JJHuddle/NBC4 Central Ohio Power Poll: Preseason Rankings Unveiled


NBC4 and JJHuddle Central Ohio Power Poll

The third annual JJHuddle/NBC4 Central Ohio Power Poll debuted
on the NBC4 high school football preview show. And you
noticed a new twist. Instead of three polls there are
five. And here they are…

The third annual JJHuddle/NBC4 Central Ohio Power Poll debuted tonight on the NBC4 high school football preview show. And you noticed a new twist. Instead of three polls there are

This year JJHuddle and NBC4 have decided to create separate polls for
Divisions I, II, III and IV. Divisions V and VI will remained combined.

NBC4/JHuddle Central Ohio Preseason Power Polls


1. Pickerington Central (11-1, D-I R3 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – QB Nick Jensen-Clagg (6-1, 180, sr.), OL/DL Jacoby Boren (67-3, 275, sr.), WR/DB Roger Lewis (6-2, 190, sr.), RB/LB Jake Kincaid (6-1, 230, sr.), WR/K Jake Raymond (5-9, 170, sr.), RB/DB Billy Eakins (5-10, 180, sr.), OL/DL Nick Wilson (6-3, 280, sr.), OL/DL Adam Cole (6-3, 290, sr.), DB Sebastian Smith (6-3, 185, sr.), DE Taco Charlton (6-6, 240, jr.)
* Outlook – The Tigers lost 28 seniors off of last year’s team, but head coach Jay Sharrett (83-15 in eight years) returns plenty of talent. Pick Central has made the playoffs 10 of the last 12 years and is arguably Central Ohio’s top squad this season. Boren is an Ohio State commit, Lewis owns offers from nine MAC schools, Smith (60 tackles, two INTs) has an Indiana offer and Charlton – despite being an underclassmen – already has Cincinnati, Purdue and Syracuse offers. Kincaid is committed to Kent State.

2. Hilliard Davidson (13-1, State Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – RB Alex Mickley (5-9, 174, sr.), RB Tyler Talbott (5-9, 163, sr.), OL Jordan Weatherby (6-4, 270, sr.), LB Jake Himmeger (6-0, 205, sr.), DL Dylan Skaggs (5-9, 198, sr.), DL Sam Coles (5-10, 192, sr.), DB Jack Kincade (6-1, 171, sr.), DB Chase Delande (5-10, 164, sr.)
* Outlook – The Wildcats have been the state’s top D-I program the last five years with two state titles, three regional championships, four regional finals and five OCC titles. It’s highly likely Davidson makes another solid run. The Wildcats return five starters on defense and three on offense. Mickley (1,538 yards and 29 TDs) is one of Ohio’s top backs and returns after earning first team All-OCC honors. Himmeger was second team OCC. Head coach Brian White (117-32 in 12 years) knows “the target on the Wildcats back only grows bigger.” One concern is the OL where four starters graduated.

3. Pickerington North (6-4)
* Players to Watch – OL/DL Pat Elflein (6-3, 285, sr.), OL/DL Luke Carothers (6-3, 280, sr.), TE/DE Jake Butt (6-6, 215, jr.), QB Zach Olszewski (6-2, 210, sr.), WR/DB Seth Gamby (6-0, 170, sr.), DB Derek Frebault (N/A, sr.), LB Warren Stoddard (5-11, 190, jr.), LB Blake Springhetti (5-11, 190, sr.)
* Outlook – Depth could be a concern for the Panthers who lost 21 seniors and will be negatively affected by a steep pay-to-play fee of $500. That being said, head coach Tom Phillips (23-18 in four years) has built a solid program that will continue to field a competitive team. Elflein (Ohio State commit) and Carothers are three-year starters and will anchor the lines. Olszewski returns after completing 112-of-175 passes for 1,457 yards with 17 TDs. Butt (14.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks) is one of Ohio’s top underclassmen and already has an offer from UCLA

4. Lancaster (7-3)
* Players to Watch – LB Luke Roberts (6-2, 245, sr.), DE Aaron Woosley (6-4, 260, sr.), OL Jordan Francis (6-2, 270, sr.), OL Kevin Miller (6-2, 265, sr.), DB Ethan Jones (5-10,  175, sr.), RB Bradon Meadows (6-0, 190, sr.), TE/LB Jesse Reliford (6-2 210, sr.), RB/LB Isiah Dexter (6-2, 225, so.), TE/DL Chris McClurg (6-0, 220, sr.), TE Ryan Thomas (6-6, 210, jr.), QB Riley Theiss (6-2, 190, jr.), WR Justin Sharp (6-3, 195, jr.)
* Outlook – The Golden Gales and head coach Rob Carpenter (104-74 in 14 years) add Twinsburg and Mason to the schedule this year. Roberts is an Ohio State commit, choosing the Buckeyes over Arizona. Woosley is also a D-I prospect (Ball State commit) and keep an eye on Dexter and Thomas.

5. Upper Arlington (6-4)
* Players to Watch – WR/DB Frank Epitropoulos (6-3, 195, sr.), RB Ryan McSheffery (6-0, 175, sr.), LB Jack Trabue (6-1, 200, sr.), OL Spencer Luallen (6-3, 265, sr.), OL James Henry (6-8, 260, sr.), QB David Smith (6-2, 190, sr.), DE Grayson Fisher (6-4, 228, sr.); DB Garrett Powers (6-2, 188, sr.)
* Outlook – The Golden Bears have missed the postseason the last two years but should challenge for a spot in Week 11. One area of concern is line play. UA must replace four of five OL starters and four of its top seven in the DL rotation. One plus is the addition of Henry, a transfer from Madison Plains who has committed to Toledo. McSheffery (850 rushing yards) will carry the rushing load, while Epitropoulos (Ohio State commit) will impact every facet of the game. Last year Epitropoulos caught 29 passes for 490 yards and five TDs, made 55 tackles and scored two defensive TDs, averaged 42 yards per punt and had 1,134 all-purpose yards. Powers had three INTs last year.


1. Marion-Franklin (11-1, D-II R7 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – DL Terrell Jackson (6-3, 255, sr.), LB Leo Smith (6-1, 220, sr.), LB Deshannon Shaw (6-0, 210, sr.), OL Keith Hackworth (6-2, 250, sr.), OL Ralphael Eberhart (6-0, 245, sr.), OL/DL Za’Darrick Brooks (6-3, 225, sr.), QB Corry Benson (6-1, 185, jr.), OL/DL Damon Dillard (6-4, 330, jr.)
* Outlook – The Red Devils have been one of Ohio’s top teams the last two years and head coach Brian Haffele (51-9 in seven seasons) welcomes back plenty of talent. Benson, who accounted for nearly 30 TDs last year, returns at QB and is one of Central Ohio’s best (threw four TDs and ran for another against Zanesville in first round of playoffs). Jackson is a D-I prospect.

2. Zanesville (9-2, D-II R7 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – FB/LB Kole Buckley (6-1, 220, sr.), WR/DB Sean Franklin (6-4, 175, sr.), WR/DB Austin Craig (6-1, 181, sr.), WR Lucas Howard (5-11, 160, sr.), QB Wes Hudson (5-11, 181, sr.), WR/DB J.T. McFarland (5-11, 170, so.)
* Outlook – The Blue Devils made the playoffs for the second time in four years last year and are looking to make a return trip. Buckley (112 tackles, 23 TFL, eight sacks) anchors the defense, while Hudson returns to the lead the offense and has one of his favorite targets back in Howard (29 catches, 549 yards, six TDs). McFarland is one of the state’s top sophomores.

3. Big Walnut (10-3, D-II R7 Finalist)
* Players to Watch – QB/DB Tyler Beam (n/a, sr.), RB Lucas Garcia (n/a, sr.)
* Outlook – Head coach Joe Weaver (third season) and the Eagles lose 10 starters from last year’s team but return several key pieces including Beam and Garcia. Beam threw for 694 yards and three TDs and ran for 783 yards and six TDs last year. Garcia carried the ball 152 times for 761 yards and seven TDs. The return of seniors Trent Fielding, Tyler McKenzie, Brandon Sholl on the OL is a huge plus.

4. New Albany (10-1, D-II R7 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – WR/DB Kevin Collins (6-3, 200, sr.), QB/DB Darron Lee (6-3, 195, jr.), RB/DB Connor Wilson (5-9, 190, sr.), TE/DE Dan Britton (5-8″, 175, sr.), TE/DE Mark Schubert (6-3, 210, sr.), DE Jalynn Williams (6-3, 210, sr.), WR/CB Adam Brodrick (6-0, 175, sr.), TE/DE Shane Kriss (6-3, 225, sr.) K Jimmy Gammill (6-2, 180, sr.)
* Outlook – The Eagles and head coach Mark Mueller (49-18 in seven years) welcome back four All-OCC Capital performers in Collins, Wilson, Schubert and Brodrick. Look for Lee to win the QB job. Senior Zach Tomi (a DB starter) could take snaps as well. Replacing graduated RBs Jordan Gallegos and Alex Hake is key. Gammill is a solid kicker (18-of-24 career FGs). New Albany has made all for of its postseason trips in the last seven years.

5. Canal Winchester (9-2, D-II R7 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – RB Antonio Whitfield (5-7, 160, sr.), WR Austin Whitlatch (6-5, 205, sr.)
* Outlook – The Indians have a new head coach in Shawn Hinkle who replaces Phil Mauro (a casualty of the district’s most recent failed levy who went to Trenton Edgewood). Under Mauro (and with Hinkle serving as an assistant), the Indians have gone to four straight postseasons. Whitfield will log a number of touches (31 carries, 295 yards and six TDs last year). Whitlatch is a receiving threat (30 catches, 400 yards, eight TDs.


1. DeSales (5-6, R10 Regional Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – RB Warren Ball (6-2, 215, sr.), OL/DL Alex Washington (6-2, 285, sr.), DB/WR Jalen Noble (5-10, 185, sr.), WR Charles Chandler (6-3, 180, sr.), OL/DE R.J. Ball (6-1, 225, sr.), K/P Anthony Ciamiacella (5-11, 185, sr.), RB/LB Joe Lyberger (5-10, 175, sr.)
* Outlook – The Stallions have made the playoffs a state-best 17 straight seasons and should make it 18. Thirty seniors and 15 players with extensive varsity experience return, including Ball, an Ohio state recruit who missed three games last year with injuries but still rushed for 634 yards and 12 TDs. Replacing QB Nick Gentile will be key.
“Our goals always remain the same at DeSales – to win our league, advance to the playoffs and win the state championship,” head coach Ryan Wiggins said. “These are lofty goals, but here at DeSales we have always set the bar high! It makes the thrill of competition that much better.”

2. 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) makes a switch from defense to QB. Nine starts are back..

3. Watterson (13-1, D-III State Champion)
* Players to Watch – WR/DB Erik Oman (6-0, 170, sr.), LB Craig Fada (6-1, 220, sr.), OL Eric Rutkowski (6-1, 250, sr.), DE Chris Seguin (6-1, 221, sr.), FB/LB Mario Dean (5-9, 197, sr.),  RB Isaish Murray (5-9, 165, sr.), OL/DE Andrew Lorenz (6-3, 240, sr.), QB Andy Elberson (6-2, 185, jr.) 
* Outlook – The Eagles are out to defend their state title and have some holes to fill. Head coach Dan Bjelac (70-27 in eight years) returns just four starters, so inexperience – not talent – will be a concern. Orman is a solid two-way standout (10 catches, 238 yards, three TDs, 45 tackles, 4 INTs), while defensive stalwarts include Fada (119 tackles), Segun and Lorenz (28 tackles). Offensively, Elberson will direct a backfield that includes Dean (13 carries, 285 yards, two TDs; 8 catches, 94 yards, three TDs) and Murray (75 carries, 342 yards, four TDs). Watterson’s schedule is brutal with homes games against Pickerington North, Walsh Jesuit, Cincinnati LaSalle, Columbus DeSales and Jonathan Alder. Home games include Winton Woods, Beechcroft and St. Charles.

4. Logan Elm (3-7)
* Players to Watch – QB/DB Anthony Vagnier (6-3, sr.), WR/CB Blake Riffle (6-4, sr.), LB Luke Thompson (6-1, sr.).
* Outlook – Head coach Scott Bartholomew and the Braves will look to rebound from last year’s losing record after going 21-4 with two playoff berths in 2009 and 2010. LE returns 16 starters (nine on defense).

5. Granville (7-3)
* 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.


1. Hartley (13-2, State Champions)
* Players to Watch – FB/LB Jarrod Zang (sr.), RB/LB JaWaun Woodley (jr.), TE/LB Jacob Matuska (jr.), OL/LB Napoleon Bell (sr.), RB/DB Alonzo Saxton (so.), DB Trevonn Brown (jr.), DL Solomon Grace (so.)
* Outlook – After a 37-16 loss at Ironton in Week 8, the Hawks won seven straight games last year, including victories over Amanda-Clearcreek, Kettering Alter, Heath,  Chagrin Falls and a rematch with Ironton, en route to the state championship (their second overall and first since 1986). The bad news is standout RB Noah Key who rushed for 2,905 yards rushing and 41 TDs in 2010 is now at Toledo. The good news is that means Zang, Woodley and Saxton will get to see what they can do with more carries. Matuska is regarded as one of the top junior prospects in the state and has offers from Cincinnati and Toledo. Schedule-wise Hartley has one of the state’s toughest for a small school. If the Hawks get back to the playoffs they’ll have earned it after facing the likes of Amanda-Clearcreek, Elyria Catholic, Ironton, Coshocton and Ready. In Week 4 Hartley faces its toughest test against D-II power Akron Hoban.  Hartley was in Region 15 last year. “What’s great about the tradition at Hartley is seeing how the next group carries the torch,” head coach Brad Burchfield (58-35 overall, 27-9 in three years at Hartley) said. “(This group is) chomping at the bit to lay the next generation of bricks in the wall of that great tradition.”

2. Westfall (7-3)
* Players to Watch – QB Trent Williamson (5-10, 200, jr.); OL Doug Hardin (6-4, 275, jr.); TE Alek Stonerock (6-5, 230, jr.); WR Tim Staten (5-10, 160, sr.), LB Seth Sias (5-10, 210, jr.), WR  AJ Gifford (6-3, 180, sr.), DB Luke Cline (5-11, 160, jr.)
* Outlook – The Mustangs, a transplant from R15, are 34-11 under head coach Scott Keller the last four years and have been to the playoffs twice. Williamson is a special player who threw for 2,100 yards (19 TDs) and ran for 1,100 yards (14 TDs) last year. 

3. Johnstown-Monroe (7-3)
* Players to Watch – RB Ross Franklin (n/a, sr.), QB Matt Smith (n/a, sr.), OL Brandon Hollis (n/a, sr.), LB Steven Smith (n/a, sr.), DL Nick SanFillipo (n/a, sr.), DE Joey Dismuke (n/a, sr.), FB Adam Carter (n/a, jr.), LB Corbin Grassman (n/a, jr.), DB/RB Nick Sadinsky (n/a, jr.), DB/WR Tyler Thompson (n/a, jr.), OL/DL Tim Sayer (n/a, jr.)
* Outlook – The Johnnies could deliver a memorable season. Head coach Mike Carter enters his 10th season at the school with a 63-27 record and just six wins shy of becoming the program’s career wins leader. Johnstown also looks poised to compete for a playoff berth and Mid-Buckeye Conference title. Franklin returns after running for 2,183 yards and 22 TDs last year. Matt Smith is a veteran who ran for 526 yards and accounted for nine TDs. Carter scored seven TDs. Hollis and Sawyer are three-year starters and anchor both lines. Defensively, the Johnnies are stacked. Steven Smith (109 tackles), SanFillipo (50 tackles, seven sacks), Dismuke (71 tackles, 12 sacks), Grassman (99 tackles), Sadinsky (81 tackles, three INTs) and Thompson (four INTs) are seasoned.
Tough non-league games against Granville, Heath and Hebron Lakewood await in Weeks 1-3, respectively.

4. Heath (10-2, D-IV R15 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – LB-TE Derek Yahn (5-10, 170, sr.), RB-DB Donyelle Simpson (5-10, 165, jr.), WR-DB Evan Fry (5-9, 160, sr.), DB-WR Kyle Willey (5-9, 160, sr.)
* Outlook –  The Bulldogs will feature Simpson who ran for 904 yards and eight TDs last year.

5. North Union (10-1, D-V, R20 Quarterfinalist)
* Players to Watch – QB/DE Josh Sowder (6-5, 230, sr.), FB/LB Brandon Mercer (6-3, 220, sr.)
* Outlook – Tigers have been to back-to-back D-V postseasons, but are still looking for their first win. It won’t get any easier this season with a bump up to D-IV. Sowder (55 tackles, six sacks, 13 QB pressures) and Mercer (85 tackles, 16 TFL, seven sacks) are dominant.


1. Fredericktown (13-1, D-V State Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – RB Matt Smith (5-10, 200, jr.), OL/DL Josh Neff (6-3, 260, sr.), FB/LB Cody McGuire (5-10, 190, sr.), RB/LB Joey Burns (6-0, 180, sr.), WR/DB Nash Cunningham (6-1, 170, sr.), DB/WR Brandon Helmick (5-10, 160, sr.), QB Ryan Logan (6-5, 195, jr.)
* Outlook – The Freddies are looking for their third straight 10-0 regular season and have the talent to pull it off. Although Fredericktown lost 13 seniors from last year’s roster, it returns a ton – especially at the skill positions. Smith ran for 2,238 yards and 27 TDs last year, while Logan threw for 600 yards and eight TDs. Neff is a two-way talent and defensively the Freddies are stacked with the return of McGuire (121 tackles, four sacks), Burns (60 tackles, four sacks), Cunningham (39 tackles, two INTs) and Helmick (38 tackles, three INTs). The first three weeks Fredericktown faces Sparta Highland, Columbus Ready and Ashland Crestview in non-league games.

2. Marion Pleasant (7-3)
* Players to Watch – OLB Jasone Montgomery (6-5, 225, sr.), OL/DL Brady Whiting (6-3, 290, sr.), WR/RB Ryan Snyder (6-2, 185, sr.), TE/LB Trevor Miller (6-2, 225, sr.), QB Eli Burris (6-0, 185, sr.), OL/DL Tyler Ferguson (6-0, 250, sr.), FB/DL Reid Masters (6-0, 190, sr.), DB Colt Tanner (5-7, 165, sr.), WR/DB Devlin McDaniel (5-11, 190, jr.), FB/LB Holden Rosebrough (6-0, 230, jr.), RB/DB Zach Galindo (5-10, 195, sr.), WR/DB Jake McCurdy (5-11, 185, sr.), WR/LB Mikey Carroll (5-9, 165, sr.)
* Outlook – After 17 straight playoff berths, the Spartans have been left out of the postseason two seasons in a row. A new streak should start this season. Second-year head coach Aaron Cook returns 10 starters on each side of the ball and has 18 seniors. Montgomery is a D-I prospect.

3. West Jefferson (12-1, D-V R 20 Finalist)
* Players to Watch – DL/TE Chaney Fulton, West Jefferson (6-1, 205, sr.), RB/LB Tommy Blair (5-11, 200, sr.), WR/DB Ryan Love (6-2, 180, jr.), QB/DB Cody Williams (5-11, 170, sr.), OL/DL Cory Ginn (6-2, 210, jr.)
* Outlook – The Roughriders have been in the playoffs five years in a row and should be again. Fulton (65 tackles, 17.5 TFL, 11 sacks) and Ginn (62 tackles, 12.5 TFL) anchor the defensive line, while Blair (89 tackles) and Williams (four INTs) lead the linebacking corps and secondary. On offense, Fulton (16 receptions, 373 yards, four TDs) and Love (10 receptions, 226 yards, three TDs) will be targets for Williams (15 receptions, 257 yards, two TDs) who’ll make the transition to QB. 

4. Newark Catholic (8-4, D-VI R23 Semifinalist)
* Players to Watch – LB Connor Shook (5-10, 205, sr.), QB Garrett Vernau (5-11, 175, sr.), OL/LB Trevor Garber (6-2, 195, sr.), TE/DB Tanner Potts (5-10″, 190, sr.), DB Kevin Bourne (5-10″, 170, jr.)
* Outlook – The Green Wave and head coach Bill Franks (78-34 in nine years at NC) are always a threat in D-VI. NC owns eight state titles. Vernau returns after throwing for 1,100 yards and eight TDs a year ago. The Green Wave will have plenty of chances to earn computer points with five D-III schools on their Mid-State League Ohio slate. Of note, NC OL coach Wes Poth is entering his 41st year at NC. Poth has been a part of all eight NC state championships and his teams own an overall record of 381-100-1.

5. Grove City Christian (3-7)
* Players to Watch – DE/OL Zack Casparro (6-6, 260, sr.), WR/DB Wally Brewer (6-1, 175, sr.), RB/LB Tony Roark (5-7, 185, sr.), QB/DB Ben Whitaker (6-2, 180, sr.), RB/LB Nate Holt (5-7, 175l, sr.), OL/DL Josh High (5-11″, 275, sr.), OL/DL Blair Thompson (6-2, 250, Jr), OL/DL Jordan Edwards (6-2, 290, jr.)
* Outlook – After winning a regional title in 2009, the Eagles stumbled last season. Head coach Kerry Owens brings back a roster that includes plenty of experience and will be bolstered by a large freshman class (20 players). Four starters return on the OL, including Casparro who is a legit D-I prospect (Air Force offer). Brewer is a versatile talent who racked up 920 returns yards and six returns TDs last season (including two on INTs). Roark was GCC’s leading rusher last season (85 carries, 495 yards) and Whitaker returns at QB where he accounted for 17 TDs. Holt adds depth at the skill positions (73 carries, 345 yards, four TDs).


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