Last year there weren't many people who expected Maple Heights to win the Region 6 title. This season the Mustangs enter as the favorite. Who else are contenders? There are plenty. This region is deep and talented.
this school's Quarterspondent * Players To Watch – RB/LB Patrick Furmas (5-10, 190, Sr.), WR/CB Kevin Krakora (5-8, 150, Sr.), OL/DT Alex Issac (6-0, 250, Sr.), WR/DB Connor Friss (5-9, 155, Sr.), OLB Robert Umek (5-11, 180, Sr.), DE Bryan Cox Jr. (6-2, 225, Jr.), TE/DE Greg Harrison (6-1, 220, Jr.) * Outlook – The Eagles barely missed the playoffs last season (a year after going 12-1) but with a whopping 17 starters returning this season, chances are good they will find themselves in the postseason this time around.
“I think we’ll be much better,” head coach Mike Elder said. “Last year was somewhat disappointing, but we played a lot of young kids. Clearly, bringing all those kids back, we feel we have a chance to win our conference and get in the playoffs. It won’t be easy, but we think we’ll be in the hunt.”
Leading the way this season will be Furmas who will get some carries offensively, but will see most of his action on defense.
One of the team captains will be Krakora who Elder describes as “really fast and quick.” Anchoring the offensive line will be Isaac who started every game last year.
“Alex is freakishly strong – he’s as strong as an ox,” Elder said. “He can bench almost 400 pounds and he’s our best offensive lineman. He’ll play some nose guard for us as well.”
Another captain this season will be Friss who Elder calls a “quick, fierce competitor.”
Cox is the son of former NFL linebacker and current Cleveland Browns defensive line coach Bryan Cox. The younger Cox already has a scholarship offer from a major college football program: North Carolina. The Eagles are not sure who their starting quarterback will be yet. Avon Lake (8-4) * Players To Watch – TE/DE Brian Mihalik (6-6, 240, Sr.), QB Trent Toy (6-3, 208, Sr.), OT/DT Andrew Bohan (6-4, 270, Sr.), WR/DB Ron Willoughby (6-5, 187, Sr.), OG Micah Charlton (6-3, 260, Sr.) * Outlook – The Shoremen were the No. 5 seed in the Region 6 playoffs last year. They defeated Maumee 56-35 in the first round and were then edged by top-seeded Toledo DeSales, 13-10.
This year’s team is led by Mihalik who is ranked as the No. 35 overall senior prospect in the state by Kurelic. Porter ranks the Boston College commitment as the No. 15 senior defensive end recruit in the state.
Toy returns to lead the offense from his quarterback position. As a first-year starter as a junior last year, he threw for over 1,600 yards with 12 TDs. He was able to overcome a rough start to the year and really blossomed midseason.
“We almost pulled him after the third game,” Dlugosz said. “But he settled in and proved he’s going to be a good QB for us.”
Willoughby will be Toy’s top target and Dlugosz says “Ron creates mismatches with his size – he’s a very good receiver.”
But it’s not just skilled-position players that the coach is excited about. He’s also thrilled to have Bohan and Charlton back in the fold.
Avon Lake opens up a new stadium this season and although they only have a total of five starters back from last year’s squad, optimism is always in the air for this program. Maple Heights (12-3) * Players To Watch – QB Shaq Washington (5-9, 165, Sr.), RB/WR Andre Stubbs (5-7, 150, Sr.), RB/WR Dana Day (5-9, 160, Sr.), WR/LB Claybourne Miller (6-4, 212, Sr.), OL Donavon Garner (6-3, 275, Sr.), ATH Dontell Kennedy (5-10, 195, Sr.). * Outlook – The Mustangs entered the 2009 playoffs with the No. 6 seed in Region 6 and then proceeded to take off faster than a souped-up Ford Mustang. They went on the road to defeat Toledo Rogers in the first round (36-26), then knocked off No. 2 seed Toledo Central Catholic (27-13) and then dropped No. 1 seed Toledo DeSales for the regional title (34-21). But they weren’t done. They beat Mentor Lake Catholic 21-17 in the state semifinals before finally bowing out to the juggernaut known as Winton Woods in the championship game.
Washington is one of the top quarterbacks in the state, but will likely play wide receiver in college. Bill Kurelic of Bucknuts.com ranks Washington as the No. 18 overall senior prospect in the state and as the No. 2 WR behind only Roger Williamson from Dayton Dunbar. Mark Porter of Scouting Ohio ranks Washington third behind Devin Smith from Massillon Washington and AJ Jordan from Trotwood-Madison (Porter lists Williamson as a safety.) Washington is extremely electric and has 4.47 speed.
“Shaq Washington’s highlight film is unbelievable – he’s a freak show,” Avon head coach Mike Elder said. “They have to be the favorites in our region.”
As a junior in 2009, Washington passed for 2,510 yards with 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also racked up 1,784 rushing yards and 21 TDs on the ground.
On July 7, the highly-recruited prospect chose to play his college football at Cincinnati. He chose the Bearcats over offers from Boston College, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Michigan State and others.
But it’s not just the “Shaq show” for Maple Heights. Stubbs is ranked as the No. 8 WR prospect in the state by Scouting Ohio. Meanwhile, Day is ranked as the No. 19 WR prospect and Miller is ranked as the No. 30 WR. Also, Garner is ranked as the No. 26 offensive lineman in the state and Kennedy is ranked as the No. 50 “athlete” prospect in the state. Toledo Central Catholic (9-3) * Players To Watch – OL Chris Boles (6-4, 315, Sr.), OL Kyle Cameron (6-3, 285, Sr.), OL Jason Lee (6-3, 260, Sr.), RB Calebb Goings (5-11, 190, Sr.), QB/S Joey Schneider (6-2, 190, Sr.), DT Delroy Chance (6-1, 270, Sr.) * Outlook – The Irish entered the 2009 playoffs with the No. 2 seed in this region and had no trouble at home with Rocky River in the first round (35-7). However, they were upset in the regional semifinals by Maple Heights (27-13) and will be looking to make a deeper run in the postseason this time around. As usual, plenty of talent is on Central Catholic’s roster and they will have one of the best offensive lines in the state.
Boles is ranked as the No. 6 senior OL in the state by Ohio High/Scouting Ohio. Also, Cameron is ranked 11th and Lee is ranked 68th. Talk about being solid up front. And that’s good news for the two-headed monster that will be carrying the ball in Goings (No. 31 senior running back in the state) and Schneider (who doubles as an All-City safety).
The defense will be led by Chance who is ranked as one of the top 35 DTs in Ohio. Toledo St. Francis (11-2) * Players To Watch – OL/DL Cam Stanley (6-5, 270, Jr.), OL/DL Hunter Stanley (6-5, 270, Jr.), OL Andrew Villolovos (6-4, 300, Jr.), QB/FS Danny Yodzis (6-3, 195, Sr.), QB/OLB Justin Chandler (6-1, 200, Sr.). * Outlook – The Knights were the No. 1 seed in Region 6 when the 2009 playoffs began. They beat North Ridgeville (35-7) and Avon Lake (13-10) before losing to Maple Heights (34-21) in what turned out to be long-time head coach Dick Cromwell’s final game.
Replacing the retired Cromwell is Mike Blochowski who served as an assistant in the program for the last 17 years.
“It’s a dream job,” Blochowski said. “I’ve waited a long time and I stayed with the hopes that one day I’d be able to replace Coach Cromwell. I’m thrilled to be a part of this tradition. I’m only the sixth head football coach in school history and it’s quite an honor.”
The strength of the team will be on the offensive line where four starters return. The Stanley brothers (they are twins) and Villolovos are ranked among the top 50 juniors in the state regardless of position.
Yodzis will likely be the starting quarterback, but Chandler is also in the mix. Both players also are keys to DeSales’ defense. Yodzis had seven interceptions and 95 tackles last year and will be one of the team captains this season. Chandler returns as a starter at outside linebacker.
“We should be very strong up front offensively, but my main concern is some of the youth we have defensively,” Blochowski said. Toledo Rogers (9-2)Become
this school's Quarterspondent * Players To Watch – DB Derjuan Gambrell (6-2, 185, Sr.), WR Damond Powell (6-0, 165, Sr.), OL Felix Fowler (6-7, 315, Sr.) * Outlook – The Rams entered the 2009 playoffs with the No. 3 seed which meant they earned a home game. However, they received a tough draw and ended up losing to eventual state runner-up Maple Heights, 36-26.
This year, head coach Ric Rios welcomes back a talented crew led by Gambrell who has committed to Ohio State. He could perhaps be a cornerback in college, however, he has started at safety since the beginning of his sophomore year and last season made 60 tackles and had two interceptions.
Powell is ranked as the No. 12 WR in the state by Scouting Ohio, while Fowler is ranked as one of the state’s top 50 OL. KEEP AN EYE ON
* North Ridgeville (8-3) – The Rangers made the playoffs last year as the No. 8 seed in this region and lost in the first round to Toledo DeSales.
* Rocky River (7-4) – The Pirates qualified for the playoffs with the No. 7 seed in this region last year and lost in the first round against Toledo Central Catholic. The team will be led once again by Robbie Plagens (6-2, 183, Sr.) who is ranked as the No. 22 QB in the state by Ohio High.Become
this school's Quarterspondent