Regional breakdown, top players, big games, big names, teams to beat, teams to watch and more…
Region 21 Preview
Playoff Teams: Our Predictions
Malvern, Shadyside, Mogadore, Western reserve, Wellsville, McDonald, Warren JFK, Fairport
Dark Horses: Strasburg-Franklin, Youngstown Christian, Ledgemont
10 Players To Watch
1. Brady Weber, LB/RB, sr., Malvern: Had 105 tackles, 20 TFL, last season; ran for five TDs
2. Max Kapron, WR/DB, sr., Malvern: Caught eight TD passes & had five INTs
3. Chase Kinemond, QB, sr., Shadyside: Accounted for 23 TDs & over 1,300 yards last year
4. Gary Strain, RB, sr., Mogadore: 1,335 yards rushing, 15 TDs & 30 rec. as a junior
5. Landry Hostetler, LB, jr., Strasburg: Registered 93 tackles as a sophomore
6. Marcus Moxley, RB, jr., Wellsville: First team All-TTCL last year; 800 yards rushing
7. Kaevon Green, DL, sr., Youngs. Christian: 54 tackles, 16 sacks & 11 TFL last season
8. Alec Rossi, LB, sr., Warren JFK: Trumbull County’s leading tackler last year with 135
9. Kyle Burchett, RB/LB, sr., Fairport: Ran for four TDs & had 21 tackles in same game last year
10. Brooks Ramsey, RB, jr., Shadyside: Ran for 1,158 yards and eight TDs as a sophomore
Shadyside @ Strasburg-Franklin, Aug. 24 (Week 1)
Malvern @ Western Reserve, Aug. 31 (Week 2)
Smithville @ Mogadore, Aug. 31 (Week 2)
Mavlern @ Garaway, Sept. 14 (week 4)
Fairport @ Kirtland, Oct. 5 (Week 7)
McDonald @ Wellsville, Oct. 19 (Week 9)
Team To Beat
* Malvern (10-2, Region 21 Semifinalist): The Hornets have been to the playoffs five years in a row and should make it six under Head Coach Dave Tucci (97-47 in 13 years at Malvern; 127-67 overall). FB/LB Brady Weber (6-2, 255, sr.) and WR/DB Max Kapron (6-4, 180, sr.) are two-way standouts who will be relied upon heavily. Weber had 105 tackles, 20 TFL and seven sacks a year ago. He also ran for 337 yards and five TDs on 59 carries. Kapron racked up 31 tackles and five interceptions. He also caught 44 passes for 935 yards and eight TDs. Defensively Malvern also brings back RB/SS Marcus Johnson (5-8, 165, sr./73 tackles, 11 TFL), RB/LB Cobin Plessinger (5-10, 175, jr./73 tackles, 11 TFL) and NG Josh Holmes (5-10, 180, sr./84 tackles, 11 TFL). OT/DT Brian Merritt (6-1, 267, sr.) is the teams “best OL” according to Tucci. The big question for Malvern is replacing All-Ohioan Shawn Ball at QB. That job falls on the shoulders of junior Trey Tucci (6-1, 185) who led the Hornets JV to a 6-1 record last year. New to the non-league schedule this year is Berlin Center Western Reserve, who beat Malvern in the regional semifinals last season.
Teams To Watch
* Shadyside (9-4, Region 21 Finalist): The Tigers continue to roll along. A year after making their second state final, Shadyside made the postseason for the 11th time in 12 years and advanced to the regional finals. The Tigers have a good shot at another extended playoff run. Shadyside returns talent at the skill positions on offense in the senior trio of QB Chase Kinemond, WR Cody Hudson and RB Brooks Ramsey. Kinemond accounted for over 1,300 total yards and 23 TDs, while Hudson (also the placekicker) hauled in 28 passes for 563 yards and nine TDs last year. Ramsey rushed for 1,158 yards and eight TDs and set a school single-game rushing record when he carried the ball 37 times for 293 yards and three TDs in a win over Fairfield Christian. On defense, Kinemond anchors the secondary (four INTs) and senior LB D.J. Shoemaker leads the front seven.
* Mogadore (7-4, Region 21 Quarterfinalist): Mogadore has made the playoffs every year since the postseason format went to eight teams per region in 1999. Expect the Wildcats to keep the string alive. Senior RB Gary Strain returns after rushing for 1,335 yards and 15 TDs last year. He also caught 30 passes for 347 yards and five TDs. Mogadore also returns senior DL Scot Hower (65 tackles, six sacks), senior OL Joe Callihan and senior WR Kasey Beard (29 rec., 524 yards, six TDs).
* Strasburg-Franklin: (5-5): Strasburg-Franklin has 14 starters back from last season (seven on offense and seven on defense, five go both ways). Notables are OL/DL Adam Brandon (sr., 6-1, 225), OL Dylan Harper (sr., 6-2, 270), WR/LB Jordan Turek (sr., 6-2, 175), RB/LB Landry Hostetler (jr., 6-1, 180/93 tackles) and DE Evan Hensel (jr., 5-10, 180/77 tackles, 10.5 sacks). Said head coach Jimm Morris (42-68 career record): “We need to finish to be successful this year. Finish plays, opportunities and games. In all but one game last year we were winning at half and in all but two games we were up going into the fourth quarter. We were 5-5 last year with losses to playoff teams Shadyside, Rosecrans, Ridgewood Malvern and Garaway.”
* Berlin Center Western Reserve (13-1, State Semifinalist): The Blue Devils are coming off the most successful season in school history and have enough returning to put together another lengthy playoff run. WR returns three starters on the OL in seniors Bryan Deal (6-3, 300), Micah Marra (5-10, 230) and Adam Badget (6-1, 230) and also returns most of its receiving corps, including seniors Tim Cooper (6-0, 170) and Parker Warren (5-10, 155). The concern is replacing standouts at QB, RB and FB. Marra doubles as the anchor of the DL, while Cooper leads the secondary.
* Wellsville (5-6, Region 21 Quarterfinalist): The Tigers made the playoffs for the first time since 2001 last year and have a strong cast back. Expect them to challenge for another playoff spot. Wellsville graduated just six seniors from last year’s team and will be fueled by a very talented junior class. The OL returns three starters and will block for junior RB Marcus Moxley (5-11, 175) a first team All-ITCL selection who ran for 800 yards and four TDs last year. Also back is standout junior RB Brendon Carr (5-10, 200/six TDs). Defensively Wellsville will be led by senior LB Rick Brightwell (5-11, 200) and junior DE Jordan Sloan 5-11, 180).
* Youngstown Christian (10-2, Region 21 Semifinalist): The Eagles pulled off a remarkable turnaround last year, going from 1-9 in 2010 to the playoffs for the first time ever. Senior DL Kaevon Green (6-3, 210) is a force. Last year he had 54 solo tackles, 16 sacks, 11 TFL, two INTs and a fumble recovery.
* Thompson Ledgemont (10-1, Region 21 Quarterfinalist): The Redskins are coming off back-to-back playoff berths but must replace six first team All-Northeastern Athletic Conference players, including standout RB Danny LaRosa (5,334 career yards). Key returners include senior LB Kyle LaRosa (5-7, 165) and senior OL Jake Buterbaugh (5-9, 200). Also back is senior QB Griffin Degener.
Keep An Eye On
* Jackson-Milton (3-7): The Blue Jays haven’t had a winning season since 1997 and things aren’t going to get easier this year with a move to the top tier of the ITCL (big schools). Milton must also replace 12 seniors. Said head coach Mark Assion (13-37 in five years): “This fall will be a tremendous challenge for the Blue Jays.” Key contributors will be seniors Brandon Mitchell (OT/DT, 6’4″, 255), Chuckie Anderson (WR/DB, 5’9″, 155), Dylan Walter (K/RB/DB, 5’9″, 155) and Jacob Armstrong, (RB/LB, 5’6″, 135).
*Dalton (2-8): Second-year coach Mike Doty will lean on senior FB/LB Chase Moyer (last year’s leading rusher and tackler) as the Bulldogs break-in more youth. “Last season we fielded our youngest team in decades,” Doty said. “This season we will still be young but we are returning experience on both sides of the ball. Last season was a learning experience and we are better for it.”
* Conotton Valley (2-8): New coach Eric Schumacher takes over a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 1997. Keep an eye on senior TE/DE Brandon Bailey (6-6, 220) and junior QB/DB Colton Cottis (6-0, 165).
* Warren JFK (5-5): The Eagles have been to the playoffs 18 times, but just once in the last four years. They could get back this season. Senior QB/DB Dominic Naples (5-10, 155) returns as does his favorite target – senior WR Robert Seger (6-0, 170/39 rec., 614 yards). Defensively, senior LB Alec Rossi (5-9, 190) is back after leading Trumbull County in tackles last year with 135.
* Toronto (5-5): The Red Knights will rely heavily on senior QB/DB Joey Chadwick (5-11, 150).
* McDonald (5-5): The Blue Devils had a string of five straight playoff berths snapped last year. They could start another this season. Key returners are senior WR Stephen Vidman, senior LB P.J. Mansky, senior SPE Christian Rusinowski, junior DL Carson Williams and sophomore Cameron Ifft.
* Fairport Harding (5-5): The Skippers have only been to the playoffs once in school history (1991), but there’s a lot to like about their chances of reaching Week 11 this season. Senior QB Nic Paolo (6-1, 195) returns after throwing for 1,878 yards and 18 TDs last year. Additional key senior skill players include RB Kyle Burchett (6-1, 190), WR Tyson Lautanen (6-3, 175) and WR Ryan Greenwood (6-1, 170). The OL is anchored by seniors Brian Griffith (5-10, 190) and Logan Dennison (6-0, 180). Burchett, who ran for four TDs and had 21 tackles in one game last year, leads the defense from his LB position. Other key defenders are senior DL Jake Morenz (6-2, 180) and Andrew Jordan (6-5, 205).
Also In This Region
Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph (6-5, Region 21 Quarterfinalist), Mineral Ridge (4-6), Bridgeport (4-6), Sebring McKinley (5-5), Leetonia (4-6), Southington Chalker (3-6), East Canton (2-8), Steubenville Catholic Central (3-7), Newbury (2-8), Lowellville (1-9), Tuscarawas Central Catholic (2-8), Vienna Mathews (2-8), Richmond Heights (1-9), Lutheran East (0-10), Bellaire St. John Central (0-9), Windham (0-10)