One week left and I’m on a roll with my picks. After going 20-4 in the regional finals, I went 9-3 last week in the state semifinals. That’s a record of 29-7 the last two weeks. By comparison, Drew Pasteur and the Fantastic 50 have gone 24-12 since the regional finals. It’s all about how you finish, so here goes…
One week left and I’m on a roll with my picks. After going 20-4 in the regional finals, I went 9-3 last week in the state semifinals. That’s a record of 29-7 the last two weeks. By comparison, Drew Pasteur and the Fantastic 50 have gone 24-12 since the regional finals (Drew got me the first two rounds though).
It’s all about how you finish, so here goes…
Now for the big ones:
2011 STATE FINAL PICKS
*No. 6 Pickerington Central (11-2) vs No. 7 Cleveland St. Ignatius (12-2)
Saturday: 7 p.m. at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium
We thought highly of the Tigers all year (ranked No. 4 in the preseason Muscle Milk & JJHuddle Power Poll) and still do. In fact we think they bring home the state title. A week after beating Cincinnati St. Xavier, Pick Central gets a crack at another Ohio parochial power – the Big Daddy – St. Ignatius. Central’s defense is one of the best in Ohio and will need to live up to its billing against Iggy. The Tigers allow just 9.6 points and 173 yards per game. St. Ignatius is back in the playoffs for the 23rd time in 24 years and is in its 12th state title game. The Wildcats are 10-1 in the previous 11 finals. Iggy’s defense – led by senior Lb Zach Ryan (56 tackles, 20 TFL, seven sacks) – is no slouch. The Wildcats held Whitmer to six points last week after holding high-powered Mentor to 17 the week before. Impressive. Pickerington Central’s defense will keep it in every game. The question is can it’s offense score enough to pull out the win. We think it can. Ohio State recruit and Pick Central WR/DB/KR Roger Lewis (three kick returns for TDs this year) could be the wildcard. This game will feature plenty of D-I talent, including Pickerington Central OL Jacoby Boren (Ohio State), LB Jake Kincaid (Kent State) and DB Sebastian Smith (Indiana); and St. Ignatius DB Mike Svetina (Miami, Oh.), K Tim Shenk (Air Force), TE Blake Thomas (Ohio State) and QB Eric Williams (offers from UC, Toledo and Eastern Michigan).
Who We Say Wins? Pickerington Central 16, St. Ignatius 14
Drew Pasteur Says: St. Ignatius by 1
CalPreps’ Says: Pickerington Central 20, St. Ignatius 19
No. 1 Trotwood-Madison (14-0) vs No. 8 Avon (13-1)
Friday: 7 p.m. at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium
Trotwood-Madison is on a mission. After losing a 26-7 second quarter lead and eventually the D-II final to Maple Heights last year, the Rams have been vocal about their intentions of making it back to Massillon and winning. They’re one step away. Trotwood brings with it a roster as talented as any left playing. The Rams are led by first-year senior QB Michael Simpson (who transferred from Chaminade Julienne) and a pair of 1,000-yard backs in junior Isreal Green (187 carries; 1,758 yards; 21 TDs) and sophomore Ashton Jackson (102 carries; 1,000 yards; 17 TDs). Simpson has thrown for 2,004 yards and 23 TDs. Defensively Trotwood is as good as its ever been and owns arguably the state’s top defensive back field regardless of division (anchored by BCS prospects senior Bam Bradley and junior Cameron Burrows, both of whom have been offered by Ohio State). Junior LB Michael McCray is one of the state’s top juniors (offers from Tennessee, Purdue, Syracuse and Toledo). Avon counters with a very talented team of its own. Offensively the Eagles are led by senior QB Justin O’Rourke who has completed 169-of-285 passes for 2,843 yards and 37 TDs. Junior RB Ross Douglas (1783 carries; 1,008 yards; 14 TDs) and senior WR Matt Eckhardt (66 catches; 1,287 yards; 19 TDs) create headaches for opposing defenses. One big match-up will be Avon’s passing game against Trotwood’s secondary. O’Rourke has thrown just six interceptions this season. Trotwood has 16 picks. As good as Avon is, Trotwood is the best team – and defense – it’s faced all year.
Who We Say Wins? Trotwood-Madison 35, Avon 21
Drew Pasteur Says: Trotwood by 7
CalPreps’ Says: Trotwood 35, Avon 26
No. 4 Youngstown Mooney (10-3) vs No. 6 Springfield Shawnee (14-0)
Friday: 3 p.m. at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium
David vs Goliath on paper – in regards to tradition anyway. Mooney is playing in its 11th state championship game, while Shawnee is making it first appearance in the state final and just the second ever for a school from Clark County (Springfield Catholic Central in 1992). So what. These teams are a lot alike in every other aspect. Both depend on bruising ground games and stellar defenses that excel against the run. Mooney averages 264 yards rushing per game, while Shawnee averages 314. Defensively, Shawnee allows just 78 yards rushing a game and Mooney allows 120. Who flinches first? Shawnee senior QB Brad Jarzab directs the Braves and has thrown for 1,535 yards and 16 TDs this year. He’s also rushed for a team-high 1,634 yards and 18 TDs. Junior RB Alex McCrory is a solid compliment (1,436 yards; 17 TDs). Senior RB Roosevelt Griffin leads Mooney (1,387 yards; 16 TDs). Both teams have gone through gauntlets to get here, but Mooney’s slate (which includes Steubenville, Dover and Chagrin Falls the last three weeks and regular season meetings with St. Edward, Canton McKinley, Youngstown Ursuline, Akron SVSM, Boardman and Mentor Lake Catholic) is far-more daunting than Shawnee’s Central Buckeye Conference spread. That being said, the Braves have shown an ability to get it done when it matters most. The last three weeks Shawnee has rallied from third quarter holes to win and advance.
Who We Say Wins? Mooney 21, Springfield Shawnee 18
Drew Pasteur Says: Mooney by 7
CalPreps’ Says: Mooney 31, Shawnee 22
No. 1 Kenton (11-3) vs No. 9 Norwayne (13-1)
Saturday: 3 p.m. at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium
The final remaining missing feather in Kenton senior QB Maty Mauk’s cap is a state championship and it’s going to take a Herculean effort from Norwayne to deny the nation’s all-time leading passer of his true obsession. Mauk (Missouri) enters the game having accounted for 6,710 total yards and 86 TDs this season. He’s completed 355-of-516 passes for 4,992 yards and 63 TDs (13 INTs) and carried the ball 219 times for 1,718 yards and 23 TDs. Kenton’s five-wide attack – which had eight new starters this season (four receivers, four OL) – is on the verge of producing three 1,000-yard receivers too: Justin Sawmiller (129 catches; 1,731 yards; 19 TDs), Kieran Fetter (65 catches; 1,022 yards; 14 TDs), and Matt Bahr (52 catches; 954 yards, 14 TDs). Senior WR/DB Brice Fackler (Kent State) impacts play on both sides of the ball. The question is can the Bobcats – led by their own outstanding senior QB Adam Wallace (3,579 total yards and 54 TDs) – keep pace with Kenton’s scoring? We don’t think so…
Who We Say Wins? Kenton 42, Norwayne 20
Drew Pasteur Says: Kenton by 16
CalPreps’ Says: Kenton 41, Norwayne 28
No. 6 Coldwater (11-3) vs No. 3 Kirtland (14-0)
Friday: 11 a.m. at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium
Kirtland is confident. And why not? The Hornets are rolling and have the complete package. Kirtland has outscored its playoff opponents 178-22. Offensively the Hornets run-heavy offense relies on the 1-2 punch of RBs Christian Hauber (Air Force) and Damon Washington. Said Kirtland head coach Tiger LaVerde: “Teams come into games trying to stop those two and no one’s done it yet.” LaVerde also says this is the best defense (allowed 91 points in 14 games) he’s had in his 15 years as coach. The secondary has started 28 straight games. As for Coldwater, its in the state final for the third straight season and fifth time in six years. And it’s tested. Of the Cavs 15 games this season (including the state final), 11 have been against playoff teams and 12 have been against teams with winning records, including narrow losses to fellow state finalists Kenton (24-17) and Marion Local (7-0). Junior QB Austin Bruns has completed 180-of-331 passes for 2,652 yards and 25 TDs (16 INTs). He also leads the Cavs in rushing (699 yards and six TDs on 195 carries). Junior WR/DB Caleb Siefring (16 TDs, seven INTs) was first team All-Midwest Athletic Conference on both sides of the ball. Kirtland allows 6.5 points per game. Coldwater allows 11.5. Something’s got to give.
Who We Say Wins? Coldwater 24, Kirtland 21
Drew Pasteur Says: Kirtland by 5
CalPreps’ Says: Coldwater 20, Kirtland 19
No. 2 Marion Local (12-2) vs New Washington Buckeye Central (12-2)
Saturday: 11 a.m. at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium
Both head coaches – Marion Local’s Tom Goodwin and Buckeye Central’s Jason Ratliff – mentioned the line of scrimmage and controlling it would be the key to the game. That being said, BC will rely on size, while ML will counter with speed. Who wins out? We think Marion Local does. No doubt BC has a talented roster and a stellar senior class. Senior QB Tyler Erwin has thrown for 2,608 yards and 36 TDs, while junior RB Michael Adkins has rushed for 1,734 yards and 22 TDs. Seniors Bryce Collins and Justin Herrnstein impact both sides of the ball. Collins anchors both lines and has 132 tackles, 22 TFL and 120 sacks as a DL. Hernnstein leads the team in receiving (55 catches; 1,184 yards; 19 TDs), tackles (140) and interceptions (seven). Nine players go both ways for BC and that could be a huge factor against a MAC-tested Marion squad that only has four two-way starters. Sophomore QB Adam Bertke has completed 117-of-203 passes for 1,955 yards and 21 TDs (just 8 INTs) and has come on strong in the playoffs. Senior RB Jake Heitkamp, the MAC Offensive Player of the Year, leads the Flyers ground game (301 carries; 1,763 yards; 28 TDs), while senior WRs Dylan Thobe (47 catches; 761 yards; seven TDs) and Lee Pierron (46 catches; 742 yards; 10 TDs) have almost identical numbers. In BC’s only other state championship appearance the Bucks lost 10-7 to St. Henry. This time we don’t think it’s as close against another MAC foe.
Who We Say Wins? Marion Local 35, Buckeye Central 14
Drew Pasteur Says: Marion Local by 25
CalPreps’ Says: Marion Local 31, Buckeye Central 13