MVP Football Preview Excerpt:
A look at Division II, Region 6 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 6 Previews and Predictions
TEAMS TO WATCH
Tiffin Columbian (11-2, D-III R10 Finalist)
* Players to Watch – RB/LB Vince Kurtz (6-1, 200, sr.), OL/DL Carter Mullins (6-0, 235, sr.), WR/LB Jack Jacoby (6-0, 210, jr.), DB Shane Hossler (6-2, 170, sr.)
* Outlook – After leading Hopewell-Loudon to back-to-back Division VI state title games, head coach Brian Colatruglio led the Tornadoes to the D-III regional finals last year. Columbian lost 18-7 to eventual state champion Watterson. A strong nucleus returns including five starters on defense, which will be the strength of the team (Kurtz was third team All-Ohio last year). Line play should be solid on both sides of the ball. Offensively concerns include replacing a ton of skill positions (QB, RB, and three WRs). New talent will come from a JV team that went 8-1. The schedule is completely different with five new teams, including new Week 1 opponent Clyde.
Toledo St. Francis (4-6)
* Players to Watch – OL/DL Andrew Villolovos (6-5, 300, sr.), OL/DL Zach Kolacki (6-1, 270, sr.), OL/DL Cam Stanley (6-5, 270, sr.), OL/DL Hunter Stanley (6-3, 265, sr.), TE/DE Nathan White (6-2, 220, sr.), QB Andy Meinert (6-0, 205, sr.), K Michael McGowan (5-10, 150, sr.), TE/DL Richard Ellis (6-2, 215, sr.), LB/RB Scott Wawrzyniak (6-1, 220, sr.); RB/DB Jarrod Jefferson (5-9, 185, sr.)
* Outlook – The Knights, who won a state title in 2001, have only made the postseason once in the last six years, but that trend is about to change. St. Francis might own the most talented OL in D-II and size is not an issue. Villolovos, Kolacki, White and both Stanley’s are all D-I prospects. Meinart, six three-year starters and the entire OL will be strengths. One concern is a defense, which second year head coach Mike Blochowski said “needs to improve.” The unit will be led by Wawrzyniak. The Knights schedule is brutal and includes seven playoff teams from last year.
Avon (10-1, D-II R6 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – FB/LB Cory Furnas (5-11, 200, sr.), TE/DE Tyler Lance (6-2, 215, sr.), FB/LB Matt Tomlin (5-11, 195, sr.), QB Justin O’Rourke (5-10, 170, sr.), RB/DB Ross Douglass (5-10, 180, jr.), K Brad Young (5-9, 165, sr.), DL Alex Kelly (6-1, 240, jr.); DB Ralph Smith (5-9, 165, jr.), TE/DE Greg Harrison (6-1, 225, sr.); WR/DB Matt Holkenborg (5-9, 185, sr.), OL Ryan Bryne (6-2, 315, sr.), OL Will Miller (5-11, 215, sr.), WR/DB Jacob Mullins (5-11, 165, sr.)
* Outlook – The Eagles earned the No. 1 seed in the R6 playoffs last year but lost to Sandusky 42-35 in the first round. Another postseason trip is attainable. O’Rourke becomes the full-time starter after throwing for 511 yards and seven TDs in part-time duty. Eckhardt posted solid numbers last year (40 receptions, 760 yards and 10 TDs) as did Douglass (105 carries, 704 yards and nine TDs), who holds offers from Minnesota and Illinois. On defense, Kelly (37 tackles, six sacks), Furnas (66 tackles), Tomlin (70 tackles, nine TFL), Lance (22 tackles), Holkenorg (33 tackles), Harrison (20 tackles, five TFL), Mullins (three INTs) and Smith (24 tackles, two INTs) lead a seasoned group. New opponents – Elyria Catholic and Mentor Lake Catholic – are tough. Another hurdle is replacing top prospect and senior LB Bryan Cox, Jr. (6-3, 238), who moved to Florida and enrolled at St. Thomas Aquinas (his father got a job with the Miami Dolphins).
Sandusky (7-5, D-II R6 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – OL/DL Mike Brown (6-3, 275, sr.), QB/LB Lucas Poggiali (6-2, 190, sr.), WR/DB Tristen Jeffries (6-1, 190, sr.), WR/DB Damyion Smith (5-10, 170, sr.)
* Outlook – Head coach Mike Franklin (23-29) and the Blue Streaks (led by 31 seniors) will see what they can do for an encore after reaching the playoffs for the first time in 20 years. Poggiali (1,800 passing yards last year) and Jefferies (800 yards receiving, three INTs) have a chance to set school records for passing and receiving yards, respectively. Smith returns after posting solid numbers a year ago (400 yards receiving, 59 tackles, three INTs).
Sandusky joins the Northern Ohio League this year and faces Ashland (non-league).
Toledo Central Catholic (8-3, D-II R6 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – DE Levi Pickerel (6-2, 240, sr.), DL Jon Perrin (6-1, 300, jr.), LB Charles Hagler (5-11, 205, sr.), LB Jim Johnston (6-0, 210, sr.), DB Jarvell Jones (5-11, 175, sr.), RB Amir Edwards (5-10, 190, jr.)
* Outlook – Head coach Greg Dempsey (96-30 in 11 years) has led the Irish to seven straight playoff berths and if there’s one thing that could snap that streak, it’s OL play. TCC must replace all five starters up front. That being said, the Irish will be tough to score on as they begin play in the new Three Rivers Athletic Conference. Sophomore QB DeShone Kizer is one to watch.
Olmsted Falls (9-4, D-II R6 Finalist)
* Players to Watch – OL Nolan Brandt (5-9, 220, sr.), TE Eric Meehan (6-3, 181, sr.), QB Brennan Laird (6-3, 190, sr.), DL Mike Sauvey (5-8, 260, sr.), LB Evan Rieke (5-11, 160, sr.), DB Nathan Ferster (5-10, 154, sr.)
* Outlook – The Bulldogs haven’t had a losing season since 1991 and head coach Jim Ryan (171-80 in 24 years) doesn’t expect one this year either. Laird is back for his third season as a starter.
Maple Heights (15-0, D-II State Champion)
* Players to Watch – WR/DB Jeremy Graves (6-2, 180, sr.), OL/DE Alex Jones 6-3, 215, sr.), DL Aaron Pipkins (6-3, 250,sr.)
* Outlook – The Mustangs won the D-II title last year after finishing runner-up in 2009. They could make it three finals in a row. MH has to replace every offensive skill starter, but they do return four starting OL. Graves, a transfer from Garfield Heights who has offers from Cincinnati and Buffalo, fills one skill slot. Pipkins has offers from Buffalo and Youngstown state. Jones is another D-I prospect. Finding a replacement for the electric Shaq Washington (Cincinnati) at QB is a concern.
Fremont Ross (9-2, D-I R2 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – WR/DB Skylar Reffner (6-3, 175, sr.), FB/DE Trent Stout (5-11, 215, sr.)
* Outlook – The Little Giants drop down to D-I this season but begin play in the new rugged Three Rivers Athletic Conference. Reffner and Stout (91 tackles, seven TFL) are D-I prospects.
* Players to Watch – QB Collin Michael (6-5, 215, sr.), TE/DE Tanner Kearns (6-5, 220, sr.), ATH/DB Tyler Jackman (6-2, 200, sr.)
* Outlook – The Minuteman are poised to have a big year and ending a two-year playoff drought will be their goal. Michael (Central Michigan, Buffalo and Temple offers), Kearns (Indiana commit) and Jackman (Army and Air Force offers) provide Lexington a solid nucleus.
* Players to Watch – DB Tyvis Powell (6-4, 185, sr.), LB Myles Hilliard (6-6, 250, sr.), WR/DB Isaiah Mathews (6-3, 193)
* Outlook – The Bearcats have the talent to make the playoffs. Powell (Ohio State commit) had 65 tackles and four INTs last year. Hilliard (Pitt commit) had 49 tackles and 10 sacks. Mathews is also a D-I prospect.
KEEP AN EYE ON
* Maumee (8-4, D-II R6 Semifinalist) – The Panthers will try to duplicate last year’s success by relying heavily again on standout senior QB Jake Schneider (6-0, 175) who threw for 2,315 yards and ran for 1,206 more last year.
* Medina Highland (4-6) – The Hornets and head coach Tom Lombardo (27-17 in four years) are “cautiously optimistic” heading into the season.
Key contributors will be senior QB/WR/DB Jerry Scholle (6-2, 2156) and junior QB Austin Adams (6-6, 220).
* Perrysburg (8-2) – The Yellow Jackets drop down from D-I. Senior FB/DL Micah Carter (5-9, 225) returns (339 yards rushing, three TDs).
ALSO IN THIS REGION
Mansfield Senior (6-4), Berea (0-10), Bowling Green (3-7), Oregon Clay (4-6), Lodi Cloverleaf (4-6), Cleveland Collinwood (3-7), Mansfield Madison (2-8), Grafton Midview (3-7), Parma Normandy (1-9), Norwalk (3-7), Toledo Rogers (6-3), Toledo Scott (1-9), East Cleveland Shaw (7-3), Springfield Holland (4-6), Sylvania Northview (3-7), Westlake (6-4), Toledo Woodward (0-10)
Toledo St. Francis
Dark Horses: Tol. CC, Fremont Ross, Bedford