Cleveland St. Ignatius won an unprecedented tenth state title last season in Division I
Cleveland St. Ignatius hoisted the Division I state title trophy last season for a record tenth time under veteran head coach Chuck Kyle. This season, it appears early on that the title could return to Cincinnati for the fifth time since 2002. Here is our
region-by-region look at the top teams in each corner of the state for Division. Note: Individual team previews will follow over the next six weeks.
When the dust settled at the end of the Ohio high school
football season, a familiar program and coach were holding the gold trophy as
the Division I state champion.
Cleveland St. Ignatius extended its record to playoff state
championships to 10 by defeating Cincinnati Elder 28-20 in the 2008 Division I
state title game. It marked the 10th title in 21 years for the Wildcats and
their longtime head coach Chuck Kyle. It also ended St. Ignatius’ seven-year
state championship drought – the longest period between titles for the school
since it won its first title in 1988.
St. Ignatius sustained some heavy graduation losses,
although Ohio State-bound linebacker Scott McVey will return for his senior
year. But the door could be open for another program to claim Ohio’s coveted
big-school state championship.
One certainty – it seems – is that a Cincinnati-area school
will be in the title game. Cincinnati schools have reached the championship game
seven times in the last eight years with Cincinnati Elder and Cincinnati St.
Xavier each winning two titles and Cincinnati Colerain claiming one during that
Those three schools – along with re-emerging Cincinnati
Moeller and any number of Dayton-area schools – figure to be the class of Region
4. Cincinnati Anderson, the Division II state champion in 2007 and the state
runner-up last year, has moved up to D-I and could add some spice to that always
Region 3, covering much of central Ohio, could be wide
open. In recent years, Dublin Coffman and Pickerington Central have been the
teams to beat.
Northeast Ohio is split into two regions. As always, St.
Ignatius, Strongsville, Mentor and Cleveland Glenville could be the key teams to
watch in Region 1.
Region 2, which skews more toward the inland teams in
northeast Ohio, could be wide open. North Canton Hoover won the region,
defeating Canton GlenOak in the regional final last year. But longtime powers
Canton McKinley and Massillon Washington will be lurking and working to try and
regain their past glory. Also, defending Division II state champion Sylvania
Southview has moved up to Division I this year and could challenge in this
Schools in each region will battle throughout the regular
season to accumulate playoff points. The top eight teams in each of the four
regions will advance to the playoffs, which will open over the weekend of Nov.
The goal will be to reach the state championship game, set
for Sat., Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium.
Here is our
region-by-region look at the top teams in each corner of the state for Division:
The Tarblooders won their first 11 games and
appeared to be a potential state championship contender. That streak including
an opening week win over rival Cleveland St. Ignatius. But St. Ignatius avenged
that early defeat with a stunning 8-7 win in a regional semifinal before going
on to the state championship itself.
As always, there are heavy graduation losses.
OL Marcus Hall and LB Jonathan Newsome signed with Ohio State. But coach Ted
Ginn Sr. has quite a bit of talent still on hand to try and make another title
S Christian Bryant has scholarship offers from
schools from coast to coast and could be the next spotlight player out of this
inner city school.
Latwaan Anderson transferred from Lakewood St.
Edward, where he was a defensive standout. Jayrone Elliott’s stock has also
risen with colleges during the spring and early summer.
Glenville is expected to win the Senate League
again. The nonconference is daunting with road games against St. Ignatius and
trips downstate to face Reynoldsburg and Huber Heights Wayne.
Coach Chuck Kyle, back for his 27th year with
the Wildcats, welcomes back three players with starting experience on offense
and five on defense from his 10th state championship team. Kyle hopes to
maintain the momentum built on that title run.
“We had a couple of camps recently and the
kids were all like, ‘It feels like we just stopped (playing),’ ” Kyle said. “Now
the kids know what the reality is about winning a state championship. What you
hope is that you get to practice an extra five weeks because last year, that
really did help our young kids get more experience during our playoff run.”
LB Scott McVey issued an early commitment to
Ohio State after a dominant four-sack performance in the state title game win
over Cincinnati Elder. For the year, McVey had 94 tackles and 34-1/2
“Scott’s the type of kid, he’s a very focused
athlete,” Kyle said. “He loves playing the game. It’s almost like, ‘That’s (his
recruitment to Ohio State) done, now let’s get ready to play the season.’ He’s
glad it’s out of the way so he can play the game for his team. He had an amazing
season last year.”
Kevin Johnson, who rushed for 302 yards and
four TDs last year, was a state qualifier in the 100-meter dash. Brendan
Carrozoni is being heavily recruited as a tight end. Mark Myers started a few
games for departed senior Andrew Holland last year at quarterback.
The schedule has Glenville at the beginning
and rival Lakewood St. Edward at the end with a ton of challenges – including
Clayton Northmont, Mentor, Massillon Washington and Cincinnati St. Xavier -- in
The Cardinals had back-to-back state runner-up
finishes in 2006-07. They only got as far as the second round last year before a
17-3 loss to Strongsville. But coach Steve Trivisonno, back for his 13th year
at the helm, has six starters back on offense and three on defense.
“I think it will be an interesting year,”
Trivisonno said. “We are going to be a young team. We may be a year away from
being the real deal. We have some talent in some spots. It will come down to how
quickly they come along.”
Mike Korecz rushed for 1,100 yards last year
as a sophomore.
“Mike is one of the more talented backs we’ve
had,” Trivisonno said. “He has very good speed and good balance.”
Sam Mayse took over at quarterback and threw
for 1,800 yards.
“Sam is a big-time quarterback,” Trivisonno
said. “He is a big, strong-armed kid. He is being recruited by everybody. He has
a great arm. He has solid speed and he is a smart kid and a good football
Before getting into Lake Erie League play,
Mentor faces a murderer’s row, including Lakewood St. Edward, Strongsville,
Solon, Cleveland St. Ignatius and Cincinnati Moeller.
“It is a very difficult first five,”
The Comets saw their string of playoff berths
snapped at nine straight after finishing ninth in the region last year. But
coach Jim McQuaide, back for his seventh season as the Solon head coach,
welcomes back seven starters on each side of the ball.
“We have some guys with experience,” McQuaide
said. “On our defense, we have experience on all three levels. That is
advantageous for us.”
The key name is Darryl Baldwin, who is
considered the state’s No. 6 senior prospect. He has offers from all of the top
schools in the Midwest, including Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Notre Dame
and Michigan State.
“He has tremendous skill for a guy his size,”
McQuaide said. “He runs very well. He plays defensive end and tight end for us.
He is a big man, but he has the skill to match that size.”
Solon opens at Garfield Heights, but has four
of its tougher games – Mentor, Mayfield, Brunswick and Strongsville – at home.
Longtime assistant Tom Gibbons took over as
the Panthers’ new head coach last year and he helped lead Euclid to a playoff
berth. But the Panthers fell to Strongsville 35-28 in the first round. He has
two starters back on both sides of the ball.
“We do not have a lot of experience coming
back,” Gibbons said. “Our senior class is still pretty strong. Some of them even
had to play JV ball last year and that team was 8-2. We like the group of
underclassmen who are coming up. I think we have good team quickness and pretty
Devonte Jones could be a difference maker as a
slot receiver. Chuck Bradford figures to get some look from colleges as an
athlete prospect, Gibbons said.
“Chuck is a dual threat kind of guy,” Gibbons
said. “We think his arm strength can improve as he gets stronger and we think he
can make some things happen.”
The nonleague schedule includes Strongsville,
Lakewood St. Edward, Willoughby South and Warren Harding.
The Spartans want to get back into the
playoffs this year after missing the field a year ago. Coach D.J. Ogilvie, back
for his sixth year at Boardman, has four starters back on offense and three on
“We have a big senior class, but we do not
have that much experience on either line,” Ogilvie said. “We have a lot of kids
the same size. I told them this summer I have no idea who is going to play (on
DE J.T. Moore accepted an early scholarship
offer from Ohio State.
“The number one thing with J.T. is he has a
great motor,” Ogilvie said. “He plays both ways for us. He is a good, quality
kid with good grades. The thing I like about him is he is a good leader.”
Rob Boyd started at quarterback last year.
“Rob has a great arm and he is very accurate,”
Ogilvie said. “He has a great throwing motion. He has a rifle for an arm.”
The Mustangs enjoyed a big year, posting
playoff wins over Euclid and Mentor before falling to Cleveland St. Ignatius in
the regional final. Russ Jacques (pronounced 'Jakes') is back for his 17th year
as the Strongsville head coach and he has a strong nucleus returning with seven
starters back on offense and four on defense.
“Our numbers are great and having a great
season last year that really motivated these guys,” Jacques said. “We went into
the summer with a great attitude to try and get some things done. We were there
knocking on the door and now we want to take that next step.”
TE Ray Hamilton is already attracting interest
from some major colleges.
“Our lines should be our strength,” Jacques
said. “We only lost one kid on the offensive line and the tight end, Hamilton,
is already being recruited by a couple of big D-I schools.”
Jacques must find a replacement for departed
starter Kellen Pagel at quarterback.
“That is our biggest question mark, who that’s
going to be,” Jacques said. “But we have a lot of candidates to look at.”
The nonleague slate includes rematches from
the playoffs with Euclid and Mentor as well as a game against D-III playoff
qualifier Parma Padua.
The Rebels got into the playoffs last year as
the sixth seed in the region before dropping a first-round game to Mentor. Matt
Duffy is back for his seventh year as the South head coach.
“With a very competitive schedule, we hope our
guys can mature and grow into their roles,” Duffy said. “If that occurs, we hope
to be competitive every week.
DE/OT Marcus Williams was a two-way standout
last year. He blocked at 91 percent on offense and tallied 48 tackles on
TB/LB Gary Harmon followed up a 1,000-yard
season as a sophomore by rushing for 987 yards and 14 touchdowns in eight games
last year. He split carries with Dominique Darling, who had 1,200 yards and 12
TDs as a sophomore last year.
Cal Rainey takes over at quarterback for
departed starter Patrick Nicely, who signed with Akron. His main target could be
Ed Nicholson, who averaged 17 yards on his 23 catches last year.
Also Keep An Eye On
Brecksville-Broadview Heights (7-4)
The Bees secured the fifth seed for the
playoffs last year but they ran into a buzz saw with Glenville in the first
East Cleveland Shaw (9-1)
Shaw posted a 9-0 regular season record and
qualified for the Division II playoffs before a first-round loss to Madison. Now
Shaw moves up to Division I. WR Tyrone Williams (6-5, 205, Sr.) is the No. 14
rated prospect in the state by Ohio High magazine.
Lakewood St. Edward (6-5)
St. Edward goes in a new direction (again) as
it has hired Mayfield defensive coordinator Rick Finotti to replace Scott
Niedzwiecki, who left after just two years on the job. Finotti helped Mayfield
post a 10-2 record and six consecutive shutouts in 2008. The 2008 season ended
with consecutive losses to St. Ignatius in the regular season and first round of
"I know how important that game is to the
community, the alumni and everyone on both sides of these fine institutions,"
Finotti said. "That is the one game we are looking forward to and I fully
understand the importance of that."
The Wildcats take
the jump up from Division II to D-I. Mayfield was ousted by Akron Hoban in a
regional semifinal game last year.
The Raiders have a nice nucleus in WR/CB D.J.
Williamson (6-2, 175, Sr.) and QB/SS Mike Dorsey (6-2, 205). Williamson has
already accepted a scholarship offer from Michigan and Dorsey to West Virginia,
Other Teams In The Region
North Royalton (5-5),
North Olmsted (4-6), Painesville Riverside (5-5), Shaker Heights (5-5), Garfield
Heights (4-6), Austintown-Fitch (5-5), Cleveland John Adams (8-2), Cleveland
John Marshall (4-6), Parma (6-4), Cleveland Rhodes (4-6), Lakewood (1-9),
Eastlake North (4-6), Parma Heights Valley Forge (3-7), Middleburg Heights
Midpark (4-6), Lyndhurst Brush (0-10), Cleveland John Marshall (4-6), Cleveland
Lincoln West (1-9).