MVP Football Preview Excerpt:
A look at Division I, Region 1 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 1 Previews and Predictions
TEAMS TO WATCH
Solon (12-1, D-I R1 Finalist)
* Players to Watch – OL/DL Nathan Hoff (6-1, 285, sr.), WR/DB Tres Barksdale (6-2, 176, sr.), OL Austin Stock (6-3, 262, sr.), LB/RB Nick Davidson (5-8, 185, sr.), DE/TE Michael Dunn (6-1, 197, sr.), DB/WR Darian Hicks (5-10, 165, jr.), OL/DL Vince Hill (6-1, 256, sr.), P/K Alex Knight (5-11, 199, sr.), DB Justin Kresevic (5-9, 170, sr.), DE/OL Ryan Pastor (6-3, 198, jr.), DB/RB Ryan Schwenke (5-11, 175, sr.), WR/DB Cory Stuart (6-0, 160, sr.)
* Outlook – The Comets have been to the playoffs 11 of the last 12 years and expect to make it 12 out of 13 under head coach Jim McQuaide (74-20 in eight years at Solon, 150-82 overall). Solon lost three D-I recruits off last year’s team and must find replacements for graduation hits at RB and LB. The DL, DB and WR spots are strengths. Overall 12 starters return. Hoff is a four-year starter who had 62 tackles and 21 TFL last season. He’ll lead the defense along with Davidson (150 tackles and 24 TFL), Schwenke (88 tackles, 10 TFL, three INTs, three fumble recoveries), Stuart (37 tackles), Hill (eight TFL) and Hicks (six INTs). Knight is a threat in the kicking game (52-of-52 PATs, 11-of-14 FGs). Stuart and Barksdale own big-play potential. Stock is a D-I prospect.
Glenville (11-1, D-I R1 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – WR/DB VAngelo Bentley (5-8, 170, sr.), FB/LB Devan Bogard (6-0, 175, sr.), DL Alex Pace (6-3, 284, sr.), WR Justin Hardee (6-2, 175, sr.), DE Kevin Kinds (6-6, 220, sr.), QB/DB Davonte Congress (6-0, 167, sr.), OL/DL Willie Henry (6-4, 2160, sr.)
* Outlook – The Tarblooders and head coach Ted Ginn sr. have been to the playoffs 10 straight times, which is the top current streak in Northeast Ohio. Glenville’s cupboard is stocked with the usual: talent – and plenty of it. Bentley (Illinois and Pitt offers), Bogard (Ohio State commit) and Pace (UC, West Virginia, Vanderbilt and Illinois offers) are among the Class of 2012s top prospects. Hardy, Kinds, Congress and Henry are also D-I prospects.
St. Edward (15-0, D-I State Champion)
* Players to Watch – TE Sam Grant (6-6, 240, sr.), OL Kyle Kalis (6-5, 302, sr.), DL Greg Kuhar (6-4, 265, sr.), LB Sam Martello (6-1, 214, sr.), OL Tyler Orlosky (6-4, 290, sr.), DL Darryl Render (6-3, 245, sr.), DL Tom Lally (6-3, 245, sr.), LB Joe Palange (6-2, 215, sr.), WR Quincy Jones (6-4, 205, sr.), WR Chris Connors (6-1, 205, sr.), OL Joe LoSchiavo (6-4, 290, sr.), RB Dwayne Aaron (5-5, 160, jr.), DB Joe Dever (6-3, 210, sr.), ATH/DB Kirkland Bryant (5-11, 185, sr.)
* Outlook – The Eagles and head coach Rick Finotti won their first D-I state title last year and open as the favorites to win another. St. Edward is loaded. Kalis (Michigan commit), Grant (Boston College commit), LoSchiavo and Orlosky (Michigan, Northwestern, Michigan State offers) return from a dominant offensive line that will open holes for Aaron (nine TDs). Defensively, Kuhar (Michigan, Iowa, Northwestern, Boston College offers), Martello (Toledo offer), Lally and Render (Iowa, West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Pitt, Cincinnati, UConn offers) solidify the middle. Henry Hilow (6-3, 200, sr.) steps in at QB and has D-I prospects in targets Jones, Connors and Bryant (committed to Eastern Michigan).
Austintown-Fitch (10-2, D-I R1 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – WR/DB Chris Davis (5-9, 188, sr.), QB/DB Demetrious Davis (5-10, 183, sr.), RB/LB William Mahone (6-0, 204, sr.), OL/Dl Billy Price (6-4, 265, jr.)
* Outlook – The Davis twins are the most sought after brothers in Ohio. Both own over 20 offers, including UCLA, Boise State, Oregon State, Oregon, Arkansas, Iowa and Colorado. Last year Chris churned out 748 all-purpose yards, while Demetrious accounted for 39 TDs, threw or 1,424 yards and ran for 1,227 more. The duo teams with Mahone (700 yards, 14 TDs) to give Fitch arguably the top 1-2-3 punch in Ohio. Mahone has over 20 offers too, including: Notre Dame, Michigan State, Penn State and Boston College. Price is one of the state’s top junior prospects and has offers from Ohio State and UCLA.
Mentor (7-4, D-I R1 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – DE Tom Strobel (6-6, 250, sr.), LB Kurt Laseak (6-4, 220, sr.), DL Jack Hanley (6-3, 260, sr.), DL Tyler Koshiol (6-2, 275, sr.), QB Mitchell Trubiski (6-3, 185, jr.), WR Warren Ashton (5-10, n/a, sr.)
* Outlook – Head coach Steve Trivisonno starts his 15th year at Mentor with a club he says is “very good” with “good depth” and “a great front four.” Strobel (Michigan commit) is one of the state’s top prospects and had 23 QB pressures and five sacks last year. Laseak (three INTs, six sacks), Hanely (54 tackles) and Koshiol (45 tackles) lend support to an impressive defensive front.
Offensively, Trubiski returns after throwing for 1,250 yards and 14 TDs. Ashton (25 catches) is one of his favorite targets.
Warren Harding (8-3, D-I R1 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – WR/DB Jalyn Powell (6-1, 180, jr.), WR/LB Mikquan Dorsey 96-1, 190, jr.), RB Justin Magazine (5-6, 180, sr.), RB/LB Kyle Cogley (5-11, 185, sr.), OL Josh Krok (6-7, 300, so.), OL Dominic Cole (6-4, 275, so.)
* Outlook – Head coach Rick Rios (59-52 career record) takes over after 12 years at Toledo Rogers. Non-conference games with Austintown-Fitch and Howland in weeks 1 and 3 are huge.
St. Ignatius (4-6)
* Players to Watch – TE Bake Thomas (6-4, 250, sr.), QB Eric Williams (6-3, 195, sr.), DB Mike Svetina (6-2, 220, sr.), DE Edward Cleveland (6-1, 240, sr.), DB Dan Jones (5-11, 190, sr.), K Tim Shenk (5-7, 160, sr.), OL Zachary Lozar (6-2, 250, sr.)
* Outlook – The Wildcats missed the playoffs for the first time since 1987 last year. Expect St. Ignatius to play in Week 11 again. Williams (Toledo and Eastern Michigan offers) and Blake (Ohio State commit) will lead the offense, while Svetina, Cleveland and Jones anchor the defense. Svetina had 163 tackles (91 solo) and three INTs last year and has committed Miami (Oh).
North Royalton (9-1)
* Players to Watch – LB Azarie Battle (6-3, 215, sr.), LB Jake Smolik (6-2, 210, sr.), DB Nick Bonacci (6-1, 185, sr.), OL Bobby Barnes (6-0, 170, sr.), DL Devon Donnelly (6-0, 245, sr.), WR Austin Adams (5-9, 150, sr.), RB Evan Adams (5-9, 155, sr.), OL John Varro (6-1, 225, sr.), OL Tyler Quick (6-3, 265, sr.), QB Travis Tarnowski (6-0, 175, jr.), TE/LB Brit Barnes (6-2, 206, jr.), OL Chance Donnelly (n/a, jr.), RB Carl Lint (n/a, jr.)
* Outlook – The Bears lost their opener last year to Broadview Heights (21-17) and ran off nine straight wins but it wasn’t enough to make the postseason. Some have said NR needs to “beef” up its schedule and it’s obliged. The Bears move from the NOC Lake Division to the NOC River this year and will face Mayfield, Hudson, Elyria, Stow and Solon. Head coach Nick Ciulli (39-23 in six years) said the NR community is excited for the move and the new schedule will truly test where the Bears football program is. Battle (offer from Bowling Green) is one of three returning players who had over 10 TFLs last season. Smolik (100 tackles) and Bonacci (57 tackles) are the others. Other key defenders are Barnes (60 tackles, four INTs) and Donnelly (48 tackles, six TFL).
Offensively Tarnowski returns after completing 85-of-151 passes for 1,409 yards and 18 TDs. Several of his favorite targets, including Barnes (14 receptions, 270 yards, six TDs), Austin Adams (10 receptions, 224 yards, three TDs), Evan Adams (23 receptions, 400 yards, four TDs) and Lint (13 receptions, 162 yards, two TDs) are also back.
* Players to Watch – OL Steve Nagy (6-1, 245, sr.), QB/DB David Nelson (5-11, 170, sr.), OL/DL Quaison Osborne (6-4, 315, sr.), RB/LB Ben Gedeon (6-3, 215, jr.), LB Allan Hanson (5-9, 179, sr.)
* Outlook – The Explorers return 20 letterwinners from a team that finished the season 4-1 and handed undefeated Twinsburg its first loss in Week 8. Hudson however does not return its longtime head coach. After 16 seasons and a 96-70 record, former head coach Tom Narducci (179-112-2 career record) was let go (non-renewed) in May. His replacement is former assistant coach Ron Wright who served as defensive coordinator last year. Wright has plenty of talent to work with. Nagy, Nelson, Osbourne and Gedeon were All-NOC performers last year. Nagy (44 tackles, four sacks) will be a four-year letterwinner and so will Gedeon, who is also one of the state’s most versatile players. Last year the standout junior ran for 487 yards and six TDs, threw for 438 yards and two TDs and added 194 yards and three TDs on 11 catches. He also had 102 tackles. Gedeon owns an offer from Michigan. Nelson is another versatile standout who accounted for 1,001 yards and 11 TDs on the ground and through the air. He had 58 tackles. Hudson hasn’t been to the postseason since 2004, but that drought could end.
Eastlake North (5-5)
* Players to Watch – QB George Gresko (6-1, 195, sr.), RB Jordan Morris (5-10″, 180, sr.), DB Nick Vogel (5-9, 165, sr.), WR Ben Josipovic (6-2, 180, jr.), OL Michael Frank (6-1, 240, sr.), OL Jeremy Lemieux (6-2, 225, sr.)
* Outlook – Looking for a dark horse in R1? The Rangers might be it. Eastlake has never been to the playoffs but that could end soon. Gresko is a four-year starter who has thrown for over 2,400 yards the last two seasons. Heading into his final campaign, Gresko ‘s thrown for 5,565 career yards and 55 TDs. Morris became the first Eastlake RB to eclipse 1,000 yards last season when he finished with 1,058 and 10 TDs. Lemieux and Frank are three-year starters on the OL and Josipovic is leading returning receiver (32 catches, 501 yards, four TDs).
Defensively the Rangers and head coach George Burich (15-24 in four years) have to replace eight starters, but they do return Nogel (85 tackles).
Lyndhurst Brush (4-6)
* Players to Watch – QB/DE Pharaoh Brown (6-7, 215, sr.), DL/OL Carlutorbantu Zaramo (6-4, 299, sr.), WR/DB Jalen Yancy (6-4, 195, sr.), WR/DB Kevin Houchins, Jr. (6-0, 180, sr.), WR Isaiah Wilson (5-10, 185, sr.), RB Patric Hannon (6-1, 205, jr.), WR/DB Harry Durrah (5-9, 170, jr.)
* Outlook – The Arcs have one of the state’s top prospects in Brown (14 TFL, nine sacks), a Michigan commit who will play TE for the Wolverines. Houchins (four TDs, 50 tackles, two INTs) is a Louisville recruit. Zaramo (48 tackles) is another D-I prospect who holds offers from several MAC schools. Hannon (674 rushing yards, 11 TDs) is one of the state’s top junior RBs. Durrah is a defensive gem (six INTs last year). Brush has only made the playoffs one time (2005). This year could be the second.
Said head coach Rob Atwood (9-20 in three years): “We are a very experienced and athletic team looking to turn the corner.”
KEEP AN EYE ON
* Willoughby South (9-2, D-I R1 Quarterfinalist) – The Rebels have produced five straight All-Ohio QBs. Next in line? Junior Casey Klicman (5-11, 170).
* Broadview Heights (7-4, D-I R1 Quarterfinalist) – Junior QB Tommy Tupa (6-4, 200) will lead the Bees in head coach Jason Black’s third year.
* Euclid (4-6) – Senior LB/RB Denadre Rollins (6-1, 228) returns after making 86 tackles. Junior OL Matthew Blaha (6-3, 245) is one to watch.
* Cleveland Heights (4-6) – The Tigers feature one of the state’s best offensive lineman in senior and Wisconsin commit Kyle Dodson (6-6, 310). Senior LB Christian Cartwright (5-10, 205) is another D-I prospect.
* Boardman (6-4) – Senior WR Dayne Hammond (6-6, 185) has offers from Ball State and Toledo. Other key players are senior RB/DB Allen Starkey (5-10, 180) and senior OL Zach Zidan (6-2, 282).
* Parma (8-2) – Senior QB Tanner Sinclair (6-2, 175) will guide the Redmen again.
* Strongsville (6-4) – The Mustangs will be led by senior QB Austin Prtichard (6-3, 200).
ALSO IN THIS REGION
Mayfield (6-4), Cleveland JFK (7-4, D-II R6 quarterfinalist), Cleveland East Tech (2-7), Garfield Heights (5-5), Cleveland John Adams (3-7), Cleveland John Marshall (5-5), Lakewood (3-7), Cleveland Lincoln West (0-10), Middleburg Heights MidPark (2-8), North Olmsted (4-6), Cleveland Rhodes (6-4), Painesville Riverside (4-6), Shaker Heights (2-8), Parma Heights Valley Forge (0-10)
Dark Horses: Hudson, Eastlake North, Harding