It's official. Football talk can commence. On this Memorial Day weekend we kick off the start of our high school football coverage for 2009. That's right, the ball is in the air. While we're busy gathering info for our Annual H.S. Football Preview, here's a teaser. The following are 10 teams to keep an eye on this upcoming fall…hut, hut, hike. It's a beautiful thing.
The wheels are already in motion. And for many of you they probably never stopped. High School football season is approaching – and not fast enough.
Every athletic department (and athletic director) that fields a football team has been contacted and given the opportunity to provide information on their players, coaches and team.
From what we’ve received and from those we’ve talked to thus far, there are several teams that have caught our eye. As a teaser – and to tide your football appetite over a little – here are 10 teams to keep an eye on this upcoming fall…pass the burgers. 1. Steubenville: A no-brainer. The Big Red are going for their seventh straight undefeated regular season and after spending the last two seasons in D-IV bump back up to D-III where they won the 2006 state title. Last year Steubenville fell in the D-IV title game. Standout quarterback Dwight Macon (ranked the No. 50 overall recruit in the state by Ohio High) leads the Big Red. He has offers from Kansas, Wyoming, Ball State, Central Michigan and Toledo. This program wreaks of tradition - and success. 2. West Chester Lakota West: No team in Ohio may have more top-notch Division I college prospects than the Firebirds. LW owns two of the Top 10 prospects in the state and three of the Top 35.
Linebacker Jordan Hicks is revered as the top college prospect in the state (by Ohio High and nearly everyone else) and has been offered by Ohio State, Texas, USC, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, LSU and others. He's a national prize.
Tight end Alex Smith, ranked the No. 10 prospect in the state, has already committed to Cincinnati as has offensive lineman Kevin Schlomer (No. 35).
Defensive back Brandon Neal (No. 77) already has offers from Toledo, Akron, Ohio, Kent State, Buffalo and Bowling Green, while quarterback John Peters is drawing attention.
Time for the Firebirds to make some noise in the D-I postseason. 3 & 4. Delphos St. John’s and Maria Stein Marion Local: This small school duo has won eight of the last 12 D-VI state titles combined (DSJ five and ML three) and has twice in that span played each other in the state semifinals (the teams split). Now that Marion Local has dropped back down to D-VI (after winning the D-V state title in 2007), the titans have another chance to meet in the state semis. DSJ is in Region 22, while ML is in Region 24. Did we mention they are both in the same league – the Midwest Athletic Conference – and will meet in Week 6 in Maria Stein. Is that simply Round 1? Could be. 5. Cincinnati Moeller: The Crusaders are one of the most well known programs in the country but they haven’t won a state title since 1985. Is this the year Moeller returns from Stark County with the big trophy? Could be. The Crusaders have been to the playoffs 11 of the last 13 years, including seven straight, but haven’t made the state final since 1997.
Moeller is led by the state’s most sought after senior quarterback – Andrew Hendrix (no relation to Jimi). Hendrix, who threw for 1,731 yards and 11 TDs last year, has been offered by Wisconsin, Tennessee, Boston College, Illinois, Purdue, Stanford, Maryland, Virginia, Vanderbilt and others. He is ranked the No. 15 overall prospect in Ohio.
Rush has been offered by UC, Minnesota, NC State, Indiana, Virginia and Ohio, while Tanner has offers from Vanderbilt, Indiana, Miami (Ohio), Kent State, Toledo, Ohio and Akron. Galvin has been offered by East Carolina and Kent State. Schnieder has an offer from Toledo.
Senior offensive lineman Ali Kassem is also drawing interest.
Wake up the echoes. 6. Huber Heights Wayne: Last season Cincinnati St. Xavier played the toughest schedule in Ohio. Early returns show Wayne may take that honor this year. The Warriors open the season at Welcome Stadium against Princeton in the Skyline Shootout. In Week 2, Wayne travels to Fawcett Stadium to tangle with Canton McKinley. In Week 3, the Warriors host Cleveland Glenville. After that, games with Trotwood-Madison, Troy, Northmont, Fairmont, Beavercreek, Centerville and Springfield remain.
One of the state’s top junior prospects, quarterback Braxton Miller, leads the Warriors. He’s been offered by Ohio State.
The senior duo of twins Terry and Terrence Talbott also give the Warriors two additional big-time recruits. Terry (No. 54 overall prospect) is a defensive tackle, while Terrence is a cornerback. Both have offers from Michigan State, Wisconsin and Toledo.
Senor LB Josh Harrison also has offers from Wisconsin, Toledo and Kent State. 7. North Canton Hoover: Only one other team in Ohio history will have started the season the way the Vikings will this year – with a reigning Mr. Football. Running back Erick Howard became the first player in Stark County history to win the award last season and the first junior to do so since Euclid’s Robert Smith in 1988. Smith also won in 1989.
In leading the Vikings to a No.6 ranking in the final ONN/Ohio High Power Poll, a 12-1 record, a regional championship and an appearance in the Division I state semifinals last season, Howard was his best on the big stage. This year every game will include the red carpet. 8. Circleville Logan Elm: Last year was a magical ride for the Braves. After going 0-10 in 2007, LE did the unthinkable in 2008 by finishing the regular season 10-0. The difference? A new head coach (Scott Bartholomew) and a belief in themselves.
Ultimately the Braves reached the D-III regional final where they lost to Columbus Eastmoor and finished 12-1. It was the most successful season in school history. What can they do for an encore? Another undefeated regular season might be too much to ask for, but another trip to the playoffs isn’t.
The Braves return five starters on offense and six on defense, including seniors Johnnie Brown (QB) and Adam Blake (WR). LE also brings back top prospect Logan Hauserman (No. 93) whose bloodlines rival anyone’s. Hauserman (6-8, 275) is the son of former Tennessee hoops star Cindy Noble who played under Pat Summitt and won a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics. 9. Bucyrus Wynford: Wynford has been a D-V playoff staple in recent years, having made the postseason four straight times. Three of those runs have included perfect regular season records. This year the Royals drop down to D-VI where they should challenge for that elusive trip to the state finals. Wynford is led by the state’s No. 32 ranked senior prospect overall and the No. 3 ranked QB in Tyler Brause who despite coming from a small school has already been offered by Stanford, Syracuse and Western Michigan. Tight end Teven Eatmon (6-7, 280) has an offer from Akron. 10. Norwalk St. Paul: Prior to 1994, Norwalk St. Paul had no postseason history. Since then it’s established itself as one of the top small school programs ever. Starting in 1995, the Flyers have been to the postseason 13 times in 15 years. Over that span they’ve played in eight regional finals, including five straight. One thing the Flyers haven’t done is capture that elusive state title. SP is 0-3 in title games, having lost in 1997, 1999 and 2004.
The Flyers will have to survive a loaded Region 21 in D-VI to nab that title this season, but as always, expect them to make a solid run at it.
Senior QB/DB Eric Schwieterman returns for his fourth year as a starter after throwing for 1,778 yards and running for 985 more last season (he accounted for 32 TDs). Schwieterman was also one of three players tabbed the D-VI offensive player of the year in Ohio last season. Oh yeah, he also kicked 53 PATS and six field goals and had 84 tackles and three interceptions on defense.