Regional breakdown, top players, big games, big names, teams to beat, teams to watch and more…
Region 5 Preview
Playoff Teams: Our Predictions
Aurora, Kent Roosevelt, Tallmadge, New Philadelphia, Howland, Kenston, Walsh Jesuit, Akron Firestone
Dark Horses: Copley, West Geauga, Akron Kenmore
10 Players To Watch
1. Patrick Doughty, DL, sr., Aurora: Has over 10 offers; 78 tackles & 14 TFL last year
2. Tra Champman, QB, sr., Roosevelt: Accounted for 3,592 total yards & 38 TDs last year; Headed to Pitt
3. Anthony Gotto, QB, sr., Tallmadge: Three-year starter threw for 2,397 yards last year
4. Jamal Johnson, RB, jr., New Philly: Has 2,878 rushing yards & 24 Tds in two years
5. Deveon Smith, RB, sr., Howland: Michigan commit had 1,900 yards & 22 TDs last year
6. Sam Coverdale, OL, sr., Kenston: JJHuddle Top 100 prospect; Headed to Northwestern
7. Kevin Gladney, WR, sr., Firestone: Choose Nebraska over Michigan, MSU, Iowa and others
8. Aregeros Tuerner, RB/DB, sr., Copley: Ran for 1,600 yards & 16 TDs last year
9. Deontae Moore, LB, sr., Kenmore: JJHuddle Top 100 prospect; Akron, Kent & Toledo offers
10. Zach Quinn, LB/RB, sr., Aurora: 120 tackles, 1,600 yards rushing & 24 TDs last year
Walsh Jesuit @ Canton McKinley, Aug. 25 (Week 1)
Warren Harding @ Howland, Aug. 31 (Week 2)
Aurora @ Chagrin Falls, Sept. 14 (Week 4)
Tallmadge @ Copley, Sept. 14 (Week4)
Dover @ New Philadelphia, Oct. 26 (Week 10)
Aurora @ Kenston, Oct. 26 (Week 10)
Team To Beat
* Aurora (12-2, State Semifinalist): The stage is set for another
memorable season in Aurora. The Greemen won the 2008 D-III state title
and could net another in D-II this year. Their defense will be lights
out. Aurora has three JJHuddle Top 100 prospects on defense in DE
Patrick Doughty (6-5, 250), LB Zachary Smierciak (6-3, 220) and LB Zach
Quinn (6-4, 215). Doughty has over 10 offers including Cincinnati,
Indiana, Boston College and Syracuse. He had 78 tackles, 14 TFL and five
sacks last year. Smierciak (Ball State and Buffalo offers) had 97
tackles, 11 TFL, three INTs and scored two defensive TDs a year ago.
Quinn (North Carolina State and MAC offers) registered 120 tackles and
11 TFL as a junior. Offensively, Quinn will again carry a lot of the
load. He rushed for 1,055 yards and 16 TDs and had 405 yards and eight
TDs receiving last year. Other returning starters include OL/DL Geoff
Moniz (6-3, 225, sr.), WR/DB Jake Czerwinski (6’3″, 175, sr.), OL/LB
Jack Bruder (6’2″, 195, sr.), DB/RB Jake McVay (6’1″, 175, sr.) and
DL/OL Nick Grothn (5’10”, 185, sr.). Aurora has been to the playoffs
eight years in a row, which is the longest current streak in Northeast
Ohio. The Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division will again be
brutal. Said head coach Bill Mihalik, who could win his 100th game this
year (90-38 in 11 seasons): “Winning the CVC and qualifying for the
playoffs is an expectation every year. That comes with some pressure for
our kids, but they thrive on that. Our defense should be strong and
will have to carry us early as we try to find a QB and a few receivers
to replace graduated players.”
Teams To Watch
* Kent Roosevelt (10-2, Region 5 Semifinalist): Longtime head coach John Nemec (212-102 career record) and the Rough Riders graduated 26 seniors who helped the program earn three of its four postseason berths ever. This year’s senior class would like to match that feat. Senior QB Tra Chapman (6-1, 198) is a JJHuddle Top 100 prospect recently picked Pitt over Northwestern, Illinois, Wisconsin, Arizona, Cincinnati and Boston College. Last year he threw for 2,835 yards and 29 TDs. He also ran for 757 yards and nine TDs. One of Chapman’s favorite targets Trei Thomas also returns. Last year Thomas (5-10, 160, sr.) caught 46 passes for 836 yards and 12 TDs. Defensively, Kent will lean on junior LB Matt Sommers (6-2, 229), junior DB Kardell Jackson (5-9, 175) and senior DL Austin Mastrione (6-1, 245). All three were All-Portage Trail Conference. Said Nemec: “Gone are a great group of seniors, however, we have young kids who have worked hard and will be ready. Our players believe in themselves and want to remain champions. A great deal of work must be done, but we are confident and look forward to the challenge.”
* Tallmadge (9-3, Region 5 Semifinalist): The Blue Devils dropped their first two games last year before winning nine straight and making the program’s seventh playoff appearance in eight years. Expectations are high again. Senior QB Anthony Gotto (6-1, 185) returns after throwing for 2,397 yards and 16 TDs last year. He also ran for over 400 yards and four more TDs. Gotto has led Tallmadge to two straight Suburban League titles. As a sophomore he threw for 1,778 yards and 12 TDs. In addition to Gotto, Tallmadge returns five more All-Suburban League performers, including a trio of first team LBs in Logan Banks (5-10, 200, sr.), Zach Skraba (5-8, 180, sr.) and Jacob Wood (6-4, 190, sr.). Also back are second team all-league DBs Bryon Cook (6-0, 165, sr.) and Cordt Skraba (5-9, 180, sr.).
* New Philadelphia (7-4, Region 5 Quarterfinalist): The Quakers made the playoffs for the fifth time in school history last year but are still looking for the program’s first postseason win. That could come this year. New Philly has quite a bit back. Junior RB Jamal Johnson (5-6, 165) continues to put together an impressive career. After rushing for 1,101 yards and 10 TDs as a freshman, Johnson ran for 1,777 yards and 14 TDs last year. In addition to Johnson, junior QB Caleb Beans (6-3, 175) is also back after throwing for 1.038 yards and 11 TDs. Senior WR Hunter Joseph (6-0, 175) led the team in receptions (32), receiving yards (437) and receiving TDs (five last year). Defensively, senior LB Dakota Hill (5-10, 200) returns after making 169 tackles last year. Also back are seniors DB Jesse Kendel (5-9, 150), LB Justin Ward (5-10, 200) and LB Andy Perkins. Last season Ward had 138 tackles, while Perkins and Kendel had 80 and 36, respectively.
* Howland (9-1, Region 5 Quarterfinalist): The Tigers meal ticket this year is senior RB Deveon Smith (5-11, 195) who has committed to Michigan. One of the state’s Top 10 overall prospects, Smith ran for over 1,900 yards and 22 TDs last year. As a sophomore he rushed for 928 yards and 12 TDs.
* Kenston (6-4): Longtime Mentor assistant Jeff Grubich starts his first stint as a head coach and inherits some solid talent. Kenston has two JJHuddle Top 100 prospects in OL Sam Coverdale (6-7, 275, sr.) and WR Darryl Richards (6-3, 175, sr.).
* Akron Firestone (5-5): Senior WR Kevin Gladney (6-2, 175) is a JJHuddle Top 100 prospect and recently committed to Nebraska over Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa and Vanderbilt. Senior ATH Jerome Lane (6-4, 200) is a special talent.
Keep An Eye On
* West Geauga (7-4, Region 5 Quarterfinalist): The Wolverines are coming off their second playoff berth since 2003. Other coaches have tabbed them as a concern
* Walsh Jesuit (10-2, Region 5 Finalist): The Warriors snapped a two-year postseason absence and earned the program’s 16th playoff berth last year. Senior DL Matt Kancyan (6-5, 275) anchors the defense.
* Uniontown Lake (2-8): The Blue Streaks return first team All-Federal League DB Kyle Crites (6-0, 162, sr.). Crites had three INTs and was second on the team in tackles (97) last year.
* Revere (0-10): According to third-year head coach Phil Heyn (3-17 record) the Minuteman are ready to bounce back. “Excitement and redemption are the words for 2012,” Heyn said. “We bring back a ton of experienced players and we will be big upfront.” Watch out for senior OL Jason Tretter (6-7, 290) who missed last year with an injury. Also back are senior RB Joe D’Amico (5-9, 180/551 yards) and senior LB/RB Paul Gabel (6-0, 200/288 yards, 72 tackles). The non-conference schedule is brutal (Chagrin Falls, Aurora and North Royalton).
* Copley (6-4): The Indians have a JJHuddle Top 100 prospect in senior RB/DB Aregeros Turner (5-10, 180). Turner (Illinois and Tennessee offers) ran for 1,600 yards and 16 TDs last year.
* Louisville (6-4): Senior WR Trent Ohman (6-0, 170) caught 67 passes for 756 yards and six TDs last year.
* Madison (8-3, Region 5 Quarterfinalist): Head coach Tim Willis (77-48 record in 12 years) has led the Blue Streaks to four playoff trips, including last year. The main concern is replacing 10 All-Premier Athletic Conference performers.
* Canfield (6-4): The Cardinals are trying to snap a two-year postseason absence.
* Akron Kenmore (6-4): The Cardinals have a JJHuddle Top 100 prospect in LB Deontae Moore (6-4, 205). Moore has offers from Akron, Toledo and Kent State.
Also In This Region
Akron Ellet (6-4), Alliance (5-5), Chardon (4-6), Canton Timken (4-6), Akron Coventry (5-5), Barberton (3-7), Akron Springfield (2-8), Geneva (3-7), Painesville Harvey (1-9), Akron Garfield (2-8), Akron East (1-9), Ashtabula Lakeside (1-9)