Regional breakdown, top players, big games, big names, teams to beat, teams to watch and more…
Region 18 Preview
Playoff Teams: Our Predictions
Lima Central Catholic, Patrick Henry, Sherwood Fairview, Hopewell-Loudon, Spencerville, Northwood, Archbold, Tinora
Dark Horses: Hicksville, Liberty Center, Liberty-Benton
10 Players To Watch
1. Johnathan Washington, RB, sr., LCC: Has rushed for 2,629 yards & 23 TDs last two years
2. Jake Carrizales, DE, sr., Patrick Henry: Has over 200 tackles last two years; 17 TFL as jr.
3. Andy Guilford, QB, sr., Fairview: Accounted for 3,605 yards & 35 TDs last year
4. Dean Conley, ATH, sr., Hicksville: Scored 11 TDs (three on kick returns) as a junior
5. Mitch Linhart, QB, sr., Liberty-Benton: Threw for 1,638 yards & 21 TDs last season
6. Nic Whitmore, LB, Sr., Northwood: Two-time TAAC Def. POY, over 300 career tackles
7. Kipp McCann, RB, sr., Tinora: Ran for 1,559 yards & 22 TDs last year, added 71 tackles
8. Nick Demaline, DL/OL, jr. Liberty Center: First team All-NWOAL on DL & OL as a sophomore
9. Colt Pettit, OL/DL, jr., Patrick Henry: Holds offers from Indiana, Purdue & MAC schools
10. Jimmy Spieth, OL/DL, sr., Liberty Center: First team All-NWOAL on DL & OL as a junior
LCC @ Delphos St. John’s, Aug. 24 (Week 1)
Archbold @ Fairview, Sept. 7 (Week 3)
Hopewell-Loudon @ Northwood, Sept. 7 (Week 3)
Liberty Center @ Patrick Henry, Sept. 14 (Week 4)
Tinora @ Hicksville, Sept. 21 (Week 5)
LCC @ Spencerville, Sept. 28 (Week 6)
Team To Beat
*Lima Central Catholic (10-1, Region 18 Quarterfinalist): The T-Birds have some big holes to fill – mainly those left by NWC Offensive Player of the Year Ty O’Connor (now at Michigan State) and NWC Defensive POY Sean Griesdorn. The cupboard is far from bare though. Leading the offensive charge will be senior RB Jonathan Washington (5-9, 201) who ran for 1,176 yards and 17 TDs last year. As a sophomore he ran for 912 yards and six TDs. Also back to get touches is junior RB Mykale Rogers (D-III state long jump champion as a sophomore). Senior Ben Stolly (6-1, 235) will anchor both lines (had 11 TFL, seven sacks last year). Senior DB/WR Sam Huffman (6-2, 175) is a difference maker. Last year he had 57 tackles, four INTs, 32 rec., 603 receiving yards and eight TDs. As a sophomore he made 95 tackles. Additional impact players include LBs Vincent Fosburgh (sr.) and Darius West (jr./65 tackles, three TDs). Keep an eye on senior ATH Ryan Pitts Jr. who was limited to four games due to injury last year.
Teams To Watch
* Patrick Henry (10-3, Region 18 Finalist): The Patriots are looking for their 11th straight playoff berth and have been in the regional final six of the last eight years. Said head coach Bill Inselmann (184-58 in 21 years): “We have good experience back on the offensive and defensive fronts. Our backfield and LB corps should be strong. We are concerned about our inexperienced receiving corps and our lack of numbers. Our overall numbers will be around 34 in the top three grades.” Depth might be a concern, but talent isn’t. OL Colt Pettit (6-4, 235) is one of Ohio’s top junior prospects and was first team All-NWOAL as a sophomore. Defensively senior DL Jake Carrizales (6-1, 230) and senior LB Keith Palmer (5-8, 175) shine. Carrizales had 72 tackles and 17 TFL last year, while Palmer added 75 and 13, respectively. Senior FB/LB Galen Powers (5-9, 185) contributes on both sides of the ball. Overall, PH returns six starters on offense and seven on defense.
* Sherwood Fairview (4-6): The Apaches are looking to snap a two-year absence from the postseason and earn the program’s eighth playoff berth. On offense Fairview returns a pair of weapons in seniors Andy Guilford (QB) and Matt Tobin (WR). Guilford threw for 2,509 yards and 19 TDs and ran for 1,096 yards and 16 TDs last year. His favorite target was Tobin who caught 46 passes for 933 yards and 11 TDs. The defense will be led by senior LB Jeffrey Timbrook (6-1, 215) who led the Defiance area in tackles last year (119, including seven sacks). Other key senior returners are DL Lorne Rossman (81 tackles) and DB Tyler Nusbaum (two INTs).
* Carey (8-3, Region 18 Quarterfinalist): The Blue Devils have reached the postseason four of the last five years and will have to replace eight All-Midland Athletic League players to challenge again. The good news? Senior RB Austin Tschanen (110 carries, 697 yards, eight TDs) returns after earning first team All-MAL honors.
* Hopewell-Loudon (10-1, Region 18 Quarterfinalist): The Chieftains reached the postseason for the ninth time in 10 years last season. This year there will be turnover as H-L must replace the MAL Offensive and Defensive players of the year and nine first and second team all-league performers. Defensively the Chieftains will be stout with the senior trio of LB Mark Bouillon, DL Brock Hill and DL Brandon Molotla. Look for senior QB Alec Gregg to take over at QB. Last year he threw for three TDs and 214 yards in a Week 10 start (and win) at North Baltimore.
* Hicksville (11-3, State Semifinalist): Two of the Aces three losses last year were to Coldwater – the second coming in the state semifinals. There’s plenty to replace, but senior ATH Dean Conley is a good piece to have coming back. Conley (6-0, 175) had 1,236 all-purpose yards (564 receiving) last year and scored 11 TDs (including three on kick returns). On defense he had four INTs.
* Spencerville (8-2): The Bearcats had a remarkable run last year and could be in store for another. Spencerville entered the 2011 season riding a 22-game losing streak and promptly ended that with a 21-0 win over Indian Lake in Week 1. This season the Bearcats have their sights set on earning the program’s second playoff berth ever. And they have the horses to do it. Spencerville returns seven starters on offense including six who earned All-Northwest Conference honors last year. Four senior starters return on the OL: Coleman McCormick (6-2, 250), Bryce Ringwald (5-7, 170), Lucas Shumate (6-1, 200) and Lucas Krouskop (6-3, 240). Also back are senior RB John Smith (5-9, 170) and senior TE Dominick Corso (6-5, 230). McCormick (DL) and Kroushop (DL) double as standouts on defense where the Bearcats return eight starters. Included in that group are senior LBs Cole Roberts and Derek Goecke.
* Liberty Center (11-1, Region 18 Semifinalist): The Tigers snapped a two-year absence from the postseason by posting a perfect regular season and ending Patrick Henry’s stranglehold on the NWOAL. Key returners from LC are junior OL/DL Nick Demaline (6-3, 265) and senior OL/DL Jimmy Spieth (5-11, 185). Both earned first team All-NWOAL honors on both sides of the ball last year.
* Liberty-Benton (10-2, Region 18 Semifinalist): The Eagles will ride senior QB Mitch Linhart (6-2, 180) who threw for 1,638 yards and 21 TDs last year. Keep an eye on junior WR Chase Cook.
* Northwood (9-2, Region 18 Quarterfinalist): The Rangers have made the playoffs three years in a row and seven times overall, but they own just a 1-7 postseason record. This could be the year they get past Week 11 – and then some. The Rangers return 10 starters on offense and seven on defense and this year’s senior class has the chance to be the winningest in school history. Said head coach Ken James: “The keys for us will be battling complacency and staying healthy. If we accomplish those two things, we should have an opportunity for a very good season.” A big fish is two-time Toledo Area Athletic Conference Defensive POY Nick Whitmore (6-0, 221) who returns after recording 106 tackles from his LB spot last year. A four-year starter, Whitmore has over 300 career tackles. Seniors Justin Rohrs (6-2, 246) and David Bogart (6-3, 228) are also impact players on the DL. Senior LB Tyler Shepard (5-10, 175/second leading tackler, four INTs) also returns. On offense, Northwood returns all five starters on the OL in seniors John Segura (6-1, 220), Kevin Baker (5-10, 245), Rohrs and Bogart and junior Travis Whitmore (5-11, 242). Directing the attack is senior QB Nick Russell, a second team All-TAAC selection who threw for 1,227 yards and eight TDs and ran for 702 yards and 12 TDs last year. Northwood’s backfield is loaded with senior RBs Evan Perkins (5-10, 180/570 yards, seven TDs), Dustin Fullenlove (5-9, 210) and Jordan Schell (5-7, 140).
*Archbold (7-3): The Blue Streaks will challenge for the NWOAL title. An experienced OL returns led by all-league seniors Darin Sauder (5-9, 165) and Zach Zimmerman (6-0, 225). All-league senior QB Tyler Dietrich (6-3, 200) returns as does standout junior kicker Lincoln Parsley (5-9, 150) who set a school record with seven FGs last season. Defensively, Archbold will rely on Parsley, senior DE Dylan Mantz (5-81, 180) and senior LB Tyson Lersch (5-9, 160). All three were all-league last year. Said head coach Bryan Miller (24-8 in three seasons): “We bring back an experienced group of linemen, and have excellent depth at quarterback. Special teams should be strong with a returning all-state kicker and speed at the return positions.”
* Tinora (7-3): The Rams return one of Ohio’s best small school RBs in senior Kipp McCann (6-2, 195) a two-time Green Meadows Conference Player of the Year. Last season McCann carried the ball 188 times for 1,559 yards and 22 TDs. He also had 71 tackles on defense. Tinora also returns senior OL Brandon Rittenhouse and senior LB Dylan Rumbaugh (91 tackles).
Keep An Eye On
* Delphos Jefferson (5-5): The Wildcats will lean heavily on senior RB/DL Quinten Wessell, an All-NWC selection at both positions last year. Keep an eye on junior TE/LB Ross Thompson who was All-NWC on both sides of the ball too.
* Columbus Grove (7-3): Standout track athlete Collin Grothaus (5-11, 155) doubles as a football threat. The senior was first team All-NWC at DB last year..
Also In This Region
Collins Western Reserve (7-3), Columbia Station Columbia (7-3), Seneca East (7-3), Bluffton (5-5), Gibsonburg (5-5), Elmwood (4-6), Margaretta (3-7), Van Buren (5-5), Wayne Trace (5-5), Woodmore (2-8), Evergreen (3-7), New London (2-8), Kansas Lakota (1-9), Oberlin (2-8), Lafayette Allen East (1-9)