MVP Football Preview Excerpt:
A look at Division V, Region 17 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 17 Previews and Predictions
TEAMS TO WATCH
Ursuline (15-0, D-V State Champion)
* Players to Watch – RB/LB Jesse Curry (6-0, 210, sr.), WR/DB Anthony Davis (6-0, 192, sr.), OL Ty Vasquez-Atkins (6-5, 330, sr.), OL/DL Troy Vasquez-Atkins (6-3, 320, sr.), RB/LB Trevor Smith (5-10, 200, sr.), WR/DB Kevin Cylar (5-9, 170, sr.), RB/LB Tramain Thigpen (5-11, 195, jr.), OL/DL Ronald Green (6-2, 300, jr.)
* Outlook – The Irish are 53-6 over the last four years and have been to four straight D-V state finals (won three straight titles). Ursuline has to replace 2010 JJHuddle Ohio Offensive Player of the Year Akise Teague (Cincinnati), but this is Ursuline. Smith, Curry and Thigpen all rushed for over 600 yards last year and will share the load with Teague gone. Smith and Curry each have over 250 career tackles as well and will battle each other to become the program’s all-time leader in that category by season’s end. Despite losing three of five starting OL, head coach Dan Reardon (68-23 in seven years) says that unit will be the strength of the offense thanks to a great “offseason” that’s produced players ready to fill the holes. Quarterback is still a question mark but the starting signal caller will be either sophomore Chris Durkin (big arm) or junior Sean Allen. A daunting schedule – as always – awaits. New opponents this year are D-I defending state champion Lakewood St. Edward and Mentor. New out-of-state opponents are Red Lion Christian (Delaware) and St. Peter’s (New Jersey).
Kirtland (12-1, D-V R20 Regional Finalist)
* Players to Watch – RB/LB Christian Hauber (6-0, 215, sr.), OL/DL Erick Zuberer (6-2, 235, sr.), WR/DB Zach Santo (5-9, 160, sr.), TE/LB Jake Finkler (6-0, 200, sr.), OL/LB Tim Blankenship (5-11, 190, sr.), WR/DB Damon Washington (5-10, 175, jr.)
* Outlook – For the second time in three years, the Hornets made the regional final where they were ousted by Ursuline. A third trip in four years is a very real possibility for head coach Tiger LaVerde who is 47-11 entering his sixth year at Kirtland. Hauber is one of the state’s top small school players and coming off a junior season in which he had 116 tackles and rushed for 1,300 yards. Santo (seven interceptions), Finkler (91 tackles) and Blankenship (60 tackles) are seasoned defenders and Zuberer anchors both lines. Washington (over 1,000 yards receiving and 10 TDs last season) has D-I and game-changing potential. Youth on the lines is a concern.
* Players to Watch – QB Austin Barbato (6-0, 180, sr.); LB Brandon Hacker (5-10, 190, jr.); LB Chris Hackstedd (5-9, 165, sr.); OL/DL Hayden Sneltzer (5-10, 210, jr.); OL Lee Dunlap (6-2, 245, sr.); WR/DB Britton Steininia (5-6, 140, jr.)
* Outlook – Head coach Bob Spaite (126-94-4 in 17 years) and the Clippers have a special player in Barbato who is on pace to become the schools all-time leading rusher this season. He gained 998 yards as a sophomore and 1,178 last year, leaving him just 846 yards shy. Columbiana plays three “trophy” games against rivals Leetonia, Columbiana Crestview and East Palestine.
South Range (7-4, D-V R20 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – TE/DE Dan Good (6-3, 225, sr.), DE Christian Bowden (6-3, 220, sr.), DB/ RB Alex Dickey (5-6, 145, sr.), LB Robbie Grahovac (5-11, 178, sr.), FB Kevin Groff (6-2, 175, sr.), OL Cole Hassay (6-2, 210, sr.), OL David Horn (6-5, 324, sr.), LB Cody Kurtz (5-9, 180, sr.), OL Adam Peterson (5-9, 275, sr.), OL Alex Snow (6-2, 205, sr.), DB/QB Ross Stoffer (6-1, 187, jr.), P Cole Krumpak (6-0, 185, jr.)
* Outlook – Head coach Dan Yeagley (140-44 in 16 years) has led the Raiders to the playoffs 12 of the last 15 years and this year should be on the brink of another berth. South Range returns a senior laden OL led by Good (13 receptions, 219 yards, two TDs). Bowden (75 tackles, 15 TFL, four caused fumbles) is a wrecking ball and Dickey (two INTs) doubles as a return specialist.
Cuyahoga Heights (10-2, D-V R20 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – RB/DB Logan Matt (6-3, 180, sr.), RB/DB Jordan D’Orazio (5-11, 185, sr.), QB/DB Alex Zander (6-1, 155, sr.), TE/LB Jason Kleppel (6-1, 165, sr.), LB/OL Dan Mitocky (5-7, 165, sr.), DB/WR DJ Kleppel (5-10, 155, sr.)
* Outlook – The Redskins have been in the playoffs 13 of the last 14 years and are a legit threat again. This season D’Orazio (372 yards rushing, five TDs; nine receptions, 140 yards, TD) and Matt (28 receptions, 442 yards, seven TDs) will log plenty of touches. Zander (56-of-95 passing for 984 yards and 13 TDs; 58 carries, 388 yards, six TDs) returns to run the offense. Defensively, D’Orazio (65 tackles) and Matt (60 tackles, five INTs) impact play as well. Jason Kleppel (71 tackles), Mitocky (41 tackles) and DJ Kleppel (34 tackles) are seasoned defenders.
KEEP AN EYE ON
* Campbell Memorial (10-2, D-IV R13 Semifinalist) – The Red Devils drop down from D-IV and will ride standout senior RB Ja’les Hughes (5-10, 160) who carried the ball 231 times last year for 1,601 yards and 17 TDs.
* Columbiana Crestview (9-2, D-V R20 Quarterfinalist) – The Rebels will lean on senior RB/DB Adam Coppick (5-9, 173) who had 456 yards rushing and 373 yards receiving last year. He’s scored 11 TDs the last two years.
* Bellaire (6-4) – Former Big Reds standout QB Jose Davis is back for his third season as head coach and hopes to keep momentum going. After finishing 1-9 in 2009, Bellaire improved five games last season.
* Sugarcreek Garaway (7-3) – The Pirates are poised for a playoff season. Among the key senior returners are WR Gabe Elmore (5-10, 165), QB Tyler Walter (5-10, 160,), DL Clint Miller (5-10, 190) and LB Kellan Mutschelknaus (5-10, 175).
* Woodsfield Monroe Central (8-3, D-V R19 Quarterfinalist) – The Seminoles will rally around standout senior QB Tyler Kinchen (6-0, 210) who earned All-District Offensive Player of the Year honors last year after passing and rushing for more than 1,000 yards. Kinchen threw for more than 1,200 yards and 16 TDs and rushed for almost 1,100 yards and 10 more scores. Senior RB Kole Hogue (5-11, 200) is a perfect compliment.
ALSO IN THIS REGION
Hanoverton United (7-4, D-V R20 Quarterfinalist), Independence (8-3, D-V R20 Quarterfinalist), Salineville Southern (8-3, D-VI R 23 Quarterfinalist), Beverly Fort Frye (7-3), Barnesville (6-4), Belpre (1-9), Burton Berkshire (1-9), Lore City Buckeye Trail (1-9), Lisbon David Anderson (1-9), East Palestine (3-7), Gates Mills Gilmour Academy (2-8), Newcomerstown (5-5), Rootstown (5-5), Sarahsville Shenandoah (4-6), New Middletown Springfield (3-7), Beford Chanel (2-7), Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas (5-5), Garfield Heights Trinity (5-5), Waterloo (4-6)
Dark Horses: South Range