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Cleveland Glenville (11-1)
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 run.
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.
Cleveland St. Ignatius (14-1, State Champions)
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 tackles-for-loss.
“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 middle.
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 player.”
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,” Trivisonno said.
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 good size.”
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.
Youngstown Boardman (5-5)
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 defense.
“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 the lines).”
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.
Willoughby South (8-3)
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 defense.
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 round.
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 the playoffs.
"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.
Warren G. Harding (5-5)
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, respectively.
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).
Region One Pre-season Ranking
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