Team To Beat
*Glenville (13-2, Region 3 champions, State Runner-Up): The Tarblooders reached their second state final last year and finished runner-up (lost to Loveland). Enough talent returns for another extended postseason run. Defense will be a strength with the return of a solid senior cast that includes DB Trevon Story (5-10, 160/Georgia Tech, Kentucky and Toledo offers), LB Milen Golden (6-3, 195/Georgia Tech offer), LB Justice Hart (6-0, 210/Bowling Green commit) and DL Sam McKnight (6-3, 250/Offers from Ohio, Toledo, Bowling Green and Georgia Tech). Offensively, senior RB Christopher Lavette (5-10, 195/1,346 yards, 19 TDs) will carry a good chunk of the load.
Teams To Watch
*Bedford (10-2, Region 3 semifinalist): The Bearcats will feature a solid defense led by three D-I prospects in senior DLs Marquise Copeland (6-3, 220/Cincinnati commit) and Najee Stevens-McKenzie (6-5, 215/Offers from Western Michigan and Bowling Green) and senior LB London Cloud (6-0, 194/Toledo and Bowling Green offers).
*Brecksville-Broadview Heights (10-2, Region 3 semifinalist): The Bees have one of the state’s top junior prospects in WR/DB Tyler Tupa (6-1, 195/Offers from Kent State and Bowling Green). Tupa caught 56 passes for 864 yards and 10 TDs last year. He also had 30 tackles.
*Kent Roosevelt (9-2, Region 3 quarterfinalist): The Rough Riders will enter a different era this season as longtime mentor and head coach John Nemec (29 seasons and 231 wins at the school) has retired. Enter Tim King. King takes over a program in the midst of its longest playoff streak ever (four straight). The Rough Riders have also won three straight PTC titles. There will be plenty of new faces on the field this season as well. Only four starters return on offense and just one is back on defense. The good news? The JV team was undefeated last year and most of those players lettered via special teams. Look for a solid core of sophomore lineman t make an immediate impact.
*Lyndhurst Brush (7-4, Region 3 quarterfinalist): The Arcs made the playoffs for just the second time ever and won their third straight NOC title last season, but gone from that squad are 27 seniors. “We will be young in some positions but our coaching staff believes that we can be a better team this year than we were last year,” head coach Josh Wells (14-7 in two years) said. “We have a lot of explosive play makers returning with a bad taste in their mouth from the loss in the playoffs.” Two key players are senior TE/DE Moses Mitchell (6-4, 215) and senior LB Matthew Draper (6-2, 220; offers from Louisville, UK, Toledo and BGSU). Other key contributors will be junior WR/DB Jordan Overton (5-10, 175; offers from Toledo, BGSU, Akron and Kent State), senior DB Laquan White (5-9, 195; 28 tackles), senior DB Devantae Sheppard (6-0, 170; 32 tackles) and senior RB Darryl McCluney (6-1, 225; 754 yards rushing, eight TDs, 35 tackles).
*Mayfield (5-5): The Wildcats return a solid nucleus in junior QB Mario Monastero (5-11, 185/116-224, 2,225 yards, 20 TDs), senior RB Andy Isabella (5-9, 175/Air Force offer/676 yards rushing, 468 yards receiving) and senior DL Brian Hunter (6-1, 215).
*North Olmsted (7-3): Back-to-back 7-3 seasons have not produced a playoff berth for the Eagles. NO returns two very talented seniors in WR/DB Matt Starovic (6-1, 165/five INTs, three TDs) and RB Ben Kurshak (5-10, 185).
Keep An Eye On
*Boardman (1-9): The Spartans enter Year 2 under head coach Joe Ignazio looking to rebound from last year’s one-win season. Senior LB Evan Croutch (6-1, 250) is a good one.
*Garfield Heights (7-3): The Bulldogs went from 2-8 in 2012 to seven wins last year. The defense is led by standout senior LB Anthony Kastelic (6-1, 215) who had 127 tackles last season.
*Madison (10-3, Region 3 finalist): The Blue Streaks feature two of the region’s best defenders in senior LB Ricky Simcic (6-0, 210/140 tackles, 13 sacks) and junior DB Nick Law (5-10, 175/first team All-PAC).
*Painesville Riverside (7-4, Region 3 quarterfinalist): The Beavers will feature senior RB Marcus Jones (5-11, 225/850 yards rushing, 200 yards receiving, 14 TDs).
*Parma (4-6): The Redmen won three of their last five games and are hoping to ride that momentum into 2014. The program is looking for its first winning season since 2010. Former assistant Bruce Saban takes over as head coach and will welcome back a seasoned OL led by junior standout John Todd Jr. (6-3, 27) who will be a three-year starter. Seniors Nabil Habob (6-1, 310) and Martin Kisner (6-1, 27) are also three-year starters. They’ll block for senior RBs Antonio Sanchez (5-7, 150; 890 yards rushing, eight TDs) and Javonate Cummings (6-0, 185; 300 yards rushing, two TDs).
*Valley Forge (4-6): The Patriots have one of Ohio’s top senior prospects in JJHuddle Top 100 player Richard Worship III (6-1, 240) who is headed to Purdue. Worship ran for 1,601 yards and 20 TDs last year.
*Westlake (5-5): Senior LB Chad Bata (6-1, 205/113 tackles) returns for the Demons.
*Willoughby South (8-3, Region 3 quarterfinalist): The Rebels will ride senior RB Ladennyawn Greene (6-1, 200/904 yards, 11 TDs).
Also In This Region
Maple Heights (4-6); Shaw (2-8); Cleveland Rhodes (4-6); Cleveland JFK (5-5); Eastlake North (1-9); Olmsted Falls (1-9); Cleveland East Tech (2-8); Cleveland John Adams (4-6); Ashtabula Lakeside (3-7); Cleveland Lincoln West (4-5); Cleveland John Marshall (3-7); Normandy (0-10)