You can't talk about Region 2 and not mention Canton McKinley and Massillon Washington. This year those two teams should steal most the headlines - and fight for the regional title...just like they did last year. Who else can compete with them? There are some teams that want shots...
Toledo Whitmer (9-2) * Players to Watch – DE Kenny Hayes (6-5, 240, Sr.), DE Chris Wormley (6-5, 254, Jr.), OL Chris Reaper (6-3, 230, Sr.). * Outlook – Whitmer enjoyed a 9-1 regular season before dropping a 34-13 decision to Canton McKinley in its playoff opener.
Hayes, an Ohio State verbal, is considered the state’s No. 3 prospect for 2011. Wormley, already fielding offers from a number of top schools, is rated No. 1 in the state for 2012. That defensive line should be pretty effective. Canton GlenOak (9-3) * Players to Watch – QB Alex Meredith (5-11, 170, Sr.), OLB-H Back Luke Merrill (6-3, 205, Sr.), TB Brionte Dunn (6-1, 220, Jr.), FS-WR Dashawn Hall (6-0, 190, Jr.). * Outlook – Scott Garcia returns for his fourth year as the coach at GlenOak, which welcomes back two starters on offense and three on defense. GlenOak advanced to the regional semifinal before losing to Federal League rival Canton McKinley 48-7.
“We are basically going to start over,” Garcia said. “We lost a big senior class (35). They took the majority of the reps. But we are at the point now with a system in place and we’ve made the playoffs three years in a row. Our expectations are that we plug guys in and go from there. We graduated our whole offensive and defensive lines. That’s our biggest question.”
Meredith took over at quarterback for the last four games. Dunn rushed for 1,400 yards and scored 14 touchdowns as a sophomore last year. Canton McKinley (8-5) * Players to Watch – DE Steve Miller (6-4, 242, Sr.), QB Kyle Ohradzansky (6-1, 213, Sr.), RB Elijah Farrakhan (5-9, 192, Sr.), WR Malcolm Robinson (6-1, 180, Jr.), DT Eric Snow (6-0, 275, Sr.), DE Sevon Pittman (6-5, 235, Jr.), SS Freddie Barton (5-8, 188, Sr.). * Outlook – Coach Ron Johnson welcomes back eight offensive starters and six on defense.
“We feel real good about having a lot of experience back on both sides of the ball,” Johnson said. “We have some guys who have started since they were sophomores. On defense, we have a very aggressive and physical group of guys.”
Miller is considered one of Ohio’s top five prospects for 2011. Miller, a second-team All-Ohio pick last year, has already committed to Ohio State. Ohradzansky is in his fourth year as a starting quarterback, including the last three at McKinley. Farrakhan had 800 yards last year. Massillon Washington (10-4) * Players to Watch – WR/CB Devin Smith (6-2, 185, Sr.), WR/OLB Justin Olack (6-2, 205, Sr.), LB/RB Aaron Roby (6-1, 215, Sr.), LB/RB Seth Naulbach (6-0, 215, Sr.), TB/SS Jake Reiman (6-0, 190, Sr.), SS/RB Tyler Robinson (6-0, 195, Sr.), CB/WR Tyler Miller (5-10, 170, Sr.). * Outlook – Jason Hall is back for his third season as the Massillon coach. He has six starters back on offense and five on defense from last year’s squad that won three playoff games before falling to Glenville 31-17 in a state semifinal.
“That is kind of a double-edged sword,” Hall said. “We were happy to make it to the final four, but we were disappointed at the same time. It has been good motivation for us in our off-season program. The kids have really taken up the challenge and carried it over.”
Smith was a first-team All-Ohio pick at receiver last year with 50 catches for 989 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has already committed to Ohio State. Olack added 49 catches and three scores.
“We are fortunate to have Devin and Justin,” Hall said. “Devin is a 10.5-second 100-meter guy. He is very athletic and creates mismatches.”
Reiman chipped in 527 yards rushing and six touchdowns last year. Miller had 67 tackles and six interceptions on defense last year. Massillon must find a new starting quarterback. Twinsburg (10-2) * Players to Watch – QB Aaron Macer (6-1, 185, Sr.), OG/LB Nico Gagne-Cross (5-10, 220, Sr.), OT/DT Brett Gulosh (6-1, 255, Sr.), DB London Carter (5-9, 160, Jr.), DB/RB Michael Baker (5-11, 180, Jr.). * Outlook – Twinsburg made a jump from 3-7 in 2007 to nine wins and a berth in the regional semifinals in 2008. The Tigers won 10 games in 2009 before falling to Massillon Washington 10-7 in the regional semis. Coach Mark Solis has 11 returning starters (five offense, six defense).
“We graduated a ton of kids,” Solis said. “We had 23 who graduated. But our JV and freshman teams were both undefeated. We’ll have a lot of kids who will be playing under the lights for the first time. We are excited about the chance to be pretty good.”
Gagne-Cross and Gulosh each have two years of starting experience. Macer is an intriguing athlete at QB. Wadsworth (9-2) * Players to Watch – LB Jay Crowley (6-1, 235, Sr.), TB Jack Snowball (5-11, 205, Jr.), OT/DT Nick Tavanello (5-10, 235, Jr.), C Dom Owens (5-10, 215, Sr.), LB/FB Bret Baughman (5-11, 205, Jr.), OLB Tom Iverson (6-0, 190, Sr.). * Outlook – Coach Greg Dennison is back for his 15th year at the helm. He has three starters back on both sides of the ball. Crowley is the leader on defense. Dennison is looking for Nate Heideman (6-1, 185, Sr.) to move from receiver to QB this fall.
“This will be an opportunity for a lot of kids to step up and make a name for themselves,” Dennison said. “We had a good group of seniors and a good group of juniors coming up.” Brunswick (7-4) * Players to Watch – RB Tevin Jackson (5-10, 170, Sr.), ILB Brandon Mendrea (6-1, 215, Sr.), ILB Mike Vrsansky (5-11, 190, Sr.), DE/TE Ray J Brown (6-4, 220, Sr.). * Outlook – Luke Beal, who spent 10 years as the head coach at Fredericktown, takes over for Rich Nowak as the new coach at Brunswick. He has six returning starters (one offense, five defense).
“I was able to be around the kids for most of the spring,” Beal said. “I still have to do some evaluation of some personnel, but I have a good idea of who has played. It is very exciting to head into a program with great tradition. The kids have worked hard and have a good attitude.”
Brown could be a player to keep an eye on after missing time last season. KEEP AN EYE ON
* Sylvania Southview (7-3) – After winning the Division II state title in 2008, Southview jumped up to D-I and just missed the playoff field. Junior QB/S Allen Gant (6-1, 201) is considered one of Ohio’s top 2012 prospects. * North Canton Hoover (7-4) – Hoover presses on without two-time Ohio Mr. Football award winner RB Erick Howard. * Hudson (8-2) – Hudson tied Canton McKinley for eighth in the Region 2 standings, but painfully missed the playoff field due to a third-level points tiebreaker that favored McKinley, which won two fewer games in the regular season. * Toledo St. John’s (6-4) – St. John’s is led by senior OL Jack Miller (6-4, 270), who has committed to Michigan.