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probably heard mention over the last month that October is a Y lotou’veof sports fans’ favorite time of the year. College football is in the

Volume 5

Issue 3

Editor in Chief Steve Helwagen Managing Editor Eric Frantz Assistant Editor Matt Natali Recruiting Editor Duane Long Staff Writers Kirk Larrabee, Glenn Forbes, Jeff Rapp, Dave Biddle Contributors

Paul Boggs, Kurt Stubbs, David Gatwood

Photography

Gary Housteau, Nick Falzerano, Stephanie Porter, John Ritter, Brian Swartz, Anthony Brown, David Gatwood, Greg Beers, Gary Wright

Printing Miami Valley Sports Magazine (MVP) miamivalleysports.com

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Ohio High Magazine is published bi-monthly, six times a year. Ohio High is an independent source of news and features relating to Ohio high school sports. Ohio High strives to report information based on fact, but assumes no responsability for any inaccuracies that may appear within the pages. Ohio High is not authorized, sponsored or sanctioned by any university, athletic conference or athletic governing body. Subscriptions are available for $29.95 and may be purchased online at jjhuddle.com. Single copy price is $6.95 each. c Copyright 2007, Ohio High Magazine and MVP Magazine, LLC. All rights reserved. COVER PHOTOS: Gary Housteau, Nick Falzerano, John Ritter

midst of conference schedules, the NFL is nearing its halfway point, NASCAR is nearing the finish line and the baseball postseason is in full swing. For the high school sports fan in Ohio, though, I think November is the best time of the year. During November, state finals for cross country, volleyball and soccer are contested. The football playoffs take center stage and boys and girls basketball tip off with their season openers. The only thing better than that? This issue of Ohio High. We’ve got it all covered. And more. On the football front we have playoff previews for each division and offer up an opinion as to which teams could walk away with the hardware. Can anyone stop Cincinnati St. Xavier in Division I? Does Kettering Alter or Steubenville have what it takes to stop Youngstown Cardinal Mooney from winning its third D-IV state title in four years? Can Springfield Catholic Central continue Region 24’s dominance in D-VI? In addition, our football coverage includes: recruiting editor Duane Long’s updated list of the state’s top seniors and juniors; the ESPN Top 150; and a feature on current LaSalle receiver and future Buckeye DeVier Posey. You will notice that our basketball coverage has been enhanced by the addition of Jeff Rapp to the staff. Rapp, with the help of hoopscooponline.com’s Chris Johnson, checks in with updated capsules on Ohio’s top boys players in grades 9-12. Our extensive basketball coverage also includes: divisional previews for both boys and girls and features on senior standouts Cierra Bravard (Sandusky Perkins, undecided), Kenny Frease (Massillon Perry, Xavier), Delvon Roe (Lakewood St. Edward, Michigan State) and Shay Selby (South Euclid Regina, Duke). We also have a feature on the Vinton County boys basketball program, which is coming off a 20-0 regular season and looking for its fourth league title in five years. Some of the burning questions on the basketball front appear to be whether or not Cincinnati North College Hill can become the first school in state history to win four straight boys basketball titles and whether or not Cincinnati Mt. Notre Dame can be challenged in D-I girls play. The Cougars are shooting for their fifth straight state final and fourth title since 2003. Rumor has it this year’s team may be better than last. And finally…we also preview another popular sport in Ohio – wrestling. And yes, Lakewood St. Edward and St. Paris Graham are obviously included. Wrestling doesn’t start competition until December, but we’ve got a look at what teams and individuals to watch when it does. In the meantime, there is plenty to keep one occupied. Eric Frantz Managing Editor

Upcoming Issues

Going forward, here are general topics that will be covered in each edition of Ohio High: * January (Due out Dec. 15) – Recaps of all fall sports state tournaments, final top 100 senior prospect bios updated. * March (Due out Feb. 15) – Basketball and wrestling tournament previews. * May (Due out April 15) – Recap of basketball and wrestling state tournaments and first top 100 football recruit bios * July (Due out June 15) – H.S. football preview, spring sports recap * September (Due out Aug. 15) – Top 100 senior prospect bios updated Check out JJHuddle.com every day for season previews and daily coverage of Ohio high school athletics. For subscription information on Ohio High, check the Internet at www.jjhuddle.com


H.S. Football Playoff Preview

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Breakdowns by Division and Region as to what teams to watch for this postseason and a few more that might sneak up

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Mr. Football Candidates

18

Photo by Stephanie Porter

Find out which players are in contention for Ohio’s top honor

DeVier Posey

21

Cincinnati LaSalle senior receiver ready to become a Buckeye

Springfield Catholic Central

32

Irish eyeing state titles in football and boys soccer

34 Boys Basketball Preview

North College Hill has chance to rewrite history, Trojans looking for fourth straight state title

Girls Basketball Preview

52

24 Photo by David Gatwood

Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame aims for fifth straight D-I state finals apppearance; Ohio home to two of nation’s top three post players

62 Wrestling Preview

Lakewood St. Edward and St. Paris Graham favorites in D-I and II again; Troy Christian out to defend D-III state title

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Also...

7 24 26 28 30 42 44 46 50 59 60

OHSAA Awards State Championship TV Contract

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Toledo Start Senior Quarterback Brad Leetsma

Duane Long’s Updated Senior Football Prospects

Photo by Gary Housteau

ESPN’s Top 150 High School Football Player Rankings Duane Long’s Updated Junior Football Prospects

Massillon Perry Senior Center Kenny Frease

Lakewood St. Edward Senior Foward Delvon Roe Boys Basketball Recruiting Update

Vinton County Boys Basketball Program

South Euclid Regina Senior Point Guard Shay Selby

Sandusky Perkins Senior Center Cierra Bravard

62 Photo by Nick Falzerano


High School Football

SportsTime Ohio Gains Rights To OHSAA State Tournaments, ONN Out

STORY BY STEVE HELWAGEN

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here will be a new television home for the Ohio High School Athletic Association state tournaments starting with this school year. Following a lengthy bidding process, the OHSAA awarded the television rights to its various state championship events to SportsTime Ohio. That announcement came down in mid-September. It also ended a six-year partnership with Ohio News Network, which had been the exclusive home of the marquee OHSAA state championships for football and boys and girls basketball since 2001. SportsTime Ohio was created in December 2005 by the Cleveland Indians as the baseball team’s new cable television home. STO has formed a partnership with Time Warner Cable and other cable outlets to distribute OHSAA events statewide. “Needless to say, this is a very exciting time for the association, our member schools and all fans of Ohio high school athletics,” said OHSAA commissioner Dan Ross said. “Through this agreement with two powerful television partners, we will not only showcase the many positive achievements of student-athletes involved in OHSAA tournaments, but we will also promote the initiatives and values of the OHSAA and its member schools. “We are thrilled to begin working with SportsTime Ohio and Time Warner Cable and look forward to the possibility of expanding television programming opportunities of OHSAA events in the future.” In the spring, the OHSAA and its marketing partner Home Team Marketing solicited bids for a new television and media contract for the state championship events. No details of the winning STO/Time Warner bid were released. But the OHSAA said this new partnership will nearly triple the potential audience reach and also increases the rights fees paid to the association. Besides serving as the home for the Cleveland Indians, STO’s programming also includes coverage of the Cleveland Browns, Ohio State and Cleveland State athletics, golf and outdoors programming. STO’s partnership with Time Warner Cable, Ohio’s largest cable company, was forged to deliver OHSAA programming to over 3.1 million homes statewide and will include analog cable clearance on Time Warner Cable, Cox Cable, Buckeye CableSystem, Massillon Cable, Insight Cable, Armstrong, AT&T, UVerse, WOW! and dozens of other smaller, hometown cable systems. Plus, SportsTime Ohio is available nationally through DirecTV and Dish! Network satellite distribution on analog and standard packages. Games will be archived and available through Time Warner’s Local On-Demand service. “We’re extremely pleased to be able to begin this new partnership with the OHSAA and its member schools,” said Jim Liberatore, president of SportsTime Ohio. “We believe showcasing many of the great OHSAA championship events that create such outstanding memories and tell such tremendous stories complements our current programming very well. “Everyone knows how passionate the fans in Ohio are about high school sports, so we’re really excited about this relationship and that Time Warner will help us provide the coverage that will reach nearly 100 percent of the state.” Besides covering the six state football championships, four girls state basketball championships and four boys state basketball championships, SportsTime Ohio and Time Warner Cable will cover many other marquee OHSAA tournament events, including championships in sports where there has not been statewide coverage in the past.

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Also included in the agreement is a trade package to promote OHSAA service initiatives, such as the “Respect The Game” sportsmanship and “Buckle Up for a Successful Season” safety belt campaigns, as well as event and ticket sales. While making the television announcement, Ross also said the OHSAA is continuing discussions with companies interested in providing live and delayed video internet streaming of several OHSAA tournament events. Plans are in the works for the OHSAA to have a statewide web site that would provide coverage and distribution to the 60-to-70 million homes in the U.S. that have broadband access. Ross said he hopes to announce details of a partnership in the near future. “Through the television partnership and our pending internet package, the potential is there to deliver OHSAA events on a scale never seen before,” Ross said. “Through the There were three cable outlets that television partnership seemed to be in the running to secure rights: STO, ONN and Fox Sports Net Ohio. and our pending However, all three had some limitations. STO’s main drawback was it is not currently Internet package, the distributed in southern Ohio due to Major League Baseball restrictions on its Indians potential is there to coverage. The partnership with Time deliver OHSAA Warner and other carriers, though, allows STO’s coverage of OHSAA events to go events on a scale statewide. ONN began televising all of the state never seen before.” playoff football games in 2001. Prior to that, FSN Ohio (and its forerunner, OHSAA Commissioner SportsChannel Ohio) televised Ohio playoff Dan Ross games back to the early 1990s. But ONN was still not available in some pockets of the state. It is also not available to satellite dish users. FSN Ohio would have had to juggle OHSAA events around its coverage of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets and MLB’s Cincinnati Reds, among other commitments. Pat Kilkenney, STO’s director of programming and production, said his network plans extensive pregame and postgame coverage of the signature OHSAA state championship events. “We will make it an all-day event,” Kilkenney told Ohio High. “We have a studio in Cleveland and we will make that our hub. We will go back and forth to the live events and have constant updates, highlights and analysis.” STO plans to use many of its familiar faces, including Jim Donovan, Matt Underwood, Matt Cairns and Al Pawlowski on OHSAA coverage. It will also use various analysts. Kilkenney said STO is planning a state football playoff pairings show for Sun., Oct. 28. STO will also likely carry one or two playoff games per weekend in the four weeks leading up to the state championships, set for Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Canton and Massillon. STO will have the first selection of state playoff games each week. ONN and FSN Ohio, which have each been televising as many as two regular season games each week this year, are also likely to carry games in the first four weekends of the playoffs. — OH

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High School Football

Head First

Colerain and RB Dominique Sherrer are looking for school’s second state title.

Photo by John Ritter

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High School Football

STORY BY OHIO HIGH STAFF

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DIVISION I

ho will take home the prize? That will be the question this year as the OHSAA high school football playoffs begin over the weekend of Nov. 2-3 and will continue through the state championships in Canton and Massillon Nov. 30-Dec. 1. Last year, Hilliard Davidson outlasted Mentor 36-35 to break the Cincinnati area’s stranglehold on the Division I (big school) state championship. Cincinnati Elder won back-to-back Division I titles in 2002-03, followed by Cincinnati Colerain in 2004 and Cincinnati St. Xavier last year. If the various national polls are accurate, it is possible that a Cincinnati school could again stand tall. As of press time late in the season, the USA Today Super 25 national poll had two Cincinnati schools in the top 25. They were Cincinnati St. Xavier at No. 2 and Cincinnati Colerain at No. 10. But, because both of those schools are in Region 4, only one of them has a chance to advance to the state final four. Three Columbus-area schools – Hilliard Darby, Pickerington Central and Dublin Coffman – were also hoping to make some postseason waves. Each of them remained unbeaten as of press time for this issue of Ohio High. In northeast Ohio, schools such as Euclid, Mentor and Brunswick were hoping to push the perennial powers – Cleveland St. Ignatius and Lakewood St. Edward – for postseason glory. Here is a region-by-region look at the key contenders in Division I:

Region 1

Photo by Stephanie Porter

Euclid was looking potentially like the team to beat in Region 1. The Panthers shrugged off a season-opening loss to Mentor Lake Catholic and had notched one-point wins over Lakewood St. Edward and Mentor. Run/pass quarterback Howard Drake leads the way for Euclid. Mentor was also in the race to host a first-round playoff game. The Cardinals opened with a 21-10 loss to defending Division IV state champion Youngstown Mooney. That was no disgrace since Mooney, despite being a medium-sized school, was getting some notice in national polls. Mentor boasts quality wins over Strongsville, Solon and Cleveland St. Ignatius. Quarterback Bart Tanski has excelled after leading Mentor to the state title game last year. Cleveland St. Ignatius was also firmly in the hunt to gain a top seed in Region 1. The Wildcats have the pedigree Cleveland St. Ignatius is looking for its with an OHSAA-record nine 10th state title. Junior Patrick Hinkel state playoff championships. contributes on both sides of the ball. They also boasted key wins over Youngstown Boardman, Massillon Washington and Warren Harding. A Week 9 date with Cincinnati St. Xavier and the Week 10

JJ Hu d d l e ’ s O h io H i g h

rivalry game with Lakewood St. Edward loomed. Solon had put itself in position for a playoff berth with wins over Massillon Washington and Mayfield. Strongsville had early losses to Mentor and Toledo St. John’s, but had mounted a midseason winning streak to get into contention for a playoff spot. Longtime powerhouse Lakewood St. Edward needed a strong close with games against Cincinnati St. Xavier, Cincinnati Moeller and rival Cleveland St. Ignatius on the horizon. Schools likely battling for the last one or two spots included Youngstown Boardman, Cleveland Glenville and North Royalton. North Royalton was unbeaten as of press time, but was hurt by the poor showing of a number of its opponents. The same was true for Glenville, which won an early shootout at Indianapolis Warren Central before losses to national powers Long Beach (Calif.) Poly and Cincinnati St. Xavier. Highly recruited wide receiver Cordale Scott was the top performer for Glenville.

Projected regional champion: Mentor

Region 2

Longtime powers Massillon Washington and Canton McKinley were struggling. As of press time, neither had a winning record and each were in danger of missing the playoffs. That left a wide open race in Region 2, where Brunswick was the only unbeaten late in the year. Brunswick, led by quarterback Sean Bedevelsky, built its dossier with wins over Macedonia Nordonia, Parma Normandy and Solon. Nordonia, led by wide receiver Brian Vollmer, was also in position to host a first-round playoff game. But late-season showdowns with Stow-Munroe Falls and Mayfield loomed. Toledo Whitmer may be a team to watch. The Panthers showed they had staying power with overtime wins over Toledo Start, Toledo St. Francis and Toledo St. John’s. North Canton Hoover was also in contention to host a first-round game. The Vikings had key wins over Newark Licking Valley, Canton McKinley and Youngstown Boardman. Wadsworth was another team to consider. Quarterback Dru Jones and running back Scott Saylor lead the Grizzlies. More schools to watch included Perrysburg, Canton GlenOak, Toledo St. John’s, Fremont Ross and Stow-Munroe Falls.

Projected regional champion: Macedonia Nordonia

Region 3

As noted, there were three central Ohio D-I schools still unbeaten late in the year with Hilliard Darby, Pickerington Central and Dublin Coffman. All of them are members of the Ohio Capital Conference, although they are in different divisions and were not scheduled to meet in the regular season. Darby, led by run/pass quarterback Jeremy Ebert, served notice early when it knocked off crosstown rival and defending state champion Hilliard Davidson 21-10 in Week 1. Darby also boasted important wins over Toledo Central Catholic, Cincinnati Anderson and Upper Arlington. Pickerington Central made the move to Division I look seamless after ending up last year as the Division II state runner-up. Central avenged that state championship game defeat with a Week 2 win over Piqua (14-7). The Tigers had key wins over Lancaster and Worthington Kilbourne as well. Dublin Coffman boasted a star-studded lineup, including Ohio State-bound wide receiver Jake Stoneburner and offensive lineman Mike Adams as well as quarterback Zack Stoudt.

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High School Football

Projected regional champion: Dublin Coffman

Region 4

As always, the race to win Region 4 and represent southwest Ohio in the state final four looked like it would be a real battle. Cincinnati St. Xavier, with marquee wins over Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha, Cleveland Glenville, Louisville (Ky.) Trinity and Greater Catholic League rivals Cincinnati Elder and Cincinnati LaSalle, was on pace to possibly set an OHSAA computer points record. With standout running back Darius Ashley missing time due to injury, St. X turned to wide receiver/kicker Danny Milligan as its top play maker. The Bombers did lose senior quarterback John Hurley in Week 8 to injury. He was replaced by sophomore Luke Massa. Colerain, which won the region last year before falling to Hilliard Davidson in the state semifinals, was also unbeaten in coach Tom Bolden’s first year on the job. He replaced longtime coach Kerry Coombs, who left to become an assistant at the University of Cincinnati. The Cardinals were led by the dynamic duo of quarterback Doug Reynolds and running back Dominique Sherrer. Colerain had wins over Huber Heights Wayne, Hoover, Ala., and West Chester Lakota West. Cincinnati Princeton was also in the hunt to host a first-round playoff game. The Vikings had wins over Centerville and Cincinnati Sycamore. They were led by sophomore quarterback Spencer Ware. Cincinnati Sycamore was also a possibility to host a first-round game. The Aviators, led by junior running back Bud Golden, had wins over Cincinnati Withrow and Harrison. Seven other schools were probably vying for the last four spots. They included Cincinnati Glen Este, Centerville, Harrison, Cincinnati

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Elder, Huber Heights Wayne, Cincinnati LaSalle and Cincinnati Moeller.

Projected regional champion: Cin. St. Xavier

State Championship Game Projection Cincinnati St. Xavier over Mentor

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By Steve Helwagen

DIVISION II

iqua, backed by Mr. Football award winner Brandon Saine, rolled through the OHSAA Division II high school football playoffs last year to win the state title. Although Saine is now carrying the ball at Ohio State, the Indians were back in the hunt for a playoff berth – if not a top seed – in this year’s playoffs. Piqua’s only loss was to Pickerington Central, the team it beat in last year’s state title game. Central has moved up to Division I this season. As of press time late in the season, there were a handful of unbeaten teams in Division II. They included Tallmadge, Warren Howland, Sylvania Southview, Avon Lake, Columbus DeSales, Dresden Tri-Valley and Cincinnati Turpin. Here is a region-by-region look at the top contenders in Division II:

Region 5

As of press time, Tallmadge remained unbeaten. The Blue Devils, led by junior running back Tyler Fortner, had wins over Akron Firestone and Medina Cloverleaf. A Week 10 showdown with Wadsworth was on the horizon. Parma Normandy looked like a strong possibility to host a first-round playoff game. As of press time, the Invaders’ only loss was to Division I unbeaten Brunswick. Normandy’s key wins included Poland Seminary and crosstown rival Parma. A Week 10 match-up with Division I unbeaten North Royalton loomed. Mayfield also had a good shot at hosting a first-round game. The Wildcats, led by running back Ashante Williams, suffered their only loss at the hands of Division I power Solon. They had key wins over Bedford, Olmsted Falls and Stow-Munroe Falls. Tallmadge, led by junior RB Tyler Warren Howland was Fortner, is one of the favorites in unbeaten in its first seven Region 5. games with the top win coming over Canfield. Maple Heights was also in the running for a top-four finish and a chance at hosting a first-round game. The Mustangs’ lone loss was to Bedford. Their top win was over Lorain Admiral King. Opportunities Photo by Stephanie Porter

Photo by Gary Housteau

The Shamrocks had wins over Mentor Lake Catholic and neighborhood rivals Dublin Scioto and Upper Arlington. Gahanna-Lincoln, led by Darius Reeves, was also in contention to host a first-round playoff game. The Lions’ only loss as of press time was to Upper Arlington. Gahanna boasted a win over Division II power Olentangy Liberty. Columbus Brookhaven looked good for at least a playoff spot and maybe even a home first-round playoff game. The Bearcats’ only loss was to Hilliard Davidson. The rest of the Region 3 playoff field looked like a race between Upper Arlington, Hilliard Davidson, Lancaster and Groveport-Madison. UA’s only losses were to unbeatens Hilliard Darby and Dublin Coffman. Davidson had a late-season showdown with Dublin Coffman. A win there would help Davidson’s Dublin Coffman is led by a plethora cause to defend its state of college prospects, includng senior championship. Kilbourne, after a lean year QB Zack Stoudt, a first year starter. or two, was back in the hunt with wins over Lancaster and Dublin Scioto.

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High School Football

Projected regional champion: Tallmadge

Region 6

Projected regional champion: Avon Lake

Region 7

Through seven weeks, it had been a great start for first-year Columbus DeSales coach Ryan Wiggins. His Stallions, with wins over Toledo St. John’s, New Albany and Central Catholic League rivals Columbus St. Charles and Columbus Watterson, were unbeaten. Columbus Marion-Franklin, led by running back Bobby Harris, was among the top teams in the Columbus City League. The Red Devils’ lone loss as of press time was to Trotwood-Madison in the season opener. Marion-Franklin

Photo by Stephanie Porter

There are three recent Division II state champions in Region 6, including Piqua, Avon Lake and Toledo Central Catholic. The depth of this field makes this region an intriguing one. Piqua’s bid to repeat as the state championship team would be aided by hosting a first-round game, and the Indians were in position to do just that. Quarterback Justin Hemm was back from last year’s title team. Piqua’s lone loss was a 14-7 decision at Pickerington Central, the team Piqua beat for in last year’s D-II state title game. Central has moved up to Division I this year. Piqua had wins over St. Marys Memorial, Trotwood-Madison and Vandalia Butler. Challenges remained with D-I opponents Troy and Clayton Northmont. Avon Lake was unbeaten through seven weeks. The Shoremen, led by running back Mike Haddad, had wins over Dover, Olmsted Falls and North Olmsted. Toledo Central Catholic was in the hunt to also host a first-round playoff game. The Fighting Irish had losses to D-I unbeaten Hilliard Darby and Toledo St. John’s. Delaware Olentangy Liberty also had a chance to host a first-round playoff game. The Patriots, led by quarterback Ryan Cypret, had wins over Ironton and New Albany. Their lone loss was a 27-24 double overtime defeat at the hands of D-I power Gahanna-Lincoln. Sylvania Southview was unbeaten through seven weeks. The Cougars shut out their first three opponents (Toledo Bowsher, Toledo Rogers and Toledo Start) and also boasted a win over crosstown rival Sylvania Northview. Other schools to consider in Region 6 included Lexington, Ashland, Grafton Midview, Lodi Cloverleaf and North Ridgeville.

Despite losses to Steubenville and DeSales, Watterson and QB Mason Tackes are a postseason threat.

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had wins over Columbus Northland and Columbus Eastmoor Academy. Louisville, with wins over Ravenna and Beloit West Branch, was a candidate to host a first-round playoff game. That was also true for Canfield, whose only loss was to Youngstown East. As of press time, Dresden Tri-Valley was unbeaten. But the Scotties were hurt by poor performances by the teams on their schedule. Their top wins were over New Concord John Glenn and Sheridan. A Week 9 match-up with Division IV unbeaten New Lexington was on the horizon. Columbus Watterson looked like a strong possibility to make the field, despite midseason losses to unbeatens Steubenville and rival Columbus DeSales. Watterson opened the year with four straight wins over Division I opposition (Willoughby South, Pickerington North, Westerville South and Cincinnati Glen Este). Zanesville was also looking good for a playoff bid. The Blue Devils had wins over Newark and Portsmouth. Their losses were to Newark Licking Valley and Logan. Logan was also in the running. The Chieftains had not lost since a season-opening loss to Division I Lancaster. Other schools in the mix included Columbus St. Charles, New Albany and Youngstown East.

Projected regional champion: Canfield

Region 8

Through seven weeks, Cincinnati Turpin remained unbeaten. The Spartans boasted quality wins over Cincinnati Glen Este, Cincinnati Indian Hill and Kings Mills Kings. Turpin is led by quarterback Ryan Martin, wide receiver Andy Cruse and sophomore running back Wayne Dunham. Cincinnati Withrow dropped its opening game to Cincinnati Sycamore, but had not lost again as of press time. The Tigers had key wins over Cincinnati Taft and Cincinnati Hughes Center. Withrow is led by quarterback Juandez Brown and wide receiver Darrion Brown. Dayton Carroll was also in position to possibly host a first-round playoff game. The Patriots boasted wins over Beavercreek and Vandalia Butler. Their only loss as of Dayton Carroll, led by Adam Fearing press time was to unbeaten (above) and David McComas, is lookKettering Alter. Trotwood-Madison also had ing for its seventh straight playoff berth. a chance to host a first-round game. The Rams, led by Cincinnati-bound quarterback Domonick Britt, Penn State-bound running back Michael Shaw and Michiganbound tight end Brandon Moore, had losses to unbeaten Fort Thomas (Ky.) Highlands and defending D-II state champion Piqua. Trotwood had wins over Columbus Marion-Franklin and Sidney. Late-season match-ups with rivals Clayton Northmont and Vandalia Butler loomed large. Photo by Brian Swartz

were ahead with games against Mentor and Euclid. Cleveland South was hanging in for a shot at a playoff berth. South, led by dynamic junior quarterback Devontae Payne, had wins over Warrensville Heights and Cleveland Rhodes. A Week 10 showdown with Senate League rival Cleveland Glenville loomed large. Other schools to keep an eye on included Parma Padua Franciscan, Akron Firestone, Madison and East Cleveland Shaw.

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Projected regional champion: Trotwood-Madison

State championship game projection Avon Lake over Trotwood-Madison

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By Steve Helwagen

DIVISION III

teubenville is the two-time defending state champions in Division III, however the Big Red moved down to Division IV this year. That means the playoff picture is wide open in Division III. Here is a region-by-region look at the top contenders in Division III:

Region 9

At press time, Rocky River was undefeated and was in first place in Region 9. The Pirates’ best wins came against North Ridgeville (21-0) at Midview (40-15) and at Vermilion (31-20). Rocky River is led by quarterback Andy Breidigam. Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit was in second place in Region 9 at press time. The Warriors’ lone loss through the first seven weeks of the season came in a 10-7 barnburner against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. Walsh Jesuit’s big wins came over Hunting Valley University School (44-34) and at Padua Franciscan (44-27). With a big offensive line and a tough defense, the Warriors could be one of the favorites to advance deep in the postseason. The 1-2 punch of Cameron Ontko and Kyle Snyder leads Walsh Jesuit. Chagrin Falls was in third place in the computer poll at press time and the Tigers’ biggest win was their 7-6 triumph in the season opener at Peninsula Woodridge. Chagrin Falls’ lone loss at press time came at the hands of Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin (17-7). Mentor Lake Catholic is another talented team from Region 9. The Cougars suffered three early losses, but they were all against outstanding teams -- Cleveland Benedictine (21-7), Dublin Coffman (2621) and Youngstown Cardinal Mooney (40-14). Lake Catholic was No. 4 in the computer poll as of press time thanks to quality wins over the likes of Euclid (27-13), Madison (24-9) and Padua Franciscan (35-17). Junior RB/CB Randy Greenwood (6-1, 180) is

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one of the stars for Mentor Lake Catholic. In fifth place at press time was Cortland Lakeview. The Bulldogs suffered losses to Warren Howland (21-7) and Niles McKinley (17-0) in successive weeks, but rebounded to defeat four straight teams with winning records (34-27 over Champion, 28-13 over Hubbard, 3320 over Brookfield and 28-23 over Youngstown Liberty). Sitting in the No. 6 spot was Mogadore Field. The Falcons were undefeated at press time and had beaten three teams with winning records (42-6 over Waterloo, 27-0 over Manchester and 41-7 over Norton). Aurora was No. 7 in the computer poll at press time. The Greenmen fell to Massillon Perry in Week 4 (17-10) and had not beaten a team with a winning record. However, they were 12-2 last year, including the deepest playoff run in school history, so they will be ready for the postseason if they qualify. Another team to keep a close eye on in this region is Cleveland Benedictine. The Bengals were seeded just eighth at press time due to three consecutive losses to quality opponents (31-14 to Columbus Watterson, 21-13 to Lakewood St. Edward and 31-17 to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney). However, with wins over Chardon Notre Dame Cathedral Latin (28-7) and Mentor Lake Catholic (21-7), Benedictine will likely qualify for the postseason if it can finish strong. The Bengals have a strong backfield and have already erased most of the memories from their disappointing 2-8 campaign in 2006.

Projected regional champion: Cleve. Benedictine

Region 10

At press time, Shelby led the way in the Region 10 computer poll thanks to quality wins over Lexington (21-14), Ashland (42-14) and Fostoria (26-15). The Whippets’ lone loss in the first two-thirds of the season came at Tiffin Columbian (19-8). In second place in Region 10 at press time was the powerful squad from Sunbury Big Walnut. The Golden Eagles have claimed key wins over Olentangy (14-12) and Dublin Scioto (4-3). Big Walnut is led by linebacker Will Studlien (6-2, 220) who is one of the top 10 juniors in the state according to Ohio High. Tipp City Tippecanoe was in the No. 3 spot at press time. The Red Devils’ lone win over a team with a winning record through the first seven weeks came in Week 6 at Bellefontaine (21-20) in a match-up of then undefeated squads. The Red Devils were 9-2 last year and qualified for the playoffs. Sunbury Big Walnut quarterback Bellefontaine was No. 4 in Ethan Wetzel and the Eagles are Region 10 at press time. The primed for a deep playoff run. Chieftains’ key wins came over Sidney (33-7) and at Kenton Ridge (28-12). Their lone loss as of press time was the aforementioned 21-20 heartbreaker against Tipp City Tippecanoe. Last year, Bellefontaine finished 5-5. Photo by Gary Housteau

Kings Mills Kings was also strong in the running for a playoff berth, if not a chance to host a first-round games. As of press time, Kings had losses to Springboro and unbeaten Cincinnati Turpin. The Knights, led by quarterback Bruce Ernest and wide receiver Derrick Harris, had wins over Trenton Edgewood, Oxford Talawanda and Loveland. Trenton Edgewood was also in position for a playoff berth. The Cougars, led by quarterback Brandon Marcum and running back Jon Elder, opened with a loss to Kings Mills Kings. But they had not lost again as of press time, posting key wins over Cincinnati Winton Woods and Hamilton Ross. Cincinnati Anderson also was in good shape for a playoff berth. The Redskins, led by quarterback Daniel Rod and running back Elijah Storey, absorbed losses to D-I unbeaten Hilliard Darby and Cincinnati LaSalle. But they had key wins over Cincinnati Winton Woods and Loveland. Other schools in contention to make the field included Vandalia Butler, Cincinnati Taft, Cincinnati Hughes Center and Cincinnati Winton Woods.

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High School Football Other strong playoffs contenders in Region 10 include: Napoleon, Clyde, Urbana, Kenton Ridge, St. Marys Memorial and Tiffin Columbian.

Projected regional champion: Sunbury Big Walnut

Region 11

Leading the way in Region 11 at press time was Canal Fulton Northwest. The Indians had claimed key victories over Orrville (2114), Akron Firestone (42-21), Chardon (55-16), Louisville (34-33) and Canton South (24-7) – teams that all had winning records at press time. Northwest is led by senior quarterback Jimmy Shiplett (6-3, 200). Ranked No. 2 in the computer poll at press time was Newark Licking Valley. The Panthers suffered one loss (at North Canton Hoover 4540) but have dominated their other games. Their closest win as of press time was a 27-7 victory over Zanesville. Licking Valley features one of the state’s top players in junior RB/LB Storm Klein (6-3, 220). In third place as of press time was Beloit West Branch. The Warriors lost to Louisville 23-13 in Week 5, but have claimed quality victories over Photo by Gary Housteau Ravenna Southeast (48-0) and Canton South (14-11). West Branch finished 6-4 last Newark Licking Valley and Ohio State commit Storm Klein looking for school’s year but a postseason berth 11th postseason appearance. seems likely this season. In fourth place in Region 11 at press time was Canton South. The Wildcats had to replace the Torrence brothers this season (Devon graduated and is at Ohio State; DeVoe transferred to Massillon Washington) but have still been impressive this year. Their biggest wins came against Dover (28-21) and Alliance Marlington (14-9). Their losses as of press time came against Canfield (27-7), Canal Fulton Northwest (24-7) and Beloit West Branch (14-11). Sitting in the No. 5 spot at press time in Region 11 was Alliance Marlington. The Dukes have quality wins over St. Thomas Aquinas (18-14), Crestview (28-14) and Alliance (21-6). However, they fell to Canton South in Week 7, 14-9. Other playoff contenders to keep an eye on in Region 11 include: Poland Seminary, Granville, Dover, Uhrichsville Claymont, New Philadelphia and New Concord John Glenn.

Projected regional champion: Newark Licking Valley

Region 12

Sitting atop the computer rankings as of press time was Canal Winchester. The Indians had two wins over teams with winning records (25-24 at Teays Valley and 27-17 over Circleville). Their lone loss as of press time came in Week 6 against Fairfield Union, 14-12. It was Fairfield Union’s first win of the season. Running back Tony Davis leads the Indians. Circleville was ranked No. 2 as of press time in Region 11. The

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Tigers have quality wins over Miami Trace (34-27), Washington C.H. (34-27) and Hamilton Township (10-7). Their losses came against Williamsport Westfall (31-7) and Canal Winchester (27-17). Running back Cody Griffin leads Circleville. In the No. 3 spot at press time was Thornville Sheridan. The Generals have two big wins over teams with winning records (35-0 over Portsmouth West and 35-0 over New Concord John Glenn) and their lone loss as of press time came at the hands of Division II Dresden Tri-Valley. Ranked No. 4 at press time in Region 12 was Goshen. The Warriors claimed key victories over New Richmond (36-15), Mt. Orab Western Brown in the first half of the season, but fell to Little Miami (21-7). Rounding out the playoff contenders in Region 12 are: Franklin, Washington C.H., Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, Columbus Eastmoor, Cincinnati Indian Hill, Cincinnati McNicholas and Lemon-Monroe.

Projected regional champion: Thornville Sheridan

State Championship Game Projection Sunbury Big Walnut over Newark Licking Valley

Y

DIVISION IV

By Dave Biddle

oungstown Cardinal Mooney won its second state championship in three years last season with a 14-0 record. And this year, the Cardinals are once again one of the favorites to bring home the state’s top prize. However, two-time defending Division III state champion Steubenville moved down to Division IV this year and the Big Red are one of many teams that will be looking to knock Mooney off its perch. In fact, those two schools could be possible opponents in Region 13 action. Here is a region-by-region breakdown of the top playoff contenders in Division IV:

Region 13

Youngstown Cardinal Mooney led the pack in the Region 13 playoff rankings by press time. The Cardinals’ key wins in the first seven weeks of the season came against Mentor 21-10, Gateway (Pa.) 276, Mentor Lake Catholic 40-14 and Cleveland Benedictine 31-17. Led by star players such as DT John Simon (6-3, 250, Jr.), FB/LB Michael Zordich (6-3, 230, Sr.) and QB/S Dan McCarthy (6-1, 195, Sr.) Mooney might be as talented as any team in the state, regardless of division. Also enjoying an excellent season is Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary which ranked No. 2 in Region 13 at press time. The Irish claimed key wins over previously unbeaten teams such as Napoleon (21-15) and Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit (10-7). The Irish finished 4-6 last year, but have been able to turn things around this year. Running back Carnell Evans and quarterback Roger Wilson lead SVSM. The Perry Pirates were ranked No. 3 in Region 13 by press time. Their quality wins came over Painesville Riverside (41-14) and Aurora (17-10) and they had not lost a game by press time. Sitting at the No. 4 spot in the computer polls at press time was Canton Central Catholic. The Crusaders claimed big wins over New Philadelphia (25-0), Massillon Perry (35-8), Dover (35-14) and

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Projected regional champion: Cardinal Mooney

Region 14

Genoa stood atop the computer rankings in Region 14 as of press time. The Comets lost their season opener at Oak Harbor (14-7), but rebounded to win their next six games. Key wins during that stretch included: Bloomdale Elmwood (33-7), Kansas Lakota (14-7), and Pemberville Eastwood (21-14). Ranked No. 2 in Region 14 at press time was Pemberville Eastwood. The Eagles claimed quality wins over Clyde (28-24) and Oak Harbor (21-0), but fell at Genoa in Week 6 (21-14). Elyria Catholic was ranked No. 3 at press time. The Panthers had two wins over teams with a winning record on their resume, including Norwalk St. Paul (22-14) and Warren JFK (30-7). Ranked No. 4 at press time was Huron. The Tigers lost to Milan Edison (21-7) and Clyde (41-21) but claimed victories over Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic (38-21), Vermilion (30-14), Norwalk (21-14) and Cleveland South (44-6). Sitting at the No. 5 spot at press time in Region 14 was Marion Pleasant. The Spartans’ biggest win was over Sparta Highland in Week 6, 7-4. Their lone loss as of press time came at the hands of St. Henry, 17-14. Pleasant was one of the favorites in this region entering the season following a 10-2 campaign in Division V last year. Oak Harbor was ranked No. 6 as of press time. The Rockets’ biggest win came over Genoa in the season opener, 14-7. Their lone loss as of press time came at Pemberville Eastwood (21-0). Oak Harbor was 13-1 last year, including a run to the state semifinals. Two-way lineman Wade Ishmael (6-0, 245, Sr.) was a first-team AllOhio selection last year and he leads an excellent group of interior linemen. Other teams to keep an eye on in the playoff race in Region 14 include: Fostoria, Bucyrus, LaGrange Keystone, Wellington, Sparta Highland and Ottawa-Glandorf.

Projected regional champion: Pemberville Eastwood

Region 15

Pataskala Licking Heights led the pack in Region 15 as of press time. The Hornets had key wins over Johnstown Monroe (16-6), Fisher Catholic (42-21) and Liberty Union (35-21). In second place as of press time was Waverly. The Tigers’ quality wins came over South Point (38-21), Pickerington North (21-16), Minford (33-2) and Portsmouth West (33-7). St. Clairsville was ranked No. 3 in this region as of press time. The Red Devils had three wins over teams with winning records on their resume. They beat Belmont Union Local 27-20 in double-overtime, Wheelersburg 21-7 and Steubenville Catholic Central 35-24. Sitting at the No. 4 spot as of press time was Williamsport Westfall. The Mustangs have quality wins over Teays Valley (21-10), Circleville

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Williamsport Westfall junior quarterback D.J. Cain has the Mustangs on the verge of a fifth straight playoff berth.

(31-7) and Frankfort Adena (35-0). Westfall finished 11-1 last year, including a trip to the regional finals. Portsmouth was ranked fifth as of press time. The Trojans have quality wins over Wheelersburg (27-20) and Zanesville (56-14). Ranked No. 6 was Belmont Union Local. The Jets lost at St. Clairsville 27-20 in doubleovertime. However, they have key wins over Shenandoah (21-19) and Martins Ferry (397). New Lexington was sitting in the No. 7 position at press time, but had an undefeated mark. The Panthers’ biggest win of the first seven weeks came over McConnelsville Morgan (20-14). New Lexington is led by OL/LB Josh Conrad (6-1, 245, Sr.). The Panthers finished 12-1

last year. Other playoff contenders in Region 15 include: Rock Hill, Ironton, Martins Ferry and Piketon.

Projected regional champion: New Lexington

Region 16

Kettering Alter was the state runner-up in Division III last year and this season the Knights were ranked No. 1 in the D-IV, Region 16 playoff standings as of press time. Alter’s best win was a 38-14 thumping of previously undefeated Dayton Carroll in Week 6. Senior running back Corey Roark (5-10, 190) is the workhorse for a very potent ground attack. The powerful offensive line is led by Evan Johnson (6-2, 250, Sr.) and Bobby Joseph (6-4, 220, Sr.). West Milton Milton-Union was ranked No. 2 at press time. The Bulldogs had quality victories over Casstown Miami East (41-0), Sidney Lehman (35-7) and Franklin (28-14). However, they were downed in Week 7 at Brookville, 42-36. Plain City Jonathan Alder was the state runner-up in Division IV last year and gave Youngstown Cardinal Mooney a good game in the title match-up (led much of Corey Roark and Kettering Alter are the first half but eventually looking to make back-to-back state fell 26-12). This year, the finals in different diviisions. Pioneers were ranked No. 3

Photo by Nick Falzerano

Bedford St. Peter Chanel (19-0). The Crusaders are led by QB Joey Rhoads (5-10, 175, Sr.). Ranked No. 5 at press time was Zoarville Tuscarawas Valley. The Trojans’ lone loss at press time came at Waynedale in the season opener (27-19). Their best win came over Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (36-35). Steubenville was ranked just sixth at press time, but the Big Red was undefeated and poised for another deep playoff run. They had a huge Week 6 win over Columbus Watterson (23-14), which marked their only victory over a team with a winning record as of press time. That is one of the reasons they hadn’t compiled a lot of computer points. The Big Red are led by quarterback Dwight Macon and running back Branko Busick.

Photo by Gary Wright/garysimages.com

High School Football

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High School Football

Projected regional champion: Kettering Alter

State Championship Game Projection Cardinal Mooney over Kettering Alter

D

DIVISION V

By Dave Biddle

ivision V has the unusual occurrence of two state champions playing in the same playoff region. Last year’s Division VI winner Maria Stein Marion Local is cruising in a bigger division, 7-0 at press time with a slim lead in computer rankings for the number one seed over West Jefferson and Cincinnati Deer Park. Meanwhile, defending DV state champion and perennial contender St. Henry was struggling at 34, on the outside of the playoff picture ranked 14 in the region. Another move has made Region 17 more competitive with Bedford St. Peter Chanel sliding over from Region 18. However, improving teams in Kirtland and Cuyahoga Heights have pushed Chanel to the 8th spot. Division IV transplant Youngstown Ursuline is 6-1, holding a small lead over undefeated North Lima South Range, another power in the northeast. In Northwest Ohio, Findlay Liberty-Benton and Patrick Henry are having continued success in Region 18. Both teams were 7-0, but trailed last years’ two seed Sherwood Fairview by over half one point for the top seed. In Region 19, teams that have played tough schedules were being rewarded as Columbus Bishop Ready had a comfortable hold on the top spot at 6-1. Wheelersburg held the third seed at 4-3, followed by Minford and Fredericktown at 5-2. Here is a look at the top teams in Division V by region:

Region 17

Youngstown Ursuline is making sure the city has a stranglehold on Divisions IV and V. The Fighting Irish took advantage of the move down from being in the same region as Cardinal Mooney and looked great at 61. A loss to Massillon Washington after a soft early schedule put the pressure on Ursuline, but they responded with quality wins over Chardon and St. Charles. But games against undefeated Mooney and St. Vincent St. Mary loom at the end of the season. South Range had dominated almost every team in their first seven games, winning by a combined score of 307-65. An opening week 26-21 triumph over Mogadore is the most impressive of their victories to date. Mineral Ridge, who was 7th in the region, faced off with South Range in a key game for both teams Week 9.

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Apple Creek Waynedale was third at 6-1 after posting three shutouts with a lone loss to Danville. Undefeated Vienna Mathews also recorded three shutouts, but trailed Waynedale. A favorable schedule had Mathews in good position to host a playoff game as a four seed or higher, though Pymatuning Valley poses a difficult challenge in Week 10. Kirtland looked to improve on last years' playoff appearance and looked to be a force after beating Cuyahoga Heights 246. But back-to-back losses, specifically a double overtime defeat to Independence could come back to haunt Kirtland. They did not get much help in computer points from their last three opponents. Cuyahoga Heights had the more dominating season, but still trailed Kirtland for fifth place, meaning both teams could be talking about their Week 4 clash through November. Mineral Ridge can likely hang Youngstown Ursuline junior Darrell on to a playoff spot by winning Mason will play a large part in the two out of their last three, or Irish’s postseason success. beating South Range could bump them up a few spots. St. Peter Chanel, Gilmour Academy and Northwestern were battling for the final spot. Richmond Heights could jump into the mix with a strong finish and win over Cuyahoga Heights.

Photo by Gary Housteau

in this region as of press time. Their key wins came over LemonMonroe (36-26) and Columbus Ready (27-20). However, they were dealt a surprising 27-15 defeat at Indian Lake in Week 2. Alder is led by three-year starting quarterback Austin Schlosser (6-1, 190, Sr.) and running back Luke Bates (5-9, 190, Sr.). Sitting in the No. 4 spot as of press time was Clarksville ClintonMassie. The Falcons have key wins over Blanchester (10-7), Waynesville (30-13) and Miami Trace (32-12). Clinton-Massie is a perennial playoff team and it finished 10-2 last year. Dayton Oakwood was standing tall in the No. 5 spot at press time. The Lumberjacks suffered a Week 7 loss at Waynesville (31-28). However, they also defeated Brookville 24-21. Oakwood finished 6-5 last year including its latest playoff birth. Other playoff contenders in Region 16 include: Cincinnati Wyoming, Brookville, Coldwater, Cincinnati North College Hill, Cincinnati Finneytown and Blanchester.

Projected regional champion: Y’town Ursuline

Region 18

This is a powerful region where the top four teams were undefeated at 7-0 and the next three were 6-1. Sherwood Fairview had not scored less than 32 points in a game and won by a single digit margin only once. Tests against Ayersville and Tinora remain for a defense that in some cases has forced their offense to score plenty of points. Liberty-Benton continues their solid play with quality wins over Arlington and McComb. The only opportunity to pick up points on Fairview is a contest against Hardin Northern. Patrick Henry had embarrassed most of their opponents, but the toughest part of their schedule remained. Patrick Henry recorded an impressive win at Liberty Center Week 4. Wynford is undefeated, have routed opponents in most of their games, and yet was barely clinging to the fourth seed to guarantee home field advantage. The Royals were hoping to hold off Archbold. A win over Riverdale could clinch home filed for Wynford. A home team drawing Archbold in round one will have their hands full. The Blue Streaks lone loss was by 6 to Fairview. Liberty Center will battle Archbold in a game that will likely decide final seedings in the last regular season game. Lima Central Catholic was in good shape to clinch a playoff spot. Their lone loss was to Bishop Ready, which does not hurt them. Another huge Week 10 match-up in this region will feature Central Catholic and Ada. Delphos Jefferson was holding on to the 8 seed but also faced Ada in Week 9. The Wildcats were certainly rooting for Fairview in their game against Tinora, which is just behind Jefferson for the final spot.

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High School Football

Region 19

Bishop Ready and Buckeye Trail seemed to be a cut above in this region. Both teams appeared to be locks to host playoff games and maybe finish 1-2 in Central Ohio. Ready was not tested in shutting out four of their first five opponents, but Jonathan Alder handed the Silver Knights their lone blemish. Ready rebounded with a big win over Lima Central Catholic. Buckeye Trail was 7-0 and not been tested since a September victory over Tuslaw. Buckeye Trail could overtake Ready with a win over Hannibal River, though River is a D-VI school. Wheelersburg had three losses, yet was positioned to host a playoff game because of wins over Ironton and Minford. Losses to Division IV schools Portsmouth and St. Clairesville had not knocked the Pirates into the bottom half of the region. Wheelersburg must finish strong against Waverly and Portsmouth West to clinch a home game. Minford figures to stay behind Wheelersburg because of the head-tohead loss, but the Falcons have winnable games to end the season. Fredericktown was holding steady in 6th place at 5-2, their biggest win a 7-0 shutout of Danville. Their playoff appearance seemed almost assured. Ridgewood’s heart stopping 10-9 win over Malvern to move them to 6-1 might have stamped their ticket to the playoffs. The last two seeds were very close with several teams looking to land in the final eight. Shenandoah and Johnstown-Monroe had the advantage in mid-October. The Zeps also faced River but ended with two games where they appeared to have the advantage. Johnstown-Monroe had a tougher path with Danville, Utica and Northridge. Portsmouth West, Belpre and Liberty Union could all knock the Johnnies out of the playoffs with a strong finish from every team. At press time, the finals spots were far from decided.

Projected regional champion: Bishop Ready

Region 20

Maria Stein Marion Local has not been touched this season. The Flyers followed up an impressive 35-14 win over Coldwater with a 31-0 thrashing of the proud St. Henry program. Marion Local has not played the best teams this season, but no one can accuse them of playing down to their competition. The 2006 DivisionVI state champions have all but locked up home field advantage, but face tough competition from West Jefferson and Cincinnati Deer Park for the top spot. The undefeated Rough Riders scored a big win over Liberty Union, but their toughest tests come in the final two games against Harvest Prep and Licking Heights. Deer Park’s lone loss came at 6-1 Wyoming, a Division IV opponent. A victory over Division III Indian Hill would secure home field for the Wildcats. Those three teams appear to be a cut above the rest of the region, but an interesting battle could develop for the final home game between Anna, Waynesville, and Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy. Anna was 6-1 with a lone loss to Coldwater, but must play Rockford Parkway, currently 9th in the region, and Marion Local. A win over either team would greatly improve the chances of hosting a playoff game for the Rockets. Waynesville has almost exclusively faced Division III and IV opponents. A quality win over Oakwood nearly assures this team of playing in the postseason, but it is difficult to tell how the points and losses will add up for the Spartans. Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy is a bit of an enigma because of their schedule and bad loss to Mariemount. The final three games against North College Hill, Summit Country Day and Cincinnati Country Day will reveal a lot. If the Eagles struggle, they might end up out altogether. Twin Valley South was hurt by its blowout loss to Miami East and the two could switch positions by the end of the season. The Panthers can hold on to a playoff spot by beating seemingly weaker opponents in the

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final three weeks. The Vikings could be playing for everything when they arrive at Arcanum. Parkway and Cardington Lincoln have great chances to move up into the final spots if they can win the remaining games on their schedule.

Projected regional champion: Marion Local

State Championship Game Projection Youngstown Ursuline over Marion Local

A

DIVISION VI

By Glenn Forbes

new Division VI football champion will be crowned in Ohio in 2007. Maria Stein Marion Local shut out Shadyside 17-0 in the title game in 2006, but the Flyers have made the move up and are thriving in Division V. With Marion Local out of the picture in Region 24, Springfield Catholic Central, Covington, Lehman Catholic and Mechanicsburg are all in position to make the playoffs again. Here is a look at the top teams by region in Division VI:

Region 21

The boys from Hopewell-Loudon have dominated all opponents and had a hefty lead over Columbiana for the top spot. Despite playing quality Division V teams like Elmwood and Lakota, both on the road, Hopewell-Loudon was unbeaten. Seneca East and Elmwood have been the only teams to get within two touchdowns of the Chieftains. One difficult game remained against Division V Mohawk, but Hopewell-Loudon appeared to be a lock for the top seed in Region 21. Columbiana and Mogadore were in a tight battle for the two spot, though a date with undefeated South Range loomed for the Clippers. Mogadore met South Range in Week 1 and suffered their only loss, 2621 at home. Norwalk St. Paul, over from the northwest region, had a tremendous start to the 2007 season. The Flyers were 6-1, their only loss at the hands of undefeated Division IV power Elyria Catholic. The 22-14 setback was a precursor to three blowout wins in the next four games, though St. Paul’s schedule was somewhat weak in the middle. Warren JFK sat in the sixth spot after coming from Division V. A tough schedule can hurt and help the Eagles. JFK spent little time playing D-VI opponents so their 5-2 record was a bit deceptive. JFK was tested twice in the final three weeks against Tuscarawas Valley and against Division III University School. The sixth place and 10th place team in the region were separated by less than a point. Dalton and McDonald were in good position to make the playoffs with strong finishes, but the race for the final spot was too close to call between Monroeville and Leetonia. The Eagles started 0-3 and have been clawing their way back since. The final game at St. Paul could be for a playoff berth. Leetonia had a chance to pick up points if they could beat McDonald. St. Mary Central Catholic could vault into the playoffs, starting with a win over Division III Clyde.

Projected regional champion: Hopewell-Loudon

Region 22

McComb had a healthy lead over Ada for the top spot in a region without an undefeated team. The Panthers stumbled just once against a powerful Liberty-Benton team and had winnable games the final three weeks. Hosting a playoff game was a near certainty for McComb.

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High School Football

Projected regional champion: McComb

Region 23

Newark Catholic and Hannibal River were in a tight race for the top spot, while Shadyside had a solid grip on the third seed. Newark Catholic beat two Division III teams at press time, but it’s hard to figure out which quality opponent they’ve beaten. Licking Valley was certainly the Green Wave’s toughest test in Week 9. River has recorded three shutouts on their way to a 7-0 record, beating a steady diet of lower division teams with West Virginia schools sprinkled in. The Pilots have embarrassed the three teams they played in the region, defeating St. John Central, Caldwell and Bridgeport 106-6. A win over Shenandoah or Buckeye Trail would lock up a home game. Shadyside appeared poised to make another run to the state title game with just one loss to Wheeling (W.Va.) Central Catholic. The Tigers narrowly escaped what would have been a big loss to Barnesville and a win over Bridgeport could land Shadyside in the top four. Malvern and Danville were engaged in an intense battle to host the final playoff game. Both teams were 5-2 and in a virtual tie for the fourth seed. Malvern started by winning five in a row but dropped their last two before an easier stretch run. The wins over weaker teams will help, but will not give the Hornets any extra points to widen their margin. Danville’s quality win over Waynedale offset losses to Division II Cleveland South and Fredericktown. A Blue Devil victory over Johnstown-Monroe could have given Danville the inside track to the fourth seed. Beallsville was undefeated, yet stuck with the sixth seed because of a weak schedule. Beallsville has not scored less than 41 points in a game and have not given up more than 12. Those distinctions could change against Bridgeport, but as long as the Blue Devils prevented a loss to a lesser opponent, they should be in the postseason. Two Catholic schools, Waterford and Bridgeport were all in contention for the final two spots. Lancaster Fisher Catholic won their first four before dropping three in a row. Wins over Harvest Prep and Liberty Union would get the Irish into the playoffs. The most impressive thing about Steubenville Catholic Central might be their two losses. The Crusaders were beaten by two undefeated teams, Wheeling Central Catholic and St. Clairsville. A loss to any of their final three opponents would have knocked out the Crusaders.

Projected regional champion: Hannibal River

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Region 24

The south region had the best race for the number one seed. Springfield Catholic Central, Sciotoville Community School and Covington were all separated by less than half of one point. The Catholic Central Irish were 7-0, but with only one quality win, 27-13 at West Liberty-Salem. A potential stumbling block against Northeastern was the only thing between the Irish and a perfect regular season. Sciotoville Community also looked to be a potential undefeated, but with their best two wins against West Virginia schools it was tough to get a read on their playoff prospects. The Tartans biggest scare came from a winless Unioto team that marched into Portsmouth and nearly stole one from Sciotoville Community. The Tartans seem to have played with more urgency since that near embarrassment. The Covington Bucs have looked solid most of the season, but they played their best ball in back-to-back-wins over quality Division V teams Miami East and Twin Valley South. Covington had a great chance to run the table, and the victories over the D-V teams could catapult Covington into the number one seed. All three top seeds appeared to be good bets to host a playoff game. Lockland could have almost assured themselves of a home playoff game with a win over Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, but the Panthers fell in a 25-24 heartbreaker on the road. Cincinnati Country Day and North College Hill gave Lockland one of the toughest finishing schedules in the Sidney Lehman Catholic senior RB region. A 2-1 finish should Dan Jacob and the Cavaliers are lookhave locked up home field advantage for the Panthers. ing for second straight playoff berth. Lehman Catholic has righted the ship after a stunning 0-2 start with both losses coming at home. The Cavaliers win over Division III Indian Lake turned around their season. Lehman has scored 56 points or more in three of their last four games at press time. A huge game against undefeated Patrick Henry served as a great barometer for the Cavaliers postseason chances. Mechanicsburg and Waynesfield-Goshen were too close to call for the sixth and seventh seeds. Mechanicsburgs’ 34-7 loss to Catholic Central gave the Indians an indication of how far away they were from the top echelon of the region. A 41-37 loss to West Jefferson in the first game of 2007 might haunt Mechanicsburg after the season, though a victory over West Liberty-Salem would give the Indians confidence heading into the postseason. Waynesfield-Goshens’ 6-1 record and margins of victory are overrated because of their poor schedule. Harvest Prep and Portsmouth Notre Dame had the best chances to earn the final spot.

Photo by Eric Frantz

Ada was hurt by key losses to Hardin Northern Week 1 and Crestview Week 6. The Bulldogs, by contrast, had a difficult final stretch where they faced Jefferson and Lima Central Catholic, both away, the final two games of the season. Ada must win two of their final three if they want to be home for the first playoff game. Toledo Christian opened some eyes when they beat Division II Toledo Libbey in the season opener. The Eagles have done what they needed to do and convincingly beat weaker opponents. Toledo Christian followed their lone loss to Hilltop by beating their next two opponents by a combined score of 68-7. A battle against Northwood was the toughest game down the stretch for the Eagles. A vastly improved Arlington team was trying to hold off Ayersville and Hilltop for the fourth seed and a home playoff game. Arlington made it through a tough schedule at 5-2, with losses to Liberty-Benton and McComb. The final game against Dola Hardin Northern could be the difference between home field advantage and a road game for Arlington. Defiance Ayersville and Hilltop were also 5-2 and right behind the Red Devils. Ayersville blows out the teams they should but lost close games to quality opponents. Undefeated Fairview could have joined Archbold and Tinora as teams that defeated the Pilots. Hilltop has been inconsistent. They were drilled by Antwerp but won a thriller over Toledo Christian 21-17.

Projected regional champion: Springfield Catholic

State Championship Game Projection Hopewell-Loudon over Springfield Catholic By Glenn Forbes

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M r. F o o t b a l l C a n d i d a t e s

McCarthy, Tanski in the mix for Ohio High Player of the Year award and Mr. Football honors

ith the 2007 football season in full swing, the race for Ohio’s Mr. Football award is as tight as some of the state championship races to Stark County. For the fifth straight year, The Ohio News Network, Ohio High magazine and Huntington Bank will present its own player of the year award in football. Cleveland Glenville's Ted Ginn, Jr. claimed the inaugural award in 2003, Akron Hoban's Tyrell Sutton in 2004 and Coldwater’s Ross Homan in 2005. Piqua RB Brandon Saine ran away with the Mr. Football award and the ONN-Ohio High magazine award last year both figuratively and literally after leading the Indians to their first state championship in Division II. Saine had 226 yards and three TDs in Piqua’s 26-7 state title game win over Pickerington Central. Including that championship game, Saine had 2,242 yards and 35 TDs (31 rushing) on the season. Also a state champion on the track, Saine is now suiting up at Ohio State toting the ball for the Buckeyes. This season, the choice may not be as cutand-dry for the coveted awards as several gridders – particularly quarterbacks – are putting up player of the year worthy numbers, including a number of underclassmen. Let’s take a look at the top players in the state vying for Ohio high school football immortality. Youngstown Cardinal Mooney QB Danny McCarthy could be considered the early favorite to take home both Mr. Football and ONN-Ohio High magazine player of the year

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honors. McCarthy led the Cardinals to their second state title in three years last season and was a first team All-Ohio selection with 1,704 yards rushing on 223 carries and 19 TDs. He was also 38-of-70 passing for 761 yards with seven TDs. The Notre Dame recruit hasn’t skipped a beat this season picking apart defenses both through the air and on the ground. As Mooney approached the homestretch of the regular season, McCarthy had collected nearly 800 yards rushing on 92 carries with 10 TDs and 281 yards on 11-of-18 passing with four TDs and two INTs. More importantly, McCarthy led Division IV Mooney to huge victories over 2006 Division I state runner-up Mentor and national powerhouse Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway early in the season in addition to the traditional Ohio powers on Mooney’s brutal schedule. Mooney has even broken though on the national scene ranked amongst the country’s top ten teams in several national polls. Another signal-caller making a case for player of the year recognition is Mentor QB Bart Tanski. After leading the Cardinals to a state runner-up finish last year in which Mentor lost a 1-point, double-overtime heart breaker to Hilliard Davidson, Tanksi has paced the Cardinals in an effort to lead the his team back to Stark County. Through seven games, Tanski was 115-of-235 passing for 1,725 yards with 15 TDs and three INTs. He also had 230 yards rushing and three scores on the ground. With key regular season wins over Strongsville, Solon, St. Ignatius and Massillon, Tanski is aiming for a state title

and is putting up some impressive numbers along the way. Central Michigan QB recruit Ryan Radcliff has put up astronomical numbers for Division V Sherwood Fairview both this season and for his career etching his name in the OHSAA record books. As of print time, Radcliff had completed 215-of-332 pass attempts for 3,083 yards and 42 TDs with only three INTs. In Week 7 alone, Radcliff completed 34-of-50 passes for 650 yards and seven TDs in a 6635 win over Wayne Trace. He also ran for 51 yards and two TDs in the game. As a junior, Radcliff tied the record for passing TDs in a game tossing nine scoring strikes against Defiance Ayersville. With three games left in the regular season, he was threatening his career high 57 TD passes in a season (T-3rd all-time) and looking to eclipse second place on the all-time list for both TD passes in a season (60) and in a career (126). From Southwest Ohio, Trotwood-Madison QB and Cincinnati recruit Domonick Britt has shown well leading the Rams spread offense. Heading into the final three weeks of the regular season, Britt led the Greater Western Ohio Conference in passing completing 92-of160 attempts for 1,543 yards and 14 TDs with six INTs. He also had 182 yards rushing and a score on the ground. Dublin Coffman was a mainstay in the Division I ONN-Ohio High Power Poll through the regular season thanks to a talented cast of blue-chip players, including QB Zack Stoudt. Son of former NFL QB Cliff Stoudt, Zack showed he is a chip-off-the-block tossing 1,880 yards on 116-of-175 passing with 19 TDs through Coffman’s 7-0 start. From Central Ohio, Eastmoor Academy RB Isaiah Pead is looking to become the first Mr. Football recipient from the Columbus area since Upper Arlington RB Jeff Backes was selected in 2000. With three games remaining on the regular season schedule, Pead had over 1,300 yards rushing and 29 TDs as the speedy senior attempted to lead the Warriors to their second straight playoff appearance in Division III after falling in the first round of the postseason last year in Division IV. As a junior, Pead had 1,696 yards on 158 carries and 24 TDs. He is considering scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Marshall. In Week 6, Start QB Brad Leetsma became the all-time leading passer in the Toledo City League eclipsing the 40 TD mark for his career. Leetsma holds 19 school records including more than 6,000 yards passing tallying 1,335 yards and 11 TDs on 100-of-176 passing through Week 7.

JJ Hu ddle’ s O h io Hi gh


STORY BY MATT NATALI

M r. F o o t b a l l C a n d i d a t e s

Top Flight

Photo by Anthony Brown

Photo by Stephanie Porter

Candidates for the OH/ONN Player of the Year award are (clockwise from top) Mentor’s Bart Tanski, Mooney’s Danny McCarthy and Eastmoor Academy’s Isiah Pead.

JJ H u d d l e ’ s O h i o H i g h

Photo by Gary Housteau

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M r. F o o t b a l l C a n d i d a t e s Cincinnati LaSalle RB Kendall Owens led the Greater Catholic League – arguably the toughest conference in the state – in rushing as the regular reached its end with 991 yards on 120 carries and 15 TDs. While the Mr. Football award may be a long shot for Owens, his season is worth mentioning competing against such a tough schedule. Another player from the GCL who could very well be the most valuable player on one of the nation’s top teams is Danny Milligan of Cincinnati St. Xavier. The senior all-purpose player had 24 catches for 382 yards and six TDs through seven games, 62 yards rushing on 10 carries and one TD, was 24-for-25 on point after attempts, 6-of-8 on field goal attempts (long 42), averaged 39.8 yards per punt (long 58) and had 37 kickoffs for 2,202 yards (57.9 avg.) with 29 touchbacks. A couple of small-school backs that are probably not in the running for Mr. Football competing in Division VI but are putting together nice seasons for teams with state title aspirations include Newark Catholic’s Mark Nichols and Springfield Central Catholic’s Brian Wagner. Through Week 7, Nichols collected 1,391 yards on 168 carries with 23 TDs while Wagner tallied 1,304 yards on 144 carries and 19 TDs. For his career, Wagner has over 5,500 yard and over 80 TDs. Only one player has earned Mr. Football honors before his senior season (Robert Smith, Euclid; 1988), so it is rare an underclassman receives such accolades. However, there are a few players in Ohio this season putting up player of the year type numbers that will probably have to wait until their senior seasons for that recognition. Newark Licking Valley junior RB/LB Storm Klein, an Ohio State commit, is arguably one of the top prospects in the class of 2009 after rushing for over 1,000 yards both his freshman and sophomore seasons. He is on pace for his third 1,000-yard season this year collecting nearly 700 yards and 15 TDs as the regular season hit the home stretch. QB Spencer Ware has breathed new life into the Cincinnati Princeton program and could very well be the top sophomore player in the state. After going a combined 8-22 the last three seasons, Ware has Princeton poised for the first Vikings playoffs appearance since 2001. Through the first seven games of the season, Ware led the Greater Miami Conference in passing completing 85of-134 attempts for 1,399 yards with 12 TDs and only three INTs. On the ground, Ware had 668 yards rushing on 117 carries and 13 TDs. In a brutal Region 4, Ware and the Vikings could make some noise in the playoffs this season. Other players in contention for postseason

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Past ONN/Ohio High/Huntington Player Of The Year Award Winners 2003: 2004: 2005: 2006:

Ted Ginn Jr., Cleveland Glenville Tyrell Sutton, Akron Hoban Ross Homan, Coldwater Brandon Saine, Piqua

Past Mr. Football Winners

1987: Ronald “Buster” Howe, Zanesville 1988-89: Robert Smith, Euclid 1990: Bobby Hoying, St. Henry 1991: Derrick Kidwell, Fostoria 1992: Marc Edwards, Norwood 1993: Curtis Enis, Mississinawa Valley 1994: Charles Woodson, Fremont Ross 1995: Andy Katzenmoyer, Westerville South 1996: Derek Combs, Grove City 1997: Tony Fisher, Euclid 1998: Ryan Brewer, Troy 1999: Brandon “Bam” Childress, Bedford Chanel 2000: Jeff Backes, Upper Arlington 2001: Maurice Clarett, Warren G. Harding 2002: Ben Mauk, Kenton 2003: Ray Williams, Cleveland Benedictine 2004: Tyrell Sutton, Akron Hoban 2005: Delone Carter, Copley 2006: Brandon Saine, Piqua

awards and accolades include Akron Buchtel CB/WR Johnny Adams, Dublin Coffman OL Mike Adams, Toledo Whitmer RB Anthony Allen, Cincinnati St. Xavier RB Darius Ashley, Mooney RB/LB Brandon Beachum, Kettering Alter QB Austin Boucher, Westerville Central K Ben Buchanan, West Chester Lakota West WR Bakari Bussey, Youngstown Ursuline OL Harold Coates, Cincinnati Turpin WR Andy Cruse, Madison TE Nic DiLillo, Hilliard Darby QB Jeremy Ebert, Coffman ATH Trey Fairchild, Centerville QB David Fleming, Mooney DE/LB Taylor Hill, Strongsville QB Tim Kamczyc, Whitmer TE/DE Kevin Koger, Trotwood-Madison TE Brandon Moore,

Cincinnati LaSalle WR DeVier Posey, Colerain QB Doug Reynolds, Cleveland Glenville DL Shawntel Rowell, Cincinnati Elder TE Kyle Rudolph, Clayton Northmont OL Zebrie Sanders, Massillon Washington K Steve Schott, New Middletown Springfield QB Nate Schuler, Cleveland Glenville ATH Cordale Scott, Trotwood-Madison RB Michael Shaw, Colerain RB Dominique Sherrer, Columbus DeSales WR Kenny Stafford, Coffman WR Jake Stoneburner, Strongsville RB Eric Stoyanoff, Turpin OL Aaron Van Kuiken, Waverly QB Trevor Walls, WCH Miami Trace LB/DE Nathan Williams, and Mooney LB Michael Zordich. — OH

JJ Hu ddle’ s O h io Hi gh


STORY BY MATT NATALI

Photo by John Ritter

JJ H u d d l e ’ s O h i o H i g h

DeVier Posey

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D

DeVier Posey eVier Posey never imagined he would be where he is today. The 6-3, 190 pound Cincinnati LaSalle All-Ohio wide receiver and Ohio State recruit is one of the state’s top senior prospects and is rated as the No. 22 receiver in the country by ESPN’s Scouts, Inc. But the accolades, recognition and honors were a distant dream for Posey and his family long before he stepped onto the football field. Posey’s journey began in San Francisco, Calif., where he was born the youngest of four siblings and faced health complications as a small child. In 1992, his mother Julie Posey packed up the family and moved to Ohio.

“We had some major problems with my mom and dad,” Posey described candidly. “There was a big drug scene in San Francisco and my mom didn’t want us to be around that stuff. She decided to move us back to Cincinnati with our family and I think she made the right choice. “It was hard for my mom because she had four kids and she was single. Moving to Cincinnati, we didn’t really have anything and we lived with my grandma.” Posey’s health improved by age 3 and sports became an influence at a very young age. His uncle Clint Haslerig played football at Michigan and spent nine years in the NFL and his uncle Bill Haslerig played baseball for the Wolverines then professionally in the Atlanta Braves organization. “When we first got here, my uncle Bill started me off with baseball,” Posey recalled. “He taught me how to run and gave me the stride that I have now. They taught me everything and they were my first coaches. Sports helped me keep my mind off of things.” Posey’s uncles first got he and his siblings interested in sports. But away from the fields of competition he had the caring support of his mother, who was the glue that held the family together. “I always said that even though it was hard you could never tell with our family because we were always smiling and we always had love for each other,” he said. “We always knew it would get better sooner or later and it did as the years went on as we kept fighting.” Posey acknowledged the sacrifices his family – particularly his mother – had to make when he was younger. “I don’t think she did such a bad job coming to Cincinnati with nothing and putting all her money into us going to Catholic schools,” he said. “I think she had to sacrifice a lot at the beginning and we understood the sacrifice. We sacrificed having nice things and a nice house to put everything into our education for

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our future. “As time went on, all the sacrifices we had in the beginning helped us to stay focused to keep going. The more you sacrifice the more you get out of it and we understood that at a real young age and that carries over into sports.” And it is apparent that those life lessons have translated not only over to the football field for Posey but to the basketball court and track as well. He averaged 5.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game last season and qualified for state track meet in the 100, 200 and 400-meter events. Posey nearly gave up football to focus on basketball early in high school but decided to stick it out on the gridiron. “I thought I was a decent (football) player freshman year on the freshman team but I never got to play varsity as a sophomore,” he recalled. “I had to work hard at it and it was never easy. I guess you could say I always kept my head up with everything and the only way to accomplish things is to never give up.” Once Posey did reach the varsity level for the Lancers, it was obvious he had legitimate talent accounting for over 1,300 all-purpose yards, nine touchdowns and earning first team All-Ohio honors. His junior campaign – where Posey caught 35 passes for 750 yards (21.4 average) and seven touchdowns -- caught the eyes of the recruiters from some of the top college football programs in the country and before he knew it

“My goal was to be the best receiver in Ohio and I knew if I was Ohio State would come in.”

Cincinnati LaSalle Receiver DeVier Posey

he had scholarship offers to California, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Clemson and Ohio State just to name a few. “When the recruiting process started, I thought I was going to be an ACC guy or a small Big Ten player but I didn’t know how big I could go,” Posey said. “I always told myself Ohio State would never come into the picture but if the USC’s and Florida’s and Ohio State’s did come in I didn’t know what I would do. “My goal was to be the best receiver in Ohio and I knew if I was Ohio State would come in. But I would always tell people I never really liked Ohio State because I didn’t want to build myself up too high and get disappointed. He added, “I would get an occasional letter from (Ohio State) but it was never anything big. When (Ohio State wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell) got in contact with me I was really surprised and I guess I figured they were for real. “When they came into the picture, I was really excited. I asked my mom what she thought about Ohio State and she said she thought I could play there. So, it was an easy call from there.” Posey issued a verbal commitment to Ohio State in March becoming the third player to join the Buckeyes’ 2008 recruiting class. “Ohio State has wide receiver tradition, they have a lot of players in the NFL right now and they are winning – what more could you ask for,” Posey said. “It is exciting. It just lets me know I am going to the right place. If you want to be the best receiver, Ohio State is a good place for you to go. And that is the goal – I want to be a really good receiver and I think my journey starts there.” Posey continued his fine play on the field for LaSalle this fall. As of press time, he had amassed 43 catches for 718 yards (16.7 average) and six touchdowns in his team’s first eight games. While he is scheduled to take his official recruiting visit in November, Posey took in his

JJ Hu ddle’ s O h io Hi gh


DeVier Posey

Easy Choice

Posey chose Ohio State over California, Oklahoma and Michigan State to name a few.

Photo by Johh Ritter

JJ H u d d l e ’ s O h i o H i g h

first Ohio State game in person earlier this season watching the Buckeyes knock off Akron 20-2 in September. “I had no idea what it was like but me being up there for the first time I was just in awe – like a little kid in a candy store. It was crazy,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to be like that and it was just a really cool experience. “When you talk about the Saturday tradition at Ohio State, I am new to it but it is the best thing I have seen anywhere. I think it is a really special place.” Posey is already looking forward to next September when Ohio U. pays a visit to the ‘Shoe to take on the Buckeyes. Posey’s older brother Julian is a redshirt freshman cornerback for the Bobcats and DeVier is hoping to get the opportunity to line up across from the person he admires most next season. “My brother is my best friend, my cheerleader, my motivation and my role model. He does everything for me,” Posey said. “I look up to him and I think in a way he looks up to me. He made me the athlete I am today and I give him 100 percent credit. I know he has had it rough sometimes too but he’s always been there to push me and always been there when I needed him.” The elder Posey was named to the firstteam All-Greater Catholic League South his senior year at LaSalle with 107 tackles, including 15 for a loss and two interceptions. He also earned three varsity track letters at LaSalle. “But I think that is going to be crazy,” Posey said about the match-up with his brother’s Bobcats. “I know my brother is looking forward to that to try and do his big brother thing to me. I think my brother really wants to get a chance to guard me and shut me down and I want to get a chance to burn him. It’s going to be real fun. My mom is going to be going crazy that day.” With support of his family through hard times and adversity since he was a small child – particularly his mother and older brother Julian – DeVier Posey has been able to accomplish success as a person athletically, academically and spiritually. “They are my backbone,” he said. “My mom is here every day with me. She is my everything and keeps me going. Without her or my brother I don’t think I would be going to Ohio State. “I believe God gives you two fates – a bad one and a good one – and you control your own destiny from there. I am not ashamed of my past or where I came from. I walked though it and have seen it and with faith in God we were eventually able to work through it.” – OH

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Brad Leetsma

Top Dog

Toledo Start senior quarterback Brad Leetsma is undecided on college, but his place in Toledo City League history is secure.

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Photo by David Gatwood

JJ H u ddle’ s O h io Hi gh


STORY BY DAVID GATWOOD

Toledo Start Senior Quarterback Brad Leetsma Sets Toledo City League Career Passing Record

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oledo Start’s Brad Leetsma is not the biggest or the fastest high school quarterback in northwest Ohio but it cannot be denied that he has been the most prolific. Over the past three years that Leetsma has quarterbacked the Spartans, all that he has done is to lead the highly competitive Toledo City League in passing and, in the process, establish himself as the league’s all-time leading passer. When Leetsma first entered the scene at Start High School his ultimate success was unforeseen. He had enjoyed only moderate success at the junior high level and he was a short, skinny lad who was extremely quiet and not particularly charismatic. A more likely chess club member than an individual destined for inclusion in Toledo City League history. For the young impressionable Leetsma it was walking on the Start campus and meeting head coach Pat Gucciardo that marked his transformation. “Gucciardo has been great,” Leetsma said. “He has shown me how to play the position. When I am playing I can hear his voice telling me what to do. It is unbelievable how he anticipates every situation. I owe everything to him.’ Inherent in Leetsma’s comments is an insight into what has allowed him to develop into the athlete and quarterback that he is today. Because he arrived at Start with little prior football experience he also arrived as a nearly clean slate as far as any preconceived ideas as to how to play the game, in general, and how to play quarterback, in particular. As a result, Gucciardo and his coaching staff were able to develop Leestma in a manner that allowed him to fit smoothly into the Spartan program. Under Gucciardo, Start has earned the reputation of playing an explosive offensive game. Although Gucciardo is quick to argue that he does not utilize a spread offense, there can be no denying that the Spartans throw the ball more frequently than any other team in the Toledo City League. It is no coincidence that the top two passing quarterbacks in league history both played for Gucciardo. Under the Gucciardo offensive system, the ability to pass is a necessity and a 15-year old Leetsma learned his lessons well.

JJ H u d d l e ’ s O h i o H i g h

The rapidness of Leetsma’s development is nothing short of remarkable. It was never intended that Leetsma would become the Start quarterback until the beginning of his junior year. This would have afforded him a full year as a back-up to a young man who was already a proven pass-

“No one works harder than Brad. From the beginning he did everything that we asked of him. He was young but he had the tools.”

Toledo Start Head Coach Pat Gucciardo ing quarterback, Michael Berman, but unforeseen circumstances and injuries precipitated a change in plans and the commencement of Leetsma’s remarkable career. With less than one full year under the tutelage of the Start coaching staff, Leetsma was thrust into the starting quarterback position. No one knew what to expect but Gucciardo. As a former standout high school quarterback himself, Gucciardo was confident that his young protégé had what was necessary for success. “No one works harder than Brad,” said Gucciardo. “From the beginning he did everything that we asked of him. He was young but he had the tools. He just needed to get some reps and Mike’s injury (former Start quarterback) forced the issue.” Even though he was replacing a near legend in Berman, Leetsma never missed a beat. The Start offense continued its pass happy ways and all Leetsma did was lead the TCL in passing yards and touchdown passes as a sophomore. To Leetsma’s credit, he never missed a beat over the next two years. Despite the fact that his team failed to enjoy much success on the field, Leetsma continued to amass impressive personal stats. In his junior year

Brad Leetsma he again led the City League in passing yardage and touchdowns and this year he is well on his way to the unprecedented accomplishment of topping it all off by leading the league one final time. Through seven games Leetsma has already passed for 1,335 yards and connected on 11 touchdowns. Both figures lead the league, but, more impressively, as of September 28, Leetsma is the league’s alltime leading passer by amassing 5,300 total yards and 40 touchdowns. Being officially recognized as the all-time leading passer in the long history of the Toledo City League is an awesome accomplishment but Leetsma is less than impressed. "The records are nice and all, but all I care about is winning", Leestma said after setting the record against league rival Central Catholic. Wins have been hard to come by for Start. Despite the personal successes of their outstanding signal caller, the Spartans have failed to seriously challenge for a City League title or qualify for a state playoff berth during Leetsma’s tenure and Leetsma sincerely would put aside all of his personal accomplishments in exchange for either. “Without a doubt my greatest regret is the fact that we have not done better as a team,” Leestma said. “Everyone has tried hard but we always seem to do something that causes us to come up short. The coaches have been great and I have had a great time but I wish that we had done better.” Soon Leetsma’s tenure as the Start quarterback will end and he has aspirations of displaying his skills at the next level. At only 6-foot and 175 pounds, he is a bit undersized for most college programs but there has still been considerable interest displayed by a number of recruiters. Where Leetsma may be playing next year remains up in the air but his involvement in the recruiting process led to his most important accomplishment and it did not occur on the playing field. It occurred in the classroom. Hard work on the football field came naturally to Leetsma but, by his own admission, such was not the case with academics. “Prior to this year I did not do too well in school,” Leetsma said. “I guess I didn’t have much interest but that has all changed. I want to play (football) in college and I now know how important it is to pay attention to my grades. My sister and mom have been helping me and I am doing much better.” In a few short weeks Leetsma will spend his final night in the Spartan locker room but he has left his mark on the program. His name will remain in the record books for a long time. — OH

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Duane Long’s Updated Seniors Bellefontaine’s Sean Egler and Keith Morgan

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Photo by Nick Falzerano

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he class of 2008 really came into its own over the summer. We saw some impressive football players last fall, but the best of the best are elite athletes as well as elite football players. When we saw what DeVoe Torrence and Jake Stoneburner did, just to name a couple, I knew that this was a special class. We have seen it on the field again this year. Torrence had a rough few games early on after transferring from Canton South to Massillon Washington. But he righted his ship with an outstanding 283-yard, four-touchdown effort against Mentor, always one of the best coached teams in Ohio with underrated Steve Trivisonno at the helm. Torrence is only playing offense this year. He had over 800 yards in the first five games. I do not know for sure what was behind the decision to transfer, but I would not be surprised if playing strictly on offense was behind the thinking. He is so far behind most top running backs because he has not carried the ball nearly as much. Stoneburner was enjoying a fine season with 26 catches over his first five games at Dublin Coffman. One coach told me that he would throw the ball to Stoneburner all the time. He said for every three times you throw him the ball, he will score twice. His Coffman teammate Mike Adams – like Torrence and Stoneburner also an Ohio State commitment – has been his usual dominating self. He regularly looks up and sees nothing but green in front of him as coaches are deciding it is pointless to try and defeat him. The only lineman in this state I have seen that is better than Adams is Buckeye legend Orlando Pace. Glenville athlete Cordale Scott solidified his position as one of the top players in the country as coach Ted Ginn Sr. took his program national playing a couple of the top programs in the entire country when he scheduled Indianapolis Central and Long Beach Poly. Poly has put more players into the NFL than any high school. Scott looked like he belonged against this elite company. I am still not convinced that he is sure to be a receiver at the college level. I want to make it clear that it isn’t a matter that I am not impressed with his as a receiver. I think he is as good a receiver as any player in the class. I just see a defensive player’s mind-set in Scott and when I look at his body I see a player that could outgrow receiver. Ohio State was seen as the team to beat on Scott. He also had offers from Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, among others. Tight end is one of the high profile positions in the state this year. One of the safe bets is that we will never see a class to rival it. The facts are hard to refute. You have Cincinnati Elder’s Kyle Rudolph to Notre Dame, Trotwood Madison’s Brandon Moore to Michigan, Toledo Whitmer’s Kevin Koger to Michigan and Madison’s Nic DiLillo to Ohio State. If you want to project Stoneburner to tight end, that is a total of five tight ends from one state going to Big Four schools. I only hope we see that again. Moore has been a little dinged, but is rounding back into form now that he is not playing any defense as he was early in the year. DiLillo

has been a man among boys. He is the underrated one. He is a willing blocker with great hands and will surprise with his run after catch abilities. At this time last year, Cincinnati LaSalle wide receiver Devier Posey was an unknown. He is now a national top-10 receiver in a really outstanding class. He has been instrumental in the outstanding start LaSalle is off to. He was the best player on the field when LaSalle beat city rival Elder, and has stepped into the role of difference maker all season. He is an early candidate for player of the year. The other that comes to mind is Columbus Eastmoor Academy’s Isaiah Pead. At midseason, he was averaging 13 yards a carry. He was putting up highlight reel runs every game. I still think he is a player that needs to be out in space but I am more convinced after seeing him this season that he could be a running back at the next level. Pead joins Scott as the only top-10 Ohio prospects who have not committed. This offensive line class was not as deep but it certainly had the high end talent to match recent classes. Clayton Northmont tackle Zebrie Sanders has had such a fine first half of the season that he has drawn the attention of Ohio State again. A player that has really come into his own is Hunting Valley University School lineman Jake Stoller. He is a Wisconsin verbal, but I would not be surprised to see some other schools try to change his mind about that verbal. The Youngstown Mooney contingent has been as advertised as they have tried to defend their Division IV state championship. Dan McCarthy, an early Notre Dame verbal, has been stellar at quarterback and safety, but the ones that have really taken their games to another level are Brandon Beachum and Mike Zordich. Beachum has been a playmaker on both sides of the ball despite being a little banged up. Zordich has been such a physical presence. He is bringing it as a fullback and linebacker. Beachum and Zordich will play their college ball at Penn State. A player that has flown under the radar his entire career is Hilliard Darby linebacker B.J. Machen. In speaking to opposing coaches, he is not flying under their radar. He has to be blocked or he is going to make the tackle. Georgia Tech has landed a really good one in Machen. Trotwood-Madison can boast as many stars as any school in the state this year and all those players are living up to expectations. The defense is anchored by Nebraska verbal Doug Rippy, a late transfer into Trotwood from Columbus Linden McKinley. He has been a difference maker for coach Maurice Douglas. After seeing Gahanna Lincoln’s Darius Reeves, he leads my most baffling list. He sure looks like a Big Ten player to me. I am not aware of any grade issues. The other that sits atop the head scratcher list is Waverly quarterback Trevor Walls. He is not the most mobile kid, but I need someone to point out to me what else is wrong with him because I can’t see it.

JJ Hu ddle’ s O h io Hi gh


Duane Long’s Updated Seniors

STORY BY DUANE LONG

Class of 2008 Updated Top 30

Rank 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30.

Name Mike Adams DeVoe Torrence Cordale Scott DeVier Posey Jake Stoneburner Kyle Rudolph Nathan Williams Brandon Moore Dan McCarthy Isaiah Pead Kevin Koger Zebrie Sanders Elliott Mealer Michael Shaw Brandon Beachum Justin Staples Harold Coates Shawntel Rowell Johnny Adams Anthony Allen Nic DiLillo Taylor Hill Michael Zordich Kenny Stafford Roy Roundtree Domonick Britt D.J. Woods B.J. Machen Douglas Rippy Donnie Fletcher

Ht. 6-8 6-2 6-4 6-3 6-6 6-7 6-4 6-6 6-1 5-11 6-4 6-6 6-6 5-11 5-11 6-3 6-3 6-4 5-11 6-1 6-5 6-2 6-1 6-3 6-2 6-5 6-0 6-1 6-2 6-0

Wt. 305 215 200 180 223 220 235 230 190 175 235 273 280 185 220 220 315 320 170 185 220 200 210 175 170 190 175 210 215 170

Pos. OL RB ATH WR TE/WR TE DE/LB TE S Ath DE/TE OL OL Ath LB/RB LB OL DT CB/WR RB TE DE/LB LB WR WR QB WR LB OLB/DE CB/WR

Stanford came into Ohio and stole one in Cincinnati St. Xavier’s Fred Craig. He is the anchor of the St. X defense that has helped that program to a national ranking. Glenville cornerback Donnie Fletcher leads his team in tackles and about the only schools not to offer are the Big Four. Dublin Coffman quarterback Zack Stoudt is taking advantage of having receivers committed to Ohio State and Syracuse, respectively. His numbers look like something straight out of a video game. Through five games, Stoudt was completing over 71 percent of his passes for over 1,300 yards. A couple of players that just appeared on the radar are Sean Egler and Keith Morgan from Bellefontaine. I have never been a fan of smaller backs, but Egler is a special one. He runs like a big back but has the speed of a small back. He is going to be one to watch later in the process. Morgan is a high school quarterback who could play wide receiver or anywhere in the defensive backfield. He is already committed to Bowling Green.

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School/Verbal Dublin Coffman/Ohio State Massillon Washington/Ohio State Cleveland Glenville Cincinnati LaSalle/Ohio State Dublin Coffman/Ohio State Cincinnati Elder/Notre Dame WCH Miami Trace/Ohio State Trotwood-Madison/Michigan Youngstown Mooney/Notre Dame Columbus Eastmoor Academy Toledo Whitmer/Michigan Clayton Northmont Wauseon/Michigan Trotwood-Madison/Penn State Youngstown Mooney/Penn State Lakewood St. Edward/Illinois Youngstown Ursuline Cleveland Glenville Akron Buchtel/Michigan State Toledo Whitmer Madison/Ohio State Youngstown Mooney/Nebraska Youngstown Mooney/Penn State Columbus DeSales Trotwood-Madison/Purdue Trotwood-Madison/Cincinnati Strongsville/Nebraska Hilliard Darby/Georgia Tech Trotwood-Madison/Nebraska Cleveland Glenville

Massillon Washington senior and Ohio State recruit DeVoe Photo by Stephanie Porter

Another future Bowling Green player is Licking Valley offensive lineman Tim German. He is having a fine senior year leading the way for top junior Storm Klein. Ohio State seriously considered making an offer to German so you have to say Bowling Green is getting a good one. A player we have not heard the last of is Glenville lineman Shawntel “Shaq” Rowell. He is reportedly in the 300-pound range. If he can hold that weight through the end of the year, I think it gets interesting with him. With his weight under control I think he is a much underrated player. Remember Youngstown Ursuline’s Harold Coates, too. He has grade issues but is in the ball park. He and Pead both, along with Rowell, could bring a little excitement to Ohio recruiting in January. With so many early verbals in this class, the sprint to signing day will look more like a leisurely jog. Stay tuned for the January 2008 edition of Ohio High where we will update the top 100 rankings for the Class of 2008 in anticipation of signing day (Feb. 6). — OH

J J H U D D L E . C O M 27


ESPN Top 150

Five Ohio prospects included on ESPN’s national top-150 list

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he state of Ohio is represented – somewhat, at least – in the latest edition of The ESPN 150. The Buckeye state has five players listed in ESPN.com’s survey of the nation’s top 150 football prospects. Ohio prospects listed in the national top 150 include: * Trotwood-Madison tight end Brandon Moore. The 6-6, 230-pound Moore is the top Ohio prospect on the ESPN list. He is rated No. 67 overall nationally. Moore issued a verbal commitment to Michigan in the spring. * Dublin Coffman offensive tackle Mike Adams. The 6-8, 305-pound Adams checks in at No. 86 overall nationally. He had offers from a number of top schools across the country before verbaling to Ohio State last spring. As of press time, Adams had helped Coffman to wins in their first six games this season. * Cincinnati Elder tight end Kyle Rudolph. The 6-7, 220-pound Rudolph is rated No. 103 overall nationally. He issued an early verbal commitment to Notre Dame. * Dublin Coffman wide receiver Jake Stoneburner. The 6-6, 223pound Stoneburner is ranked No. 105 overall nationally. Through his team’s 6-0 start, Stoneburner had seven touchdowns among his 31 catches. He verbaled to Ohio State in the spring. * Massillon Washington running back DeVoe Torrence. The 6-2, 215-pound Torrence is rated No. 115 overall nationally. He has been a big hit at Massillon this fall after transferring from Canton South. Torrence had 713 yards and seven touchdowns rushing in his first five games at Massillon. In terms of which schools are off to a fast start in the 2008 recruiting race, it looks like everybody will be chasing Miami (Fla.). The Hurricanes, led by first-year coach Randy Shannon, have 11 commitments from members of The ESPN 150. Texas is next with eight top-150 verbals. Notre Dame and USC each have seven top-150 commitments. Six schools check in with six national top-150 verbals. They are Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma and Ohio State. Three of Ohio State’s six top-150 verbals are from within the state with Adams, Stoneburner and Torrence. OSU also has top-150 commitments from Florida offensive lineman Michael Brewster (No. 29 overall), Texas offensive lineman J.B. Shugarts (No. 43) and Pennsylvania linebacker Andrew Sweat (No. 45). The entire top 150 list is published in the graphic. Seniors in the class of 2008 will sign letters-of-intent for their college choices on national signing day, Feb. 6. — OH

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Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

Name Pos. Julio Jones WR Will Hill ATH Terrelle Pryor QB Jermie Calhoun RB A.J. Green WR Arthur Brown ILB Darrell Scott RB Patrick Johnson CB DaQuan Bowers DT Blaine Gabbert QB Dee Finley S E.J. Manuel QB R.J. Washington DE Dayne Crist QB Jamie Harper RB Brice Butler WR Chancey Aghayere DE Deion Walker WR Etienne Sabino ILB T.J. Bryant CB Burton Scott ATH Tyler Love OT Brandon Barnes ATH Joe Adams ATH Dan Buckner WR Jonathan Baldwin TE Ryan Williams RB Marcus Forston DT Michael Brewster OT Brandon Harris CB Courtney Upshaw DE Josh Jarboe WR Landry Jones QB Richard Samuel RB Omar Hunter DT Charles Whitlock CB Jarvis Humphrey DT Spencer Adams S William Green DE Mike Floyd WR Kye Staley RB Deangelo Tyson DT J.B. Shugarts OT Jermaine Thomas ATH Andrew Sweat ILB Andre Ellington RB De'Anthony Curtis RB Jon Major ILB T.J. Lawrence ATH Carlton Thomas RB

State AL NJ PA TX SC KS CA FL SC MO AL VA TX CA FL GA TX VA FL FL AL AL NC AR TX PA VA FL FL FL AL GA NM GA GA SC TX NC AL MN OK GA TX FL PA SC AR CO FL FL

Grade 95 93 93 92 91 90 89 89 88 88 88 87 87 86 86 86 85 85 85 84 84 84 84 84 84 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 82 82 82 82 82

Verbal None Florida None Oklahoma Georgia None None Miami (Fla.) Clemson Nebraska Florida Florida State Oklahoma Notre Dame None USC None None None None Alabama Alabama N.C. State USC Texas None None Miami (Fla.) Ohio State None Alabama None Oklahoma Georgia Notre Dame None Texas None None None Okla. State Georgia Ohio State Florida State Ohio State Clemson Arkansas None None None

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ESPN Top 150

STORY BY STEVE HELWAGEN

Rank 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100

Name Nick Crissman Ramon Buchanan Antoine Hicks Cyrus Gray Michael Mauti Jamoris Slaughter D.J. Shoemate Aundre Dean Mike Glennon Lerentee McCray Nigel Bradham Dwayne Allen Darryl Stonum Keanon Cooper Chris Tolliver E.J. Woods Brandon Moore Xavier Brewer Kavario Middleton Anthony Dye Brandon Thompson

Davon Johnson Karnell Hatcher Jameel Owens David Snow Andrew Luck Antoine McClain Nigel Carr Braden Hanson DeSean Hales Aldarius Johnson Jordan Futch Matt Kalil Ethan Johnson Blake Ayles Mike Adams Rod Wilks Stephen Good Jonas Gray Taylor Cook Terrance Parks Marcus Robinson Derrick Hall Daniel Franklin Charles Mitchell Darius Fleming Kendall Wright Sam McGuffie Tyler Edwards Emmanuel Acho

Pos. QB OLB ATH RB ILB S ATH RB QB OLB ILB TE WR OLB WR S TE CB TE CB DT WR S WR OG QB OT OLB QB ATH WR OLB OT DE TE OT WR OT RB QB CB OLB ATH ILB ATH DE ATH RB TE OLB

State CA FL TX TX LA GA CA TX VA FL FL NC TX TX LA CA OH FL WA CA GA FL FL OK TX TX AL FL NC TX FL FL CA OR CA OH TN TX MI TX GA FL TX GA MS IL TX TX LA TX

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Grade 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81

Verbal UCLA Miami (Fla.) Texas None Penn State Notre Dame USC UCLA N.C. State Miami (Fla.) Florida State Georgia Michigan None None UCLA Michigan Clemson None UCLA None Miami (Fla.) None None Texas Stanford None Florida State North Carolina Texas Miami (Fla.) Miami (Fla.) USC Notre Dame USC Ohio State Tennessee Oklahoma Nebraska Miami (Fla.) Florida State Miami (Fla.) Texas A&M Oklahoma None Notre Dame None Michigan None Texas

Rank 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150

Name Shayne Hale C.J. Holton Kyle Rudolph Jordan Fields Jake Stoneburner Kyle Parker Chris Burns ChristianWilson Matthew Patchan Nolan Brewster Steve Filer Jeff Demps Dann O'Neill Baker Steinkuhler DeVoe Torrence Gerell Robinson MarQueis Gray Matt Meyer Uona Kaveinga Kyle Long Luke Nix Allen Carroll Justin Johnson Tyron Smith Patrick Nixon Sean Spence Toby Jackson Brendan Beal Kenny Tate Travis Howard Cameron Demps Dravannti Johnson Kenneth Page Kerry Boykins A.J. Harmon Thearon Collier Neiko Lipscomb J.B. Fitzgerald Templeton Hardy Jeremy Brown Chris Jackson Travis Benjamin Mike Goodman Khaled Holmes Tavarres King Eric Smith Tyler Westphal Tarik Rollins Chris Harper Vaughn Dotsy

Pos. ILB S TE CB TE QB RB OLB OT OLB ILB ATH OT OT ATH S QB OT ILB OT OT OG RB OT CB OLB DE ILB WR CB CB OLB OG WR OG WR ATH OLB DT CB ATH WR OT OG WR RB DE OLB ATH OG

State PA FL OH TX OH FL PA PA FL CO IL FL MI NE OH AZ IN CA CA VA PA CA TX CA FL FL GA PA MD FL GA TX SC VA GA FL GA NJ MS FL GA FL FL CA GA FL WI FL KS CA

Photo by Gary Housteau

Grade 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80

Verbal None Florida State Notre Dame Texas A&M Ohio State Clemson Pittsburgh Michigan None Texas Notre Dame None Michigan Nebraska Ohio State Arizona None USC UCLA None Pittsburgh None Oklahoma USC Illinois Miami (Fla.) Georgia None None None Virginia Tech Texas None Maryland Clemson Miami (Fla.) None Michigan Miss. State Florida Georgia Tech None None None Georgia None Wisconsin Clemson None None

J J H U D D L E . C O M 29


Duane Long’s Updated Juniors

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e are seeing more early verbal commitments with each passing year. Players are exposed to the process so much earlier now. It seems for every player that is unsure of what he wants to do, or who wants to enjoy the process, there is another who is absolutely sure about his top school or schools and as soon as offers come in they see no reason to wait. Others tire of the process and decide so they can focus on their senior year of football and enjoy their last carefree year of high school. That leaves recruiting nuts like ourselves with nothing to do but look at the younger players. In Ohio, there is a feast for those of us that cannot get enough recruiting information. It has been a good recent run in Ohio. I have made a habit of comparing classes to the best ever. That is not just enthusiasm or excitement about something new. Recent classes have deserved to be compared to the best ever class, 2002. This one is no exception. The classes in 2006 and 2007 have deserved to be compared to the best ever but fell short because of lack of diversity. The 2006 class was a line heavy class on both sides of the ball, but especially on offense where the line class had both elite talent and depth. The class of 2007 was another great offensive line class and linebacker heavy. The class of 2009 – the current crop of high school juniors in Ohio – is seeing elite players at most positions and potential elite players at the positions where they have not emerged yet. We are once again looking at a linebacker class that is as good as we have ever seen. It is better than the class of 2007 because of the bodies. When you look at Will Studlien from Sunbury Big Walnut and Storm Klein from Newark Licking Valley, you see players that are legitimately 6-3 and 220 pounds. Klein got an early offer from Ohio State and, on Oct. 14, he issued a verbal commitment to the Buckeyes. The biggest and most physical is 6-1, 235-

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Photo by Stephanie Porter

Youngstown Cardinal Mooney defensive tackle John Simon gets the early nod as the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2009. pound Julius Ferrell from Youngstown Liberty. He may be a defensive end by the time he steps on a college football field but for now he is a linebacker, and one of the best in the state. I have Youngstown Ursuline’s Derrell Mason as a running back but there are some who think he is a linebacker, and a few believe he is the best linebacker in the class. He injured his knee in Week 4, but should be fine by the time camps roll around. Another name to remember is Steubenville’s Bronko Busic. He has all the tools to be a great one at the next level. Do not forget him. We have seen some great teams coming out of Steubenville recently. Now we are seeing some elite players.

There are some elite skill players in next year’s class. That discussion starts with Painesville Harvey wide receiver/cornerback Chris Fields. Fields, who had 24 catches in his team’s first five games, has that explosiveness that can turn a game on one touch of the ball. Where he plays in college is the only question. I want a player with this kind of skill to touch the ball as much as possible so I play him on offense. There are several other receivers in this class that make it the best group outside of the linebackers. Youngstown Ursuline has found their mojo again under coach Dan Reardon. Everyone is talking about Derrell Mason but another Derrell, wide receiver Derrell Peterman, is drawing comparisons to Chris Fields. He is a lightning quick player with a gear that few can match. Shaker Heights has a slot receiver named Perez Ashford that would be getting a lot more buzz of not for Fields and Peterman. Ashford had 31 grabs and six touchdowns in his team’s first five games. All three of these players are great looking slot receiver prospects. The big wide receivers are the most intriguing. Cincinnati Elder’s Josh Jones (18 catches in first five games) is a good 40-yard time away from being on everyone’s want list. So is Akron Coventry’s Jeff Walker, who is another receiver showing skills and athleticism that you don’t see in many athletes in the 6-3 range. Of course, if Warren Harding’s Desmar Jackson comes to his senses and realizes he has a better future in football than basketball, he will jump to the top of this receiver class. Speaking of coming to his senses, we have news that Trotwood-Madison’s Chris Freeman has done just that. He made it onto the football field for the second half of the year. At 6-9 and 300 pounds, he is athletic enough to be a possible scholarship player in basketball. That speaks volumes about what kind of athlete he is. By the time it matters he could be the best offensive line prospect in the class. Right now that title belongs to Cleveland Glenville’s Marcus Hall. He is looking like a

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STORY BY DUANE LONG sure Big Four recruit. (The Big Four, for the uninitiated is Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Notre Dame.) Westerville South’s Ricky Harris also appears to be in this class. Harris is so agile he is now playing defense for the Wildcats. I have only seen a little of him but from what I have seen I want to see more of Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit’s Pat McShane. Running back has a number of players who I am looking at to take it to the next level. I am seeing four-star kids, but only Derrell Mason is a sure five-star player. Massillon Washington’s Justin Turner looks like a great back to me. He is just lacking reps since super senior DeVoe Torrence moved into the Massillon program. Others see Turner as an elite safety. All of us agree on one thing. He is elite. Austintown-Fitch’s Sylvester Gibbs looks like the most likely to break into that five-star realm. Dante Marsch from Warren Howland is another running back I am high on. Fitzgerald Toussiant reminds me a lot of former Columbus Brookhaven standout Maurice Hall. He has the kind of speed that will have recruiters knocking on his door whether it be

JJ H u d d l e ’ s O h i o H i g h

Duane Long’s Updated Juniors as a running back or to move him somewhere else like cornerback or as a slot receiver. Staying on offense, the one biggest name to emerge is Cleveland South’s Devontae Payne. Payne goes 6-6 and 240 pounds with a fine arm and good mobility. As a sophomore, he threw for 1,276 yards with 17 touchdowns against just three interceptions. He could be the highest rated high school quarterback from Ohio since Justin Zwick. If he continues his development, I could see him potentially being the best since Art Schlichter. He has already been down to see Ohio State. I am very excited about what kind of player he can be. On the defensive side of the ball, one name stands out above them all: Youngstown Mooney defensive tackle John Simon. Simon already has an Ohio State offer. Defensive tackle is one of those positions that is so difficult to recruit. A player of this caliber is going to have his pick of schools. If Ohio High was going to come out with its top 100 right now for the class of 2009, Simon would be the No. 1 player.

As for defensive linemen other than Simon, it is a wait-and-see proposition right now. Cornelius Carradine from Cincinnati Taft sounds like he could be the next Ben Martin but I have not been able to get my hands on tape. Canal Winchester World Harvest Prep defensive end Trae Tiller has put up some impressive numbers but I am still waiting on tape. The same with Portsmouth’s Nate Cadogan and Cincinnati Winton Woods defensive end Antony Talbert. They are a couple of other players I am awaiting tape on. Still another possible elite defensive end who has yet to be seen is Garfield Heights’ Melvin Fellows. If any of them live up to their headlines, we are looking at a player that would be at least a four-star and maybe a five-star player. Coldwater’s Adam Homan is a great looking high school linebacker. I think he could outgrow the position. I will look at him as a defensive lineman for right now. In the defensive backfield three names stand out. They are safeties Denicos Allen from Hamilton and Gannon Hulea from Poland Seminary and corner C.J. Barnett of Clayton Northmont. — OH

J J H U D D L E . C O M 31


Success

Wagner (left) and Latham are two of the school’s top players ever in their respective sports.

32 J J H U D D L E . C O M

Photo by Nick Falzerano

Springfield Catholic Central

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S

Springfield Catholic Central

STORY BY ERIC FRANTZ teve DeWitt and Shane Latham are experts on the football and boys soccer programs at Springfield Catholic Central High School. DeWitt has coached the Irish football team for 30 years, while Latham has led the boys soccer program for 22. During that span, both have coached teams to state finals and had multiple AllOhioans. The two though have never been in the midst of a season quite like this one – at least together. Heading into the final stretches of their respective regular seasons, SCC was ranked No. 1 in the state in football in Division VI and No. 2 in soccer in D-III. The Irish have a pool of less than 100 boys in grades 9-12 to pull from. “I think the size factor is the biggest element of (what makes that shocking),” DeWitt said. “We’ve only got 90 boys that we have to share in both programs. I truly wish the sports were at different times of the year so we could see what kind of turnout we’d get.” The opposition isn’t interested in finding that out. Its hands are full as is. “The Fall is very exciting here,” SCC senior football standout Brian Wagner said. “The soccer team always says how good they are and we say how good we are. This year it seems like everything is going right for both of us.” Wagner has had a large say in the football team’s success, as has senior Stefan Latham in boys soccer. The tandem has separated themselves and their teams from most others this season and historically. Wagner is a four-year starter in football who has put together four straight 1,000 yard rushing seasons. He’s been a leader both offensively and defensively, starring as fullback and linebacker. “Brian has been a starter since the second half of the first game his freshman season,” DeWitt said. “He’s engineered himself into the position he’s in today. None of the accomplishments Brian has have come easy. Brian has sacrificed for everything he’s got.” Wagner got a head start on football in kindergarten when he joined the Greenon Wee Knights program a year early thanks to some clerical mistakes with his birth date. Since then he’s been playing like a veteran. During his first three years on varsity, Wagner helped the Irish to three postseason berths. Each time SCC has gone 1-1, losing to Dola Hardin Northern twice and Marion Local once. Both those teams are absent from Region 24 this season. “We have a lot of senior leadership and I think this year is something special,” Wagner said. “We overcame a big obstacle when we beat Mechanicsburg (in Week 4). We all real-

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Record Setters Brian Wagner 2004: Rushing 1,221 yards, 16 TDs, 20 total TD’s 2005: Rushing 1,348, 17TDs, 18 total TDs 2006: Rushing 1,685 yards, 21TDs, 22 total TDs 2007: (Seven games) Rushing 1,304 yards, 19TDs 2007: (Seven games) 74 tackles 12 sacks, 23 TFL

Stefan Latham 2004: 22 Goals, 9 assists 2005: 27 Goals, 15 assists 2006: 38 Goals, 17 assists 2007: 21 Goals, 20 assists (through 10/1/07) School Records Single season goals – 38 Career goals – 108 (through 10/1/07) Career assists – 61 (through 10/1/07) ly want to accomplish something that’s never happened here before and we’re hungry to go really deep in the playoffs.” DeWitt led the Irish to the 1991 D-IV state final, where they finished runner-up to Warren JFK. A return trip to Stark County is not out of the question. With Wagner spearheading both sides of the ball, SCC (7-0) was averaging 42.5 points per game through Week 7. It had allowed 33 points total. “We’ve got a once in a lifetime-type of chemistry that’s going on right now and a lot of that centers around Brian,” DeWitt said. “Besides Brian, though, we’ve got a great group of kids that are working their hind-ends off here.” The opposition has had to work doubletime to slow down Wagner and often that isn’t nearly enough. Through seven weeks Wagner had 1,304 yards and 19 TDs. Defensively he had 74 tackles, 12 sacks and 23 tackles-for-loss. For his career Wagner has rushed for 5,561 yards and 73 TDs. His place among SCC’s all-time greats is already established. He’s receiving interest from Purdue, Indiana, Miami, Ohio, Akron and Central Michigan. “Of all the running backs we’ve ever worked with, Brian is the best, and we’ve had some good ones,” DeWitt said. “Our offense has depended on fullbacks for years, but now when we run some spread and still some smash mouth stuff stubbornly, Brian is the perfect candidate for both spots because of his visibility and ability to hit the hole. “It’s that dynamic of acceleration and his ability to side-step that set him apart. I mean

he could win Dancing with the Stars or some competition like that.” Wagner would settle for winning a state title – as would Stefan Latham. What Wagner is to the football team, Latham is to a talented soccer squad. With 11 seniors on the roster, the Irish are thinking this may be the year they win the school’s second state title. SCC was the D-III state champion in 2001. “I think this team compares favorably to most of the teams that we’ve had here, but the team in 2001 that won the state championship was a team apart from any other team I’ve had,” Shane Latham said. “They were a dominant team that year and they are probably the best team that has ever won the D-III state title in my mind. This team doesn’t compare to that team, but then again, no other team in the state does either. This is a very strong team.” The coach’s son is a pretty tough player. A first team All-Ohio selection last season, Latham owns SCC school records for goals in a season (38) and career (108). He’s also the school’s all-time leader in assists (61) and needs just two more this year to set the single-season record (20). “He’s probably in the Top 10 players we’ve ever had here,” Shane Latham said. “I wouldn’t say he is the best player overall because we’ve had some good ones like Brent Rohrer who played at Ohio State all four years and Joe Hall (Dayton). But obviously in statistics he’s No. 1.” Latham started as a freshman and had 22 goals and nine assists that season. He followed with 27 goals and 15 assists as a sophomore and 38 goals and 17 assists last season. This year through 15 games, Latham had 21 goals and 20 assists. “The initial and main goal has always been to win state,” Stefan Latham said. “If I don’t score and we win state that’s fine with me. But having those records is an added bonus and a goal that I set for myself.” SCC’s overall goal this fall is two add two state championship trophies to an already impressive case. The feat – a soccer and football title in the same year – has never been done before. Of course, up until this year, a season of this magnitude at SCC hadn’t either. “It would be awesome if we both won state,” Stefan Latham said. “Both of us having great seasons is good for the whole school.” Said DeWitt: “We’ve had a good enough relationship between both of the programs that one doesn’t need to worry about the other. “It’s been great to be able to share this success with them.” — OH

J J H U D D L E . C O M 33


Boys Basketball Preview

Three-peat

North College Hill became the third school in state history to win three straight state titles last year.

Photo by Gary Housteau

34 J J H U D D L E . C O M

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Boys Basketball Preview

STORY BY OHIO HIGH STAFF

DIVISION I

Big-school talent, super teams in every pocket of state

incinnati Withrow coach Walt McBride can remember his team’s season-ending loss to Cincinnati St. Xavier in a March regional final so vividly that the pain and disappointment seep into his voice. After his team took a one-point lead, St. X’s Walt Gibler found teammate Mike Budde for a press-beating layup and an eventual 5148 win that punched a ticket to Columbus. “They had to go the full length of the floor in the final seven seconds,” McBride lamented. “I told them to stay with their man, but we jumped in front of him and gave up a layup.” That play illustrates as well as any the fine line between glory and bitter disappointment in Ohio Division I basketball. St. X went on to an improbable state title game appearance and Withrow now joins the ranks of the very hungry for 2007-08. Southwest Ohio again looks like a meat grinder but there are highcaliber teams in central Ohio, in various parts of the northeast and, of course, the Toledo area. The chase for Cincinnati Moeller’s crown appears furious and wide open.

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Top Players

Photo by Anthony Brown

* Delvon Roe, 6-8, Sr., F, Lakewood St. Edward – Roe simply continues to get better and better. A highly active, left-handed forward, he can make plays all over the court and dominates the backboards for one of Ohio’s top teams. Averaged 22.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game as a junior, earning first-team All-Ohio honors. * Yancy Gates, 6-8, Sr., F, Cincinnati Withrow – Gates was terrific at Withrow after transferring across town from Cincinnati Hughes, putting up 19.4 ppg. A second team all-state pick. * Kenny Frease, 7-0, Sr., C, Massillon Perry – The top true big man in the state now that Kosta Koufos is a Buckeye, Frease is becoming a consistent force. Averaged 14.5 ppg and was named to the All-Ohio third team. * Jared Sullinger, 6-8, Soph., F/C, Columbus Northland – The son of Northland coach Satch Sullinger and younger brother to ex-Buckeye J.J. and Kent State forward Julian, Jared is one of the most promising young talents in the Midwest and already is committed to Ohio State. He was honorable mention all-state as a Columbus Brookhaven’s Chris frosh. * Chris Johnson, 6-5, Sr., Johnson was second team All-Ohio WF, Columbus Brookhaven last year after averaging 24.4 ppg. – Reliable performer who produced averages of 24.4 ppg and 13.2 rpg last season. Second team All-Ohio.

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* Bill Edwards, 6-5, Jr, G/F, Middletown – Wing who averaged 13.0 ppg and sometimes was asked to play as a lead guard as a sophomore. Father of the same name was a star at Wright State.

Teams To Watch

Here are some of the key contenders in Division I: * Cincinnati Withrow – Why not the Tigers? They will play perhaps the toughest schedule of any team in the state but they also may be as good as anybody when it comes down to tourney time. “I love our depth,” McBride said. “With this group going as deep as it has been in the tournament in years, now they have that confidence in tournament play. And there’s nothing like the real show.” Withrow was 17-7 last season but proved ready for the postseason. McBride has put together another rough schedule to see if it will pay off even more this time. The Tigers certainly return lots of talent and experience beginning with Gates, a hulking power forward who can hurt defenses all the way out to the arc. “I’m comfortable with him facing the basket,” McBride said. “I wouldn’t say he’s got a green light on threes but if they are good threes he can take them.” Withrow returns another key senior in 6-2 point guard Anthony McBride – the coach’s nephew – as well as 6-4 guard Ron Bracey and 5-11 backup PG Ryan Maupin. Also, the team welcomes in a pair of talented transfers from Cincinnati Woodward in 6-2 shooting guard Troy Long and 6-4 power forward Chris Grimes. Meanwhile, 6-3 guard Josh Rogers has transferred from Purcell Marian. McBride averaged 18.5 ppg last season and Long put up 17.0 ppg at Woodward, but they have not yet played together. “I’m not too worried about our chemistry,” second-year coach Walt McBride said, “because basically with our kids they all want to win. So after the first loss or whatever they’ll mesh together and they’ll figure it out.” * Columbus Northland – The Vikings are, in a word, loaded. They feature two of the top players in the area and among the best in their class in the state in the 6-8 Sullinger and 6-4 senior guard Devon Moore. Jared is explosive and multi-talented, which explains why he already has been offered – and accepted – a scholarship from Ohio State. Moore, the team’s leading returning scorer at 16.5 ppg, plays equally well off or with the ball and sets up teammates as effectively as he produces his own offense. “He’s our creator,” Satch Sullinger said of the long-armed Moore, who currently is contemplating offers from Kent State, Toledo and Bowling Green. “He has the ability to make people around him better. I tell our bigs all the time to run the floor because he rewards you.” Moore and classmate Ian Nixson, a 5-10 point guard Sullinger called the player who improved the most over the summer, will have plenty of big bodies to find, including 6-6 sophomore wing J.D. Weatherspoon, and tenacious inside players Javon Cornley, a 6-5 junior, and Nick Turner, a 6-6 sophomore who didn’t play last year but decided to join the fun. The depth is in place with 6-4 junior wing Dimond Hale, 5-9 freshman point guard Trey Burke, and 6-6 junior power forward Sam Belisle, who broke his hand last year in a JV game against Brookhaven and had to leave – after he already had amassed 26 points and 18 rebounds. Northland won city and district championships last season and posted a gaudy 24-1 mark after losing in the regional semifinals. The Vikings look like they can dock at the state tourney if they want this year.

J J H U D D L E . C O M 35


Boys Basketball Preview

Photo by Gary Housteau

“This is the best team I’ve ever had,” Sullinger said. “On top of that, it’s not only a talented team but a group of really good kids. That’s what makes it so special.” * Garfield Heights – Coach Sonny Johnson lost several seniors who helped elevate the program last year as Garfield Heights rejoined the elite of northeast Ohio with a 20-3 record. Still, the Bulldogs have plenty of reasons for optimism. They start with 6-5 guard/forward Robert Wilson, an athletic and tough performer who should be a perfect fit next year at Wisconsin. Wilson averaged 15.4 ppg and 5.4 rpg last season. He’ll be joined in the backcourt by 5-11 junior Carl Jones, who produced 16.4 ppg and 4.3 assists per game as a sophomore. Johnson added even more ball handling by inserting 5-10 freshman point guard Trey Lewis and also will utilize 6-3 junior Roy Brown in a variety of roles. The front line got a boost from the arrival of 6-5 Paul McQueen, who transferred from Cleveland Heights Lutheran East in the summer. Still, the signature approach will be guard-oriented and applying lots of ball pressure. “We will definitely play uptempo,” Johnson said. “We feel we have very good guards and we want to press and get after people.” * Lakewood St. Edward – Blessed with some of the top talent in the area, including Ohio “Mr. Basketball” frontrunner Roe, the Eagles will want to take the next step and soar toward a state championship. St. Ed fell to eventual state champion Cincinnati Moeller 67-60 in a state semifinal game. That loss left St. Ed at 25-1 on the season. “Everybody was disappointed when we went 25-0 and won two national tournaments, but we did not win the state,” said St. Ed coach Eric Flannery. “Our goal is to win the whole thing. We felt we had that ability and talent, but if you don’t play a great game on one night you won’t be able to do it. “We had good focus in the off-season. We have worked hard and we will strive to get back to that point and try and win the state championship.” Flannery welcomes back Roe as well as three other Lakewood St. Edward sophomore starters in 6-8 senior center Pe’shon Howard is drawing interest Tom Pritchard, 6-2 senior from Ohio State, Dayton and more. point guard Frankie Dobbs and 6-2 sophomore shooting guard Pe’shon Howard. Pritchard, an Indiana verbal, averaged 12 points and seven rebounds a game last year. Dobbs averaged six points and six assists per game. Howard is a player already attracting interest from major schools. “Only being a sophomore, Pe’shon has a lot of skills,” Flannery said. “He is very mature for sophomore. He has an ability to score. He can shoot from the perimeter and also gets the ball to the basket. As he learns how to play, the sky could be the limit.” Also back are several key reserves, including 6-6 wing Connor Tilow, 6-4 forward Alex Sterba, 6-4 forward Justin Staples and 6-1 guard Mike Hartnett. St. Ed will host Campbell (Calif.) Hall in an ESPN-televised game Dec. 6. The Eagles will also play in national events in Myrtle Beach,

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S.C., and Erie, Pa., in addition to their usual strong schedule of Ohio opponents. * Warren Harding – Few teams at the prep level can field a front line of three players 6-5 or taller who can score, defend, rebound and run the floor but that’s exactly what Harding has in the senior triumvirate of 6-8 Chris Henderson, 6-7 Damian Eargle and 6-5 Elijah Jordan. Eargle is the standout after averaging 14.0 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game, but Henderson seems like a perfect complement inside. “Damian already is our all-time shot-block leader and Chris is probably going to finish second in that category,” coach Steve Arnold said. “Chris is one of the best passing big men in the area and he and Damian just work so well together in there. “We like to get out and run at every opportunity and those guys are going to trigger our fast break by sending out shots and getting rebounds.” When they do hit high gear, the Raiders showcase a pair of highly talented junior guards – 6-4 point Desmar Jackson and 6-2 off-guard Sheldon Brogdon. Arnold said Jackson, who has take-over ability, played unselfishly with the team this summer after transferring from Warren JFK. Brogdon, meanwhile, is instant offense. “He can flat-out score,” Arnold said. “He’s one of the best shooters around.” With so much talent, Arnold already has addressed the bull’s-eye that now rests on the chests of the Raiders, who were 17-6 a year ago. “We know we’re going to be hunted,” he said. “We are every year but this year even moreso. There are high expectations. “It looks very good on paper but we have to go out and be productive. As a coaching staff we’re making sure we plant the seed that we need to defend. If we do that, rebound and share the ball, everything else will take care of itself.” Harding had its 2006-07 season end with a loss to Canton GlenOak in the district finals. Arnold has put together another brutal schedule, which includes nonconference tilts with Akron St. VincentSt. Mary, Toledo Scott, Bedford, Cincinnati Withrow and Mansfield Senior. * Also Keep An Eye On – Bedford, Canton McKinley, Centerville, Cincinnati Moeller, Cincinnati St. Xavier, Cincinnati Winton Woods, Euclid, Massillon Perry, Middletown, Newark, Toledo St. John’s.

DIVISION II

By Jeff Rapp

Mystery, parity surround Division II race

ayton Dunbar was not supposed to repeat its crown at the D-II level but that’s exactly what the Wolverines did, proving their determination and the true force of their program under head coach Peter Pullen. Dunbar figures to be in the hunt once again, but this division immediately got tougher with Toledo Libbey’s shift downward and there are several other teams that appeared primed for a big season, most notably Chillicothe. Plus, D-II always manages to spring some surprises, and sure enough there are a plethora of squads lurking in the shadows. Who will emerge? It’s anybody’s guess.

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Boys Basketball Preview Top Players

Photo by Gary Housteau

* B.J. Mullens, 7-0, Sr., C, Canal Winchester – Mullens played his first two varsity seasons at Canal Winchester World Harvest Prep before transferring to nearby Canal Winchester. He averaged 26.4 points, and 14.1 rebounds per game in his first season with the Indians, earning second-team All-Ohio honors. One of the top recruits in his class nationally, Mullens committed to Ohio State before he even played varsity basketball. * William Buford, 6-5, Sr., G/F, Toledo Libbey – A surefire allstate player and “Mr. Basketball” candidate, Buford has a little work to do before joining the ranks at Ohio State – like try to lead his team to a state title. He scored a whopping 28.4 ppg and added 10 boards per outing last year and was named first team All-Ohio in Division I. * Logan Aronholt, 6-4, Sr., WF, Zanesville – First-team All-State performer last year who averaged 17.3 ppg. * Anthony Hitchens, 5-9, Sr., PG, Chillicothe – Exciting point man who makes Chillicothe go. Averaged 18.5 ppg and was named second-team All-Ohio. * Josh Benson, 6-10, Sr., PF, Dayton Dunbar – Burgeoning star who will try to lead Dunbar back to the top of Division II. Already Columbus DeSales sophomore Nick committed to Dayton. Kellogg is quickly becoming one of * Nick Kellogg, 6-2, the state’s top players. Soph., PG, Columbus DeSales – At this rate, Kellogg could be the best player in Division I by next year. Strong and feisty and able to make big plays.

Teams To Watch

Here are some of the key contenders in Division II: * Canal Winchester – The Indians have the services of the best big man in the state in Mullens and may have enough pieces around him to reach Columbus in March. “He’s got a lot of potential and has worked hard on his game the last year and half he’s been with us,” longtime CW coach Kent Riggs said. “We’re excited about where we can go. “The expectations probably are a little higher now but we’ve approached this season like the ones in the past by putting together a good schedule against the kind of teams we’ll see as we try to move through the tournament.” Ball handling was an issue at times last season but Canal may have rectified that thanks to the transfer of 5-8 point guard Ray Nelson, a former teammate of Mullens at Canal Winchester Harvest Prep. Another senior, 5-11 Aaron Gilbert, also is back at the position. Other guards include a pair of juniors in 5-10 Wes White and 5-8 Anthony Riggs, the coach’s son who served as the sixth man last season. Senior Blake Erwin already is lost for the season with a knee injury but 6-4 Aaron Barber should be able to aid Mullens inside. Canal finished 16-7 last year and showed lots of improvement by season’s end. “Last year we were really young and it was like starting over

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because the kids had to get used to playing with B.J.,” Kent Riggs said. “Once they did that we were pretty competitive.” * Chillicothe – The Cavaliers remember too well their 76-70 loss to Columbus DeSales in a Division II regional championship at Ohio University in March. That ended their 2006-07 season a step away from the state tournament and left a sour taste in the mouths of a team that will return almost entirely intact. Head coach Gary Kellough loaded up the Cavs’ schedule to keep them pointed toward big things again this season – and it doesn’t hurt that he’ll boast the return of 11 of 13 letter winners from a team that posted a record of 20-5 last year. The only departed starter is power forward Chris Gibbons, who is now playing football at Miami (Ohio), and his most likely replacement is 6-5 Seth Dawes, a junior with previous starting experience. Also vying for more work inside is Ronnie Smith, another 6-5 junior. The center spot is manned by 6-7 senior Ray Chambers, who is being courted by several Division I schools. Chambers averaged right around 17 points per game and a like number of boards last season. “He’s a rebounding machine,” Kellough said. The Cavs have good skill on the wing and in the backcourt. Stu Beverly, a 6-2 senior will return to the three position and Calbe Knight, a 6-2 junior, should be ready to take flight at off-guard. Knight is another D-1 recruit in basketball – if he doesn’t decide to play quarterback at the next level. The point guard spot is in the able hands of Hitchens, a senior who answers to the nickname “Humpty” and one of the most revered players in program history. The 5-10 Hitchens, who already is committed to Akron, averaged 18.5 ppg last season to lead the team in scoring for the third straight year. “We feel really good about our experience,” Kellough said. “Last year we were still a year away from getting to Columbus but we believe we can get another shot at it. “We’re just like any other good team – we’ve got to keep improving, avoid injuries and make sure we’re moving forward toward our goal.” Chillicothe opens the season with a date with Columbus Brookhaven. * Columbus DeSales – The Stallions enter this season with hunger pangs since their magical run through last year’s tournament ended with a dramatic 58-56 loss to Wooster Triway in a state semifinal match-up. The defeat left DeSales with a final mark of 22-4. Also, the team had to part ways with three players who went on to the college ranks – Alex Kellogg (Providence), Elijah Allen (Northwest Missouri State) and Dane Johnson (Western Oregon) – and five other seniors. “The makeup of our team is different,” coach Blair Albright said. “We’re going to have to work really hard, if not harder, but our guys are set to prove they can play, too.” Nick, the younger, Kellogg, will lock down the point guard duties and keep everyone involved and enthused. “He’s a competitive monster,” Albright said. “and that’s a good thing because there is a lot on his shoulders for us to be successful.” Kellogg will reunite with three other returning starters – 6-0 junior off-guard Zak Gabarcik, 6-3 junior wing Nick Goff and 7-1 senior center Sean Hobbs. The X-factor is new power forward Ike Ariguzo, a 65 junior who can make athletic plays on both ends of the floor. “We should be a four-out, one-in (offense) with Sean getting more touches inside,” Albright said. “It’ll be interesting to see how we evolve, but I really like this group.” * Dayton Dunbar – Dunbar had lots to celebrate in the way of hoops last spring and summer as the Wolverines repeated as Division II state champs and favorite son Daequan Cook helped the Buckeyes to the Final Four and became a first-round draft pick of the

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this and we've got next year. We just don't want to feel this (disappointment) again. We're going to try to take it all the way next year.” The program’s switch to Division II might help Libbey do just that. * Also Keep An Eye On – Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Cincinnati Taft, Kenton, Kettering Alter, Poland Seminary, Toledo Central Catholic, Upper Sandusky, Wooster Triway, Zanesville.

DIVISION III

By Jeff Rapp

North College Hill, Clev. VASJ among early favorites

ention can’t be made of the race for the Division III state championship without North College Hill leading the discussion. The last three years the Trojans have led in the state title game at the buzzer. NCH goes for its fourth straight state championship this season, which is something no Ohio school has ever done. Columbus Wehrle (1988-90), Dayton Stivers (1928-30) and NCH have won three straight. Thirteen schools have won back-to-back titles. As unrealistic as it sounded with the departure of O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker before the 2006-07 season, it’s no longer unrealistic to think the Trojans can’t win again. Senior guard Damon Butler is one of the state’s top players regardless of division and Alfonso McPherson is a presence in the post. Look for the Trojans to get pushed hard by Cleveland Villa AngelaSt. Joseph. The Vikings are looking for their third straight state tournament appearance and payback for a 90-73 loss to NCH in the 2006 final. VASJ returns the reigning D-III player of the year in Ashen Ward.

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Top Players

* Ashen Ward, 6-3, Sr., G, Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph – Reigning D-III state player of the year averaged 14.7 points per game en route to leading Vikings to second straight D-III state tournament. * Gene Goering, 6-3 Sr., F, Archbold – Four-year starter averaged 20 points last year after netting 19.2 as a sophomore. Was named secondteam All-Ohio last season. * J.R. Weston, 6-5, Sr., G, Morral Ridgedale – Thirdteam D-IV All-Ohio last season after averaging 23.5 points per game. Averaged 21 points as a sophomore. * Drew Spradlin, 6-5, Sr., F, Wheelersburg – Spradlin averaged 18 points last year after netting 15.3 as a sophomore. Had 14 points, six rebounds and three assists in state semifinal loss to NCH. Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph sen* Tyler Osterman, 6-2, Sr., ior Ashen Ward is the reigning D-III G/F, Lemon-Monroe – player of the year. Versatile player was Photo by Gary Housteau

Photo by Nick Falzerano

NBA. And the cupboard is not bare this year. Pullen has a centerpiece in the lanky and talented Benson, who figures to only build on last season. “We really hope what he showed at state by being MVP and playing well that his maturity light has turned on,” longtime Dunbar assistant coach Al Powell said. “He’s the nucleus to our team and he’s working hard.” Unfortunately for the Wolves, Anthony Oden, the younger brother of former Ohio State star Greg Oden, has returned to Indianapolis and will not play his senior season at Dunbar. The 6-9 Oden is a board eater who could have taken some pressure off of Benson. Still, the Wolverines have a rising talent in 6-6 power forward Derion Brandon and can shuffle sophomores Devon Carter and Deon Stewart at wing forward. Dayton Dunbar senior Harvey Stewart The backcourt has lost great players like Cook in the and the Wolverines are looking for last couple years but Dunbar thier third straight D-II state title. has a pair of guards who are tourney-tested in 6-1 Keith Rakestraw and 6-2 Harvey Stewart. Rakestraw averaged 16 ppg during the postseason run in March. Powell said the coaches also believe they can get instant energy from 5-7 point guard Keith Winn, a shooter and jet-quick player in the open floor. “What people don’t realize is we actually bring back four solid kids who had solid numbers last year,” Powell said. “No disrespect to the southwest Ohio region but we feel like we still can contend.” Dunbar again will take on one of the most challenging slates in the state by tangling with the likes of Columbus Brookhaven, Chillicothe, Columbus Northland, Chaminade-Julienne, Akron Buchtel, Berlin Hiland and Lexington (Ky.) Dunbar. *Toledo Libbey – Buford is not all Libbey possesses. In fact, fellow seniors Julius Wells and Brad Sandridge are talented in their own right and just as anxious to help the Cowboys ride high this season. Wells is a 6-5 forward and Sandridge a 6-3 guard. They are playing to catch the eyes of college coaches this season, but mostly they are intent to combine forces with their buddy Buford one more time to see if they can advance even deeper into the postseason. Last season, to prepare for such a possible run, coach Leroy Bates’ team played no less than 10 games on neutral floors and still came away with a 21-2 record. “That motivated us and made us more hungry to win,” Sandridge told The (Toledo) Blade last winter. “We want to get to state. We have the weapons to get down there. It’s just going to take discipline, a lot of discipline.” However, Libbey absorbed a 75-70 loss in the district final to Toledo St. John’s Jesuit, a team it had beaten twice in the regular season. Buford had 31 points, nine rebounds and four assists, but it wasn’t enough for the Cowboys to meet their goal. “This is not where we wanted to end up,” he said after the loss. “We wanted to end up in Columbus, but sometimes it happens like

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Boys Basketball Preview

Teams To Watch

* Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph – The Vikings have made two straight D-III state tournaments and don’t be surprised if they stretch it to three. In addition to Ward, VASJ returns Nate Barnes (59, Sr. G) who was their leading scorer (15 points) in last year’s state semifinal loss to Findlay Liberty-Benton. Barnes was third-team AllOhio. Size is not a problem for the Vikings who have senior post players Klein Harper (6-7) and Dominick Hayes (6-8). Harper grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds in last year’s state semi. Senior Brian Jenkins (5-8) and junior Scott Szczepinski (5-11) will contribute. * North College Hill – No discussion of D-III state title contenders can be complete without mention of NCH. The Trojans are trying to become the eighth school to win four titles overall. Butler will challenge for state player of the year honors, while 6-4 senior Alfonso McPherson looks to provide power in the post. McPherson scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in the state title game a year ago. Seniors Mike Green (6-3) and Mario Ward (6-4) add experience. Look for sophomores Barry Cobb (5-11, G) and Angelo Pruitt (6-4, F) to make significant contributions. Both logged extensive minutes. * Sugarcreek Garaway – The Pirates ended last season ranked

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No. 6 in the final state poll before being upset by Beverly Fort Frye in a district semifinal. Garaway is now one of the favorites in Athens regional. The Pirates return of point guard Tyler Gerber who will be a four-year starter. Also back are senior Chase Stingel and junior David Gerber (6-4). The difference maker could be 6-7 freshman Paul Honigford. Honigford, whose father Jim played at Ohio State, is considered one of the best freshman in the country. The Pirates also add 6-4 junior Colten Troyer. Troyer had to sit out his sophomore year after transferring from West Holmes. He practiced with the team last season. * Wheelersburg – The Pirates have been to back-toback D-III state tournaments. Spradlin returns as does starter Matt Jenkins (5-8, Sr., G). Key subs last season – seniors Caleb Brown and Wheelersburg senior Drew Spradlin Dustin Cook – will play bigger roles this year. has averaged double-figures the last * Findlay Liberty-Benton – two years. One of two starters back. The Eagles are coming off a state runner-up finish in D-III, but will be hard pressed to duplicate last year’s run. Graduation hit Liberty-Benton hard. One starter returns in sophomore Aaron Craft (6-0, G). Senior Andy Smith (6-2, W/P) is the only other returner that logged minutes in Columbus. * Rocky River Lutheran West – The Longhorns were No. 5 in final state poll and advanced to regional final where they lost to VASJ (5552). West had a 61-game regular season win streak snapped last season by Brooklyn. Voiers can light it up. Photo by Gary Housteau

Photo by Gary Housteau

Cincinnati’s second leading scorer (behind O.J. Mayo) as a sophomore, when he averaged 26 points. Last season, Osterman averaged 20.7 points and was named the Southwest District player of the year. Was also named special mention All-Ohio as a sophomore before earning second-team honors last season. Osterman is a standout quarterback. * Damon Butler, 6-0, Sr. G, North College Hill – Star of D-III state tournament last season averaged 19.4 points en route to third-team AllOhio honors. He averaged 17.1 points per game as a sophomore. * Nathanael Harney, 6-2, Sr., F, Middletown Madison – Two-time All-Ohioan averaged 19.4 points per game last season after scoring 21.5 as a sophomore. Was firstteam All-Southwest District. * Tyler Gerber, 5-9, Sr., G, Sugarcreek Garaway – Averaged 17.9 points per game last season en route to second-team All-Ohio honors. North College Hill senior Damon * Zach Walton, 6-4, Sr., P, Butler has averaged 19.4 and 17.1 Utica – Was named thirdppg the last two years, respectively. team All-Ohio after averaging 18.5 points per game. * Chris Crockett, 5-10, Sr., G, Columbus Academy – Football standout also excels on hardcourt. Averaged 23.6 points a year ago en route to earning first-team D-IV All-Ohio honors. * Scott Voiers, 6-2, Sr., G, Rocky River Lutheran West – Team’s leading scorer a year ago was special mention All-Ohio. Has potential to score in bunches. * Josh Kellough, 6-1, Sr., G, Chillicothe Huntington – Reigning Scioto Valley Conference player of the year and special mention AllOhio. * David Malone, 6-3, Sr., P, Richmond Heights – Selected firstteam D-IV All-Ohio last season after averaging 20.1 points per game.

Other Teams To Watch

* Archbold – The Blue Streaks have been to the state semifinals three of the last five years. Denied a title each time. Goering is a talent and difference maker. * Beverly Fort Frye – The Cadets lose Tyler Engle, but return everyone else. Senior Derek Thompson (6-5) is one of the best players in the Eastern District. He improved leaps and bounds during AAU play. Junior Brandt Thieman will be tough for opposing teams to deal with as he can play inside and out at 6-4. Also back are returning starters junior Jarrod Arnold and senior Mason Lang. Junior Tyler Stephens should be the other starter. * Martins Ferry – The Riders will be a tough out for anybody with 6-6 sophomore Jordan Burress controlling the middle. Also back are seniors Derek Edwards and Tony Sabatino (coach’s son). * Canton Central Catholic – CCC must get through VASJ to get to Columbus, but Eric Coggins and Nick Foster return to go along with seniors Joey Rhoades and Nate Hronec. * Chillicothe Huntington – The Huntsmen made a district final last season before being ousted by Wheelersburg. With Kellough back, Huntington is favorite in Scioto Valley Conference. * Tuscarawas Valley – The Trojans return four players -- Jacob Brown, Steven Spillman (6-1, Sr.), Pat Kane (6-0, Sr.) and Kurt Elsasser (6-2, Sr.) -- from a team that made a regional final.

By Eric Frantz

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Boys Basketball Preview

DIVISION IV

here are probably quite a few Division IV teams across Ohio with March 15, 2008, circled on their calendars. And for good reason. Many teams have a legitimate shot of playing in the state championship that day at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus. Ohio’s smallest division is deep. A repeat by defending state champion Georgetown is unlikely since the G-Men were depleted by graduation. But don’t be surprised to see 2007 state tournament participants Berlin Hiland or Canal Winchester Harvest Prep return. The additions of Hamler Patrick Henry, Bedford St. Peter Chanel, Haviland Wayne Trace and Columbus Africentric, which were all previously in D-III, strengthen an already solid statewide field. It’s highly likely the eventual state champion could come from whoever survives the Northwest District, which is by far the state’s toughest with Ada, Toledo Christian, Wayne Trace, Van Buren, New Knoxville, Patrick Henry and Plymouth.

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Top Players

* Tyler Tucci, 6-1, Jr., W, Malvern – First-team All-Ohio last season after averaging 20.3 points per game. Averaged 14.3 points as a freshman. * Tim Mapp, 6-2, Sr., Columbus Africentric – Special mention AllOhio after averaging 16.1 points. * Lamar McKnight, 6-5, Jr., F, Bedford St. Peter Chanel – Talented post player averaged 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks last season playing against bigger division competition. * Matt Phillips, 6-4, Sr., P, Van Buren – First-team All-Northwest District and special mention All-Ohio last season after averaging 18.3 points per game. * Brian Hecker, 6-4, Jr., P, Worthington Christian – Earned thirdteam All-Ohio honors last season as a sophomore after averaging 18.1 points per game. * Zac Dysert, 6-3, Sr., P/W, Ada – One of state’s top quarterbacks, Dysert earned second-team All-Ohio honors in basketball last season after averaging 20.1 points per game. Has committed to Miami (Ohio) for football. * Adrian Payne, 6-8, So., C, Dayton Jefferson – Young talent already has scholarship offers from Xavier and Dayton.

Teams To Watch

* Malvern – Tucci (first-team All-Ohio) and seniors Zak Kapron (special mention All-Ohio; 16.7 ppg) and Trevor Halter (17.2 ppg) create a formidable trio. The Hornets made a district final last season before falling to Berlin Hiland (66-63). Malvern is no doubt looking for an extended tournament run this season. * Ada – The Bulldogs have the talent to make the school’s first state tournament appearance since 1923. Dysert is arguably the best player in the Northwest District and will get plenty of support from Andrew Cross, Kyle Baker and Nate Vermillion. * Worthington Christian – The Warriors are a threat to make first state tournament since 2000 and win first state title since 1999. In addition to Hecker, WC returns talented brother duo of Tyler and Zack Joseph. Tyler, a senior, averaged 15 ppg last year, while Zack, a

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Photo by Nick Falzerano

State’s smallest division is arguably deepest

sophomore, averaged 12.8 ppg. * Berlin Hiland – One of Ohio’s top small school programs year-in and year-out, the Hawks are coming off the school’s seventh state tournament appearance. Hiland lost to Georgetown in state semis (42-41). Although the Hawks return just one starter in senior Casey Kaufman (5-8, G), they do have a deep and talented senior class (seven). Thirdyear head coach Mark Schlabach has plenty of tourney experience having led two teams to state (Hiland in 2007; Loudonville in 2005). * New Knoxville – The Rangers went undefeated in regular season last year and were No. 1 in final state poll before losing to Georgetown in regional finals. Most of last year’s team graduated, but senior Josh Niemeyer returns (13 ppg). Never count out the defending Midwest Athletic Conference champion. * Canal Winchester World Harvest Prep – The New Knoxville senior Josh Niemeyer Warriors were state runner(13.1 ppg) returns from last year’s up last season and finished squad that went 25-1. 24-1 in head coach Mike Thornton’s first season at the school. Thornton previously had success at Columbus Africentric. World Harvest returns one starter in senior Dane Givner (6-0, G). Givner reached double-figures in both state games last season, while senior Quintin Aden (6-1, G) and junior Nehemiah Trotter (6-0, G) logged significant minutes. The Warriors were hurt with the transfer and loss of leading scorer Remon Nelson to Canal Winchester. * Columbus Africentric – The Nubians drop down to D-IV again where they won and had a state title stripped in 2005. Seniors Mapp and Jay Meadows are one of Columbus’ top 1-2 punches. * Bedford Chanel – After dropping down from D-III, many believe the Firebirds are a threat for a state title. Besides McKnight, Chanel also returns juniors JoVaughn Brown (5-10, G) and Arthur Jordan (64, P). Brown averaged seven points, six assists and two steals last season, while Jordan averaged six points and six boards. Chanel has reached six straight district finals. * Hamler Patrick Henry – The Patriots haven’t been to state tournament since winning D-III state title in 1997 but could end drought. Patrick Henry’s drop down to D-IV makes the Northwest District that much more difficult.

Other Teams To Watch

* Plymouth – Sleeper pick who has talented sophomore in Blake Turson (18.5 ppg). Mansfield St. Peters transfer Brandon McCauley will boost line-up. * Shadyside – Bill Merryman led Shadyside to a state football final last year and this season would love to duplicate the feat in basketball. Merryman averaged 17 ppg last season. The Tigers have the pieces to put together a memorable run. * Toledo Christian – Standout junior Ethan Michael (6-4, Jr. P) returns after scoring 12.6 points per game.

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Boys Basketball Preview

Photo by Gary Housteau

* Windham – Windham wrapped a 20-4 record last season with a regional semifinal loss to Berlin Hiland. Senior Phil Workman is back after earning honorable mention All-Ohio honors. Workman averaged 17.6 points per game last year and 13.6 as a sophomore. Junior Cody Apthorpe is back as well (14 ppg). * McDonald – The Blue Devils were ranked No. 4 in final state poll last year and took 24-0 record into regionals before losing semifinal to Rittman. * Georgetown – Before last season’s state title and undefeated season (27-0), the G-Men were known best for producing former Xavier and NBA star Brian Grant. Georgetown graduated three starters but returns two in senior Marc Gray 5-7, G) and super sophomore Jess Georgetown sophomore Jess Chadwell (6-3, G). Chadwell Chadwell is one of two returning had a double-double (11 starters for defending state champion. points, 11 rebounds) in state semifinal win over Berlin Hiland and scored 11 points in state final. * Lancaster Fisher Catholic – The Irish return four of five starters

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including standout junior Luke Roesch (16 ppg). * Cleveland Heights Lutheran East – The 2005 state champion returns senior Paul McQueen (17.4 ppg) and junior Marques Wiggins (14.3 ppg). * Van Buren – The Black Knights finished last season 22-3, ranked No. 6 in final state poll and regional runner-up after succumbing to Holgate. Phillips is a reliable centerpiece. * Holgate – The Tigers are coming off their second state tournament appearance in four years and always seem to be in thick of postseason chase regardless of record thanks to deliberate style of play. Points are at a premium against Holgate, which held opponents to under 20 points four times last season. The Tigers return one starter in senior Jared Clady (5-9, G). Clady had 11 points and seven rebounds in last season’s state semi loss to World Harvest. * Haviland Wayne Trace – The Raiders return Aaron Hockenberry (15.8 ppg) * Dayton Jefferson Twp. – After a brief stint in D-III, the Broncos drop back down to D-IV where they won a state title in 1998. Jefferson has five state tournament appearances total. Payne is nice building block for team that made sectional final a year ago before losing 43-41 to Middletown Fenwick. Jefferson was a D-III district finalist in 2006. * Waterford – The Wildcats return junior D.J. Cunningham (6-8, 12 ppg) and seniors Gary Tornes (6-3, 13.2 ppg) and Derek Hoge (6-4). * Oak Hill – In his first season, head coach Norm Persin led the Oaks to a D-III regional. Now in D-IV, what’s in store in Year 2? Keep an eye on 6-5 junior Casey Love.

By Eric Frantz

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Kenny Frease

Massillon Perry 7-footer Will Play His College Ball At Xavier University

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assillon Perry 7-0 senior center Kenny Frease had already taken the plunge and made his verbal commitment to play college basketball at Xavier. Accordingly, Frease had nothing more to prove this past summer. He could have opted to stay close to home and honed his skills against his high school teammates. But Frease pushed himself over the summer. He played in various AAU events, attended national camps and even went abroad with a U.S. select team to play in a Reebok-sponsored event in Europe. “He has always tried to put himself up against good competition,” Massillon Perry coach Rob Toth said. “He has never shied away from any challenges.” We first caught up with Frease in June at the NBA Players Association camp at the University of Virginia. He had just returned from playing overseas a few days earlier. “It was an experience, for sure,” Frease said of the Reebok trip. “I played over there for a week. Over there, they are so much more lax with their free throw situation. When the shooter has the ball, you can run into the key. Basically, as soon as the ref gave them the ball, they were stepping in to rebound. You have somebody trying to shoot a shot and there are people standing down there in front of you. It was unbelievable. “They also played with a 24-second shot clock and 10-minute quarters. It was fun, but we had a tough time. We were going up against 19- and 20-year-old men.” Despite the jetlag associated with such a trip, Frease did not pass up a chance to attend the NBAPA camp. There, he got pointers from NBA greats and also matched up against some of the nation’s top young big men. “Obviously, it’s a great experience,” Frease said. “You get to learn some of the different tricks and different moves they know. It’s really cool to work with any NBA player. “Whenever you can get all of the players together – whether they are Nike, Reebok or Adidas – you don’t usually get a chance to play against them. I was a Nike guy on a Nike team, so I did not normally get to play against guys from the Reebok or Adidas teams. That

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Tall Order

Kenny Frease is a two-time All-Ohio selection in Division I. He averged 14.5 ppg last year after scoring 18.6 as a sophomore.

Photo by Steve Helwagen

makes the competition much better.” College coaches have known about Frease for a few years. He became a member of Perry’s varsity team as a freshman. The last two seasons, he has earned third-team All-Ohio honors in Division I. As a sophomore, he averaged 18.6 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots per game. Last year, he battled injuries and averaged 14.5 points per game. “He has really come a long way since his freshman year,” Toth said. “We have had him

up with the varsity since that time. Without shoes on, he is just under 7-0. With them on, he is 7-1. That is pretty good with that body and that frame. “I can remember when he was bent over and hunched over as a freshman. Now, he is big and strong. He has improved his running and his shooting and his technique. He has gotten a lot more aggressive with time and repetition.” Frease can post up, but he is also not afraid to take a foul line jumper or even drive

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Kenny Frease

STORY BY STEVE HELWAGEN to the basket when the situation presents itself. “I’m good at standing and shooting,” he said. “If I am set and I have an open look, I can usually knock it down. But I want to work on getting the ball at the top of the key, pump faking and taking a dribble. That is the stuff I have been working on. “The things I am learning will definitely help me out in the long run.”

A Tough Year

Frease is considered one of Ohio’s top prospects in the Class of 2008, ranking fifth in Ohio High magazine. He is also rated as the nation’s No. 37 prospect overall by ESPN.com. But he had a tough time living up to those lofty rankings last season. He was twice sidelined by injuries. He went down with a broken wrist. Then, upon returning from that injury, he was sideline with a broken orbital bone around his eye. “The fourth game in, I broke my wrist,” Frease said. “Then, in four more games, we were playing Canton Central Catholic and I got punched in the eye. I was out for four more weeks.” Perry struggled a bit without Frease, ending the year 13-11 overall. Frease returned to the fold for the postseason tournament and the Panthers went on a short run. They defeated Marietta, defending state champion Canton McKinley and North Canton Hoover to advance to a district final match-up against Federal League rival Canton GlenOak. That set up a showdown between Frease and GlenOak’s 7-0 Kosta Koufos, who is now a freshman at Ohio State. But GlenOak, which would advance to the state final four, had too much and prevailed 45-28 to move on to the regional. “Last year, he had two serious injuries that took him out of about half of our games,” Toth said. “He came back for the tournament, but he was almost playing on instinct. There was no conditioning. “We got to the district final against Canton GlenOak and he had a great first half against Kosta (Koufos). But he just ran out of gas.” Despite the loss, Frease was glad he was able to make it back for the tournament. “After all the stuff that team went through this season it was good to make a little run at the end,” he said. “We beat McKinley and Hoover. Those are two of the bigger power houses around our area. We lost to GlenOak in the district championship. “The hardest part for me was my conditioning. I was conditioned pretty good at the beginning of the season, but then I got hurt

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and sat out six weeks. That definitely took me down, then I got back and was just starting to get back into it, and a few weeks later I get hurt again. I am sitting out again and it was like starting from a point that was even lower than before.” Frease is hopeful all of his injury problems are behind him and he can have a productive senior year. “My main goal this year is to stay healthy and play all of the games,” he said. “I got hurt last year and only got to play 12 games. “This year, I’m just trying to lead my team to a state championship if possible. It should be a fun season. I think we should be all right.” Frease is among three returning starters as he will be joined by a pair of 6-3 seniors in Trey Thomas and Andy Reed. “Our goals are to hopefully win the league and win the district,” Toth said. “With Canton McKinley here, that has been a difficult task. Plus, we have other schools like GlenOak and Warren Harding and Canton Timken, which is going up to Division I this year. They should be pretty good. “We’d like a chance to win the district this year. Last year, we were one step away.” Toth believes Frease can lead Perry to take that next step. “I am just looking for another progression,” the coach said. “From his freshman year to his sophomore year and his sophomore year to his junior year, he has made big strides. I am looking for him to make more improvement in his all-around game. I am not putting any expectations on him. I just want him to go out and play hard and practice hard every day. “We want him to do what it takes to win. If that is shoot the ball more, then great. I think at times he has been too unselfish. What helped us in the tournament – where we were able to beat Canton McKinley and North Canton Hoover – is we told him he had to get a little selfish. He has the ability to put us on his back and carry us.”

Headed To Xavier

Frease raised some eyebrows last March, when he verbaled to Xavier over the likes of such major conference powers as Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Kentucky. The Musketeers, led by coach Sean Miller, were just coming off a 25-8 season capped by a heartbreaking NCAA Tournament overtime loss to Ohio State. But Frease said the familiarity he had with Miller and the XU program was what swung it for him. “At the point that I had committed, I had it down to Xavier and Notre Dame,” said

Frease, who was expected to sign a letter-ofintent for XU in November. “With Xavier, they have always been there. They were the first team that started recruiting me. The thing that really stood out to me was when I was thinking about my college decision, it was always Xavier and Michigan or Xavier and Notre Dame or Xavier and Michigan State. “Xavier was always there, so I don’t know how they’re not the best. That is one of the main reasons I chose them. The thing about that is they have the coaching staff to do it and the players to do it. With me and (fellow 2008 verbals) Mark Lyons and Brad Redford and Brian Walsh coming in and (2007 Ohio standout) Dante Jackson also committing there, we definitely have the players to make it happen.” Toth helped counsel Frease during the recruiting process. He shed some light on why Frease opted for the Atlantic 10 school over offers from those in the Big Ten, Big East and SEC. “Kenny does get that question a lot as to why he did choose Xavier,” Toth said. “Xavier may be a smaller school, but they are still a major basketball school. They got on him early. Sean Miller and his guys were the first to offer him a scholarship. They continue to keep that personal relationship. “Kenny is a personable kid. He likes to have that feeling that he is a part of something. They created that kind of atmosphere for him. They told him they felt he could be a major contributor for them right away. They did it first and they did it better with him. “They got into his heart. That’s the kind of kid he is. That’s the kind of family he has. They are very close and very supportive. I think he saw a similar situation at Xavier and that is a credit to Sean and the staff they have there.” Frease talked about areas he wants to improve before he embarks on his college career. “Before college starts, I want to lose 15 pounds so I can move better,” he said. “I want to maintain my strength. I want to be able to play the four and move and run the floor more. I think if I weighed 245 or 250 pounds instead of 260, I would be able to move a lot better and jump a lot better. I could create some mismatches with some big guys if I could do that.” Toth said he is already seeing some gains. “We do spend a lot of time in the weight room,” the coach said. “We probably have the number two wrestling program in the state and the guy who trains our wrestlers has also been training our team for the last year. We have seen a lot of gains there. “Kenny has spent a lot of time on his conditioning and his footwork.” — OH

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Delvon Roe

Lakewood St. Edward’s Delvon Roe considered among nation’s top five prep prospects

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Roe is headed to Michigan State after selecting the Spartans over North Carolina, Ohio State, Kansas and Michigan.

Photo by Gary Housteau

or some high school athletes, the adulation heaped upon them as they go down the recruiting trail can lead to complacency. That does not seem to be an issue for Lakewood St. Edward basketball phenom Delvon Roe, however. The 6-8, 220-pound Roe has been in a neck-and-neck battle for several years with Canal Winchester 7-1 center B.J. Mullens and Toledo Libbey 6-5 wing William Buford to see who truly is the top prospect in Ohio’s Class of 2008. Roe will play his college basketball at Michigan State, while Mullens and Buford have verbaled to Ohio State. The national pundits have spoken. In ESPN.com’s latest top 150 list, Roe checks in at No. 5 overall nationally. This Eagle has definitely landed and he is almost certain to be a McDonald’s All-American when the season ends next March. But his coach said his star player never stops working. “A great word to use is passion,” said St. Edward head coach Eric Flannery. “Not many kids at his age and with his ability play with his desire and passion. He is a guy who is willing to do all of the things you need to do. He will rebound, set screens, run up and down the floor. He does the little things that make a huge difference. “He is always the first one on the floor and the last one to leave. He is a very high-skilled athlete. You combine that with his fundamentals and his desire to be good and that’s a pretty good package.” Roe helped lead St. Ed to a 25-1 record and a berth in the Division I state final four last March. He then set out across the summer AAU and camp circuit to make a name for himself. His biggest plaudits came at the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs in June. Roe was the leading scorer at 30.3 points per game during a five-game run at the festival, which saw their U.S. teams compete against each other as well as international competition. Roe talked about competing against the very best from across the country and the world at the festival, which is a feeder system for the U.S. Olympic program. “With USA Basketball, we talk about wanting to represent our country the best we can,” Roe said. “When we put that USA across our chest, we want to go out there and give it our best effort and put a little more into it. “We talked about how LeBron (James) and Carmelo (Anthony) have come through that organization and how neat it is one day that we could be on that list. We could be holding that gold medal, not a bronze medal, and taking a step toward greatness. It’s neat that we have a chance to be a part of that. Most kids don’t get a chance to be a part of that. We are blessed to have that opportunity.” Roe was also omnipresent on the AAU circuit this summer, playing for

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Delvon Roe

STORY BY STEVE HELWAGEN the King of the Court team. By the end of the summer, he had solidified his place among the top prospects nationally in the 2008 class. “I don’t know if there is a clear No. 1 or No. 2 in this class,” Roe said. “I think we’re all pretty good players. That top 10 is pretty much interchangeable. I think we’re all good guys and we all work hard. There is nobody in that top 10 who does not work hard and give it their best out there. “To me, the rankings are not that important because I have already committed to a college and I am focused on getting my high school team to a state championship. After that, I move on to college.” At each stop, Roe said he made sure to listen to instruction. “The mind-set is that you have to work on your skills first,” Roe said. “That’s how you get better, not through the games. Everybody knows you can play basketball. But it’s what you can do to improve your game. You want to be great at skill development. Then, when you go home to your hometown, you practice those skills and that makes you better. That helps you get to the next level.”

This Eagle Soars

Roe will be a four-year starter for the famed St. Edward program. Flannery, who guided St. Ed to a state title in 1998, returns for his 12th season at the helm. He shared his first recollection of seeing Roe in action. “We have had Delvon with us on the varsity here since his freshman year,” Flannery said. “He has been a starter since his second game as a freshman. “We had heard about him when he was in the eighth grade, but he was already more than halfway through his eighth grade year so I did not see that much of him then. The one thing I noticed right away – other than that obvious that he was already 6-5 and he was left-handed – was just his knowledge of the game. “He played as a teammate with the other players on his team. He was just so unselfish. That was obvious when you watched him even at that young age. I knew we had a chance to get a great player and also a player that would be very easy to coach.” Roe was an instant success as a freshman as he averaged 17 points per game and earned special mention All-Ohio honors. He received the same honors as a sophomore in 2005-06 as he averaged 19.3 points, 13 rebounds and an amazing seven blocked shots a game. Last year, he made first-team All-Ohio in Division I after averaging 22.0 points and 10 rebounds per game. St. Edward was ranked No. 1 in Division I most of the year. The Eagles advanced to the state semifinals before falling to eventual state champion Cincinnati Moeller 67-60. Roe had 14 points and four rebounds in that defeat. “Every kid at this level needs to get better at something,” Flannery said. “I would say Delvon just needs to become a more consistent shooter. He has come a long way in four years. But I think his shooting and passing on the perimeter need to come to another level if he is going to succeed. “He can be a dominant player inside for us again this year if he wants to be. He is just so good getting free around the basket. But if he wants to expand his game and get ready for the college level, he needs to improve his perimeter skills.” Roe will be among four starters back at St. Ed, which again will be considered as a state tournament favorite. He will be joined by 6-8 senior forward Tom Pritchard (an Indiana verbal), 6-2 senior guard Frankie Dobbs and 6-2 sophomore guard Pe’shon Howard. “We have nearly everybody returning,” Roe said. “We lose two key pieces in Matt Salay and Kyle Hubbard. But I think we have a great young squad. I think we also have that maturity, though. We know what it takes to get down there to the state tournament. Now, it’s how can we get to the next level and win that state championship?” Howard is already receiving recruiting inquiries as he heads into his sophomore year. “Last year, he was our defensive player of the year,” Roe said. “He is our fire on the court. He works his butt off and he really tries to give it his best

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effort. He brings that spark to the team.” Flannery said he is not looking forward to bidding adieu to Roe and his classmates. “It’s been a wonderful ride for me,” Flannery said. “I know it will be disappointing whenever we will have our last game this season because I know we will be losing a lot of great players and a lot of great kids. Delvon is no exception to that. “He is a wonderful young man. He is good in the classroom. He is good off the floor. It has been good to be here and to see him mature.”

A Spartan Effort

Upon graduation, Roe will trade the green and gold of St. Ed’s for the green and white of Michigan State. His recruitment became somewhat of a spectator sport for basketball junkies nationwide. But he finally made his decision last April 17, when he verbaled to MSU coach Tom Izzo. He is expected to sign with Michigan State during the early signing period in November. He picked MSU over North Carolina, Ohio State, Kansas and Michigan. “I felt that Michigan State is a great program and North Carolina is also a great program,” Roe said. “But at the end of the day I had to follow my heart and I had to do what was best for me and my family. “It was just that camaraderie they had with the players they have coming in there. I felt very close with them. I thought I could be 11 hours away at North Carolina or just three hours away at Michigan State. I felt like what I could get at North Carolina, I could get at Michigan State. “It was a tough decision. It took me a long time to really look at both schools and find the weaknesses and strengths of both schools.” Roe had narrowed the final decision down to Michigan State and North Carolina. He said it was hard telling Roy Williams he planned to go elsewhere. “I didn't know how to tell one of the best coaches in college basketball that I wouldn't be attending his school,” Roe said. Roe said Izzo was shocked to get the good news. But he and assistant Dwayne Stephens stayed on Roe the entire time. “He was very, very shocked,” Roe said of Izzo. “He felt that they were out of the picture. I think he thought I was signed, sealed and delivered to North Carolina. I told him that I had a change of heart and I had to follow my heart and do what my heart told me to do and I always thought Michigan State was the best place for me. “I have a great relationship with Coach Izzo. It’s almost like he’s not my coach but like a father figure in my life. He’s always been there and he always will be there for me and I want to play for him so bad.” Roe is part of a 2008 class that also includes Wisconsin point guard Korie Lucious and Michigan power forward Draymond Green. “I think we are bringing in great players and I know we'll have to work hard each and every night and buying into Coach Izzo's system,” Roe said. “If we do that, we'll be having fun and hopefully we’ll be playing in the tournament and playing in the Final Four. “I think I’m going to be thrown into the fire right away and I’m going to get to play a lot of minutes there.” Flannery shared his view on Roe’s recruitment. “I think it came down to a simple comfort level,” Flannery said. “I think he was comfortable with Coach Izzo and the entire Michigan State coaching staff. He is a hard-nosed kid and I think that fits Tom Izzo’s style. Delvon responds well to that. Michigan State is in a position to be competitive for a national championship. They may be one person away from making a run and Delvon hopes he can be that person.” Flannery talked about how Roe could fit in at the college level for Michigan State. “I think he can be a pure four (power forward) guy who can post up,” Flannery said. “But I think eventually he can also be a solid three on the wing once his shooting and ballhandling becomes more consistent.” — OH

J J H U D D L E . C O M 45


Boys Basketball Recruits

Buford, Mullens And Roe Share Ohio Spotlight

Big Time

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n our last edition of Ohio High, we mentioned how difficult it was to differentiate the elite players in the state, especially in the senior class, in our updated rankings of the top boys basketball prospects. Well, apparently the gap is completely closed. According to our resident expert, Chris Johnson, the Ohio editor of HoopScoopOnline.com, it has become increasingly difficult to crown a player with the season around the corner. Therefore, Ohio High is taking a more diplomatic – and cowardly – approach when it comes to ranking senior superstars William Buford of Toledo Libbey, B.J. Mullens of Canal Winchester and Delvon Roe of Lakewood St. Edward. “It basically goes down to personal preference at this point,” Johnson said. “They’re all great players who had terrific summers but they do different things out on the court. At this point it’s such a close call between them I think it would be most sensible just to rank them as a three-way tie and let their senior seasons play out to determine ultimately who will be ranked No. 1.” All three are just a year away from showing their wares in the Big Ten – Buford and Mullens at Ohio State and Roe at Michigan State. Mullens will join an OSU program that readied Greg Oden for the NBA last year and figures to do the same for 7-footer Kosta Koufos, a Canton GlenOak graduate, this season. “As far as pure talent and/or NBA draftability, Mullens because of his size, skills and athleticism, is the best prospect of the three and could be the last in a three-year succession of Ohio State big men who are lottery picks,” Johnson said. The tier below the Big Three is nearly as impressive with several future Division I players. The junior class, however, lacks fizz at this point. The only Ohioan consistently

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Canal Winchester senior B.J. Mullins is headed to Ohio State following his senior year.

Photo by Anthony Brown

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Boys Basketball Recruits

STORY BY JEFF RAPP ranked in the national top 100 for 2009 is guard Desmar Jackson, who will be in his first season at Warren Harding. Still, there is a noticeable amount of young talent all over the state. The following is our updated rankings for each class, including the most recent national class rankings by ESPN.com (ES) and HoopScoopOnline.com (HS) where applicable: 1. (tie) William Buford, 6-5, wing forward, Toledo Libbey (ES, 8th; HS, 21st) – Buford seems to only get better on the hardwood. He showed great shooting touch, athleticism and leadership throughout the summer, including his starring role with the D-1 Greyhounds AAU squad. He’s just got tremendous offensive skills,” Johnson said. “He’s a great shooter/scorer who knows how to perform. He’s comparable to former Ohio State player Daequan Cook. He’s not quite as athletic as Daequan but he’s a more consistent shooter at this stage.” After verbally committing to Ohio State last fall, Buford went on to post a fantastic junior year, averaging 28.4 points and 10 rebounds a game for Libbey. He’s a first-team All-Ohio player in D-1 who is now a leading candidate for “Mr. Basketball” honors. 1. (tie) B.J. Mullens, 7-1, center, Canal Winchester (ES, 12th; HS, 25th) – Mullens averaged 26.4 points, 14.1 rebounds and 4.4 blocked shots a game as a junior. His scoring average was second only to Upper Sandusky’s Jon Diebler’s among all Division II players, yet he was somehow left off the first-team All-Ohio list. However, Mullens was sure not to be overlooked this summer, playing well in several premier events. And even his critics agree that his potential is nearly unlimited. “At 7-1, 260 pounds, Mullens possesses great athletic ability and skill for a center, including a tremendous offensive repertoire,” Johnson said. “He’s also an outstanding passer. I would like to see him focus a little more attention on defense and rebounding to become the total package. If he can do that, he can have Bill Walton-like potential.” Mullens transferred from nearby World Harvest Prep last year and was dominant in his first season with the Indians. 1. (tie) Delvon Roe, 6-8, power forward, Lakewood St. Edward (ES, 5th; HS, 4th) – A versatile and highly effective lefty, Roe brings a wealth of effort and skill to the court. “He’s a great athlete, a tremendous defender, he plays with great passion, he has an outstanding on-court IQ, a great slasher going to bucket and a great passer,” Johnson said. “The only time Delvon tends to struggle

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Photo by Nick Falzerano

Seniors (Class of 2008)

Dayton Dunbar senior Josh Benson blossomed during the Wolverines’ run to their second straight state title last year.

is when he tries to play more like a wing forward, which he will in his future. But for right now he’s best suited to be a power forward.” As a junior, Roe guided the Eagles to a 251 mark and averaged 22.0 points and eight rebounds a game in earning Division I AllOhio honors. 4. Yancy Gates, 6-8, power forward, Cincinnati Withrow (ES, 26th; HS, 14th) – Gates transferred from Cincinnati Hughes and made Withrow an immediate force. He averaged 19.4 points and eight rebounds a game in earning second-team All-Ohio honors in Division I as a junior. He verbaled to Cincinnati in April, picking the Bearcats over Georgetown, Indiana, Xavier, Michigan and others. “Gates has as much talent, strength and athleticism as the previous three but he needs to be a little bit more consistent and tends at times to float too much on the perimeter, which negates his strength and size inside,” Johnson said. 5. Kenny Frease, 7-0, center, Massillon Perry (ES, 37st; HS, 79th) – Frease dealt with various nagging injuries last season, but still managed to average right on 15 points and 11 rebounds per game and was named third-team All-Ohio in Division I. His size and gumption make him a great catch for Xavier, where he’ll play beginning next year. “He’s a prototype low-post center,” Johnson said. “He’s an extremely intelligent,

hardworking kid who has great desire to strive to get better and better.” 6. Josh Benson, 6-10, power forward, Dayton Dunbar (ES, 117th) – Johnson said Benson might be the best-kept secret in Ohio, as his commitment to the University of Dayton barely grabbed any headlines despite his size, talent and winning ways. “For a 6-10 kid who runs like a deer, he has been overshadowed by other players in the Dunbar program such as Daequan Cook, Aaron Pogue and others,” he said. “He’s an absolute steal for UD.” Benson averaged 10.1 points per game but was stellar late in the season as Dunbar marched to a 24-4 mark and a second straight Division II state title. 7. Chris Johnson, 6-5, wing forward, Columbus Brookhaven – Another Dayton Flyer in waiting. Averaged 24.4 ppg, 13.2 rpg and 3.0 blocks per game as a junior and was a second-team All-Ohio pick in Division I. 8. Tom Pritchard, 6-8, power forward, Lakewood St. Edward (ES, 121st) – Averaged 13.0 points per game in helping the Eagles advance to the Division I state final four. A solid summer for the AAU squad King of the Court helped him land a scholarship to Indiana. 9. Robert Wilson, 6-5, wing forward, Garfield Heights – Transfer from Cleveland Rhodes who will help GH become a state power. Highly athletic and confident wing who is committed to Wisconsin. 10. Ryne Smith, 6-3, shooting guard, Toledo Whitmer – Supreme outside shooter who averaged 17 ppg last year. Committed to Purdue in midsummer. 11. Damian Eargle, 6-8, power forward, Warren Harding – Shot blocker, rebounder and growing offensive player who just recently committed to UNC-Greensboro. 12. Kyle Rudolph, 6-6, power forward, Cincinnati Elder – Future Notre Dame tight end who doesn’t show any letup on the hardwood. Averaged 17.3 ppg and 10.5 rpg and repeated as the GCL South player of the year. 13. Anthony Hitchens, 5-9, point guard, Chillicothe – One of the state���s most exciting and beloved players. Averaged 18.5 ppg and earned second-team All-Ohio honors in Division II as a junior. Has verbaled to Akron. 14. Devon Moore, 6-4, point guard, Columbus Northland (HS, 81st) – Averaged 16.5 points per game as a junior and will serve as a playmaker on one of the state’s deepest teams. Considering offers from Kent State, Bowling Green and Toledo. 15. Walt Gibler, 6-6, power forward, Cincinnati St. Xavier – Helped St. X to a surprising run to the Division I state title game and averaged 15.6 ppg and 7.3 rpg. A

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Boys Basketball Recruits recent commitment to Loyola of Chicago. 16. Chris Henderson, 6-7, power forward, Warren Harding – Agile big man is hearing from several MAC schools. 17. Scott Thomas, 6-6, wing forward, Delaware Buckeye Valley – Very athletic, wiry performer who committed to Bowling Green. 18. Greg Avery, 6-3, shooting guard, Newark – Outstanding shooter who routinely hits big shots for the best team in the Ohio Capital Conference. 19. Damon Butler, 5-9, point guard, Cincinnati North College Hill – Cat-quick playmaker who just wins games. Led NCH to an unexpected state title last year. 20. Logan Aronholt, 6-4, wing forward, Zanesville – Recently committed to Albany College. Powerful wing and coach’s son with high basketball IQ. 1. Desmar Jackson, 6-4, shooting guard, Warren Harding (HS, 63rd) – Jackson long has been considered a top prospect in this class even though he doubles as a gridiron star. After transferring from Warren JFK, he is expected to join the dynamic Sheldon Brodgon in the backcourt of the one of the state’s top teams. “Desmar gets the edge in this class because of his great athleticism,” Johnson said. “He’s just a more natural talent.” Jackson earned Special Mention All-Ohio honors in D-III after averaging 20.2 ppg. 2. Bill Edwards, 6-5, wing forward, Middletown (HS, 56th) – Edwards actually is slightly higher rated than Jackson by some services but he ballooned up to about 240 pounds in the off-season and dealt with several nagging injuries as a sophomore. He still managed to average 13.0 ppg last season and showed outstanding all-around ability. 3. Reggie Keely, 6-7, power forward, Bedford – Played well for Bedford after transferring from Solon during last season. Was named second-team all-district after averaging 16.3 ppg. 4. Danny McElroy, 6-7, power forward, Cincinnati LaSalle (HS, 46th) -- Committed to Cincinnati a year ago, meaning he’ll join fellow area star and power forward Yancy Gates on the Bearcats roster next season. Averaged 10.3 ppg and 5.1 rpg as a soph. 5. Robert Capobianco, 6-7, power forward, Loveland – Inside force who averaged 19.5 ppg and 11.3 rpg last season. 6. Darren Goodson, 6-4, wing forward, Cincinnati Aiken – Recent Bowling Green commitment. 7. Matt Kavanaugh, 6-9, center, Centerville – Big center won’t have to travel far when he goes to college; he’s promised to the University of Dayton. 8. Garrick Sherman, 6-9, center, Kenton – Physical pivot man who is the most talented player from Kenton in years. Getting looks from Big

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Photo by Nick Falzerano

Juniors (Class of 2009)

Centerville junior Matt Kavanaugh (left) has already commited to the University of Dayton.

Ten schools such as Purdue, Iowa and Michigan. 9. Marquis Horne, 6-7, power forward, Cincinnati Princeton – Big-time athlete who has moved into the state from Marietta, Ga. 10. Mario Hines, 6-8, power forward, Garfield Heights (HS, 80th) – Lots of potential and upside. Also a showcase performer for the Ohio Basketball Club at the AAU level. 11. Randal Holt, 5-11, point guard, Bedford – Second-team all-district pick after averaging 20.4 ppg as a sophomore. 12. Dane Kopp, 6-8, center, Newark 13. Carl Jones, 5-7, point guard, Garfield Heights – Third-team all-district pick after averaging 18.7 ppg last season. 14. Robert Johnson, 6-4, wing forward, Bedford 15. Drew McGee, 6-9, power forward, North Ridgeville

Sophomores (Class of 2010)

1. Jared Sullinger, 6-8, power forward, Columbus Northland (HS, 17th) – Sullinger grew another inch and continued to expand his game this summer after recovering from a broken foot suffered in the spring. He averaged right around 18 points and 10 rebounds per game last

season, coming off the bench and helping Northland to a stellar 24-1 season Sullinger, who plays for his father, Satch Sullinger, is the younger brother of former Ohio State captain J.J. and current Kent State power forward Julian. He committed to Ohio State after his breakout freshman season and figures to remain a very highly rated member of the 2010 class. 2. Adreian Payne, 6-9, center, Dayton Jefferson – A long-armed shot blocker with a developing game, Payne continues to rise. “Every time I see him play he seems taller and vastly improved,” Johnson said. Payne teamed with Sullinger over the summer on the All-Ohio Red AAU squad. Dayton, Xavier, Ohio State and Indiana are among the schools now showing interest. 3. Cameron Wright, 6-3, shooting guard, Cleveland Benedictine – Explosive athlete who needs to refine his outside game. 4. Juwan Staten, 5-10, point guard, Dayton Thurgood Marshall (HS, 79th) – Another standout on the All-Ohio Red team in the summer. Heady point who knows how to run his team. Xavier, Dayton and Ohio State are following his progress. 5. Pe’shon Howard, 6-2, combo guard, Lakewood St. Edward (HS, 60th) – Key reserve on St. Ed’s Division I state final four team who should start this season. Well-regarded prospect who already is receiving overtures from Michigan State, Ohio State, Indiana and Dayton. 6. Allen Payne, 6-5, wing forward, Cincinnati Winton Woods – Athletic forward whose varsity debut season resulted in an average of 11.0 ppg. 7. Nick Kellogg, 6-2, point guard, Columbus DeSales (HS, 43rd) – Son of former Ohio State star Clark Kellogg who averaged 10.0 ppg as a frosh for state semifinal squad. Strong and highly competitive lead guard. 8. Kenny Knight, 6-6, power forward, Cincinnati Northwest – Outstanding athlete who plays well against top competition. 9. Griffin McKenzie, 6-8 power forward, Cincinnati Moeller 10. J.D. Weatherspoon, 6-6, wing forward, Columbus Northland

Freshmen (Class of 2011)

Here are six names to watch in Ohio’s Class of 2011: Stevie Taylor, 5-8, point guard, Gahanna Lincoln; Paul Honigford, 6-8, power forward, Sugarcreek Garaway; Jehvon Clarke, 5-10, guard, Canton Timken; Marcus Graham, 6-1, shooting guard, Dayton Jefferson; Brandon Neel, 6-5, wing forward, Cincinnati LaSalle; Trey Burke, 5-9, point guard, Columbus Northland. For more updates on Ohio’s top prospects and those nationally, check out Chris Johnson’s work at hoopscooponline.com

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Vinton County Boys Basketball

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mall, rural Vinton County – for many years – was often difficult to identify on any Ohio map. So too was its boys basketball program, which primarily played second fiddle to its football team. But, given its recent run of success, the Vinton County program is no longer one which is often overlooked. Rather, it’s one of the top targets throughout all of southeast Ohio. The Vikings, under the direction of eight-year head coach Matt Combs, are aiming for their fourth league championship in five years as well as their fourth 14-or-more win season in the same time span. In two of those campaigns, the Vikings have captured at least 20 victories, including an undefeated regular season just last year. In addition, Vinton County claimed the Division II sectional championship both seasons, and advanced to a school-best district championship game in 2004. This year, those goals remain the same – only a run to the regional tournament wouldn’t be bad, either. The man overseeing the Vikings’ ship is Combs, a former standout at Unioto High School who was hired at the turn of the decade to turn the Maroon and White in the right direction. He has certainly done that, despite often deflecting the credit. Last season, Combs climbed over the 100-win total for his coaching career. Among the factors for the recent run of success, Combs said, were “good timing” and “a lot of hard work by the coaches and the players.” “Obviously, we’ve had good players, and you can’t win without talent. You just don’t,” he said. “But talent by itself, you don’t win with that either. It has to be a combination of that and everybody doing their jobs, coaches and players alike. And we haven’t had a lot of turnover in assistant coaches.” Combs has had the same reserve coach, John Royster, for all eight seasons with only two freshmen coaches, Jeremy Ward and Travis Hale. Ward is entering his fourth season as the varsity girls head coach while Hale remains the freshmen coach. Until this season, Chris Eldridge has been Combs’ top varsity assistant. Combs was hired in 2000, the same year in which the new Vinton County High School opened in McArthur. After one season at Portsmouth East in which he won eight games, he took over a Vikings program which was in a “rebuilding phase” and “expectations weren’t very high at the varsity level.” “I got lucky in terms of timing,” said Combs. “When I got here, we had a new school building, so it was just a fresh start for everything. And I had a lot of talent at the junior high age group, so I had a couple of years to get my feet on the ground while seeing that talent grow older.” Combs added that the district’s administration been supportive, too. “You can’t spend eight years at one school any more if your administration doesn’t support you through some good and bad times,” said Combs. “They’ve left me alone to do the best I can do. They’ve been understanding when we fail and supportive when we’re good.” And, the Vikings have been good for the majority of Combs’ first seven seasons. Prior to last season’s 22-1 record, the standard had been the 2003-04 campaign. That season, the Vikings amassed a then school-best 20-4 record,

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which also included a 17game winning streak. The storybook season was highlighted, though, by the school’s first Tri-Valley Conference championship in 30 years, and first-ever berth in the district championship game. Had it not been for the heroics of Greenfield McClain freshman Dante Jackson (now at Xavier University), perhaps the Vikings would have appeared in the “Sweet 16.” Individually, point guard Ryan Kent, shooting guard “To me, the first team to do all Brian Dixon and swingman Chris Bethel earned some of that will always have a spelevel of all-district honors. Kent was a consensus firstcial place in my heart. That teamer and co-player of the year in the TVC-Ohio. team had to overcome a lot.” Combs, a two-time Division II Southeast District Vinton County Boys Basketball Associated Press coach of Coach Matt Combs on the the year award winner, said 2003-04 team that made the he recalls that memorable season “like it was yesterschool’s first district final. day.” “To me, the first team to do all of that will always have a special place in my heart,” he explained. “That team had to overcome a lot. They had to believe they could win, and overcome some of the past history of maybe not being able to do it. For them to accomplish that, it kind of paved the way for the rest of the teams. If you think about it, the kids we had on last year’s (22-1) team, they were either freshmen or in junior high in 2004. They were watching the 2004 team do it, and I think that planted a seed in their mind that they wanted to do it, too.” The Vikings repeated as TVC champions the next season, sharing the honor with Belpre, as Bethel shared the league POY honors with two others. Last season, Vinton County was once again over the 20-win plateau, and this time entered tournament play undefeated. It was the first unbeaten regular-season in school history. Combs described the fun of a perfect regular season, but also admitted the grind and pressure of each mounting win without a loss. The closest the Vikings actually came to defeat during the regular season was trailing Federal Hocking by nine points before rallying for a 67-66 victory on Jan. 16. “It was fun and it was challenging, though it was also a little bit of a grind on me toward the end,” Combs said. “The kids handled it well. You know as a coach that it might be a once-in-a-lifetime deal. You don’t get

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STORY BY PAUL BOGGS that chance every year to go unbeaten. So it was fun to finish it off and to go undefeated. It’s something that I’ll never forget. But hopefully, it’s something those kids never forget, either.” The Vikings then won the sectional by erasing a 14-point deficit against Warren, which was their largest deficit of any sort all winter. Before losing to regional runner-up Chillicothe, the Vikings set a schoolrecord for most wins in a single season and most consecutive victories in a single campaign. In fact, they have won 24 straight regular-season games entering this season. Combs said the recent run of success has presented new challenges for the program. “To me, the only thing more difficult than doing it once is doing it twice,” he said. “As you have some success, it motivates other teams to beat you and knock you off the top. That’s only natural, though, and that’s the way they should feel. Our kids have to not get complacent and realize that we have to start all over again and do it again.” This season, the Vikings are once again a favorite in the TVC Ohio Division, as they return the division player of the year and first-team all-district center Dustin Guthrie. “It seems like we’re picked to win the league every year,” said Combs. “I think our kids are used to high expectations at this point.” This marks the fourth straight year in which many observers have projected the Vikings to finish at or near the top of the TVC-Ohio. “If you’re in a league, your goal for the regular season should be to win that league,” said Combs. “That’s our goal every year. We’ve been able to win the league three times in four years and we’ve finished second a cou-

Vinton County Boys Basketball ple of times. It’s important because it shows consistency in your program. I’ve always felt that any school can have a good season. It matters more to me that you have a good program and are doing it year after year.” And, year after year, Combs says the team’s two primary goals are to “win the league and get to the Convo (Ohio University Convocation Center for the Division II district tournament).” “We always tell our kids, win the league and get to the Convo,” said Combs. “After that, we’ll talk about it. Anything can happen, sometimes good and sometimes bad. Some teams that get to the Convo catch a break because there has been a couple of upsets. Other times, like in our case last year, it was unfortunate that Chillicothe and Greenfield McClain were in our same district.” Should the Vikings return to the Convocation Center this season, a potential rematch with Chillicothe awaits. But first, Vinton County must navigate a difficult non-league road schedule, which includes the likes of Philo, Waverly, Waterford, Huntington and Southeastern. The game against Huntington is at the Convocation Center. “It’s a very challenging non-league schedule,” said Combs. “Hopefully, it’ll make us a little more tested come tournament time.” However, the Vikings have become used to challenges and expectations, whereas once upon a time, it was difficult to pinpoint the program on the southeast Ohio map. “I’ve always said that expectations put a little pressure on you, but if you never have expectations, that means you’re not very good,” said Combs. “It’s one or the other. I’d rather take the pressure and the expectations and also have a chance to be good. I think our kids feel that way, too.” — OH

Also look for our Football, Boys & Girls Basketball and Overall Coaches of the Year JJ Hu d d l e ’ s O h i o H i g h

J J H U D D L E . C O M 51


Girls Basketball Preview

Three of a Kind

Cincinnati Mt. Notre Dame has won three Division I titles in the last four years.

Photo by Gary Housteau

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STORY BY OHIO HIGH STAFF

DIVISION I

Mount Notre early favorite, several strong squads return

t is hard not to look at Division I girls basketball and not instantly think of Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame. The Cougars have won three of the last four state championships and were state runnerup in 2005. With a loaded roster returning for the 2007-08 campaign, MND has to get the early nod as the favorite in the big-school division. The Cougars headline the southwest area of the state that is chock full of talent. Regional finalist West Chester Lakota West returns every player from last year’s roster and is led by one of the top players in the country in Amber Gray. Cincinnati Oak Hills could make some noise and Dayton Chaminade-Julienne is always a contender in Division I. Three of the four teams that reached Columbus last year for the first time (Stow-Munroe Falls, Findlay, Pickerington North) appear to all be facing a rebuilding year with key losses to graduation. Could this be the year North Canton Hoover gets over the hump? The Lady Vikings won district titles in four of the last five years after winning the state title in 2002. Hoover has the talent to make another run at Columbus. The following is a look at the top players and teams to watch in Division I this season:

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Top Players

* Amber Gray, 6-1, F, Sr., West Chester Lakota West – The Tennessee recruit led the No. 4-ranked Lady Firebirds to the regional finals. She averaged 20.9 points per game and was a first-team AllOhio selection. * Kendall Hackney, 6-1, F, Jr., Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame – Averaged 11.5 ppg as a sophomore for state champ MND and had a double-double in the title game with 21 points and 14 rebounds. * Emilee Harmon, 6-2, G, Jr., Pickerington Central – Earned firstteam All-Ohio honors as a sophomore scoring 20.3 ppg for the regional semifinalist Lady Tigers (21-4). * Channing Hillman, 6-0, F, Sr., Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame – Contributed significantly for defending state champion Cougars, earning Division I honorable mention All-Ohio recognition. Tallied eight points and six rebounds in the state title game and is committed to UTEP. * Tia McBride, 6-2, F, Sr., Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame – Averaged 13.1 ppg for state champion MND as a junior. Committed to Georgetown. * Brittany Orban, 5-11, F, Sr., North Canton Hoover – Was a firstteam All-Ohio selection leading the Lady Vikings (21-4) to the regional finals dropping 21.6 ppg. She also averaged 22.7 ppg as a sophomore. Committed to Northwestern. * Jessica Pachko, 6-1, F, Sr., Cincinnati Oak Hills – The Marquette recruit contributed 13.7 ppg last season and pulled down 5.0 rpg for the Lady Oaks (22-3). * Gabby Smith, 5-10, G, Jr., Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame – Smith averaged 9.3 ppg as a sophomore for MND’s D-I state championship team. * Tracy Snider, 5-9, G, Sr., Lancaster – Earned second-team AllOhio honors scoring 20.6 ppg. Committed to Ohio U. * Amber Stokes, 5-8, PG, Sr., Gahanna Lincoln – A transfer from

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Girls Basketball Preview Columbus DeSales, Stokes is rated as the No. 63 overall prospect in the country and No. 21 PG by HoopGurlz.com. * Jessica Tamerlano, 6-0, F, Jr., North Royalton – Earned thirdteam All-Ohio honors with 17.0 ppg for the district semifinalist Lady Warriors. Gave up soccer this year to focus on hoops. * India Warfield, 6-1, F, Sr., Dayton Chaminade-Julienne – Committed to St. Louis University. * Erin Wisner, 6-2, Sr., C, Solon – The Miami (Ohio) recruit was a member of the 2006 state runner-up Lady Comets team and earned Division I special mention All-Ohio honors last year for district finalist Solon. * Tiera Stephan, 5-7, PG, Sr., Dayton ChaminadeJulienne – Rated as the No. 13 PG in the country by HoopGurlz.com and the No. 68 prospect overall.

Teams To Watch

* Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame – MND is quickly becoming a girls basketball dynasty in Ohio claiming Photo by Nick Falzerano three of the last four Division I state titles including a state runner-up finish in 2005. Dayton Chaminade-Julienne senior The coaching transition and defensive specialist Tiera Stephan last season with long-time is headed to Louisville. head coach Scott Rogers taking a seat on the bench while making way for assistant Dante Harlan was seamless as the Cougars finished 23-4 and raised the trophy in Columbus. With four starters returning, including Hackney, McBride, Smith and junior G Ashley Fowler (5.0 ppg) in addition to depth on the bench with Hillman, MND has to be considered the preseason favorite in D-I. Rogers has moved on this season to coach the Cincinnati Indian Hill girls squad, of which, his daughter Aubrey is a member. * Stow-Munroe Falls – The Lady Bulldogs put up a vicious fight last year in the state championship game but MND outlasted Stow 63-43 in their first trip to the state tournament. It appears as though it will be a rebuilding year for the 2007-08 campaign as Stow graduated all five senior starters, including second-team All-Ohio selection Lianna Jennings who is off to John Carroll after transferring from Bowling Green earlier this school year. Head coach Bob Podges is entering his ninth season at Stow and has a 133-54 record leading the Lady Bulldogs. * Pickerington North – Like Stow, Pickerington North made its first trip to Columbus last year finishing No. 11 in the final AP poll with a 22-4 record. And like Stow this season, the Lady Panthers have some holes to fill left behind by graduation. Junior F Kelsey Price (8.2 ppg) is the lone returning starter for North. Junior G Jordan Smithberger saw some time last year as did sophomore G Nicole Olszewski and junior forward Jen Rennell but they will have to step into leadership roles this season if the Lady Panthers are going to be successful. * Findlay – Findlay also made its first trip to the state tournament last year falling to MND in the semifinals 56-41 finishing with a 21-5 record and ranked No. 7 in the final AP poll.

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Girls Basketball Preview

DIVISION II

By Matt Natali

Eastmoor, Hathaway Brown, Perkins looking for return trip

or the past two years, Warsaw River View has finished the season as Division II state champions. Should the Lady Bears repeat the feat this year, they would become just the third school in state history to win three straight girls basketball state titles, joining Millersburg West Holmes (1984-86) and South Euclid Regina (200103). As the season starts, though, River View appears to be the least likely team from last year’s state semifinalists to make it back to Columbus. Graduation took four starters, including two-time Division II player of the year Kristin Daugherty. It would not be a stretch to see last year’s other three semifinalists return: Columbus Eastmoor, Sandusky Perkins and Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown.

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Top Players

* Cierra Bravard, 6-4, Sr., P, Sandusky Perkins – Ranked by multiple recruiting sources as one of the top post players in the country, including No. 2 by Hoopgurlz.com. A two-time first-team All-Ohioan, Bravard averaged 22.3 points per game as a junior and 22.2 as a sophomore. Has college choices narrowed down to Ohio State, Maryland, Kentucky, Florida State, Pitt and Miami (Fla.).

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* Ayana Dunning, 6-3, Sr., P, Columbus Eastmoor – Like Bravard, is one of the nation’s premier post players (No. 3 by Hoopgurlz.com). Was first-team All-Ohio last season after averaging 18.1 points and 13.6 rebounds per game. Was second-team All-Ohio as a sophomore after averaging 19 points. Undecided on college, but list includes Ohio State, LSU, Rutgers, Illinois and USC. * Macie Blinn, 6-0, Sr., W, Greenville – Illinois commit is one of state’s most versatile players. Was first-team All-Ohio a year ago (16.3 ppg) after being a secondteam pick as a sophomore (18.4 ppg). * Kari Daugherty, 6-2, Jr., W, Warsaw River View – Assumes role as go-to player with graduation of her sister Kristin (Dayton). Averaged 9.5 ppg as a freshman and 12.1 last year en route to special mention All-Ohio honors. * Brogan Berry, 5-9, Sr. G, Dayton Carroll – Standout point guard was Mid-Miami League player of Dayton Carroll senior Brogan Berry has the year as a sophomore been player of the year in two different (14.6 ppg) and Girls Greater leagues (Mid-Miami League and GGCL). Cincinnati League Grey Division player of the year last season (16.3 ppg). Berry, a secondteam All-Ohio pick in 2007, already has 1,000 career points. Undecided on college but getting attention from Big Ten schools. * Katie Popovec, 6-3, Sr., P, Canfield – Pittsburgh recruit will challenge for state player of the year honors after dropping down from D-I. Popovec was a two-time All-Ohioan in D-I and is the reigning two-time Metro Athletic Conference player of the year. She’s been first-team MAC three times. * Mylan Woods, 5-9, So., W, Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown – Woods was her team’s leading scorer in both state games last season and plays beyond her years. Tough match-up for anyone. Was second-team All-Ohio last year after averaging 14.1 ppg. * Sakara House, 5-9, Sr. G,, Kenton Ridge – One of D-II’s most versatile players, House is a three-time All-Ohioan. She averaged 21.9 points, 9.2 steals and 6.5 assists last season. As a sophomore, House averaged 19.1 points. 6.8 rebounds, 6.3 steals and 6.1 assists. As a freshman, she averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 7.4 steals and 6 assists. * Brittney Taylor, 5-8, Jr., W, Youngstown East – Reigning player of the year in Northeast District was first-team All-Ohio last season after averaging 24 ppg. * Katie Fox, 6-1, Sr., P, Carrollton – Averaged 14.6 ppg last season en route to second-team All-Ohio honors. * Cassie Morgan, 5-9, Sr., W, Circleville – Named second-team All-Ohio last season after averaging 19.1 ppg. * Angela Groves, 6-1, Sr., P, Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown – Was second-team All-Ohio last season after averaging 13.7 points. Photo by Brian Swartz

Gone are three starters from last year’s team, including Division I co-player of the year Carlee Roethlisberger, who is now at Oklahoma. Returning, however, is senior C Jonette McQueen (7.5 ppg) and senior guard Ashley Peterson (6.1 ppg). Senior G Ashley Sottoway will step into a starting role after seeing significant time on the court last year as well as senior 6-3 C Christina Cruse. * West Chester Lakota West – Gray and the Lady Firebirds fell to MND in the regional finals last year 58-49 after falling to the Cougars in the regional semifinals the previous year. With everyone returning from last year’s team, Gray, a Tennessee recruit rated as the No. 2 forward in the country and No. 4 prospect overall, will try to get Lakota West over that hump this year and lead the Lady Firebirds to Columbus. Junior F Alexis Rogers (10 ppg, 6.2 rpg) will complement Gray nicely as well as St. Francis (Pa.) recruit Quinessa Johnson (4.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg), junior G Tessa Elkins (7.3 ppg, 3 rpg) and senior G Allison Whitenack (4 ppg, 1.2 rpg). * North Canton Hoover – The Lady Vikings have been knocking on the door the last few years finishing a regional finalist the past two seasons including district champs four of the last five. They finished 21-4 last year and ranked No. 6 in the final AP poll. Hoover graduated four seniors but Orban is the toast of the team and will lead a group of seniors that has seen significant playing time, including F Kylie Baughmgardner, G Whitney Burrell, G Bridgette Chamberlain and G Jackie Nicodemo. Junior G Jen Iafelice headlines the underclassmen. * Other Teams To Watch – Mentor (20-4), Shaker Heights (19-6), Dublin Scioto (25-1), Pickerington Central (21-4), Brunswick (19-5), Dayton Chaminade-Julienne (17-7), Strongsville (20-3), Toledo Central Catholic (18-8), Cincinnati Oak Hills (22-3) and Cincinnati Winton Woods (21-3).

Teams To Watch

* Warsaw River View – The Lady Bears will undoubtedly have a different look this season with two-time D-II player of the year Kristin

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Girls Basketball Preview

Photo by Gary Housteau

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in the state. A two-time All-Southwest District selection, Jones averaged 17.9 ppg last season after averaging 28 ppg as a sophomore at Stivers. Junior Kendra Elam is back for her third-year as a starter. * Columbus Eastmoor – The Warriors are looking for their third trip to state in four years and their first state title. In addition to Dunning, Eastmoor and head coach Jim Miranda return three additional starters in DeAndra Hall (5-6, jr. G), Janae Collick (5-6, Sr., G) and Olivia French (5-4, Jr. G). Key to return to the state tournament could be replacing standout Lashawna Thomas (Wright State) and her 17 ppg.

Other Teams To Watch

Photo by Gary Housteau

Photo by Nick Falzerano

Daugherty and four of five starters gone. Experience is a concern. After originally stepping down, head coach Caroline Daugherty has returned to the sideline and will get a lift from her daughter Kari Daugherty, a junior and three-year starter. Senior Katie Haumschild (5-7, F) will be counted on to contribute significantly. * Sandusky Perkins – With Bravard and honorable mention All-Ohio selection Trisha Krewson (6-0, G) returning, the Pirates are early favorites to return to Columbus. Last season, Perkins lost to Hathaway Brown in the state semis with Krewson (Bucknell commit) and Bravard combining for 29 of the Pirates’ 39 points. Perkins also returns a pair of guards in three-year starter Bethany Caudill (5-7, jr.) and Amber Hunter (5-7, sr.). * Kettering Alter – Knights have won six straight GGCL Grey Division titles and four Kettering Alter senior Meghan straight D-II district titles. Waterman is one of three starters back Including its run to the 2002 for the GGCL Grey champion Knights. state tournament, Alter has claimed five of six district titles and has played in seven straight district finals. Alter returns three starters in seniors Nicole Christie (8.8 ppg), Courtney Chihil (7 ppg) and Meghan Waterman (8.1 ppg). Chihil and Waterman were second-team All-GGCL last season and All-Southwest District. Christie was honorable mention all-league. Ashley Christie (5.6 ppg) will also contribute. The Knights lost 32-31 to Eastmoor in the regional final a year ago. * Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown – The Blazers were somewhat of an unexpected surprise at last year’s state tournament and that visit may have been the first of many. Hathaway Brown returns four starters including Groves and Woods. Also back are juniors Kirsten Holmes (5-4, P) and Lauren Ryan (5-7, G). Sophomore sensation Alexis Dobbs (5-5, PG) also returns. * Dayton Carroll – The Patriots are 92-26 the last five years and have been close to elusive state berth. Last season Carroll lost in regional semis to rival Alter (40-39) Hathaway Brown senior Angela and two years ago Patriots Groves is one of four starters back for fell in regional final to Little the state runner-up Blazers. Miami. Senior Shante Jones (Iowa recruit) teams with Berry to give the Pats one of the top guard tandems

* Canfield – Keep an eye on the Cardinals. Canfield drops down from D-I, where it lost to North Canton Hoover (48-46) in the district semifiColumbus Eastmoor senior Ayana nals last season. Dunning is ranked the No. 3 post play* Circleville – The Tigers er in the country by hoopgurlz.com. finished regular season 19-1 and ranked No. 4 in final state poll last year before being upset by Washington C.H. in the sectional final. Morgan again leads the charge. * Cincinnati Taft – The Senators have played in two straight district finals but lost to Alter each time. Taft is looking to break through to next level and senior Katelyn Ried, a St. Louis recruit, who was All-Southwest District last year (16.4 ppg) gives them reason to believe. Replacing last season’s Southwest District player of the year Deseree Byrd (Louisville) is big hurdle. * Dayton Oakwood – The Jills could have a breakout season behind junior standout and reigning Southwestern Buckeye League player of the year Cathryn Hardy. * Upper Sandusky ��� The Rams move up to D-II after two-year stay in D-III. Upper Sandusky has appeared in four straight district finals, and was a D-II district champion in 2005. The Rams will be led by 5-9 senior Claire Aubrey, who averaged 23.8 points per game last year en route to third-team All-Ohio honors. * Springfield Kenton Ridge – Led by longtime coach Ed Foulk (over 400 wins), the Cougars are looking for their first state berth since 1995. Last season’s sectional final loss to Tipp City Tippecanoe ended a sixyear string of district finals appearances. Kenton Ridge has won seven straight CBC Mad River Division titles. Sophomore Saira House, Sakara’s little sister, is a talent in her own right. Also watch out for 6-3 sophomore Alicia Ware and senior Katie Ketterman. * Youngstown East – Formerly known as Youngstown Rayen, East begins season looking to match last year’s run that included a 20-5 record and district title. * Cincinnati McNicholas – Rockets are always a threat to win district title and regional regulars. Opposing coaches label them as a team of concern. * Columbus Mifflin – Punchers could challenge Eastmoor for Columbus City League – and district – supremacy.

By Eric Frantz

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Girls Basketball Preview

Led by Selby, South Euclid Regina one of the favorites

ast year, led by Jantel Lavender, Cleveland Central Catholic captured the Division III state championship with a 51-45 win over Delphos St. John’s in the title game. However, the 6-4 Lavender is now at Ohio State and runner-up Delphos St. John’s has dropped down to Division IV. One of the early favorites this season for state supremacy is South Euclid Regina. The Royals won four straight state championships from 2000-03 – a feat unmatched by any team in Ohio be it boys or girls – and last won a title in 2005. They return 2006-07 state co-player of the year Shay Selby, three other starters and will likely be a force all season. But there are several other teams that will also be in the running including 2007 state semifinalist Versailles. The following is our comprehensive look at the Division III girls basketball race.

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Top Players

Photo by Gary Housteau

* Laura Bardall, 5-11, G, Sr., Sugarcreek Garaway – Bardall averaged 18.8 points per game game for the Lady Pirates earning secondteam All-Ohio honors after scoring 15.0 ppg for 2006 state semifinalist Garaway. She is a cousin of Kristin and Kari Daugherty of two-time defending D-II state champion Warsaw River View. * Ariana Bowles, 5-9, Sr., Sardinia Eastern Brown – The Ohio University recruit was a third-team All-Ohio selection for Lady Warriors with 16.5 ppg. * Justine Raterman, 6-1, Sr., F, Versailles – Took home second-team All-Ohio honors for state semifinalist Versailles last season averaging 16.2 ppg. Raterman recently commited to the University of Dayton. She choose the Flyers over Illinois, Iowa and Bolwing Green. * Lydia Bridenbaugh, 510, Sr., Chillicothe Huntington – Bridenbaugh tallied 20.3 ppg game last season for Huntington earning third-team All-Ohio honVersailles senior and three-time Allors. Ohioan Justine Raterman recently * Cayla Keegan, 5-7, Sr., commited to the University of Dayton. Castalia Margaretta – Averaged 18.1 ppg for the Lady Polar Bears, which finished No. 12 in the final AP Poll. * Brooke Morgart, 5-7, Sr., Bloomdale Elmwood – Was a thirdteam All-Ohio selection after tallying 19.8 ppg for the Lady Royals. * Hannah Nelson, 5-11, Sr., Buckeye Trail – Earned third-team AllOhio honors with 17.0 ppg for the Lady Warriors. * Shay Selby, 5-9, Sr., G, S. Euclid Regina – Selby was named

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the D-III co-player of the year last season with 23.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg and 6.5 steals. The Duke recruit is rated as the top point guard in the country in the Class of 2008 by HoopGurlz.com.

Teams to Watch

* Cleveland Central Catholic (25-1) – The defending state champions have just one returning starter, but the Ironmen have plenty of talent at their disposal once again. Obviously the big loss is state player of the year Jantel Lavender who is now doing her thing at Ohio State. Leading the way this season is the lone returning starter, Elexis Johnson (5-8, Sr.). She can play multiple positions (mostly the 2 and 3) and averaged 8.5 points per game last year. She is being recruited by several small schools for basketball, but she is also a talented volleyball and softball player. A possible future star for Cleveland Central Catholic is 5-6 freshman point guard Chyress Lockhart. “She is very gifted,” CCC head coach Brian Arth said. “She’s very quick and is a good ball handler.” A girl who played a lot off the bench for the state champs last year is Danyale Robinson (5-8, Sr.). She averaged roughly three points per game last year and is the “best shooter” on the team according to Arth. * South Euclid Regina (23-2) – The state powerhouse lost to eventual state champion Cleveland Central Catholic in the regional finals last year (66-63, OT). However, led by arguably the Cleveland Central Catholic senior Elexis state’s best player in senior Johnson is the lone returning starter guard Shay Selby, the Royals for the defending state champions. are one of the early favorites to win it all this season. Selby, a 5-9 senior guard, is a four-year starter and has averaged over 22 points per game in each of the last two seasons. She has already accepted a scholarship from Duke. “A few things stand out about her,” Regina head coach Patrick Diulus said. “She’s a tremendous competitor and she is an excellent shooter and distributor.” But it will be far from a one-girl show for the Royals this year. Selby is just one of four returning starters. Shooting guard Emily Hoscilowicz (5-7, Sr.) is a “great outside shooter” according to her coach and she was the team’s second-leading scorer last year with over 12 points per game. Point guard Taylor Mingo (5-6, So.) is an excellent ball handler and Diulus says she is already a “big-school recruit.” Post player Mercedes Mitchell (6-0, Sr.) is another returning starter who is being highly recruited. As for team goals, they don’t change much from year-to-year at Regina. When you are one of the best programs in the Ohio, winning state championships is always something that is being discussed. “That is our only goal,” Diulus said. “Winning state is our only goal. We won districts the last two years but fell a little short in regionals. We played a very good Cleveland Central Catholic team and the game could have gone either way. Photo by Gary Housteau

DIVISION III

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Girls Basketball Preview

* Also Keep An Eye On – Albany Alexander (24-3), Columbus Bishop Ready (22-3), Hamilton Badin (16-10), Columbiana Crestview (20-4), Columbiana (18-7; moving up from Division IV), Liberty Center (18-6; up from D-IV), Atwater Waterloo (22-2), Mt. Blanchard Riverdale (22-2), Columbus Grove (22-3), Apple Creek Waynedale (21-3), Marion Pleasant (21-4), Sardinia Eastern (23-3).

By Dave Biddle

JJ H u d d l e ’ s O h i o H i g h

DIVISION IV

Will Columbus Africentric repeat as state champion?

olumbus Africentric claimed the state’s top prize last year, topping two-time defending champion Berlin Hiland in the regional finals after falling to the Lady Hawks the previous two years. The Nubians then edged Ottoville 42-39 in the state semifinals and cruised to a 44-27 state championship victory over New Knoxville. After graduating only three seniors, Africentric is one of the early favorites in Ohio’s small-school division, especially with the return of Division IV player of the year Tyeasha Moss. But there are several teams that will be challenging the Nubians to raise the trophy at Ohio State’s Value City Arena in March. State semifinalists Ottoville and Bedford St. Peter Chanel both return the majority of their rosters and are aiming for a return trip to Columbus. And Berlin Hiland always has to be considered a serious threat.

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Top Players

* Gina Beining, 6-0, Jr., C, Ottoville – Averaged 9.0 points per game as a sophomore for the Lady Green in their run to the state tournament. * Katie Bubna, 5-11, Jr., Bedford St. Peter Chanel – Averaged 9.5 ppg as a sophomore for the state semifinalist Lady Firebirds, earning third-team All-Ohio honors. * Courtney Cook, 5-11, Jr., F, Bedford St. Peter Chanel – Cook poured in 15.1 ppg, leading the Lady Firebirds to Columbus last season. * Ashley Davis, 5-9, Sr., F, Bedford St. Peter Chanel – Averaged 9.5 ppg in the frontcourt for the Lady Firebirds. * Kara Dysert, 6-0, Sr., Ada – Earned third-team All-Ohio honors after averaging 16.1 ppg for the Lady Bulldogs. Dysert’s brother, Zach was a second-team All-Ohio selection last year and is committed to Miami (Ohio). * Amanda Francis, 5-7, Sr., Sidney Fairlawn – Led the Lady Jets to a tournament win, averaging 19.3 ppg for the season and earning first-team All-Ohio honors. * Sarah Freytag, 5-9, Sr., Sidney Lehman Catholic – Freytag earned second-team All-Ohio honors after averaging 16.3 ppg. * Ashar Harris, 5-10, Jr., F, Columbus Africentric – Averaged 12.2 ppg as a sophomore for the Lady Nubians in the run to the state title. * Alesia Howard, 5-9, Sr., F, Columbus Africentric – Had Bedford Chanel senior Courteny Cook 9.7 ppg in the backcourt for averaged 15.1 ppg last year as the the D-IV state champions. Firebirds made the state seimfinals. * Jacklyn Kellon, 5-5, Jr., G, Bedford St. Peter Chanel – Started as a sophomore averaging 3.7 ppg for the state qualifying Lady Firebirds. * Krystal Markward, 5-7, Sr., G, Ottoville – Joined Beining as the only

Photo by Gary Housteau

“So, here at Regina, the expectations are probably always too high. And that can be good and bad. But we are an independent school with no league title to play for, so winning the state championship is always our goal.” Selby is rated as the No. 13 over prospect in the country by HoopGirlz.com and the No. 1 PG. Diulus has over 300 career victories and is the only coach with seven state titles. * Versailles (23-4) – The 2007 state semifinalists return three starters this season and will look to defend their regional championship and possibly more. The Tigers will be led by center Justine Ratterman (6-1, Sr.), who averaged 16.2 points and 10 rebounds a year ago. Shooting guard Emily Bohman (5-8, Sr.) is also a returning starter for Versailles. She averaged eight points and five rebounds last year. The final returning starter is point guard Karen Smith (5-6, Jr.) who averaged roughly two points and three assists per game last year. Versailles lost to eventual state champ Cleveland Central Catholic 51-39 last year in the state semifinals. And while the Tigers have some holes to replace, they think they can get back to Columbus again this season. “We still have the majority of our scoring and rebounding with Justine and Emily,” head coach Jacki Stonebraker said. “But we lost six seniors off last year’s team and they were leaders. We have four seniors this year and they need to take over the leadership role and I don’t think that will be a problem. “We would love to get back to state and that is one of our goals. We look at the first 20 games as practice for the tournament.” The second player off the bench last year was forward Adjoni Williams (5-10, Jr.), the sister of former North Carolina Tar Heel Jawad Williams. She is an “excellent rebounder” and a solid defender according to her coach. The other returning player who received valuable minutes off the bench last year is post Barb Fuller (5-11, Sr.). She averaged two points per game last year and Arth is expecting big things from her this season. “Our main goal is to get to regionals and see what happens from there,” Arth said. * Anna (24-1) – The Rockets were ranked No. 2 in the state by the Associated Press for the majority of last season. However, their quest for a perfect season ended with a 48-42 loss to Versailles in the regional semifinals. This season, they must replace star center Sarah Schulze who was a two-time first-team All-Ohio selection and is now playing at Ohio State. However, despite having just one returning starter, the cupboard is far from bare. Kelly Barhorst (6-2, Sr.) is one of the best centers in the state and she averaged 10 points and seven rebounds per game last year. She will play college volleyball at Ohio State. Other players to watch for Anna include: junior forward Gina Barhorst, wing Kylie Wildermuth (5-8, So.) and shooting guard Amy Finkenbine (5-6, Jr.). “This year, my top goal is to get everyone playing together,” head coach Jeff Reese said. “We only have one returning starter, but the team had a strong summer. Now it’s just a matter of the players getting to know how each other plays.”

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Girls Basketball Preview

Teams To Watch

Photo by Gary Housteau

* Bedford St. Peter Chanel – The Lady Firebirds lose only two seniors from last year’s 18-8 state semifinalist team. With starters Davis, Cook, Bubna and Kellon all returning to the hardwood for Chanel, the Lady Firebirds are in great position to make a run through the state tournament and return to Columbus in search of their first state championship. Joining the starting lineup will be 5-10 junior forward Aly Sarosy. “Our goals are to get back to Columbus and perform better once we get there,” head coach Hugh McMahon said. “Our group did a good job last year in districts and regionals and we think we can do even better this year.” * Columbus Africentric – If there was ever a team in better shape to defend a state championship, it would be Africentric. The Lady Nubians lose senior guard Chynna Bozeman (12.6 ppg) but return starters Howard, Harris Morrison-Fountain and D-IV Delphos St. John’s senior Sarah Clark player of the year Moss. Africentric finished 27-1 top(9.3 ppg) is one of two starters back ping its opponents by an averfor the Blue Jays. age of 38.2 ppg last season falling only to Toledo Waite in the regular season. * Delphos St. John’s – The Lady Blue Jays were one of two Midwest

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Athletic Conference schools to qualify for the D-III state tournament along with Versailles. St. John’s loses only four seniors, but that includes three starters – including leading scorer Jeanne Bockey (12.4 ppg). Senior Sarah Clark (9.3 ppg) and Brittany Pohlman (7.4 ppg) started as a junior and will take on a major leadership role this season. In addition, seniors G Emily Schwieterman, C Stephanie Knippen, F Rachael Miller all return to give the Lady Blue Jays a solid nucleus of players with experience to face the 2007-08 campaign. * Ottoville – The Lady Green returned to Columbus last year after finishing as the state runner-up in 2005 only to narrowly fall to Africentric 4239 in the state semifinals. Coming off a 22-5 record and a No. 10 ranking in the final AP poll, Ottoville graduates three starters in F Erika Kaufman (7.5 ppg), G Erica Vorst (12.0 ppg) and Courtney Schimmoeller (14.0 ppg) and will look to Beining and Markward to lead to 2007-08 campaign. Junior guard Tricia Honigford is a promising player that saw a significant amount of time on the floor for the Lady Green last season as a sophomore. Also, Ottoville has been bolstered by the transfer of Brittany Pohlman from Delphos St. John’s. She averaged 10 points last year. “I think we’re going to be able to compete and will be a pretty good team,” head coach Dave Kleman said. “But I’ve always said you have to be good, lucky and healthy to make a run to the state tournament and hopefully we can do that again.” * New Knoxville – The Lady Rangers were one of three Midwest Athletic Conference schools to reach the state tournament (Versailles and Delphos St. John’s) last year finishing state runners-up and ranked No. 11 in the final AP state poll. The Lady Rangers have been decimated by graduation losing five seniors and four starters. New Knoxville will look to Niemeyer for leadership as well as junior guard Casey New Knoxville senior Brooke Niemeyer Hortman and 5-foot-11 junior is the lone returning starter for the post Morgan Rieneke who saw limited time last year. state runner-up Rangers. “Last year was our first out of districts, let alone making it to the state tournament,” head coach Tim Hegemier said. “We’re excited for this year and we expect good things. The team had a good summer and I think the MAC is up for grabs.” * Berlin Hiland – The perennial powerhouse has won three state titles since 2000 and is in a good position to make another run to Columbus behind six seniors. Stutzman was a first-team All-Ohio selection last year and the Lady Hawks leading scorer is back for her senior campaign. Senior guard Layla Miller (4.6 ppg), sophomore guard Hilary Weaver (5.0 ppg), senior F Kristi Yoder (6.9 ppg), junior guard Karli Mast and senior post Rebekah Thomas will all put Hiland in contention for a state title. “Being the last team standing is our goal,” head coach David Schlabach said. “People somewhat expect that in our community and we do as well.” * Also Keep An Eye On – Bascom Hopewell-Loudon (24-1), Cincinnati Seven Hills (22-4) Covington (21-4), East Canton (22-4), Mansfield St. Peter (17-7), Sidney Lehman Catholic (17-7), South Webster (15-10), Stryker (22-3), Waterford (21-3). Photo by Nick Falzerano

Photo by Gary Housteau

juniors to start for state semifinalist Ottoville and averaged 8.5 ppg. * Shardai Morris-Fountain, 5-5, Jr., G, Cols. Africentric – Complemented D-IV player of the year Tyeasha Moss with 12 ppg as a sophomore for Africentric. * Tyeasha Moss, 5-8, Sr., G/F, Columbus Africentric – First-team All-Ohio selection and D-IV player of the year after averaging 16.7 ppg. Committed to Xavier. * Brooke Niemeyer, 5-6, Sr., G, New Knoxville – Only junior starter for state runnerup New Knoxville last year with 7.0 ppg. * Caitlin Sharp, 5-6, Sr., East Canton – Accounted for 16.1 ppg for the Wizards, earning second-team All-Ohio Honors. * Jena Stutzman, 5-8, Sr., Berlin Hiland – The Kent State recruit finished last seaColumbus Africentric senior Tyeasha son with 19.1 ppg, leading the Moss has commited to Xavier. Moss Lady Hawks to the regional was first team All-Ohio last year. finals.

By Dave Biddle

JJ Hu ddle’s O h io H igh


STORY BY GLENN FORBES

Shay Selby

Photo by hoopgurlz.com

outh Euclid Regina girls basketball coach Pat Diulus often talks about the impossible standard his teams must live up to as a perennial power. When Diulus has a player with the talent of Shay Selby, there is an added expectation. “I tell her if you’re going to be the best player on the floor, you have to be the best player on every play,” Diulus said. “Every offensive play, every defensive play, she has to be the best. Again, it’s an impossible standard to maintain.” But Selby makes the seemingly impossible appear commonplace. At 5-9, she holds the top ranking in the nation among point guards according to hoopgurlz.com, runs practices and conditioning sessions for Regina and is a highly motivated student who wants to study medicine. She was named Division III co-player of the year in Ohio after recording 23 points and over six rebounds and six assists per game in 2006. Selby committed to Duke before last season, only to see then-coach Gail Goestenkors leave for the University of Texas. Goestenkors was not completely truthful with Selby, who has elected to honor her commitment to the Blue Devils. “When I first heard about it, I called Coach G and she told me she was retiring,” Selby said. “Then I saw it on TV a few days later that she had taken the Texas job. I was pretty upset, but I picked Duke because of the academics and because of the team, not just the coach.” Goestenkors left Duke in April after 15 seasons, winning five Atlantic Coast Conference titles and making four Final Four appearances. She replaces Jody Conradt, who coached Texas for 38 years. The move prompted several changes among the top womens’ programs and Duke wasted little time finding a replacement. Former Michigan State coach Joanne McCallie was named coach of the Blue Devils on April 20. “Shay was satisfied with the new coaching staff coming in,” Diulus said. “She liked Gail, but Coach McCallie has a good pedigree from Michigan State. Shay was comfortable with her, so she decided to stay the course.” The high profile coaching changes and the relative purgatory it puts recruits in are just a few ways that the girl’s game is becoming more similar to the boys. “It has grown so much and frankly it’s grown out of control,” Diulus said. “It used to be that girls didn’t make their decisions until November of their senior year, or at least until they had an official visit. Now, you have girls making decisions months and months before that. They’re committing after they make their unofficial visits now.” Selby typifies the new breed of girls basketball recruiting. She is a multi-dimensional player who not only gets exposure through playing for Regina, but showcases her talent throughout the off-season in AAU competition. Selby gains valuable knowledge from playing

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against the best in the country, and knows she can apply it to the next level. “I’ve just been working on my defense,” Selby said. “It’s a big change because guards are much quicker and bigger at the collegiate level.” Selby and Regina are used to great competition during their annual run through the state tournament. Last season, a classic match-up in the regional finals pitted Regina against Jantel Lavender (Ohio State) and Cleveland Central Catholic. An exhausting win went to Central Catholic, the eventual state champion, 66-63 in overtime. “That was maybe the greatest girls basketball game of all-time,” Diulus said. “You had two great teams, two superstars with Shay and Jantel Lavender … it was like a heavyweight fight.” The loss continues to stick with Diulus and Selby, who have not won a state title since 2004 when Selby was a freshman. “We want to have that feeling again,” Diulus said. “We lost to the state champion and that’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s not a great year here unless you win the whole thing.” Selby began her varsity career by averaging 15.4 points per game as a freshman. She averaged 22.1 points per game as a sophomore. Selby and Diulus both talk about the motivation of starting and finishing her great career with a state championship. “I definitely want two state championships,” Selby said. “That’s why we’ve been getting the team together, working on our conditioning and chemistry. We’re getting everybody together so we can all pull our own weight and not rely on just one or two people.” Selby welcomes the impossible standard that is set for her and her teammates. “I like it, I like all the expectations,” Selby said. “Whenever we go to another gym or see another team, they’re always intimidated by the name and what we’ve accomplished here before. But when we fail or lose a game people always ask why, like we’re supposed to win every single game.” The pressure comes with the territory for Diulus and Regina, but with a weapon like Selby, the expectations are often met if not surpassed. “That’s the neat thing about having Shay on your team,” Diulus said. “She’s not just a shooter; she’s a hell of a shooter. She’s not just a ballhandler; she’s a hell of a ballhandler. Then, I can put her down on the block because she has great post moves. She can play three different positions and get it done from anywhere.” Diulus allowed himself to compare Selby to one of the greatest basketball players ever during the high praise of his point guard. “She hates to lose and she loves to play basketball,” Diulus said. “If I called her up and said we had a game to play right now, she wouldn’t say why, she’d ask where the game was. She has the whole package. And people talk about Michael Jordan and wonder how he got as good as he was. Jordan hated to lose, he just couldn’t stand it. Shay is the same way.” — OH

J J H U D D L E . C O M 59


Cierra Bravard

Captain Crunch

Sandusky Perkins senior Cierra Bravard is ranked the No. 2 post player in the country in the Class of 2008 by hoopgurlz.com.

Photo by Gary Housteau

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JJ H u ddle’ s O h io Hi gh


Cierra Bravard

STORY BY MATT NATALI

H

er friends and teammates may affectionately call her ‘C’ but when Cierra Bravard steps onto the basketball court, she brings nothing but her ‘AGame.’ The Sandusky Perkins senior catapulted to the No. 7-rated prospect in the country for the class of 2008 and the No. 2-rated center – according to hoopgurlz.com – following a state runner-up finish last season and a dominating summer on the AAU circuit. Last season, Bravard averaged 23.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game in leading the 21-4 Lady Pirates to their first trip to the state tournament. In doing so, she was named Division II co-player of the year and was a finalist for the coveted Ms. Basketball award. “She’s a tremendous talent,” said Perkins head coach Ray Neill. “I like to tell people that she’s made herself into a basketball player and not just someone who is 6-foot-4 and plays basketball. She’s a basketball player now who happens to be 6-foot-4.” That maturation process, both as a player and a person, began in middle school as Bravard and Neill have climbed the ranks through junior high and high school basketball together. Neill first noticed Bravard’s potential at an early age and became her coach in seventh grade. “Back in those years, it may have taken you a while to figure out if she was right-handed or left-handed,” Neill said. “She used to just pitch (the ball) up there with two hands. She wasn’t a natural or a prodigy at the time – she’s had to work hard at it. Neill recalled the Sandusky Bay Conference championship game Bravard’s seventh grade season in which she shot 0-for-9 from the foul line. “We worked real hard with her on her game in seventh grade and it took time for her to work on that shot with her right hand. She’s put a lot of time in. She’s grown as a basketball player and she’s grown as a person along with that,” he said. Neill took over the Perkins girls high school basketball program Bravard’s freshman year as the developmental process continued for both Bravard as a player and Neill as a coach.

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Each season with Neill on the bench and Bravard on the court, the Lady Pirates have advanced farther in the tournament. “We’ve had a little bit of success over my tenure and her tenure overlapping here,” Neill said. Perkins was a sectional finalist Bravard’s freshman year with her contributing 13.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game. She broke into the starting lineup midway through the season despite some apprehension on her part. “We knew she was going to be able to help us so we talked to her about it and asked if she thought she was ready,” Neill recalled. “She was hesitant and comfortable coming off the bench but then we got her into the starting lineup and she has been a staple since. “She will be the first one to tell you that the five seniors on the team her freshman year were a great group for her to come into the varsity environment. They were pretty good basketball players and intelligent kids who accepted Cierra and helped her in the learning process,” he added. Perkins advanced to the regional finals in Bravard’s sophomore season falling 44-43 to state runner-up Copley. She earned first team All-Ohio honors, tallying 22.0 points, 9.1 rebounds and 4.2 blocks for the Lady Pirates. After falling short in last year’s trip to Columbus, Perkins is aiming to take that final step towards a state championship and Bravard worked hard in the off-season in hopes of raising the trophy in March. “I thought her summer was excellent. I thought she did a lot of great things,” said Bravard’s AAU coach Andre Gault. “She got into better shape and got a better understanding of what she can do physically. She dominated and played really well and in every event. She just got better and better. “I thought the biggest thing was she got an understanding of what she could do and what she should be doing,” he added. “I started seeing her actually using her footwork and getting around and working around people rather than overpowering and going through people and she expanded her range a little more. “On the defensive end, she is better at tim-

ing the blocks and has a new understanding of how to actually work and get rebounds. I watched her go from getting 10 or 12 rebounds a game at the beginning of the spring to rebounding 10 or 12 by the half.” And like the senior leaders that took her under their wings her freshman year, Bravard embraced a leadership role as she developed through the summer. “Her leadership took a huge leap,” Gault said. “I watched her make sure she was keeping on her teammates. She was able to look people in the eye and work together to get it done. Before you knew it, they were winning every tournament they would go to because she was able to lead as the best player out there. “She became a better teammate, a better leader and just grew all summer.” As she has developed as a player the last several years, Bravard has become one of the most coveted prospects in the country as she is entertaining scholarship offers from Florida State, Maryland, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Kentucky and Miami (Fla.) to name just a few. “I'm still really open,” Bravard told hoopgurlz.com. “I will take official visits. I don't know how many, but I won't make a decision until after. I want to go somewhere that already has a successful program, where I can make an impact, play my game and not have to change my style.” And like the senior class that contributed to her early success in high school, Bravard credits her current teammates for the acclaim she earned through high school, according to Neill. “Cierra would be the first one to tell you that her teammates have been such big part of her success and our success,” he said. While Bravard may not have started off as a natural talent at a young age, she has honed her skills through hard work with help from her teammates, coaches and family to become one of the top girls basketball players in the country. “She’s worked at it and loves being in the gym. She has great support from her teammate and has a great family and we’re proud and happy of her accomplishments,” Neill said. — OH

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Wrestling Preview

Four of a Kind

AustintownFitch senior Tony Jameson (below) is looking to win his fourth straight Division I title. Jameson has wins at 135, 119 and 103. Here he wrestles with runnner-up Richie Spicel of Brunswick in last year’s 135 final.

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Photo by Greg Beers

JJ H u dd le’s O h io High


STORY BY KIRK LARRABEE

O

Wrestling Preview

hio is never lacking in quality wrestling, and fans can expect the same once again this year. Lakewood St. Edward and St. Paris Graham will be looking to keep their state championship streaks alive in Divisions I and II, while Troy Christian will be trying to start one of their own in Division III. The crop of individual competitors is strong as usual, with one wrestler – Austintown-Fitch senior Tony Jameson – aiming to become Ohio’s 16th four-time state champion. Without knowing for sure yet what weight classes many wrestlers will wind up competing in, here is a look at some of the names to watch this year across the state of Ohio.

names in Lakewood St. Edward star Collin Palmer, who won his second consecutive state title after winning at 112 in 2006. Palmer, now a junior, was rated in the top 10 nationally in his weight class and will be once again in 2007 as he continues on a path to join brother Lance as a four-time state champion. Two-time third place finisher Seth Horner (jr., third at 112 in 2006) of Massillon Perry is another strong competitor to come out of last year’s 125 class. Two of last year’s high placers at 130 return in third-place winner Joe Parra (jr.) of Barberton and senior Neil Birt of St. Edward, who finished fourth. The 135-pound class hosted two outstanding junior wrestlers who will be aiming to go out on top as seniors. Tony Jameson of Austintown-Fitch, a national top-10 wrestler at the 135-pound class, will be attempting to join the list of Ohio’s all-time elite as he shoots for his fourth straight state championship. Jameson (44-1) won at 135 after wins at 103 and 119 as a freshman and sophomore. The runner-up in 135, senior Richie Spicel of Brunswick, lost his only match of the year (43-1) in the finals to Jameson after finishing first at 130 as a sophomore. Both will be among Division I’s top competitors. The middle weight classes saw two three-time champions finish he Division I crop boasts some big names at the lower their careers with titles in Solon’s Kevin Hardy (145) and St. weights. Ohio finished with five of the nation’s top 10 wrestlers Edward’s Sean Nemec (160) along with two-time champ Thomas in the 103-pound weight class (as ranked by Straughn (152) of Massillon Perry. Among the placers from those wrestling411usa.com), three of them in Division I. classes who will be back looking for a crown in 2008 are Jesse Those three are state champion Sam White (jr., No. 4 nationally) Dong of Westerville North (Sr., 49-3, 145 runner-up) and Chris Klein of Massillon Perry; runner-up Jamie Clark (soph., No. 5 nationally) of Westerville North (sr., 152 fourth). of Lakewood St. Edward, who lost a 3-2 overtime decision to White Only one returning state champion remains – senior Brian Roddy in the finals; and sophomore Jerome Robinson of Cleveland St. of Lakewood St. Edward. Roddy (38-1) finished first at 171 after a Ignatius, a third-place finisher. second-place finish in 2006. He could be among the top-rated The 112-pound weight class also featured a nationally-ranked wrestlers in the country at his weight class this year. underclassman in junior Kyle Lang (No. 9 nationally) of BrecksvilleOthers to watch from the higher weight classes include Barberton Broadview Heights. But Lang finished third at 112, while sophomore senior Adam Cogar (runner-up at 215), Cincinnati Elder junior Nick Sulzer of Lakewood St. Edward captured second place. Both Orlando Scales (3rd at 215) two-time placer Andrew Tumlin of will be formidable this year. Also back will be seventh-place finisher Harrison (jr., fifth at 215). and 2006 103-pound champ Steve Mitcheff of Elyria. From a team perspective, there might be nothing easier to predict An interesting story unfolded at 119, where two-time runner-up in the entire world than who is going to win the team title in Division and projected champ Ryan I. Lakewood St. Edward Fields of West Chester captured their 11th straight Lakota West fell in the state title in 2007 and their finals in overtime to unbeat23rd overall, setting two en Brad Squire of state records with 14 qualiWadsworth. Not only did fiers and 229 team points. Squire, a freshman at the The Eagles may not put time, accomplish the rare up such a mighty showing feat of an unbeaten (34-0) this year, but no one state championship freshexpects to see a change at man season, but he dealt the top. Fields his third straight secOn the strength of returnond-place finish. Fields, a ing standouts such as senior this season, will be Palmer, Roddy, Clark, trying to avoid being a fourSulzer, and Britt, along with time runner-up while Squire returning qualifiers in senior will be out for an encore. Clarence Semple and junior Another name to watch Andrew Gasber, St. Edward from last year’s 119 crop is will most likely add another Cincinnati Elder senior title to their long list. Photo by Greg Beers Tommy Pretty, a third-place Runner-up Cincinnati finisher. Moeller returns five state The 125-pound class Wadsworth sophomore Brad Squire (left) and West Chester Lakota West senior qualifiers while third-place was the home of one of finisher Massillon Perry Ryan Fields (right) are two names to remember. Squire beat Fields in last year’s Ohio’s most well-known returns three. 119-pound final to cap an undefeated run. Fields is a three-time state runner-up.

DIVISION I

St. Edward shooting for 12th straight title, 24th overall

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DIVISION II

Graham loaded for even stronger run than last year

ome of America’s finest wrestlers can be found in Division II, although they are mostly at one school. Nine-time state champ St. Paris Graham is locked and loaded, returning nine wrestlers who qualified for the state championships in 2007. It starts with junior David Taylor, a two-time state champion at 103 who finished the 2006-07 campaign rated as the No. 1 wrestler in America at his weight class. Taylor (44-1) will be a heavy favorite to win his third title this year. Junior James Inghram of Hunting Valley University School, junior Alex Minnard of Lancaster Fairfield Union, and senior Wayne Garbrandt of Uhrichsville Claymont – the second-, third- and fourthplace finishers, respectively – will also be back this year. The 112-pound class saw a freshman winner in Cody Garbrandt of Uhrichsville Claymont. Garbrandt bested Graham’s Zach Neibert, a sophomore at the time. Both will be names to watch from last year’s 112 bracket as will third-place finisher and three-time placer Johnny Papesh of Aurora (sr.) and two-time placers in senior Kyle Gilchrist of Jefferson Area, junior Jacob Garringer of Washington Court House Miami Trace, and junior Nate Westfall of Mentor Lake Catholic. Champions from the 119 and 125 class have graduated, but some fine wrestlers return, including 119 second-place finisher Brad Wulkie (soph.) of University School, 125 second-place finisher Tieler Severance (sr.) of Thornville Sheridan, and 125 third-place finisher and two-time placer Brian Stephens (sr.) of St. Paris Graham. Two talented and experienced wrestlers return from the 130 class – state champion Aaron Sulzer (sr.) of Parma Heights Holy Name and third-place finisher Chase Skonieczny (sr.) of Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit. The 135 class yielded a surprising result last year as senior Jeffrey Pelton of Bellevue upset two-time state champion Ben Jordan of St. Paris Graham, but Jordan (43-5) is back for his senior year and will be rated among the top wrestlers in the nation at his weight class of choice. The top finishers at the 140-pound class all graduated, but plenty

Photo by Nick Falzerano

Wrestling Preview

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St. Paris Graham senior Coby Boyd (right) captured his first state title at 145-pounds last season.

comes back from 145, starting with state champion Coby Boyd of St. Paris Graham. Boyd, a senior this year, finished the season 45-2 and was rated among the top 10 nationally at the 140-pound class. Also returning is runner-up Kirk Tank (sr.) of Oak Harbor and third-place finisher Danny Michaels (sr.) of Clyde. One of the top returning wrestlers in Division II will be 152-pound champ Eric Cubberly (51-1) of Pemberville Eastwood. Cubberly came away with his first state title last season after placing as a freshman and sophomore. Also watch for another other one of the Uhrichsville Claymont Garbrandts, Zach, who placed fourth at 152 last

year as a sophomore. The 160-pound class lost perhaps the top wrestler in Ohio last year in three-time state champ Colt Sponseller of Millersburg West Holmes (now at Ohio State). But that weight class returns another Graham senior standout in fourth-place finisher Zac Thomusseit. Coming back from 171 will be one of the premier wrestlers of the higher weight classes in senior Cody Magrum of Oak Harbor, who won 171 as both a sophomore and junior and will be shooting for title number three, as well as third-place finisher Jeremy Foster of Pemberville Eastwood (sr.). Among the names to watch from the upper weight classes are 189 second-place finisher Matt Fisher (sr.) of Sandusky Perkins, 189 fourth-place finisher Kevin Bailey of Walsh Jesuit (sr.), 215 fourthplace finisher Zach Pummill of Germantown Valley View (sr.), heavyweight runner-up and two-time placer John Hiles of Columbus De Sales (sr.), and Graham heavyweight and two-time placer Adam Walls (jr.).

Photo by Nick Falzerano

Photo by Nick Falzerano

Uhrichsville Claymont sophomore Cody Garbrandt (top) and Graham junior Zach Neibert (bottom) will both be in contention for state titles this season. Garbrandt beat Neibert for the 112-pound title last year.

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Pemberville Eastwood senior Eric Cubberly captured his first state title last season at 152-pounds. A tree-time state placer, Cubberly went 51-1 last year. He was third as a sophomore and eighth as a freshman.

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Wrestling Preview

DIVISION III

Troy Christian, Marion Pleasant set to face-off again

Photo by Nick Falzerano

champions in Casey Thome, but Thome, a senior last year, has graduated. Runnerup Robert Chilson of Bellaire (jr.) and fourth-place finisher Zach Zolman of Galion Northmor (sr.) both return. The third Troy Christian champion, Zach Toal, conhile Divisions I and II saw the continuation of streaks with quered the 140-pound class team titles from Lakewood St. Edward and St. Paris Graham, last season in and will be Division III crowned a first-time champion as Troy Christian picked by many to be a narrowly beat out Marion Pleasant, 154-151.5. Both teams should be champion again as a junior strong again this year, with Pleasant having an impressive 10 underthis year. Also returning from classman qualifiers on last year’s squad and Troy Christian having 140 will be fourth-place finsix, two of whom were state champions. isher and 2006 130-pound This year’s crop of D-III wrestlers is headlined by last year’s 103champ Zach Nelson of pound champion, Logan Stieber of Monroeville. Stieber, just a freshLondon Madison Plains (sr.). man in 2006-07, was rated as the No. 2 wrestler in America at the The 145-pound class saw 103-pound class, with his only loss coming to No. 1-ranked David a bit of a surprise champion Taylor of St. Paris Graham. Stieber will likely once again be the prein David Stiltner of Apple mier wrestler in Division III and will be a heavy favorite in the weight Creek Waynedale. Stiltner Miami Valley School senior Daniel class of his choice. The second and third-place wrestlers at 103, will be back for his senior Justin Hall of Massillon Tuslaw (jr.) and Jimmy Householder of West Kolodzik claimed his second state title year this year, as will runnerJefferson (sr.), will also be back and will be forces to be reckoned last year at 125-pounds. up Kevin Cloran of Cincinnati with. Madeira. Last year’s 112-pound class featured two outstanding competitors The 152-pound champion, Jedd Moore (sr.), will be one of Marion in Ben Sergent of Troy Christian and Troy Opfer of Sandusky St. Pleasant’s heavy hitters this year. Moore lost only one match on the Mary. Sergent bested Opfer (63-1) in the state championship, giving season (43-1), coming to D-II champion Eric Cubberly of Pemberville Troy Christian a crucial win in their state title quest. Both wrestlers are Eastwood, after a second-place finish as a sophomore. three-time state placers and will be back for one more go-round this Moore is one of two state champions returning for Marion Pleasant, year as seniors, as will third-place finisher Zack Pope of Marion the other being senior Steve Wilson, who won at 160 after placing Pleasant (sr.). twice in prior years. Like Moore, Wilson only dropped one match last The 119-pound class lost all three top finishers but returns fourthseason (48-1). Two other wrestlers to watch from 160 will be two-time place finisher Andrew Clark of Reading, who is a senior and two-time placers Colin Heasley of Worthington Christian (sr.) and Derrick Yant placer. of Delta (sr.). The 125-pound weight class champion, senior Daniel Kolodzik of Each of the top five place winners at the 171-pound class graduatDayton Miami Valley School, is one of the more interesting stories in ed, leaving sixth-place finisher Spencer Adams (sr.) as the highest the state. Kolodzik, despite being the only wrestler at his school, won returning competitor. The returning crop from 189 is led by third- and his second state champifourth-place winners Jared onship last year and will be Neff of Applecreek vying for a third this season. Photo by Nick Falzerano Waynedale (sr.) and Stuart Also back from 125 will be Miller of Delphos Jefferson runner-up and two-time plac(jr.). er Zac Hancock of Troy The 215-pound and 285Christian (jr.). pound classes also saw sevLast year’s top 130-pound eral wrestlers move on to finishers are all wrestlers to graduation, with the fifthwatch this year. State champlace finisher, Doug Randall pion Ryan Gambill of (sr.) of Jamestown Casstown Miami East (sr.) Greenview, being the top captured his second title last place winner returning from year over some tough com215 and the fourth-place finpetitors. Those included runisher, Jacob Southwick of ner-up Josh Demas of Tontogany Otsego (sr.), Marion Pleasant (soph.), being the highest-ranked third-place winner and threeplacer from 285. Others to time placer Lee Schumaker watch include two returning of Arcadia (sr.) and fourthqualifiers from Marion place finisher Jordan Thome Pleasant in juniors Colton of Troy Christian (jr.). Monroeville sophomore Logan Stieber (top) and Massillon Tuslaw senior Justin Bowers (215) and Aaron The 135-pound class saw Hall (bottom) return after facing off in last year’s Division III 103-pound final. Edington (285). one of Troy Christian’s three Stieber won the match (20-5) and the state championship.

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Ohio High November 2007