MVP Football Preview Excerpt:
A look at Division II, Region 5 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 5 Previews and Predictions
TEAMS TO WATCH
Tallmadge (11-1, D-II R5 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – OL Jon Cipa (6-5, 305, sr.), TE/DE Tucker Linder (6-5, 200, sr.), RB/DB Tyrin Williams (5-9, 180, sr.), WR/DB Brandon Carr (5-9, 170, sr.), RB/DB Dylan Getz (5-11, 180, sr.), TE/LB Jacob Wood (6-5, 180, jr.), DB Cordt Skraba (5-8, 170, jr.), LB Zach Skraba (5-9, 175, jr.), DE/FB Logan Banks (5-11, 190, jr.), QB Anthony Gotto (6-1, 180, jr.)
* Outlook – Entering his 10th season at Tallmadge, head coach Joe Vassalotti has led the Blue Devils to the playoffs six of the last seven years but last year’s run was unexpected with a young roster. This year expectations are heightened. And deservedly so. Tallmadge returns its leading passer, rusher and four of its top five tacklers. Gotto threw for 1,703 yards and 14 TDs last year, while Williams rushed for 1,778 yards and 12 TDs. Getz is back after rushing for 420 yards and nine TDs and Wood caught 22 passes for 292 yards and three TDs. Defensively, the Blue Devils will be led by Getz (52 tackles, four INTs, two fumble recoveries), Wood (68 tackles), Cordt Skraba (44 tackles, five INTs), Zach Skraba (58 tackles), Carr (60 tackles, two INTs) and Banks (61 tackles).
Aurora (8-3, D-II R5 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – OL/DE Troy Watson (6-6, 280, sr.), WR/CB Anthony Melchiori (5-11, 185, sr.), OL/DL Matt Stepanek (6-3, 245, sr.), TE/LB J.T. Haughey (6-1, 195, sr.), QB/DB Blake Calcei (6-0, 190, sr.), FB/DL Anthony Opet (5-11, 225, sr.), RB/DB Johnny Opet (5-10, 170, sr.), TE/LB Zach Smierciak (6-3, 215, jr.), OL/DL Patrick Dougherty (6-4, 225, jr.)
* Outlook – The Greenmen and head coach Bob Mihalik (78-36 in 10 years) have made the playoffs six straight years and have won the Chagrin Valley Conference five of the last six years. This year Mihalik said: “We are cautiously optimistic. We have seven starters returning on both sides of the ball and defense should be a strength as well as offensive line. The key will be finding a workhorse running back and we may have to run the ball by committee. We think we have the potential to win our league, make a deep playoff run and compete for a state title this year.” A tough schedule awaits that includes five playoff teams from a year ago. The opener against Twinsburg is a doozey. In Northeast Ohio, only Glenville’s current streak of 10 straight playoff berths is longer than Aurora’s. Watson (Ohio commit) and Melchiori are D-I prospects.
Howland (11-1, D-II R5 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – OL/DL Anthony Stanko (6-5, 295, sr.), OL/DL Dan Moody (6-3, 240, sr.), RB Deveon Smith (5-11. 195. Jr.), DB Ken Pozega (6-0, 170, sr.)
* Outlook – The Tigers have been to the playoffs four years in a row and should make it five. Stanko is a Penn State recruit and Moody could earn a D-I ride too. Smith is one of the top junior prospects in the state (120 carries, 928 yards, 12 TDs).
Kenston (8-3, D-II R5 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – TE/De Zack Goldfarb (6-1, 215, sr.), WR/DB Alex Kocheff (5-10, 195, sr.), QB Austin Zachem (6-4, 205, sr.)
* Outlook – After a 10-year hiatus from the playoffs, the Bombers made it back last year. Now they’ll try to record back-to-back postseason berths for the first time in history. Kocheff is one of the state’s top DBs having accounted for 169 tackles and 14 TOs (including eight INTs) the last two years. Zachem is a solid QB.
Kent Roosevelt (8-3, D-II R5 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – RB/DB Shakeel Howard (5-6, 175, sr.), WR/DB Richard Graves (5-7, 170, sr.), OL Eli Kepner (6-2, 225, sr.), WR Tony Britt (5-7, 160, sr.), WR Trei Thomas (n/a, jr.), LB Stephen Henderson (5-10, 190, sr.), DL Zach Galloway (6-2, 245, sr.), DE Alex Hayden (5-11, 180, sr.), DE Sterling Alexander (5-11, 190, sr.), DB Tanner Bisnet (5-10, 165, sr.), P/WR Ron Jones (n/a, sr.), DB Kardell Jackson (n/a, so.), LB Matt Sommers (6-2, 226, so.), QB/DB Tra Chapman (6-2, 196, jr.)
* Outlook – The Rough Riders had a rough offseason after standout senior lineman Ryan Anderson was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. Anderson, a 2010 JJHuddle All-Ohio third team selection, had offers from several BCS schools and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. His football career is over. According to longtime head coach John Nemec (202 career wins): “Our players have dedicated themselves to work hard and not let Ryan down. ‘Never let your guard down’ became their motto. Ryan’s battle has become our battle – We are ‘All In’ to help our teammate. He inspires us all.” Expectations remain high with the return of 12 two-year starters, including Howard and Graves who were both All-Portage Trail Conference last year. Chapman (a talented move in) and fellow junior Zach Janus (last year’s JV starter) will vie for the QB spot. Sommers is one to watch.
Walsh Jesuit (7-3)
* Players to Watch – K Ross Martin (5-10, 180, sr.), TE/DE Kevin Enright (6-3, 235, sr.), QB Nick Wargo (6-3, 215, sr.),
* Outlook – The Warriors own 15 playoff berths in school history, but haven’t been to the postseason since 2008. Wargo steps in at QB for Connor Cook (Michigan State) and Martin is arguably the nation’s No. 1 kicking prospect and has verballed to Duke. He also held offers from Texas, Northwestern, Pitt and Cincinnati.
Uniontown Lake (10-3, D-II State Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – WR/LB Corey Paulino (6-2, 208, sr.), TE/LB Dylan Seibel (6-5, 212, sr.), K Matthew Gallegly (5-10, 177, sr.)
* Outlook – The Blue Streaks won Region 7 last year and now migrate to Region 5. Lake will have to replace starting QB Jon Spohn who transferred to Glenoak after starting all 14 games last year. Paulino (168 tackles, 13 TFL) and Seibel (Toledo offer) are D-I prospects.
Copley (9-2, D-II R5 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – RB/DB C.J. Chatman (5-9,170, sr.), WR/DB Alexander Garrett (5-9, 170, sr.), QB Lou Gigliotti (5-11″, 170, sr.), OL/DL Jake Harvey (6-0, 215, sr.), WR/DB R.J. Karam (5-10″, 170, sr.), WR/LB Isiah Wheeler (6-1, 175, sr.), OL/DL Jacob Calhoun (6-0, 215, jr.), RB/DB Aregeros Turner (5-11, 170, jr.)
* Outlook – The Indians and head coach Ron Viscounte (19-22 in four years) will be led by Gigliotti who threw for 1,900 yards and 20 TDs last year. He also ran for two. Turner already owns an offer from Illinois.
KEEP AN EYE ON
* Canfield (5-5) – The Cardinals have only missed the playoffs three times since 2000, but last year was one of those misses. Senior RB/DB Jordan Italiano (5-10, 195) is a Kent State recruit and senior TE/DE Jimmy Rousher (6-3, 255) has committed to Miami (Oh).
* West Geauga (7-3) – The Wolverines have a star in senior WR/DB Nick Cuthbert (6-1, 190) who led the team with 96 tackles last year. He also had four INTs and scored five TDs on offense.
* Madison (7-3) – Head coach Tim Willis (69-45 in 11 years) welcomes back a seasoned roster that could produce what he called “a very good team.” Unity will be key. Senior contributors will be: RB Josh March (5-8, 180; 1,535 yards rushing last year), WR/DB Jason O’Bryan (6-3, 195; Kent State commit) and OL Thomas Scarberry (6-2, 270).
* Louisville (7-3) – The Leopards will rely heavily on a pair of seniors: RB Lucas Poyser (5-8, 170) and QB/LB Chad Neff (6-1, 200). Poyser has rushed for 1,696 yards and 20 TDs the last two years, while Neff threw for 1,581 yards and ran for 1,119 last season.
* Akron Garfield (4-6) – Head coach Bob Sax (nine years) said the Rams return only “a few players that have a lot of varsity experience.” While a young OL has looked good in the offseason, Sax is waiting for skill players to step up.
* Alliance (5-5) – The Aviators and head coach Mike Schott look to field at least four D-I prospects in seniors QB Taurice Scott (5-10, 170), WR/DE Jalen Mays (6-5, 210), WR/DB Vernon Martin (6-1, 185) and RB/LB Franklin Hill (6-1, 215). Scott accounted for 29 TDs last season when he threw for 2,035 yards and ran for 641 more. Martin (six INTs), Hill (seven rushing TDs) and Mays (37 receptions, 594 yards and three TDs) are all impact players.
* Chardon (4-6) – The Hilltoppers look to rebound under first year head coach Mitch Hewitt.
ALSO IN THIS REGION
Barberton (2-8), Youngstown Chaney (1-9), Akron Coventry (2-8), Akron East (3-7), Akron Ellet (4-6), Akron Firestone (6-4), Geneva (6-4), Painesville Harvey (3-7), Akron Kenmore (2-8), Ashtabula Lakeside (0-10), New Philadelphia (4-6), Richfield Revere (3-7), Akron Springfield (3-7), Canton Timken (2-8)
Dark Horses: Kenston, Lake