Regional breakdown, top players, big games, big names, teams to beat, teams to watch and more…
Region 14 Preview
Playoff Teams: Our Predictions
Hartley, Galion, Kenton, Genoa, Ottawa-Glandorf, North UNion, Elyria Catholic, Eastwood
Dark Horses: Huron, Milan Edison, Wellington
10 Players To Watch
1. JuWuan Woodley, LB, sr., Hartley: Toledo recruit is regining JJH D-IV Def. POY
2. Jacob Matuska, TE, sr. Hartley: JJHuddle Top 100 prospect headed to Notre Dame
3. Justin Sawmiller, WR, jr. Kenton: 137 rec., 1,813 yards & 19 TDs as a sophomore
4. Kyle Nutter, RB, sr., Genoa: Has 3,055 yards rushing & 47 TDs last two years
5. Isaiah Conkle, RB, sr., Eastwood: Ran for 1,190 yards and 24 TDs as a junior
6. Tristan Parker, RB, sr., Ottawa-Glandorf: Rushed for 1,320 yards & seven TDs in nine games
7. Isaiah Blevins, DE/OL, sr., North Union: Had 90 tackles (12 sacks) & 75 pancake blocks last year
8. David Nay, RB, sr., Galion: Rushed for 2,004 yards & 29 TDs last year
9. Jeremy Holley, QB, jr., Elyria Catholic: Threw for 1,900 yards & 21 TDs as a sophomore
10. Dareian Watkins, QB, jr., Galion: Top 2014 recruit has offers from Illinois & BG already
Elyria Catholic @ Elyria, Aug. 31 (Week 2)
North Union @ Marion Pleasant, Aug. 31 (Week 2)
Kenton @ Ottawa-Glandorf, Sept. 21 (Week 5)
Watterson @ Hartley, Sept. 28 (Week 6)
Wynford @ Galion, Oct. 19 (Week 9)
Genoa @ Eastwood, Oct. 26 (Week 10)
Team To Beat
* Columbus Hartley (11-1, Region 14 Finalist): The Hawks have a
real shot at winning their second state title in three years. Head coach
Brad Burchfield (38-10 in four years) returns eight starters on offense
and seven on defense, including senior TE/LB Jacob Matuska (6-5, 245) a
Notre Dame recruit. Also back is two-stud senior RB/LB JaWuan Woodley
(5-11, 225). Woodley (1,600 yards rushing; reigning state defensive
player of the year) has offers from several MAC schools. Additional
difference makers include junior QB Jared Brandewie (6-4, 190), senior
RB Marcellus Calhoun (5-11, 185), junior ATH Alonzo Saxton (5-11, 170)
and junior DL Kalil Morris (6-3, 235). New depth this year is supplied
by a JV and freshman team that were undefeated last season. Hartley
renews its rivalry with Watterson this year (first time since 1996) and
also plays Bishop Luers (Fort Wayne, Ind.). Said Burchfield: “This
promises to be a very exciting season on the East Side of Columbus.”
Teams To Watch
* Kenton (14-1, State Runner-Up): The Wildcats made the D-IV final last year and lost 48-42 to Norwayne in an instant classic. The big hole this year is at quarterback, where the nation’s all-time leading passer Maty Mauk has since graduated and enrolled at Missouri. There are other holes too on defense where Kenton must replace the WBL defensive lineman (Isaac Jeffers) and defensive back (Brice Fackler) of the year. In all, the Wildcats graduated 10 All-WBL performers. Look for junior Grant Sherman (6-4, 190) to take over at QB. Last year Sherman threw for 382 yards and four TDs in a back-up role. The receiving corps will be strong again with the return of juniors Justin Sawmiller (6-1, 170/137 rec., 1,813 yards, 19 TDs) and Matt Bahr (6-1, 185/55 rec., 995 yards, 14TDs) and senior Zach Wolowicz (5-11, 175/80 rec., 766 yards, seven TDs). Senior DB Caleb Halsey (6-1, 175) returns after registering 102 tackles and four INTs last year.
* Wellington (7-4, Region 14 Quarterfinalist): The Dukes rebounded from a 4-6 finish in 2010 to make the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Defensively, Wellington will build around senior DL and four-year letterwinner Ryan Alspach (6-2, 240).
* Genoa Area (10-2, Region 14 Semifinalist): The Comets have been to the playoffs five straight years and would like to keep the streak alive. To do so, they’ll hand the ball off to senior RB Kyle Nutter (5-11, 190). Nutter ran for 1,399 yards and 25 TDs last year after running for 1,656 and 22, respectively, as a sophomore. Anchoring the defense will be LB Nick Keller (6-0, 215) who doubles as a standout OL.
* Eastwood (11-1, Region 14 Semifinalist): The Eagles earned their seventh playoff berth (all since 2002) last year and are primed to compete for No. 8. Senior RB Isaiah Conkle (5-9, 180) is back after running for 1,190 yards and 24 TDs en route to first team All-Northern Buckeye Conference honors. Other key returning seniors are DB Kyler Dierker, DE Adam Wolf and DB Blake Kohring.
* Ottawa-Glandorf (8-3, Region 14 Quarterfinalist): The Titans have made the playoffs seven years in a row and are poised for another big run. Senior RB Tristan Parker (6-1, 200/1,320 yards and seven TDs in nine regular season games) and senior QB Caleb Siefker (586 yards passing, seven TDs) form an experienced backfield that will be protected by two of Western’s Ohio’s best OL in seniors Wyatt Karhoff (6-4, 255) and Matt Samuelson (6-3, 225). Senior DB Josh Buckland (5-11, 181) anchors the defense. Head coach Ken Schriner (115-64 in 16 years) said keys involve: “Developing a strong passing attack on offense and physical play on defense while creating turnovers.”
* Huron (9-2, Region 14 Quarterfinalist): The Tigers reached the playoffs for the ninth time in 12 years last season. The big hole this year is finding a replacement for eight All-SBC performers including QB Kyle Pisano. Key returners include junior WR Cody Thompson and senior OL Dillon Sampson.
* North Union (9-2, Region 14 Quarterfinalist): The Wildcats are in the midst of the best run in school history and after making the program’s first three playoff appearances the last three years, NU would like to extend that streak to four. They have the horses to do it. Senior OL/DL Isaiah Blevins (6-5, 255) is back to anchor both lines. Last year he had over 75 pancake blocks and made 90 tackles on defense, including 12 sacks. Senior QB/DB Drew Crabtree (6-0, 190) also returns after making 57 tackles and netting two INTs. Other key returners include OL Garrett Newman, OL/LB Jordan Hamilton and RB Kam Smith. One player to watch is senior RB Thane Hoffman who started the first game last year before suffering a season-ending leg injury. The OL loses only one starter.
* Galion (8-2): The Tigers have been to the playoffs one time since 1989, but this year they could make a run at the school’s first state title since 1985. Galion’s backfield is among the state’s best. Senior RB David Nay (5-11, 200) is back after running for 2,004 yards and 29 TDs on 175 carries last year. He also caught 16 passes for 252 yards. Under center the Tigers return junior QB Dareian Watkins (6-1, 192) who already owns offers from Illinois and Bowling Green. Watkins threw for 1,256 yards and 16 TDs and ran for 559 yards and 10 TDs last year.
* Elyria Catholic (5-5): The Panthers missed the playoffs last year but are back with a vengeance and a new motto: Blood and Bones. “We don’t care who we play or what size they are,” Head Coach Michael Polevacik said. “Everyone is made of blood and bones and 11 guys take the field at a time. We have to do our best with our blood and bones.” EC has a solid body. Junior QB Jeremy Holley (6-5, 210) threw for 1,900 yards and 21 TDs last year, while junior OL Dakota Tallman (6-5, 300) is a potential big-time prospect. Sophomore RB Justin Taylor (5-10, 155) is the wildcard and poised for a break-out season. He has “game-breaker speed and vision” according to Polevacik. Senior DB Jacob Moore (6-1, 165) is primed for a big season after being HM All-Ohio as a sophomore and missing most of last season with injury. Sophomore DL Deadam Hall (6-6, 340) is one to watch. Said Polevacik: “Our programs ultimate goal is a state championship. We talk about it every year. We want to be in the mix every year.”
Keep An Eye On
* Ontario (8-2): The Warriors, lead by Head coach Scott Kreger (19-12 at Ontario), are playing their final season in the North Central Conference and would like to leave with a title. Ontario would also like to continue the trend of increasing its win tally each of the last three years. A sizeable OL with experience and junior RB Jordan Campbell (5-10, 210) are reason for excitement. Longtime rival Lexington returns to the schedule as the opener.
* Lorain Clearview (4-6): The Clippers suffered a rare losing season last year and look to bounce back. Head coach Mike Collier (35-11 in five years) likes what he sees. “This will be an exciting year at Clearview as we return seven offensive starters and five defensive starters,” Collier said. “This team has a lot of game experience under the lights. That experience, coupled with a great work ethic and the hunger for a championship, could make for a very successful 2012 season.” Senior LB Chad Anderson (5-10, 190) is a good one.
* Oak Harbor (6-4): The Rockets will rely heavily on senior RB Mark Konieczny (5-8, 180) who was one of three unanimous selections on last year’s All-SBC first team offense after rushing for 1,400 yards.
Also In This Region
Columbus Ready (4-6), Milan Edison (4-6), Sparta Highland (3-7), Clear Fork (4-6), Fostoria (5-5), Millbury Lake (5-5), Upper Sandusky (5-5), Springfield Northeastern (5-5), Lima Bath (4-6), Springfield Greenon (4-6), Tontogany Otsego (4-6), Delta (2-8), Swanton (2-8), Springfield Northwestern (1-9), Willard (2-8), LaGrange Keystone (0-10), Paulding (0-10), Van Wert (0-10)