Steubenville and Cols. DeSales battled for the D-III state title in 2005 and are early favorites in 2009 with both back in D-III
Looking for the most competitive Division in Ohio high
school football for the next two seasons? Division III might just be it. Following divisional realignment, D-III was
left with some of the top teams in the state regardless of division and now boasts
eight regional finalists from a year ago including six state semifinalists. Note: Individual team previews will follow over the next six weeks
Looking for the most competitive Division in Ohio high
school football for the next two seasons?
Division III might just be it.
Following the divisional realignment in June, D- III was
left with some of the top teams in the state regardless of division. With the
addition of Youngstown Mooney, Akron Hoban, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Parma
Padua Franciscan, Columbus DeSales, Columbus Watterson, New Lexington,
Steubenville, Cincinnati Wyoming and Waverly to name a handful, D-III now boasts
eight regional finalists from a year ago including six state semifinalists.
And with 2008 D-III state champion Aurora moving up to D-
II, a new state champ will be crowned in 2009.
Hoban reached the state semifinals in Division
II last season before falling to eventual state champion Sylvania Southview
31-0. It was the first postseason appearance for Hoban since 2005, which was the
last season of an eight-year playoff berth run.
This season, Hoban drops back down to Division
III after four seasons in Division II.
“Division III has always been a strong
division in the state of Ohio year in and year out. As far as that goes, it is
not going to get any easier,” head coach Ralph Orsini said.
Hoban loses the bulk of its offensive
production from last season as WR/DB Brian Courdriet, WR/DB Ryan Ross, RB/DB
Xavier Kirksey-Ivery, RB/DE Lawrence Wynn and FB/LB Travis Howe each step into
“I think we have enough people coming back
where we have a chance of being a real good ball team. One area we really need
to address early is the inexperience factor.”
Guiseppe Frisone, Greg McMullen, Stephan
Veillette and Norm Jesser will be the anchor on defense at the linebacking
“Defensively, we ought to be a pretty good
ball team,” Orsini said.
Heading into the final week of the regular
season last year, SVSM needed a win over Ursuline to earn a playoff berth but
the Fighting Irish fell to the eventual Division V state champ to keep them out.
SVSM will look to its defense early this fall
while some younger players gain experience on offense.
“It was interesting, I thought at the
beginning of last year our strength was going to be our defense but we lost
three kids with season ending injuries,” head coach Dan Boarman said. “We had to
play a bunch of younger kids.
“I think we’re going to be pretty strong
defensively. If our offensive line comes around, we could have a pretty good
OL/DL Bryan Ausperk and RB/LB Brian Foster are
Division I college caliber players and will lead a senior group that last made
the postseason in 2007.
“We’re working hard,” said Boarman. “It is a
great senior class backed up by a good sophomore and junior class and I am
looking forward to the season.”
The bulk of West Branch’s offense returns in
the backfield with Mike Smith under center and Mark Smith toting the ball for
Mike Smith was 123-of-217 passing for 1,811
yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Mark Smith had 71 carries for 507
yards and four touchdowns.
“Other than them, we’re going to have to rely
on some young skill guys in the skill positions,” head coach Bob Altenhof said.
“There are some unproven guys so that is concerning.”
Defensively, Brad Ferguson, John Wilson and
Seth Guy will lead the charge up front.
“We’re just hoping to improve,” Altenhof said.
“We got off to a good start last year but then (the Northeastern Buckeye
Conference) was really, really good last year and we ended up staggering to the
finish. We hope to get off to another fast start but we hope to maintain it this
season in the conference but it will be a challenge. ”
The Warriors last made the playoffs in 2007
and have made its four times since 2000.
Hubbard has been flying high since alumnus and
third-year head coach Brian Hoffman took over.
The Eagles are aiming to make the playoffs for
the fourth straight season and have only missed the playoffs twice since 1999.
Hubbard will have the talent at the skill
positions to get them off the ground early.
Andre Givens rushed for 1,433 yards and 18
touchdowns last season and Kurtis Drummond had 16 catches for 281 yards and four
touchdowns. On defense, he had 49 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions as
Both are Division I college prospects with
scholarship offers in hand.
“(Givens and Drummond) are outstanding
athletes but the other guys are going to have to come together and elevate their
games in order for our team to continue to make strides this season,” said
Matt Shelton started six games under center in
2008 following the injury to then-senior Sam Bellino but Chase Myers will make
his case for the job this season as well.
“I like what both (quarterbacks) bring to the
table,” said Hoffman. “That is definitely one of the areas we are going to be
looking at hard in the preseason. To be honest, the one that starts the first
game will be the one that shows me the most leadership and that is what we are
looking forward to.”
Dom Dionisio will anchor the line on offense
for the returning skill positions.
“We feel good about building a line around Dom
and feel we have some underclassmen that will hopefully help us with that,”
Notre Dame Cathedral Latin (5-6)
In the two seasons prior to head coach Byron
Morgan showing up at NDCL, the Lions were a combined 5-15. Since then, NDCL is
11-10 in two campaigns including the third playoff berth in school history last
season. The Lions fell to eventual state champ Aurora in the first round and are
looking to take the next step in 2009.
“After getting into the state playoffs last
season, we look to return even though (Region 9) is very strong,” said Morgan,
who has a 211-86-3 record.
Play in the trenches should be strong early
on, according to Morgan.
“The offensive line and defensive line should
be very strong and the team as a whole has had a great offseason,” he said.
Terry Smith started two games at quarterback
last season as a sophomore winning both. The starting job will come down to him
and senior Ben Smith.
Poland has the opportunity to make history
The Bulldogs have the potential to make the
playoffs for the third straight season – a feat never accomplished at the
“For (the seniors), their personal goal is to
be the first class to make the playoffs three years in a row and that is one of
their primary motivations,” head coach Mark Brungard said.
Luke Wollet will lead the offense out of the
backfield after rushing for over 2,500 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior. He
also had three interceptions on defense and has offers to Eastern Michigan, Kent
State and the Virginia Military Institute.
With Trey Lidle under center for the first
time, Brungard said Wollett will be the catalyst on offense early on.
“We’ll ride that horse as long as we can,” he
said. ”With those situations you try to break those guys in efficiently and
special teams become more important. Our defense will give us a chance.”
Mooney has been one of the top programs in the
state regardless of Division over the last several years winning two state
titles since 2004.
After reaching the regional finals last season
in D- IV, the Cardinals make the jump up to D-III.
Mooney returns eight starters on offense and
defense led by a solid nucleus of seniors.
“As any other successful Mooney team, senior
leadership is key,” head coach P.J. Fecko said. “The seniors are a very close
group and might be the hardest working senior group we have had at Mooney in
Mooney will be strong in the backfield with
Braylon Heard, Vinaopal and Griffin toting the ball. Donald D’Alesio and George
Lyras provide athleticism at wideout and in the secondary.
Team speed will also be key.
“This is not only the hardest working group
but also by far the fastest group we have ever had,” Fecko said.
Also Keep An Eye On
Akron Buchtel (5-5)
Buchtel drops from D-II and is looking for its
first postseason berth since 2005. Despite the drought, the Griffins have made
the playoffs five times since 2000.
Cleveland Benedictine (3-7)
Six-time state champion Cleveland Benedictine
is a dismal 13-27 the last four seasons and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2005.
OL Simon Cvijanvic (6-5, 240, Sr.) is a Division I college prospect.
Mogadore Field (8-3)
Field made the playoffs for the first time in
school history in 2007 and returned last season. Now, the Falcons are looking to
swoop in on their first postseason win in 2009.
Parma Padua Franciscan (8-3)
The Bruins are on the hunt for their third
straight playoff berth behind TE/DE Anthony Stryffeler (6-4, 220, Sr.), who is a
Ball State recruit. QB Nick Kaszei (5-11, 175, Sr.) and FS James Flowers (6-4,
210, Sr.) also return.
The Rockets finished with a respectable record
last season but didn’t earn enough points to make their first playoff appearance
since 1992 finishing No. 10 in Region 9.
Other Teams In The Region
Akron Coventry (3-7),
Akron Springfield (0-10), Ashtabula Edgewood (0-10), Bay Village Bay (2-8),
Hunting Valley University School (4-5), Cleveland East (0-10), Cleveland East
Tech (1-9), Conneaut (4-6), Jefferson Area (2-8), Mantua Crestwood (3-7), Medina
Buckeye (6-4), Niles McKinley (2-8), Norton (2-8), Oberlin Firelands (2-8),
Parma Heights Holy Name (4-6), Pepper Pike Orange (4-6), Struthers (2-8),
Warrensville Heights (2-8)