Can St. Ignatius win its 11th state title? Can Glenville win its first? Can Solon survive them both? Does someone else surprise everyone? Here's a look at Region 1 and how the top teams are shaping up heading into the season.
Cleveland Glenville (13-2 last year) * Players to Watch – OL Aundrey Walker (6-6, 330, Sr.), WR-DB Shane Wynn (5-10, 175, Sr.), QB Cardale Jones (6-5, 215, Sr.), LB Andre Sturdivant (6-3, 225, Sr.). * Outlook – The Tarblooders appeared to be on their way to the first state championship for a team from the Cleveland Public Schools. But Hilliard Davidson rallied for a late touchdown and a two-point conversion to steal the win.
Still, Glenville figures to be back in the mix in 2010. Jones is a standout quarterback with offers from a number of top schools. He threw for over 2,000 yards, including 1,000 yards in five playoff games. Jones also had close to 500 rushing yards in 15 games. He threw for 19 scores and had nine touchdowns rushing.
Cleveland St. Ignatius (11-1) * Players to Watch – RB Bobby Grebenc (5-11, 195, Sr.), OL Mason Halter (6-6, 240, Sr.), OG Michael Ramos (6-4, 289, Sr.), TE Blake Thomas (6-4, 235, Jr.), SS Mike Svetina (6-2, 210, Sr.). * Outlook – Coach Chuck Kyle is back for his 28th year with the Wildcats. After winning the state title in 2008, St. Ignatius ran the table in the regular season and was the No. 1-ranked team throughout 2009.
St. Ignatius had defeated Cleveland Glenville 14-13 in the season opener. But Glenville avenged that defeat with a 30-13 win in a regional semifinal, dashing St. Ignatius’ dream of an 11th state title.
Grebenc was a second-team All-Ohio running back in 2009. He rushed for 1,242 yards and scored 18 touchdowns as a junior. St. Ignatius must replace Mark Myers at quarterback.
Solon (12-1) * Players to Watch – DB-QB Chris Humphrey (6-0, 180, Sr.), RB-DB Kyle Hammonds (5-9, 175, Sr.), DT-OG Nathan Hoff (6-1, 280, Jr.), OG-DT Sam Camiener (6-2, 250, Sr.). * Outlook – After missing the playoffs in 2008, Solon won its first 12 games and the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division title in 2009. But the Comets dropped a 28-27 decision to Cleveland Glenville in the regional final.
Coach Jim McQuaide is back for his eighth season as the Solon head coach. He welcomes back nine starters (five offense, four defense).
“The most returning experience we have is at offensive line, running back and linebacker,” McQuaide said. “Some areas where we need to find experience and improvement very fast are at quarterback and on the defensive line.”
Humphrey tallied 65 tackles and two interceptions as a junior. Hammonds was a starter at tailback, rushing for 992 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also had a pair of touchdown catches. Hoff tallied 48 tackles and 14 tackles-for-loss as a sophomore. North Royalton (9-2) Become
this school's Quarterspondent * Players to Watch – RB Logan Pearce (6-0, 190, Sr.), S James Holodnak (6-1, 170, Sr.), OL Jeff Kovach (6-3, 255, Sr.), DE-OLB Azarie Battle (6-3, 215, Jr.). * Outlook – Coach Nick Ciulli is back for his sixth year as the North Royalton coach. He welcomes back seven starters (three offense, four defense).
“Our JVs were 10-1 and our freshmen were 10-0,” Ciulli said. “So we’ve got some good young kids coming. We have seven guys back who were key contributors and good players. We’re younger but we are going to be bigger than we were last year.”
Pearce rushed for 1,300 yards and also had three kick return touchdowns as a junior. Holodnak had five interceptions and two fumble recoveries. The quarterback job is wide open.
“We have three kids battling for it, two juniors and a sophomore,” Ciulli said. “Jake Lark and Bobby Darnes are the juniors and Travis Tarnowski is the sophomore.” Mayfield (10-2) Become
this school's Quarterspondent * Players to Watch – WR Chuck Zavarella (6-2, 180, Sr.), LT Joe Valente (5-10, 225, Sr.), NG Rob Razzante (5-10, 205, Sr.), OG Kolton Bodnovoich (6-0, 215, Sr.), LB-S Ray Guerrini (5-10, 170, Jr.). * Outlook – The Wildcats made the jump up from Division II to D-I last year. They earned a playoff berth and advanced to the regional semifinals before being ousted by Solon 13-10 in overtime.
Coach Larry Pinto is back from his 13th year. He has six starters back (three offense, three defense).
“Each year, it seems like we get depleted but then we have kids who have been in the program and they have stepped up,” Pinto said. “Our expectations are high. We want to hold ourselves to the standards we have set. We’ve won 10 games each of the last four years and made the playoffs each year.”
Zavarella had 30 catches with five for touchdowns. Razzante had 58 tackles, three sacks and eight tackles-for-loss. The quarterback job is open.
“We’re expecting a junior, Caden Loew, to step into that job,” Pinto said. Euclid (6-5) Become
this school's Quarterspondent * Players to Watch – QB/DB Chuck Bradford (6-0, 175, Sr.), TB Allen Crawford (5-10, 180, Sr.), OLB Jamaal Henry (5-10, 195, Sr.), MG Edwin Chandler (5-11, 205, Sr.), SS-RB Mike Wynn (5-10, 180, Sr.), K Mike Ruscin (6-0, 190, Sr.). * Outlook – Tom Gibbons is back for his third year as the Euclid coach. His team made the playoff field last year, but dropped a 10-7 decision to Solon. He has six starters back (three offense, three defense).
“We feel optimistic,” Gibbons said. “We are never lacking in talent. Experience is a concern. We’ll be a young team and we may lack some big-game experience. Our JVs were 8-2.”
Bradford could be a two-way standout at quarterback and in the secondary.
“We will build our offense around Chuck at quarterback,” Gibbons said. “He is probably a MAC-type kid as an athlete. We’re excited about what he brings.”
Henry had 8-1/2 sacks as a junior. Youngstown Boardman (7-4) * Players to Watch – TB Nick Buonavolonta (5-9, 185, Sr.), LB-FB Carmen Taratino (5-10, 205, Sr.), HB-OLB Tyler Walls (5-9, 180, Sr.), QB-FS Trae Robinson (6-3, 180, Sr.), WR-FS Dayne Hammond (6-6, 180, Jr.), HB-CB Devin Campbell (5-11, 180, Jr.). * Outlook – Boardman got into the playoffs last year, but dropped their opener to Cleveland St. Ignatius 17-0. Coach D.J. Ogilvie, back for his seventh year at Boardman, has four starters back on offense and four on defense.
“We think we have a lot of depth at the skill positions,” Ogilvie said. “But we need all new linemen on both sides of the ball. The game is won in the trenches. We have a lot of kids working hard. We think we have some potential there.”
Buonavolonta rushed for 1,000 yards last season.
“Nick has got good speed,” Ogilvie said. “He runs a 10.9-second 100 in track. He is very quick and has good vision.”
Taratino had 40 tackles last year. Robinson steps into the starting quarterback role.
Hammond takes over at receiver for his brother, Chase, who just signed with Wisconsin. KEEP AN EYE ON
* Strongsville (3-7) – It was a rare down year for the Mustangs, who are a perennial playoff contender. Senior tight Ray Hamilton (6-5, 230) is the top name. He has committed to Iowa. Become
this school's Quarterspondent
* Mentor (6-4) – Senior running back Mike Korecz (5-11, 195) was a third-team All-Ohio pick last year. Junior DE Tom Strobel (6-6, 240) is considered one of Ohio’s best 2012 prospects.
* Lakewood St. Edward (4-6) – Rick Finotti is back for his second year as the St. Ed’s head coach. DE Deonte Gibson (6-3, 225, Sr.), WR Avery Bailey (6-1, 195, Sr.), OL Geoff Mogus (6-5, 285, Sr.) and OL Kyle Kalis (6-5, 302, Jr.) are four of the top names. Mogus committed to Northwestern in July. Gibson was a third-team All-Ohio pick as a junior.
* Warren Harding (6-3-1) – Two-way lineman Ian Folnar (6-5, 330, Sr.) leads the way for the Raiders.
* Eastlake North (4-6) – Quarterback George Gresko (6-0, 175, Jr.) is back after a big sophomore year where he threw for 2,932 yards and 34 touchdowns.