MVP Football Preview Excerpt:
A look at Division III, Region 11 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 11 Previews and Predictions
TEAMS TO WATCH
Poland Seminary (7-4, D-III R9 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – QB Colin Reardon (6-2,190, sr.), DL/OL George Dibo (6-0, 275, sr.), RB/LB Jerry Lawman (5-8, 185, sr.), TE/DE Jordan Voitus (6-2, 225, sr.), FB Jordan Smith (5-11, 190, sr.)
* Outlook – The Bulldogs made the playoffs for the fourth straight season last year and narrowly lost to eventual state runner-up Akron Buchtel 20-18 in the R9 first round. A fifth straight postseason trip isn’t out of the question although Poland’s schedule is brutal. The Bulldogs face Austintown-Fitch, Marlington and rivals Canfield, Howland and Hubbard. Head coach Mark Brungard (44-22 in six years) has a strong senior class led by returning All-AAC performers Reardon (1,500 yards and 15 TDs), Dibo, Lawman and Voitus. Reardon is a three-year starter. Brungard added that upfront Poland, “should be as physical on both sides of ball as we’ve ever been.”
Canal Fulton Northwest (4-6)
* Players to Watch – QB Nick Riley (6-5, 190, sr.), RB Ronnie Beers (5-10”, 180, sr.), WR JC Pawlyk (5-10”, 180, sr.), DB Mason Tesch (5-9, 170, sr.), LB Jay Strelecki (5-10”, 190, sr.)
* Outlook – After nine straight postseason berths the Indians had their streak snapped last year. Thirteen starters return (including eight on defense) for head coach Vic Whiting (193-68 in 13 years). The offense will be led by Riley (2,521 passing yards, 18 TDs), Beers (680 rushing yards, 391 receiving yards, 13 TDs) and Pawlyk (38 catches, 529 receiving yards, four TDs). The OL will be a strength and feature eight underclassmen led by returning starters Jordan West (6-2, 260, jr.) and Paul Wellman (6-3, 240, jr.). Beers (73 tackles), Pawlyk (66) and Strelecki (54) lead the defense. Northwest begins play as an independent this season and has eight new teams on its schedule: Poland, New Philadelphia, Columbus St. Charles, Canfield, Cleveland John Hay, Parma Franciscan, St. Thomas Aquanius and Barberton.
Salem (8-3, D-III R11 Regional Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – WR/DB Zack Penick (6-1, 170, sr.), RB/DB Austin Noel (6-0, 170, sr.), OL/DL Steve Manypenny (6-3, 220, sr.), WR/DB Trent Kenreigh (N/A, sr.)
* Outlook – The Quakers will face some new foes this year with a move to the Northeastern Buckeye Conference. Head coach Mike Kopachy said Salem’s strengths will be talent at the skill positions and athleticism “across the board.” Penick has a chance to break all Salem’s receiving records this year. Noel was the team’s leading rusher a year ago.
* Players to Watch – QB David Fraley (n/a, jr.), RB/Db Zach Lilly (n/a, sr.), RB/DB Josh Link (n/a, jr.), WR/DB Ajay Alderman (n/a, so.), LB Clayton Plute (n/a, jr.), DL Elliot Williams (n/a, sr.)
* Outlook – According to head coach J.R. Wait, the Blue Aces goal for 2011 is to vie for their fourth playoff appearance in five years and compete for the MSL-Ohio Division title. Granville returns 17 letterwinners and seven starters on defense. Offensively Fraley returns at QB after tallying nearly 1,700 total yards in eight starts. The top three rushers (Fraley, Zach Lilly, and Josh Link) and leading receiver (Alderman) return. Inexperience on the offensive line is a concern. Overall team speed is a strength.
Marlington (13-1, D-III State Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – OL Zach Higgins (65, 295, sr.), RB/LB Alden Hill (6-2, 225, sr.), RB/DB Dymonte Thomas (6-2, 180, jr.), LB Clayton Staib (5-11, 185, sr.)
* Outlook – The Dukes have their sights set on a deep postseason run and for good reason – Marlington owns the best 1-2 RB punch in Ohio regardless of division. Hill, who rushed for 2,274 yards on 258 carries and accounted for 35 TDs last year, has over 15 offers including Michigan, Iowa, Northwestern, Virginia, Pitt and Vanderbilt. Thomas is arguably the top junior RB prospect in Ohio (ran for 1,488 yards and 18 TDs last year) and has offers from Michigan State, Michigan, UCLA, Tennessee, West Virginia, Illinois, Iowa and Notre Dame. Those two will be running behind a line anchored Higgins, a Michigan State commit. Staib and Thomas (117 tackles) will lead the defense. Up until last year, Marlington had never won a playoff game. This year they could win the state title.
Steubenville (8-3, D-III R11 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – RB/LB Leshawn Luke (5-9, 160, sr.), RB/DB JoJo Pierro (5-9, 185, sr.), QB Marcus Prather (6-3, 210, sr.), ATH/DB Najee Murray (5-11, 180, sr.), FB/DE William Houst (6-4, 225, sr.); WR/DB Matt Petrella (6-3, 175, jr.); RB/LB Dashon Redman (5-10, 195, jr.)
* Outlook – Big Red has been in the playoffs 10 straight years and odds are they’ll make it 11. One of Ohio’s most storied traditions, Steubenville will have a tremendous defense led by Ohio State commit Murray (62 tackles), Houst (67 tackles, seven sacks), Luke (64 tackles, seven TFL) and Redman (36 tackles). Pierro is the team’s workhorse (1,110 rushing yards and 12 TDs). Petrella will impact both sides of the ball (10 receptions, 250 yards, three TDs; 30 tackles, two INTs). Since taking control of the program in 1983, OHSFCA Hall of Fame head coach Reno Saccoccia is 291-52 with 21 playoff appearances, 13 regional titles, six state finals and three state titles.
Licking Valley (9-3, D-III R11 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – RB/LB Drew McArtor (6-1, 185, jr.), QB/DB Matt McClain (6-1, 175, sr.)
* Outlook – The Panthers will rely heavily on McArtor who took over mid-season last year and despite starting just the last half of the season and playoffs racked up over 1,300 yards and 16 TDs. McClain (53 tackles, two INTs) leads the defense.
Dover (10-3, D-III R11 Finalist)
* Players to Watch – OL/DL Tim Lehr (6-4, 250, sr.), WR Logan Maholm (6-0, 200, sr.), QB Derik Swinderman (6-4, 195, sr.), FB/LB Hunter Schneeberger (5-9, 210, sr.), DL Jake Bennett (6-1, 210, sr.), DB Jared Alexander (6-0, 175, sr.), WR/DB Andrew Little (5-8, 185, sr.), WR Mason Mamarella (5-11″, 175, jr.), DL Demetrious Farmer (6-2, 245, jr.), DL Jason Clinker (6-2, 300, jr.), OL Nick Sutterluety (6-1, 250, sr.)
* Outlook – The Tornados and head coach Dan Ifft (16 years at school) have been to the playoffs the last six years and have made three straight regional finals. Expect another deep playoff run. Swinderman is one of Ohio’s top QBs. Last year he completed 213-of-342 passes for 3,467 yards and 32 TDs and also ran for 554 yards and 12 TDs. Dover will be tested by a schedule that includes six D-II teams and new ECOL member Zanesville.
Youngstown Mooney (7-5, D-III R9 Finalist)
* Players to Watch – RB/DB Roosevelt Griffin (5-9, 180, sr.), OL/DL Austin Trgovcich (6-3, 270, sr.), QB/DB Courtney Love (6-1, 192, jr.), RB/LB Marcus McWilson (6-0, 190, sr.)
* Outlook – The Cardinals are a transplant from Region 9. They’ve been in four regional finals and won 59 games (and two state titles) since 2006. McWilson and Love are two of Ohio’s top junior prospects and will have a huge impact in regards to how far this year’s team goes. Both will be BCS players.
Minerva (8-3, D-III R11 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – LB Jake Riley (6-3, 195, jr.), WR/DE Kyle Crum (6-5, 210, sr.), WR/DB Zach Wade (5-11, 180, sr.), OL/DL Zack Felton (6-3, 250, sr.)
* Outlook – The Lions made the playoffs for the first time since 1997 last year and are trying to earn consecutive postseason berths for the first time in school history. Crum (offers from Louisville and Kent State) caught 29 passes for 600 yards last season. Wade impacts both sides of the ball (caught 15 passes for 304 yards and four TDs; made 54 tackles). Riley (60 tackles) in one of Ohio’s top junior prospects.
KEEP AN EYE ON
* Shelby (8-3, D-III R10 Quarterfinalist) – The Whippets will lean on senior RB/LB Will Lance (6-1, 210). Lance has led the team in rushing the last two years combining for 151 carries, 1,746 yards and 22 TDs since 2009. Junior TE/DL A.J. Bihl is one to watch.
* Thornville Sheridan (11-1, D-III R11 Semifinalist) – The Generals have been a postseason staple lately with seven trips in the last 10 years. Expect Sheridan to challenge for another Week 11 berth.
* East Liverpool (8-3, D-III R11 Quarterfinalist) – The Potters made the postseason for the first time since 2002 last year under head coach Mark Asher who has since taken over at Struthers. Former EL assistant Richard Prescott Jr. is the new head coach.
* Warsaw River View (2-8) – The Bears and head coach Chad Massie (fourth year) welcome back 16 starters including junior FB/DE Clay Holsclaw (6-2, 205) and senior WR/DB Austen Guthrie (6-3, 175).
ALSO IN THIS REGION
Lisbon Beaver (1-9), Rayland Buckeye Local (3-7), Cambridge (5-5), Canton South (3-7), Carrollton (4-6), Urichsville Claymont (2-8), Wintersville Indian Creek (6-4), New Concord John Glenn (5-5), Hebron Lakewood (1-9), Maysville (5-5), McConnelsville Morgan (2-8), New Lexington (2-8), Philo (6-4), Struthers (4-6), Beloit West Branch (1-9), West Holmes (1-9)
Canal Fulton Northwest
Dark Horses: Granville, Salem, Sheridan