MVP Football Preview Excerpt:
A look at Division III, Region 9 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 9 Previews and Predictions
TEAMS TO WATCH
Field (7-4, D-III R9 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – RB Patrick Boggs (6-0, 210, sr.); LB Zach Adelman (5-11, 210, sr.); WR/DB/QB Jake Kruse (6-0, 165, sr.); OL/Dl Ryan Stormer (6-1, 245, sr.); TE/DL Scott Adams (6-3, 220, sr.); WR/DB/QB Kody Lawden (6-2, 195, sr.); RB/LB Mitch Kisamore (5-9, 175, jr.)
* Outlook – Boggs returns after rushing for a staggering 2,386 yards and 27 TDs last season and will be a focal point for a program looking to reach its fifth straight postseason. The Falcons and head coach Patrick Youel (23-10 in three years) will be deep and talented at the skill positions, but line play is an early season concern. Adelman anchors the defense. Non-league games with Chagrin Falls and Minerva will test Field.
Huntington Valley University School (7-4, D-III R9 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – QB Tyler Eden (6-4, 220, sr.), RB John McKelvey (6-0, 190, sr.), WR/DB Kory Pearson (6-3, 185, so.), OL Reid Singer (6-1, 235, sr.), OL/DL Cole Boehmer (6-3, 265, sr.), WR Declan Starrett (6-0, 175, sr.), WR/DB Patrick Sheil (5′ 11″, 165, sr.)
* Outlook – After being an independent the Preppers join the Premier Athletic Conference this season. Head coach Jim Stephens (12 years at the school) returns a ton of experience from a roster that made the playoffs last season with just six seniors. Eden (2,253 passing yards, 22 TDs, 542 rushing yards, seven TDs) and McKelvey (2,000 all-purpose yards, 22 TDs) lead a very strong senior class.
Chagrin Falls (13-2, D-IV State Runner-Up)
* Players to Watch – OL Sam Gardner (6-0, 205, sr.), OL Mike Tozzi (6-2, 225, sr.), RB Jack Campbell (5-10, 190, jr.), QB Tommy Iammarino (5-11, 195, jr.), RB/DB Bradley Munday (5-8, 155, jr.), WR Mike Hageman (6-5, 205, sr.), WR Anthony DeCamillo (6-1, 200, sr.), LB Kurt Vidmer (6-0, 205, sr.), DB Everett Dishong (6-0, 195, sr.), LB Andrew Winkleman (6-2, 200, sr.)
* Outlook – The Tigers are suddenly a legit football power and they’re nowhere near done making noise. The question is can they make that noise in D-III. Chagrin Falls has been to two straight D-IV state championship games. Head coach Mark Iammarino (119-59 in 17 years) welcomes back six starters on offense and five on defense, including the team’s top four tacklers (Vidmer, Dishong, Campbell, Winkleman). Although all three LBs are back, the DL is an area of concern as all 4 positions must be replaced. Offensively, Campbell was the team’s leading rusher (696 yards and five TDs) last year, and Vidmer (10 TDs) played a huge part in short yardage packages. Returning QB Tommy Iammarino welcomes back three seasoned receivers (Munday, DeCamillo, Hageman) as well.
Cleveland Benedictine (2-8)
* Players to Watch – TE/DE Mike Roberts (6-4, 240, sr.), OL/DL Joe Nawalaniec (6-1, 250, sr.), RB/DB Bryan Lacey (5-11″, 180, sr.), DB/WR Kelvin Blake (5-10″, 170, sr.), LB Giovanni DiPaola (5-11″, 190, sr.), LB/FB Richard Allen (6-1, 235, sr.), OL/DL William Cloud (6-3, 250, sr.), TE/LB Owen Reilly (6-1, 215, sr.), OL/DL David Porter (6-0, 240, sr.), QB/DB Dan Piascik (5-11″, 175, jr.), WR/RB/DB Marshall Howell (6-0, 190, jr.), OL Pete Cvijanovic (6-4, 240, jr.), OL Jaylen Funches (6-3 260, jr.), WR/DB Will Woodson (6-0, 180, jr.)
* Outlook – Head coach Ben Malbasa starts his first year at Benedictine after leading Elyria Catholic to a 31-11 record the last four years. He takes over for longtime Mentor Art Bortnick who led the Bengals to state titles in 2003 and 2004. Benedictine, which owns six state titles, hasn’t been to the postseason since 2005. Malbasa will employ a fast tempo, no-huddle attack, which will feature Roberts (33 catches, 453 yards), Lacey (143 carries, 808 yards) and Howell (600 yards total offense). Roberts owns offers from Toledo and Louisville. Defensively the Bengals return DiPaola (67 tackles), Allen (78 tackles), Cloud (51 tackles) and Reilly (91 tackles). In addition to beginning play in the North Coast League Blue Division this season, Benedictine also has non-league games against Columbus DeSales and Youngstown Boardman.
Jefferson Area (4-6)
* Players to Watch – QB/WR/DB Connor Cleveland (5-10″, 170, sr.), RB/LB Jacob Dengg (5-10″, 180, sr.), OL/DL Jeremy Stiles (6-2, 300, sr.), WR/DB Jonathan Hubler (6-0, 175, sr.), WR/DB Johnny Knight (5-11″, 175, sr.), OL/DL Aaron Painter (6-2, 240, sr.), OL/LB Andy Santiago (5-9, 190, sr.), OL/DL Gage Severino (6-1, 295, sr.), RB/LB Scott Davison (5-10″, 160, jr.), WR/DB Jacob Hamilton (5-6″, 140, jr.)
* Outlook – In their last season as an independent the Falcons, who join the All-American Conference next year, have a chance to produce a special season. Jefferson graduate just six seniors from last year’s team and return 27 letterwinners. Cleveland (300 yards receiving, 239 yards rushing, five TDs), Dengg (291 yards rushing, three TDs) and Davison (843 yards rushing, nine TDs) will operate behind a veteran OL (led by Stiles), while Hubler and Knight are capable receivers. Defensively, Cleveland (87 tackles), Dengg (72 tackles), Hubler (56 tackles), Santiago (32 tackles), Severino (eight TFL) and Hamilton (64 tackles) are a few of the key returners. This season is the last that the Falcons play rivals Grand Valley and Geneva.
Mentor Lake Catholic (12-2, D-II State Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – ATH/LB Kyle Schinke (6-1, 190, sr.), RB/LB Lou Vettel (5-11, 175, sr.), LB Steve Freiberg (5-9, 180, sr.), LB Evan Gormley (6-0, 185, sr.), DB Ryan Fyffe (5-11, 175, sr.), WR/DB Richie Miller (6-2, 175, sr.), WR/DB Aaron Phillips (6-1, 175, sr.), WR/DB Zach Hawkins (6-2, 195, sr.), QB John Stepec (6-3, 215, jr.)
* Outlook – The Cougars have won back-to-back regional titles under head coach Mike Bell (76-36 in nine years) but stretching that streak to three will be tough. MLC must replace 21 of 22 starters. Only one player (Vettel) who ran for over 100 total yards returns. Defensively, Schinke (47 tackles, nine TFL) and Freiberg (35 tackles, five TFL) are back. Despite the graduation losses, Bell says, “I really believe this has been our best overall off season. The players are working extremely hard, they have shown tremendous leadership and have very high expectations for the 2011 season.” New teams on the MLC schedule include: Strongsville, Ravenna and Avon. This is the 40th season of football for MLC.
Akron Archbishop Hoban (4-6)
* Players to Watch – DE/TE LaTroy Lewis (6-5, 245, sr.), DE/TE Greg McMullen (6-5, 275, sr.), DB Jordan Cook (5-10, 185, sr.), FB Miles Light (5-9, 230, sr.), OL/DL Hayden DeYoung (6-3, 300, sr.), OL/DL Ameer Hodoh (5-8, 285, sr.), OL Ben Sarkis (6-1, 205, sr.), P Zack Reichert (6-3, 185, sr.), QB Dominick Orsini (6-3, 190, jr.), TE/LB Jimmy Martter (6-3, 230, jr.), DB Phil Brett (6-2, 190, jr.), OL Jason Frimel (5-10, 250, jr.)
* Outlook – The Knights have high expectations for 2011 but they also have a brutal schedule ahead, including games with: Hartley, SVAM, Massillon Washington, Walsh Jesuit, Mentor Lake Catholic and Padua Franciscan. To help offset that gauntlet, head coach Ralph Orsini (128-66 in 18 years) welcomes back the best DL duo in Ohio in Lewis and McMullen. Lewis (88 tackles, 31 QB hurries, eight sacks) lists his Top 5 schools as Ohio State, Nebraska, Oregon, Northwestern and Michigan. McMullen (86 tackles, 20 QB hurries, 7.5 sacks) is a Nebraska commit. Cook (54 tackles), Hodoh (50 tackles) and Brett (24 tackles) add to a formidable Hoban defense. Offensively, several key lineman return. Look for Dominick Orsini and Martter to have big years.
Padua Franciscan (8-4, D-III R9 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – OL Rob Wallace (6-5, 265, sr.), QB Jim Solano (6-2, 185, sr.), FB Joe Marco (6-2, 215, sr.)
* Outlook – The Bruins have been to the playoffs four straight years. Solano returns after a strong junior season in which he threw for 1,212 yards and 12 TDs and rushed for 406 yards and five TDs. Wallace has an offer from Air Force.
Akron Buchtel (11-4, D-III State Runner-Up)
* Players to Watch – WR/DB Jarrod Wilson (6-3, 190, sr.)
* Outlook – The Griffins made headlines last year by finishing state runner-up and then made headlines in the offseason with some transfer issues and ineligible players. Now it’s time to play football again. Head coach Ricky Powers welcomes back some talent from last year’s squad including Wilson (55 tackles, eight INTs and seven TFL), a Michigan commit who chose the Wolverines over Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford, Michigan State and Vanderbilt. Wilson had two INTs and a fumble recovery in the state final last year.
Akron SVSM (7-5, D-III R9 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – QB Kevin Besser (6-3, 195, sr.), RB/DB SaeVon Fitzgerald (5-9, 170, sr.), DE Matt Perry (6-3, 255, sr.), WR/DB Tyler Bischof (5-9, 175, sr.), OL/DL Matt Olszewski (6-2, 260, sr.)
* Outlook – The Irish are poised for a solid season. SVSM has been to the playoffs three of the last four years and should make it again. Besser and Fitzgerald (1,102 yards rushing, nine TDs) form a formidable and seasoned duo. Defensively, Bischof (59 tackles, eight TFL, four sacks) and Perry (58 tackles, eight sacks) lead the way. Head coach Dan Boarman owns a 148-83 career record.
* Players to Watch – RB/CB D.J. Jones (5-10, 190, sr.), FB/LB Dylan Tirpak (6-1, 185, sr.), QB/SS Brandon Holt (5-10, 195, sr.), OL/DL Matt Benson (5-10, 240, sr.)
* Outlook – The Ravens, led by head coach Jim Lunardi (55-36 career record) were D-II last year and narrowly missed the playoffs. Now they’ll try their luck in D-III. Jones is a special talent who rushed for 1,377 yards and 18 TDs last year. He scored six TDs on varsity as a sophomore and reached the end zone 37 times on the freshman team. Defensively, Jones registered 66 tackles and four INTs last year. Holt (490 yards passing, nine TDs) returns under center. Tirpak (181 tackles the last two years) and Benson (81 tackles the last two years) are defensive veterans. Should the Ravens win the Portage Trail Conference title this year it will be just the second time in school history and first since 1973-75 that the program won three straight league titles.
KEEP AN EYE ON
* Hubbard (8-3, D-III R9 Quarterfinalist) – The Eagles have made the playoffs 10 of the last 12 years and five straight. This year defense should be a strength with the return of senior LB Tyler Karabin (6-3, 215;100 tackles) and senior DL Anthony Pesce (6-0, 210; 98 tackles).
* Pepper Pike Orange (4-6) – The Lions, led by head coach Adam Bechlem (7-13 in two years), haven’t had a winning season since 1999. Seniors WR/DB Julian Turner (6-2, 175), LB Trae Williams (6-1, 205) and LB/OL James Malcolm (5-11, 190) spearhead the defense. Turner had four interceptions and eight receiving TDs last year, while Williams racked up 66 tackles (seven sacks) and Malcolm logged 55.
* Akron North (0-10) – First year head coach Mike Laktash will face three new opponents this year in Fairless, Cloverleaf and Barberton. The Vikings will be led by senior WR/DE DeShawn Dowdy (6-4, 215) who was named first team All-City last year after catching 36 passes for 430 yards and three TDs. He also ran for a TD. Defensively Dowdy registered 60 tackles, including 10 TFL and five sacks. He also forced four fumbles, recovered two and had five pass deflections.
* Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (6-4) – CVCA owns six playoff berths in the last eight years but this is their first stint in D-III after bumping up from IV.
* Peninsula Woodridge (7-3) – The Bulldogs made their first postseason appearance (D-IV) in 2009 and put together another solid run last year.
* Mantua Crestwood (5-5) – Second year head coach Chris Kosiorek is trying to turn around a program looking for its first playoff berth since 1999. Key contributors will be senior Josh Kulesza (WR/RB/DB, 6-1, 165), juniors Matt Monroe (OL/DL, 6-0, 220), Micky Cook (WR/S, 6-1, 180), Trevor Sweet (OL/DL, 6-6, 225) and Marcus Weatherbee (RB/LB, 5-10, 175) and sophomore Kenn Jackson (RB/LB, 6-0, 185).
* Norton (2-8) – The Panthers have had eight straight losing seasons and that fact isn’t lost on second-year head coach Glen Kruger who said, “We are not making any predictions, but our team knows that particular statistic is not acceptable anymore.” The Panthers return 18 starters including several young, but seasoned players. Junior QB Cameron Shepard is back after accounting for 1,029 yards and 12 TDs in just five games last season. Also back is junior WR/DB Matt McGlone (22 receptions, 30 tackles, three INTs). Sophomore John Glas will anchor the OL, while senior LB and three-year starter Logan Garrett (74 tackles) will lead the defense.
* Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin (3-7) – The Lions and head coach Byron Morgan (20-22 at NCDL) are excited about the season but it will be a treacherous one to navigate. NDCL opens with Willoughby South, Chagrin Falls and Nordonia. Once North Coast Conference play starts, the Lions face Mentor lake Catholic, Padua Franciscan, Hoban and new additions Walsh Jesuit and Benedictine. Standouts for NCDL include: TE A.J. Branisel (6-4, 220, jr.), WR Mark Worthington (6-0, 170, sr.), LB Conor Murray (5-10, 200, sr.), LB Michael Strumbly (6-0, 205, sr.) and LB John Dasch (n/a, sr.). Morgan is within reach of 225 career wins. The QB competition is between junior Robbie Nash and sophomore Austin Jackson.
ALSO IN THIS REGION
Bay Village Bay (3-7), Brookside (3-7), Medina Buckeye (3-7), Oberlin Firelands (2-8), Parma Heights Holy Name (4-6), Cleveland John Hay (6-4), Miles McKinley (3-7), Rocky River (7-3), Ravenna Southeast (5-5), Warrensville Heights (1-9)
Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary
Dark Horses: Benedictine, Lake Catholic, Norton