprinkle and Lewis will shine as underclassmen. Fell said Lewis, who became the first Elyria freshman ever to rush for over 100 yards in a game last year, is “the best RB in Northeast Ohio.” Double-digit returning starters have the Pioneers thinking big.
* Players to Watch – WR Dylan Blunk (5-10, 180, sr.), OL Alex Schroeder (5-11, 205, sr.), WR Jimmy Orwick (5-10, 175, jr.), LB Devin Dennard (5-11, 190, jr.), P Joseph Davidson (6-6, 190, jr.), RB/LB Austin Gutting (6-3, 230, so.)
* Outlook – The Trojans begin play in the new Three Rivers Athletic Conference this year and will have a lot more fan-friendly games against Northwest Ohio counterparts, including archrival Fremont Ross (always meet in Week 10). A strong, but young skill group has head coach Mark Ritzler (23-27 in five years) optimistic. Line play will be key. Findlay returns four of five OL starters but several of those players may also have to see action on the DL where all four starters were lost. Early season wins will be key to building confidence.
* Players to Watch – DL Nick Tavanello (6-0, 248, sr.), RB/DB Jack Snowball (6-0, 221, sr.), QB/DB Jon Kuss (6-2, 181, sr.), OL/DL Brandon Palidar (6-0, 243, sr.), TE/LB Tyler Perry (5-11″, 194,sr.), FB/LB Bret Baughman (5-10″, 214, sr.), TE/LB Nick Seme (6-3″, 224, jr.)
* Outlook – Injuries plagued the Grizzlies last year (nine players had surgeries) and head coach Greg Dennison (112-55 in 16 years) is hoping his team’s luck changes. Experience will be a key as many players saw action a year ago. Tavanello is a two-time state wrestling champion who stars on both sides of the ball (78 tackles). Snowball, who ran for 1,200 yards as a sophomore, returns after sitting out all last year with an injury. Kuss (54 tackles), Palidar (50 tackles), Perry (33 tackles) and Seme will contribute immensely.
KEEP AN EYE ON
* North Ridgeville (7-3) – Head coach Jeff Riesen (188-94-2) and the Rangers face two new opponents this year in Elyria Catholic and Willard. Key returners include seniors P.J. Bunevich (QB), Mitch Bugala (OL/DL), Matt Dawson (TE/DE), Nick Hauck (OL), David Bowden (RB), Christian Watkins (WR/DB), Eric Knoblauch (OL/DL) and David Riley (LB).
* Lorain (2-8) – The Titans are in their second year since the consolidation of Admiral King and Southview. New head coach Mark Solis (97-34 career record) migrates over from Twinsburg where he spent the last 12 years. Seniors Christian Nogueras (5-11, 180, WR), Devin Hill (6-2, 285, OL/DL) and Raeshaun Smith (6-3, 315, OL/DL) are D-I prospects.
* Nordonia (2-8) – The Knights begin their first year in Suburban League and are looking for their first winning season since 2008. Third-year head coach Al Huge welcomes back seniors QB/DB Nick Rodriguez (5-9, 175), LB/FB Ryan Predovic (6-0, 225), OL/DL Joey Chudakoff (6-0, 215) and OL/LB Brad Coppedge (5-11, 205).
* North Canton Hoover (3-7) – Senior QB Austin Appleby (6-5, 228) is one of Ohio’s top prospects at his position and held over 10 offers before committing to Purdue.
* Massillon Perry (7-3) – Senior RB Jonathan Miller (5-11, 200) returns after gaining 1,671 yards and scoring 28 TDs last year.
* Amherst Steele (8-2) – The Comets have a new head coach in Chad DiFranco.
ALSO IN THIS REGION
Massillon Jackson (3-7), Whitehouse Anthony Wayne (7-3), Toledo Bowsher (3-7), Cuyahoga Falls (1-9), Green (5-5), Toledo Start (2-8), Stow-Munroe Falls (4-6), Toledo Waite (4-6)
Toledo St. John’s
Dark Horses: Massillon Perry, Hoover