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MAC going for three titles this time

nce a month I go to God’s Country. A place rich in soil and sports. I always enjoy my frequent trips to West Central Ohio and especially Mercer, Darke and Auglaize counties. You can feel the electricity. And smell the manure. And man does theirs not stink. This time of year, the volume is turned up even more. Sure the Midwest Athletic Conference claimed state titles in boys basketball, girls basketball, volleyball and girls cross country last school year, but the MAC won TWO state titles in football. In fact the MAC has won TWO state titles in football for THREE straight years. Before that the conference pushed through two teams to the state finals five times and went 1-1 each time. There are six divisions in football and the MAC fields teams in three, so six – or rather half – of the Top 12 teams the last three Eric Frantz years in football in Divisions IV-VI have come from a 10-team affiliation. There have been four different schools win those six titles. So who’s it going to be this year? Which two MAC teams are going to win state titles? Crazy thing is, it could be three this season. Thanks to a change in scheduling that opened up an additional non-conference game for MAC schools, no less than four and possibly six MAC schools could make the postseason. In Division IV, Coldwater is one of the favorites. In Division V, defending state champion Maria Stein Marion Local, Anna and/or St. Henry will carry the banner. In D-VI, Delphos St. John’s and maybe Minster will make the field. It would be a stretch to think the MAC can continue its streak of two state titles in the same season and even do the unheard of with three. Of course, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in two decades of covering high school sports in Ohio, it’s never underestimate the MAC. Never. Ever. Something else that shouldn’t be underestimated is Ohio High magazine’s position as Ohio’s premiere high school sports publication. Once again we’ve got an all-star line up with the release of our annual Fall issue. In addition to previewing the upcoming high school football playoffs we also have Duane Long’s updated top football prospects for the classes of 2009 and 2010, a feature on Clayton Northmont defensive back and Ohio State recruit C.J. Barnett and a look at the top Mr. Football candidates. Basketball fans will be happy to find our extensive season previews for both boys and girls, including breakdowns of the top teams and players in each division. Feature stories on Kenton senior and Michigan State recruit Garrick Sherman and Dayton Chaminade-Julienne junior Samari Walker are also included. Wrestling junkies will find four-pages dedicated to their sport, as we preview what could be one of the most memorable years ever in Ohio. A new feature we unveil is called “Around Ohio.” This section is dedicated to stories we consider to have something “extra” in them. Much like Ohio High itself. Let the games begin.

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Volume 6

Issue 2

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

Marty Gitlin, Shayne Combs

Photography

Stephanie Porter, Gary Housteau, Nick Falzerano, Greg Beers, Wayne Turoczi, Os Figuero, Leslie Schneider, Justina Saby, Scott Grau, Kendrick Jesionowski, John Ritter, Gary Wright, Walt Butler

Printing Miami Valley Sports Magazine (MVP) miamivalleysports.com

Subscriptions

Order online at www.jjhuddle.com. One year ($19.95), two-year ($34.95) and threeyear ($49.95) subscriptions available.

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Letters to Editor

Questions, comments or suggestions can be sent to jjhuddlestaff@yahoo.com. We encourage your feedback.

Ohio High Magazine is published bi-monthly, four 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 $19.95 and may be purchased online at jjhuddle.com. Single copy price is $6.95 each. c Copyright 2008, Ohio High Magazine and MVP Magazine, LLC. All rights reserved. COVER PHOTOS: Nick Falzerano (New Knoxville); Stephanie Porter (Football Playoffs).

Eric Frantz Managing Editor


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Football Playoff Preview

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Mr. Football Candidates

Division and region breakdown as to what teams to watch, fear and expect to see in Stark County

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Several players have emerged as a threat to capture Ohio’s most prestigous individual football honor

Photo by Gary Housteau

Duane Long’s Senior Rankings

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Recruiting editor weighs in with his updates on the top senior football prospects, is there a new No. 1?

2008 High School Basketball Preview

Division and region overviews and inside looks at some of the state’s top teams and players Boys Overview

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Kenton’s Garrick Sherman is Ohio’s top prospect

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Girls Overview

Photo by Gary Housteau

C-J’s Samari Walker one of nation’s top underclassmen

50 High School Wrestling Preview

This year could be one of Ohio’s most memorable in the sport

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Photo by Nick Falzerano

Leetonia’s Josh Selway Frankfort Adena Volleyball Ursuline Academy Volleyball Chagrin Falls’ Leslie Cikra Lakota West’s Wyatt Lippert

Also...

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Northmont senior and Ohio State recruit C.J. Barnett

ESPN’s Top 150 senior football prospects

Duane Long’s updated junior football rankings

56 Photo by Gary Housteau


High School Football Playoff Preview Coldwater and Maria Stein Marion Local hooked up in a match up of defending state champions on Sept. 12. The Cavs won 33-14. Expect both to have lengthy postseason runs again.

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Photo by Nick Falzerano

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High School Football Playoff Preview

STORY BY OHIO HIGH STAFF

Ohio High School Playoff Preview

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 Oct. 31-Nov. 1 and will continue through the state championships in Canton and Massillon Nov. 28-29. Last year, Cincinnati St. Xavier blanked Mentor 27-0 to claim the Division I (big school) state championship. Other than a championship win by Hilliard Davidson in 2006, the Cincinnati area has dominated the big-school division in recent years. Cincinnati Elder won back-to-back Division I titles in 2002-03, followed by Cincinnati Colerain in 2004 and Cincinnati St. Xavier in 2005 and last year. As of press time late in the season, Ohio had three Division I schools listed in the National Prep Poll. They included Cleveland Glenville at No. 14 nationally, followed by Cincinnati Colerain (No. 19) and Cleveland St. Ignatius (No. 20). As of press time, Colerain and Glenville were unbeaten. St. Ignatius stood with one loss at the hands of Glenville in each team’s season opener. In addition to Colerain, Cincinnati Elder had the look of a contender in southwest Ohio. Three Columbus-area schools – Hilliard Davidson, Pickerington Central and Upper Arlington – were also hoping to make some postseason waves. Davidson and Pickerington Central were unbeaten as of press time for this issue of Ohio High. In northeast Ohio, schools such as Brunswick and Lakewood St. Edward could push Glenville and St. Ignatius for postseason glory. Here is a region-by-region look at the key contenders in Division I.

Region 1

Cleveland Glenville rallied for a 20-17 win over Cleveland St. Ignatius in a week 1 rematch of a playoff game – also won by Glenville – from a year ago. The Tarblooders, behind the two-way play of lineman Jonathan Newsome (headed to Ohio State) and so many other individual stars, could be primed for a run at not only a state final four but also the school’s first state title. After beating St. Ignatius, Glenville added impressive wins over Clairton (Pa.) Thomas Jefferson and Gahanna Lincoln before delving into Senate League play. The Tarblooders were allowing just six points a game.

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Region 2

Brunswick grabbed the upper hand in Region 2 with its 30-7 win over preseason regional favorite Macedonia Nordonia in week 4. The Blue Devils, unbeaten through six weeks, seemed on their to hosting an opening round playoff game. A week 8 showdown at Strongsville was still on the docket, though. Nordonia, which boasts a 24-14 win over

Photo by Stephanie Porter

Cleveland St. Ignatius was also firmly in the hunt to gain a top seed in Region 1. The Wildcats have the pedigree with an OHSAA-record nine state playoff championships. St. Ignatius had bounced back from that early loss and posted impressive wins over Clayton Strongsville’s Northmont (23-3), Ray Hamilton Mentor (28-14) and Massillon Washington (49-7). The season finale with Lakewood St. Edward loomed large. Mentor has advanced all the way to the state title game the last two years. The Cardinals were again in the hunt to host an opening round playoff game. Wins over Youngstown Mooney, Cincinnati Moeller and Euclid were impressive. Strongsville opened with a heartbreaking 37-36 loss to Lakewood St. Edward, but had rallied with several impressive wins including Mentor (30-27) and Toledo St. John’s (34-6). A week 8 showdown with Brunswick could decide whether the Mustangs host an opening round playoff game. Lakewood St. Edward seemed a good bet to again make the playoff field. A win over rival St. Ignatius in the finale could determine a homefield advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. Youngstown Boardman, led by a pair of Ohio State verbals in offensive lineman Corey Linsley and junior defensive end J.T. Moore, was also in contention for a playoff berth. Key games with Canton GlenOak and Canton McKinley loomed. Other schools in the mix here included Solon, Euclid, Garfield Heights and resurgent Warren Harding. Projected regional champion: Cleveland Glenville Photo by Stephanie Porter

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Division I

Wadsworth, was also in line to host a playoff game. The Knights faced a tough stretch with games against Mayfield and at Garfield Heights. But they are hoping for a chance to get a rematch with Brunswick in the playoffs. Canton Glen Oak Wadsworth’s opened with five wins Anthony Shrock before a week 6 loss to Canton McKinley (2419). GlenOak still faced tough games against Youngstown Boardman and North Canton Hoover. Amherst Steele was unbeaten through six games. But a week 10 game at rival Avon Lake loomed large. Schools still hoping to host opening round playoff games included Wadsworth, North Canton Hoover and Fremont Ross. A pair of new coaches at storied programs – Ron Johnson at Canton McKinley and Jason Hall at Massillon Washington – were hopeful of getting their teams into the playoff field. But, perhaps, only the winner of their week 10 showdown at Massillon will make it. Projected regional champion: Brunswick

Region 3

Pickerington Central, led by Ohio State verbals Jamie Wood at safety and Zach Boren at running back and linebacker, was spotless through six games. The Tigers’ best win was their 23-6 week 1 triumph over Upper Arlington. Upper Arlington was also in the mix to host an opening round playoff game. The Golden Bears still had tough week 9 and 10 games remaining though against midseason unbeatens Hilliard Davidson and Dublin Coffman. Beavercreek’s Davidson had a few Brad Sundstrom holdovers from its state championship team from 2006. The Wildcats’ best win over the first half of the season was a 24-21 triumph over Columbus Brookhaven, the top team in the Columbus City League. Photo by Nick Falzerano

The Ohio High experts weigh in with their thoughts on the high school football postseason

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High School Football Playoff Preview

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 Colerain became the team to beat by virtue of its 13-8 win over defending state champion Cincinnati St. Xavier in the season opener. The Cardinals went on from there and stopped McKeesport, Pa., 14-7 in overtime in the Kirk Herbstreit Ohio vs. USA Challenge. As of press time, the Cardinals have extended their Greater Miami Conference winning streak to 61 games. Colerain does it all on the ground behind the play of running backs Tyler Williams and Traylon Durham. Harrison was also pushing to host an opening round playoff game. The Wildcats opened with a loss to Cincinnati Oak Hills, before rallying with five straight wins as of press time. Cincinnati Elder has taken a back seat to Greater Catholic League rival St. Xavier in recent years. But the Panthers could be looking forward to a deep playoff run for coach Doug Ramsey. Their lone loss was to Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas 35-24 in the Herbstreit event. Aquinas is a national top-25 team. Elder’s best wins were a over previously unbeaten Lakewood St. Edward 52-31 and over St. Xavier 33-15 at The Pit. Elder is led by junior quarterback Mark Miller, who had thrown for 1,393 yards with 14 touchdowns against just two interceptions after six games. Huber Heights Wayne was also in position to possibly host a playoff game. But the Warriors lost sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller to a lower leg injury in a week 6 loss to Clayton Northmont. The injury could keep Miller out until the playoffs. Wayne sparked a big win in week 2, defeating East St. Louis, Mo., 20-12 in the Herbstreit event. Hamilton was poised to jump into the top four. The Big Blue were in contention behind the play of junior quarterback Drew Townsend and senior defensive end Ed Bryant. Clayton Northmont was on the fence despite its 17-7 win over Huber Heights Wayne. The Thunderbolts, led by Ohio State verbal C.J. Barnett at cornerback, had huge games with Kettering Fairmont and Beavercreek down the stretch. Defending state champion Cincinnati St. Xavier was struggling at just 3-3 after six weeks. The Bombers dropped their opener to Colerain before losing back-to-back games against Louisville (Ky.) Trinity and Elder. St. X may need a big finish against the likes of Lakewood St. Edward, Cleveland St. Ignatius and GCL rival Cincinnati Moeller just to make the playoff field. Others in the mix here included Cincinnati Woodward, Kettering Fairmont, Cincinnati Moeller

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State Championship Game Projection Cleveland Glenville over Cincinnati Colerain

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– Steve Helwagen

Division II

s Cincinnati Anderson in position to repeat as Division II state champions? As of press time, the Redskins had lost a pair of games, but were still very much in line to make the playoffs in Region 8. In fact, Anderson lost two regular season games last season before going on its postseason tear that was capped by a 31-25 win over Louisville in the state championship game. Winning back-to-back titles is extremely difficult in a football-rich state like Ohio and there are several teams that have the talent to go all the way. Some of them include Toledo Central Catholic, Lexington, Medina Highland, Louisville, Columbus DeSales and Cincinnati Winton Woods. Here is a region-by-region look at all of the key contenders in Division II.

Region 5

As of press time, East Cleveland Shaw was in line to host a first-round playoff game. The Cardinals blew out five of their first six opponents of the season, with the lone exception being a 13-7 win at Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph. Shaw is very talented and is led by TE/WR Tyrone Williams, DT Terrence Powell, DB Darwin Cook and LB Kenron Drake. Mayfield was a 2007 state semifinalist and the Wildcats are enjoying another fine season this year. The Wildcats started the season with a 6-1 record, putting them in contention to host a first-round playoff tilt. Their lone loss by Howland’s press time was at Olmsted Falls (21-14) Matt Preston and their biggest win was a 26-20 triumph at Cleveland South. Mayfield’s top players are TE/NG Cody Hayes and WR/OLB Matt Cuthbert. Others that are in the running to host a first-round postseason game include Akron Hoban, Parma Padua Franciscan and Maple Heights. Padua had lost two games as of press time, but they were against Huber Heights Wayne and Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit. Padua’s top players are senior LB Dan Molls, RB Cory DePiero and QB Andrew Dziak. Fighting to get in the playoffs in this region are Kent Roosevelt, Warren Howland, Richfield Revere, Berea, Akron Buchtel, Tallmadge, Madison, Akron North and Ashtabula Lakeside. Howland was actually Ohio High’s preseason pick to win this region, but the Tigers started off this season with a 4-3 record (all losses came against quality opponents). Their

biggest game by press time was a 10-7 road win over previously undefeated Poland Seminary. Projected regional champion: Parma Padua Franciscan

Region 6

Toledo Central Catholic was a juggernaut through the first seven weeks of the season and was in line to host a first-round playoff game. The Fighting Irish’s closest game as of press time was a 21-14 win at Dublin Scioto. Central Catholic is led by RB/LB Brad Rogers, FB/LB Mike Marrow and a host of other talented players. The Irish made the playoffs last year and lost in the first round and were our pick to be the regional runner-up this year. However, it is looking like they might go all the way to the state semifinals and possibly beyond. Also off to an impressive undefeated start to the season was Lexington, whose closest game was a 34-20 win over Orrville. Lexington finished 8-3 last year, including a first-round loss in the playoffs. This season’s team is led by junior Toledo QB/DB Courtney Avery Central and many other standCatholic’s outs. Mike Marrow Medina Highland was the third-best team in Region 6 as of press time and was in line to host a first-round playoff game. The Hornets barely buzzed past Tallmadge in the fourth week of the season with a baseball-like final score of 3-2, but destroyed the other teams on their schedule. Highland is led by senior LB Chris Snook. Several teams will be battling to qualify for the postseason in this region and they include Lewis Center Olentangy, Powell Olentangy Liberty, Sylvania Southview, Avon Lake, Lodi Cloverleaf, Greenville, Maumee and Piqua. Avon Lake was one of our preseason favorites in this region and still could win it, but the Shoremen lost a couple of close games early in the year (38-35 against Dover and 11-6 against Brecksville-Broadview Heights). Projected regional champion: Toledo Central Catholic Photo by Scott Grau

Region 4

and Centerville. Projected regional champion: Cincinnati Colerain

Photo by Stephanie Porter

Dublin Coffman advanced to the state final four last year and, despite losing so many top stars off that 13-1 squad from a year ago, the Shamrocks were in position to possibly host a playoff game. But Coffman needed a strong finish against the likes of Hilliard Darby, Hilliard Davidson, Worthington Kilbourne and Upper Arlington. Also in the hunt to host an opening round game were Worthington Kilbourne, Brookhaven and Beavercreek. Schools hopeful of getting into the playoff field included Delaware Hayes, Hilliard Darby and Pickerington North. Projected regional champion: Pickerington Central

Region 7

Ohio High’s two favorites in this region entering the season were Columbus DeSales and Louisville and that’s exactly how things panned out through the first seven weeks of the regular season. DeSales’ closest game as of press time was a 21-17 victory over rival Columbus Watterson. The Stallions – led by DE Davon Custis and QB Thomas Gentile – handled everyone else on their slate with ease despite the fact that six of their first seven opponents had winning records. Louisville was also off to an undefeated start as of press time. The 2007 state runners-up are once again led by standout QB Neal Seaman this season. The Leopards won each of their first seven games by 14 points or more and they knocked of three teams that had 6-1 records by press time (22-0 over North Canton Hoover, 33-7 over Canal Fulton

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Region 8

To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. And that’s precisely what Cincinnati Winton Woods did in week six of the season with a 23-13 win over defending state champion Cincinnati Anderson. Winton Woods was certainly in line to host a firstround playoff game by press time with their lone loss coming to Columbus Watterson. Winton Woods has a roster loaded with talent and the group is led by WR/DB Chris Williams, WR/OLB/DB Maalik Bomar, TE/DE Anthony Talbert and QB Dominique Brown. A bit of a surprise in this region has been the strong play of New Carlisle Tecumseh. The Arrows were 6-4 last year and usually have a decent program, but they were able to get off to a very impressive start to this season and as of press time were in line to not only make the playoffs, but to host a first-round game. The other two teams that were in line to host firstround playoff games as of press time were Cincinnati Turpin and Cincinnati Anderson. Turpin was the top seed in this region last year and lost a heartbreaker to Anderson in the playoffs (24-23). This year, the Spartans had to replace a lot of starters, but their only loss by press time was to Kings Mills Kings. As for Anderson, the Tigers are led by QB Daniel Rod, C/DT Nick Schirmann and OT Andrew Norwell. Despite their two early losses, they are very much still a favorite in this region. )ther teams that are battling to get in the playoffs are Morrow Little Miami, Kings Mills Kings, Mount Orab Western Brown, Dayton Dunbar, Trenton Edgewood, Bellbrook, Jackson and Cincinnati Taft. Projected regional champion: Cincinnati Anderson State Championship Game Projection Columbus DeSales over Anderson

– Dave Biddle

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Division III

ust as I predicted in the Ohio High magazine football season preview, Division III is wide open and up for grabs – even this late in the season. In the ONN/Ohio High Power Poll that is released weekly throughout the season on our complimentary Web site www.jjhuddle.com, no other division saw more shifting or entering or dropping out of teams than Division III this season. And it sure has made for some good football. Defending state champion Sunbury Big Walnut stumbled out of the gate going 1-2 to open the season but the Golden Eagles settled in and reeled off four straight wins as of press time and were threatening to crack the top eight in Region 10 to qualify for the postseason. State runner-up from last season Newark Licking Valley was sitting pretty at No. 3 in Region 10 heading into Week 8. The Panthers fell to D-III foe Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit in the season-opener before hitting stride. Region 10 had four teams ranked in the top 10 in the Power Poll heading into Week 8, including Licking Valley, Canton South, Canal Fulton Northwest and Dover. Also as expected, Region 9 has been strong again with the likes of Walsh Jesuit, Hubbard, Aurora and Chagrin Falls all in the mix. With three games left in the regular season, traditional power Cleveland Benedictine was sitting at No. 9 in the region looking to make its first playoff appearance since 2005. The Bennies won the state title in 2003 and 2004. Region 12 hasn’t been as strong as the others in the Division but the usual suspects are in the mix will make some noise in the playoffs. Here is a region-by-region look at the key contenders in Division III:

Region 9

With three games left on the regular season docket, Chagrin Falls was tops in the region but notched only two wins against teams with winning records and lost to a sub-.500 Notre DameCathedral Latin team in overtime. The Tigers could struggle once postseason play starts. Walsh Jesuit stood at No. 2 in the region heading into Week 8 and was my pick to come out of the Region prior to the season. I am sticking with the Warriors. They had the said win over Licking Valley in Week 1 and big wins over Padua Franciscan and Mentor Lake Catholic. Walsh is battled-tested and that experience is vital in the postseason. Youngstown Liberty topped the Power Poll several weeks during the season thanks to the fine play of running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and the astronomical numbers the Michigan recruit has put up. The Leopards will have a lot of momentum heading in the playoffs and could be dangerous in the postseason. As mentioned, Benedictine was flirting with the postseason heading into the home stretch with respectable wins over NDCL, Parma Heights Holy Name and Fremont Ross out of Division I. The Bennies have arguably the toughest schedule in the state which will prepare them for the playoffs should they qualify. Region 9 surprise from last season – Cortland

Lakeview – was on the outside looking in late in the season but was looking to make a push in the end to get in the postseason. Ravenna was another playoff team from a year ago that was in the running again with key wins over Streetsboro, Canton South and Kent Roosevelt. Other schools to keep an eye on include Hubbard, Streetsboro, NDCL and Rocky River. Projected regional champion: Falls Walsh Jesuit

Region 10

Despite losing the school’s career leading rusher in Kobe Frye and nine starters on defense, St. Marys Memorial sat at the top of the region comfortably late in the season. The Roughriders just missed the postseason last year finishing No. 10 in the Region. Avon was another preseason favorite with 13 starters returning, including star quarterback Ryan O’Rourke, and the Eagles stood undefeated facing Week 8 as the No. 2 seed in the Region. Bellevue had big wins early in the season over Sandusky Perkins and Clyde – all playoff contenders. Speaking of Clyde, the Fliers were right in the mix coming down the stretch with reigning Division III Offensive Player of the Year Alex Gillett back under center. Tipp City Avon’s Ryan Tippecanoe was on the O’Rourke fast track to the postseason but the Red Devils have lost in the first round of the playoffs each of the last three seasons and are looking to get over that hump. Urbana was a team I had on the fringe in the preseason after being ousted from the postseason in the first round the last two seasons. The Hillclimbers are in position to make a push for the playoffs and, like Tipp, are aiming to get over that playoff ‘hill’. Also keep an eye on Defiance, Tiffin Columbian, Sandusky Perkins and Big Walnut. Projected regional champion: Clyde Photo by Stephanie Porter

Photo by Gary Housteau

Northwest and 49-0 over Alliance). Just like DeSales, it will be a shock if Louisville doesn’t host a first-round game and advance far in the postseason. In fact, DeSales and Louisville appear to be on a collision course and could meet up in the regional finals. The other two teams that were in line to host a first-round playoff game as of press time were Logan and Columbus Marion-Franklin, both Desales’ of which boasted Thomas Gentile undefeated records. Logan and MarionFranklin were both 9-2 last year with a first-round loss in the playoffs. The other teams that will be fighting to make the playoffs in this region are Alliance, Columbus Beechcroft, Dublin Jerome, Columbus Watterson, Canfield, Dresden Tri-Valley, New Albany, Wooster and Columbus Independence. Projected regional champion: Columbus DeSales

High School Football Playoff Preview

Region 11

I had Canton South as a sleeper in the Region coming into the season with second-year head coach Moe Daniska at the helm – and low and behold – the Wildcats claimed the No. 1 seed with three weeks left in the regular season. South made its first back-to-back playoff appearances last season and is paced by three-year starter Matt Trissel under center. Also hailing from the Northeastern Buckeye Conference in Region 11 is Canal Fulton Northwest. The Indians reached the regional finals last season and could be the favorite again having knocked off NBC foe South 17-14 in Week 5. Northwest features Michigan State recruit Nate Klatt on the offensive line. With the momentum of last year’s playoff berth, Poland Seminary is in the mix again holding onto the No. 2 seed heading into the final weeks of the

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High School Football Playoff Preview

Region 12

Photo by Gary Wright

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– Matt Natali

Division IV

o division in Ohio – with the exception arguably of Division I – is as deep and talented as Division IV. There is no shortage of teams that could challenge for the state title. Defending champion Coldwater has been on a roll, along with Kettering Alter, Steubenville, Youngstown Mooney, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and Fostoria. No one expected Coldwater to dethrone Mooney last year, but I don’t think it would as big of a shock this year should Coldwater not walk away with the hardware. The real shock could be who does. This division is truly about survival.

Region 13

The Region 13 winner has been to the state title game five years in a row and should again contend for the final weekend. The last four years Youngstown Mooney has captured the regional title and before that it was Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph. Despite going to the title game five years in a row, the Region 13 winner has won just two championships (Mooney in 2004 and 2006). This year expect Mooney to again be a player. The Cardinals dropped their season opener to two-time Steubenville’s defending Division I Branko Busik state runner-up Mentor but since then have rolled. Mooney’s final two games (against Youngstown Ursuline and Bishop Watterson) will determine the Cards seed. SVSM is another serious contender for the regional title as is stalwart Steubenville. The Irish lost a one-point decision to D-I Akron Garfield in Week 3, but have impressive wins over Belleville Clear Fork, Akron Hoban and Napoleon. A late date with Ursuline will factor into SVSM’s regional route.

The Big Red are looking to make amends for last year’s lost to Mooney in the regional championship. Steubenville is led by West Virginia recruit Branko Busik and standout junior quarterback Dwight Macon. Steubenville won back-to-back Division III state titles in 2005-06. Other teams that could challenge include Massillon Tuslaw and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. Projected regional champion: Steubenville

Region 14

Led by Mr. Football candidate Micah Hyde, Fostoria is the clear favorite in Region 14. The Redman made the postseason last year as the No. 2 seed but fell in the first round to Ottawa-Glandorf. Don’t expect a similar result. Hyde’s play gives Fostoria an element other teams don’t have. That being said, there are always challengers. In addition to the Redmen, Genoa Area is a serious threat to make the state semifiFostoria’s nals. The Comets Micah Hyde allowed just 25 points in their first seven games (all wins) and should be Fostoria’s biggest threat. Other contenders in the region include Marion Pleasant (last year’s regional champion), Lorain Clearview and Pemberville Eastwood. Projected regional champion: Fostoria

Region 15

Talk about a free-for-all. Region 15 is up for grabs. Through seven weeks there was only one unbeaten in this region (New Lexington) and only two teams with one loss. New Lexington made the playoffs last year but was bounced in the first round by eventual regional champion Williamsport Westfall. The Panthers are one of the favorites to win the regional title but a tough gauntlet to end the season against New Concord John Union Local’s Glenn, Dresden TriJordan Barbina Valley and Thornville Sheridan may keep New Lex from even hosting a first round game. After dropping its first two games, Westfall won five straight and appeared on its way to another postseason berth. The Mustangs however do not have the horsepower they had last year and a regional repeat is doubtful.

Photo by Kurt Stubbs

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State Championship Game Projection Canal Fulton Northwest over Clyde

Photo by Gary Housteau

Thornville Sheridan was a mainstay in the Power Poll in the regular season recording big wins over Chillicothe, New Concord John Glenn and Dresden Tri-Valley. The Generals were allowing just 12.8 points per game heading into the last three games of the season holding down the top seed in the Region. Circleville Logan Elm was also undefeated with Week 8 on the horizon. The Braves were the No. 2 seed in the region with wins over Williamsport Westfall, Chillicothe Zane Trace and Hamilton Township. Logan Elm has a Week 10 match up with undefeated Canal Winchester. CW held the No. 4 seed but had only one win on the season over a team with a record over .500, which could hurt the Indians down the homestretch. Germantown Valley view suffered a onepoint loss in the opening round of the playLogan Elm’s offs last season as the Caleb Sollars No. 7 seed but the Spartans held the No. 3 seed in the Region going into Week 8 with wins over Cincinnati Indian Hill, Bellbrook, Franklin and Monroe Lemon-Monroe. Speaking of Indian Hill, the Braves could very well be on the outside looking in this postseason with losses to both Valley View and Cincinnati Turpin. Indian Hill has been the top seed in the Region each of the last four years but has failed to advance past the regional finals. Chillicothe has been a sleeper team after missing the postseason last year – it’s first since dropping from Division II. The Cavaliers returned eight

starters on both sides of the ball and 24 seniors which have been the catalyst for success this season. Eastmoor Academy had only one loss in the regular season last year losing to Marion-Franklin in Week 7 but missed the playoffs. The Warriors lost to Marion-Franklin in Week 7 again this year and could be in danger of missing the postseason again even if they win out. Also keep an eye on Franklin, Norwood, Dayton Chaminade-Julienne and Bexley. Projected regional champion: Thornville Sheridan

Photo by Walt Butler/News Journal

season. The Bulldogs had big wins over Hubbard and Cortland Lakeview in the new All-American Conference in the regular season. Licking Valley cannot be counted out after the state runner-up finish last year. Mr. Football candidate Storm Klein and Ohio State recruit has led the Panthers on offense and defense since his freshman season and is hungry for a championship. The Panthers had a big Mid-State League win over unbeaten Granville in Week 7. Like Licking Valley, Dover stumbled out of the gate in Week 1 but ripped off six straight wins with a high-powered offense led by quarterback Cory Lisowski. The Tornadoes defense has been on lock down as well allowing just seven points per game in Weeks 3-7. New Philadelphia is in the hunt to end a two-year playoff drought with a perfect record through the first seven weeks of the regular season clinging onto the No. 8 seed position led by all-everything Tyler Dummermuth. The Quakers will meet rival Dover in Week 10. Other teams to keep an eye on include Granville, Rayland Buckeye Local and Cadiz Harrison Central. Projected regional champion: Canal Fulton Northwest

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High School Football Playoff Preview

Region 16

Photo by Nick Falzerano

Region 16 is D-IV’s deepest. Through seven weeks there were four undefeated teams and Kettering Alter whose only losses were forfeits for playing an ineligible player. Coldwater and Alter are by far the class of the region, but don’t sleep on Clarksville Clinton-Massie, Plain City Jonathan Alder, Brookville and Cincinnati Wyoming. It would be a stretch for any of those four teams to knock off Alter or Coldwater, but stranger things have happened. The Cavs are the defending state champions and outlasted Alter 59-52 in a tripleovertime marathon in Coldwater’s last year’s regional Cory Klenke semifinals. Most expected those two to hook up in the regional final this season, but with Alter’s two forfeits, the clash could occur in the regional semifinals again. Clinton-Massie is a playoff regular, as is Alder, who made the D-IV state final in 2006. Those two hook up in Week 10 with playoff points and position on the line. Brookville, led by Mike Hetrick, the son of former Versailles head coach Al Hetrick, is somewhat of a surprise. The Blue Devils were undefeated after five games this year for the first time since 1994 and showed no signs of being a pushover come the postseason. Projected regional champion: Coldwater State Championship Game Projection Coldwater over Steubenville

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– Eric Frantz

Division V

ver the first half of the season, surprises were few and far between in Division V. Youngstown Ursuline, Ohio High’s preseason pick to capture the Division V crown, was proving to be worthy of the title of being the team to beat. The Fighting Irish steamrolled through their first seven games, with wins over big name programs such as Massillon Washington, Warren Harding, and Mentor Lake Catholic. The toughest games were yet to come, but Ursuline pulled away from the rest of the pack and became the clear

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favorite to win Division V with their early season performance. It would be a mistake, however, to assume that Division V is a one-team race. Several other teams have had strong seasons and will be entering into late October with the state championship in mind.

Region 17

Despite having a group of quality teams in the field, Region 17 is clearly Ursuline’s to lose. The Fighting Irish appear to have a team that, on paper, is a notch above any potential competitor in this region. The Irish proved it throughout the regular season, topping opponents such as Division I Massillon Washington (23-13) and Warren Harding (33-7). Among those gunning for Ursuline will be Kirtland, Gates Mills Gilmour Academy, Columbiana Crestview, Creston Norwayne and Apple Creek Waynedale. Kirtland has lived up to expectations by having a strong season and has the players that could carry them to a showdown with Ursuline. Crestview broke through with a win over conference foe and perennial power North Lima South Range and appeared to be heading towards a postseason berth, as did playoff-tested Gilmour. Norwayne bested Waynedale by the score of 31-21 in Week 7 and seemed to be in prime position to earn a spot, while Waynedale still seemed to be in a solid position despite the loss. South Range suffered their first regular season losses since 2004, but the Raiders still are expected to be in the thick of the playoff race. Cuyahoga Heights and Richmond Heights will also be battling for a spot, and a late-season showdown between the two teams could go a long way in determining Ursuline’s which one gets a bid. Dale Peterman Cuyahoga Heights, a perennial postseason team, missed the playoffs in 2007 for the first time in ten years by just a fraction of a point despite having a 9-1 record, which may suggest that a win over Richmond Heights would be a must. Smithville is also in the mix, and they have a huge game in the season finale against Norwayne with potential postseason implications on the line. Others to watch in this region include Sugarcreek Garaway and Garfield Heights Trinity. Projected Champion: Youngstown Ursuline Photo by Nick Falzerano

Belmont Union Local and standout quarterback Jordan Barbina are solid, but a 60-18 rout by Martins Ferry in Week 5 shed some doubt on their validity. Ironton could be the sleeper. The Tigers were just 4-3 through seven weeks, but a schedule that includes Logan, Wheelersburg and Chillicothe has prepared Bob Lutz and his team for the postseason. The nod here goes to Martins Ferry, who after a season-opening 21-14 loss to Buckeye Local, rattled off six straight wins by wide margins. Projected regional champion: Martins Ferry

Region 18

Appearing on paper before the season to be Division V’s deepest region, Region 18 has indeed proven to be the home of quite a few strong teams. However, the favorites appear to be two familiar faces that met for last year’s regional championship game – Hamler Patrick Henry and Findlay LibertyBenton. Both teams steamrolled their way through their early schedule and appeared to be on a postseason collision course. Several other teams in the region are putting

together strong seasons and will be looking to stand in way of the two favorites. Archbold headed into a Week 8 showdown with Patrick Henry undefeated, while Liberty Center’s lone loss at that time was to Patrick Henry. Archbold and Liberty Center square off in Week 10 in what will likely be a game with big playoff implications. Another late season game that could play a big role in postseason positioning is Sherwood Fairview at Hicksville. Fairview’s only loss through seven games was to Archbold, while Hicksville cruised through their first seven opponents unblemished. Both teams could find themselves in the postseason regardless of the result. Also in good shape to return to the playoffs is Bucyrus Wynford, who had only one close game in their first seven contests. The Royals will be aiming to advance in the postseason after falling short in the first round the past two seasons. Delphos Jefferson was also looking good after beginning their season 7-0. Others to watch include Collins Western Reserve, Northwood, Ashland Crestview, and Oberlin, who had each won six of their first seven games, while Defiance Tinora and Jeromesville Hillsdale could still make a late run after getting off to shaky starts. But despite a long list of contenders, this region will likely come down to the two heaviest hitters – Liberty-Benton and Patrick Henry – in what should be a fantastic rematch of last year’s Region 18 title game. Projected Champion: Findlay Liberty-Benton

Region 19

Columbus Bishop Ready, the 2007 regional champion and preseason Ohio High Region 19 champion selection, has had an odd season. Ready lost two of its first six games and had to cancel two others. However, the Knights have been able to hang around and still have a shot at making the field. A Week 10 game against Columbus Bishop Hartley could tell the tale. Wheelersburg and Portsmouth West were the only two teams to begin the season at 7-0, and the two face off in Week 10 in a big game for postseason positioning. Portsmouth West also needed to go through Minford, whose only loss through the first seven games was to Wheelersburg. Fredericktown, the 2007 regional runner-up, also appeared to be in good position to make it back to the postseason. The Freddies got off to a 6-1 start, losing only to Johnstown-Monroe, who appears to be in good shape themselves. Also in a prime spot was Nelsonville-York, who controls their own destiny for a bid. West Lafayette Ridgewood was expected to be one of the major contenders in the region before the season, but the Generals found themselves on the outside looking in after seven games despite a 6-1 record. They will have little room for error the rest of the way. Others to watch in this crowded field include Baltimore Liberty Union, Heath, Bainbridge Paint Valley, and Stewart Federal Hocking. The competition for the title appears to be fairly wide open and could result in a fun race to the finish, but we’ll go out on a limb and say that Bishop Ready will find their way into the field and be able to put together another playoff run. Projected Champion: Columbus Bishop

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High School Football Playoff Preview Region 20

The battles for playoff spots and a regional title will be absolute dogfights in Region 20. Heading the pack are two candidates from the Midwest Athletic Conference –Anna and defending state champion Maria Stein Marion Local. After each falling to Division IV favorite Coldwater, Marion Local and Anna appeared to be headed toward a Week 10 collision course that will play a huge role in playoff positioning. Another MAC team, St. Henry, was the Ohio High preseason pick for Region 20 but was unable to knock off Anna, Marion Local or Coldwater during the regular season. The Redskins still had a shot at making the field, but Week 9 and 10 games against Delphos St. John’s and Minster loomed large as must-wins. The list of candidates does not stop with the MAC teams. Also having a say in how things shake out will be West Jefferson, who is once again putting together a strong season. Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, who rolled to the state finals in 2005, is back this year after a strong start. Waynesville and Casstown Miami East, two surprise entrants in last year’s playoff field, appeared to be in position to grab spots once again. West Salem Northwestern, who begin the year at 7-0, also appeared to be a good bet to be playoff-bound. Among the other teams in the mix are North Lewisburg Triad, New Lebanon Dixie, CardingtonLincoln, Milford Center Fairbanks, Richwood North Union, and Arcanum, but this region will likely come down to which MAC team makes it out alive, unless CHCA or West Jefferson can pull an upset. Projected Champion: Maria Stein Marion Local State Championship Game Projection Youngstown Ursuline over Liberty-Benton

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– Kirk Larrabee

Division VI

ast year, Newark Catholic snuck up on everyone to capture its eighth state football title. The Green Wave may make the playoffs again, but it’s unlikely they’ll repeat – if they get in. No, Newark Catholic is not among the state title favorites. Instead, some other familiar names are: Norwalk St. Paul, Bascom Hopewell-Loudon, Mechanicsburg, Lehman Catholic, Ada, Delphos St. John’s and Mogadore. Don’t be surprised if the state champ comes from those seven schools.

Region 21

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This is, no doubt, Division VI’s toughest region. The only question for whoever survives this gauntlet is will they have enough left in the tank to complete a run in the state semis and final. Hopewell-Loudon made the state final last year and shows no signs of settling for anything less this time around. Through seven games the Chieftains had allowed no more than 14 points. They’d scored over 28 every time out. Hopewell-Loudon downed St. Paul 26-14 in the regional championship last year and there’s nothing that the Flyers would love more than another crack at a regional title. They should get it. According to one opposing coach from a Firelands Conference school,

St Paul was “solid last year, but this year’s team is incredible.” Through seven games the Flyers were outscoring the opposition 52-6 per contest. Mogadore, Berlin Center Western Reserve, McDonald, Columbiana and Leetonia also call Region 21 home. Talk about tough. Projected regional champion: Norwalk St. Paul

Region 22

Ada is the favorite in a wide open region. Through seven weeks there were only four teams that had one loss or less. Carey, Pandora-Gilboa and McComb are also contenders. Ada was a regional finalist last season and has the firepower to get back. Mitchell Faine has replaced former standout Trent Dysert at quarterback and has the Bulldogs rolling. Undefeated through seven weeks, Ada was outscoring the opposition 42-9. The real darkhorse in this region is Delphos St. John’s. The Blue Jays, from the famed Midwest Athletic Conference, thanks in part to the conference’s decision to drop a league game and pick up another non-conference tilt, should generate enough points to make the postseason with a 7-3 record. DSJ was 6-1 through seven weeks but had games with Coldwater, St. Henry and Fort Recovery remaining. Should the Blue Jays get in, watch out. The MAC has a history of success in D-VI and in a region without a clear favorite, DSJ could be the champion. Projected regional champion: Del. St. John’s

Region 23

The state champion came from this region last year (Newark Catholic) but don’t expect that to happen again. Newark Catholic is one team that’s playoff hopes may come down to Week 10. One team who won’t have to wait that long to find out their postseason fate is Hannibal River. The Pilots appear to be the class of the region although they’ll be pushed hard by Malvern and Shadyside (the 2006 state runner-up). Newark Catholic and fellow Mid-State League member Sugar Grove Berne Union could make noise in November, despite unimpressive overall records. Projected regional champion: Hannibal River

Region 24

Before the season began Mechanicsburg looked like the team to beat in this region. After seven weeks it still does. The Indians have late games remaining with North Lewisburg Triad and West Liberty-Salem that could derail an undefeated season, but the postseason is a lock. Two years ago, Mechanicsburg lost in the regional final. Last year they fell in the regional semis. This year the state final looks within reach. Sidney Lehman Catholic will be the Indians’ biggest threat in a region that looks like it will boil down to these two. The Cavaliers fell in the regional final to Springfield Catholic Central last season. Minster is another MAC school that could make noise if it gets in, but late meetings with St. Henry and Coldwater put the Wildcats hopes in jeopardy. Other teams that could win a game include SCC, Sciotoville Community School and Lockland. Projected regional champion: Mechanicsburg State Championship Game Projection Norwalk St. Paul over Mechanicsburg

– Eric Frantz

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M r. F o o t b a l l

Youngstown Liberty senior running back and Michigan recruit Fitzgerald Toussaint is among the state’s most impressive performers this season.

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Photo by Stephanie Porter

JJ Hu ddle’ s O h io Hi gh


STORY BY MATT NATALI

M r. F o o t b a l l

ith the 2008 football season coming down the homestretch, the Football winner from Fostoria – the last to do it was Derek Kidwell in 1991. At the race for Ohio’s Mr. Football award is as tight as some of the state midpoint of the season, Hyde was 84-of-114 passing for 908 yards and nine touchchampionship races to Stark County. downs surpassing Kidwell for top spot in the Fostoria record book for most career For the sixth straight year, the Ohio News Network and Ohio touchdown tosses. On the ground, he rushed for 587 yards and nine touchdowns is High magazine will also present its own player of the year award in also a special teams demon for the Redmen. football. Cleveland Glenville's Ted Ginn, Jr. claimed the inaugural Dover quarterback Corey Lisowski has enjoyed a fine season. Through Week 7, award in 2003, Akron Hoban's Tyrell Sutton in 2004, Coldwater’s he had thrown for 2,340 yards as he had completed 124 of 183 (68 percent) of his Ross Homan in 2005 and Piqua’s Brandon Saine in 2006. throws. He had thrown for 27 touchdowns and rushed for eight more. Former Youngstown Cardinal Mooney DB/QB Danny McCarthy Under first-year head coach Jason Krause, Middletown quarterback Caleb claimed the Ohio High award last year with 47 tackles and five interceptions (one Watkins has set the standard for quarterbacks in the GMC with 1,721 yards passing for a touchdown) on defense. On offense, he tallied 1,219 yards and 15 touchon 105-of-168 attempts, 19 touchdowns and only four interceptions though Week 7. downs on 154 carries and also threw for 434 yards and six touchdowns before sufWatkins also tallied 310 yards rushing on 73 carries and three more touchdowns. fering a season-ending neck injury in the regional semifinals. McCarthy is currently And he is one of those aforementioned juniors. suiting up for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In the 42-39 win over Colerain snapping the Cardinals 61-game conference winMentor’s Bart Tanski passed his way to the Mr. Football award last year with ning streak, Watkins had 174 yards passing and four touchdowns while tallying 75 269-of-339 completed attempts for 3,180 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interyards on the ground. ceptions. He also rushed for 500 yards and Another GMC junior quarterback recording eight touchdowns leading the Cardinals to its impressive numbers is Princeton’s Spencer second straight Division I state runner-up finish. Ware. He is the second rated quarterback in the ONN/Ohio High Player Of The Year Winners Interestingly, Tanski is one of a few Mr. league behind Watkins with 1,391 yards passing 2003: Ted Ginn Jr., Cleveland Glenville Football award winners not to earn a Division I on 104-of-184 attempts and 10 touchdowns with college scholarship. He is currently a freshman seven interceptions. On the ground, Ware tallied 2004: Tyrell Sutton, Akron Hoban walk-on at Bowling Green. 428 yards through Week 7 and nine touch2005: Ross Homan, Coldwater Though a couple of running backs are in the downs. 2006: Brandon Saine, Piqua lead for top Ohio high school football honors this He already has a scholarship offers to Ohio 2007: Danny McCarthy, Cardinal Mooney season, the field of top players in the state is State, Cincinnati, Tennessee and Duke. under center again with several of these talentThough only a junior for Division V Findlay Past Mr. Football Winners ed signal-callers only in their junior seasons with Liberty-Benton, Aaron Craft is one of the most southwest Ohio particularly strong at the quarprolific passers in the state. Through six games, 1987: Ronald “Buster” Howe, 1998: Ryan Brewer, Troy terback position this year. he had completed 83-of-98 pass attempts (an Zanesville 1999: Brandon “Bam” Childress, Let’s take a look at the top players in the state astonishing 84.6 percent) for 1,258 yards and 20 1988-89: Robert Smith, Euclid Bedford Chanel vying for Ohio high school football immortality. touchdowns leading the Eagles to an undefeated 1990: Bobby Hoying, St. Henry 2000: Jeff Backes, Upper Youngstown Liberty RB Fitzgerald Toussaint record. He has started since his freshman sea1991: Derrick Kidwell, Fostoria Arlington has been the reason the Leopards have held son on both the grid iron and hardwood and is a 1992: Marc Edwards, Cincinnati 2001: Maurice Clarett, the top spot in the Division III ONN-Ohio High Tennessee basketball recruit. Norwood Warren G. Harding Power Poll much of the season. Coming off a Cincinnati Elder junior quarterback Mark Miller 1993: Curtis Enis, Mississinawa 2002: Ben Mauk, Kenton junior season that included 1,400 rushing yards is the second leading passer in the GCL with Valley 2003: Ray Williams, Cleveland and 24 touchdowns, the Michigan recruit tallied 1,529 yards passing on 109-of-161 attempts with 1994: Charles Woodson, Benedictine 1,650 yards through Week 7 and 27 touch15 touchdowns and three interceptions. Miller led Fremont Ross 2004: Tyrell Sutton, Akron downs in his senior campaign. With the Mr. Elder to a top ranking in the Division I Power Poll 1995: Andy Katzenmoyer, Hoban Football honors typically awarded to a skill posiafter Week 7 with huge wins over Middletown, Westerville South 2005: Delone Carter, Copley tion player, Toussaint (5-10, 185) has to be conLaSalle, Lakewood St. Edward, St. Xavier and 1996: Derek Combs, Grove City 2006: Brandon Saine, Piqua 1997: Tony Fisher, Euclid 2007: Bart Tanski, Mentor sidered the early favorite. Moeller. While Mr. Football is a long shot, Miller With three weeks left in the regular season, has been the leader for an Elder team that has Cincinnati Sycamore RB Bud Golden led the forstruggled the past few years after winning state midable Greater Miami Conference in rushing with 1,150 yards on 119 carries and titles in 2002 and 2003. 16 touchdowns. He was averaging 164.3 rushing yards per game and put the ball Other players in contention for postseason awards and accolades include: on the ground only once in seven games. Hamilton ATH Denicos Allen, Clayton Northmont CB C.J. Barnett, Youngstown Golden (6-0, 190) has given a verbal commitment to Illinois. Liberty S Isaiah Bell, Aurora DT/OL Adam Bellamy, Indian Hill TE/DE Ted Bolser, Ohio State recruit Storm Klein led Newark Licking Valley to a Division III state Pickerington Central FB Zach Boren, Kettering Alter LB/RB Chris Borland, Kettering runner-up finish last season and has paced the Panthers once again his senior Alter QB/ATH Austin Boucher, Elder OL Austin Bujnoch. year. Through Week 7, Klein tallied 1,098 yards rushing on 134 carries and 15 Steubenville LB Branko Busic, Portsmouth OL/DL Nate Cadogen, Lancaster LB touchdowns in addition to seven catches for 106 yards and two scores. Ryan Cheek, Columbus Northland DE/TE Javon Cornley, Walsh Jesuit CB Armand On defense, where it is assumed he is going to play once he suits up for the Dehaney, Cincinnati Princeton WR Jeff Duckworth, Centerville OL Jake Feldmeyer, Buckeyes, Klein has 38 tackles, including eight for loss, and two fumble recoveries. Garfield Heights DE/DT Melvin Fellows, Painesville Harvey WR Chris Fields, Leading the senior quarterback contingent in the state this season is Cincinnati Cleveland St. Ignatius LB Dan Fox, North Royalton TE Dan France, Vermillion TE Indian Hill’s Bo Cordell. Coming off a first team All-Ohio performance last season Derek Hoebing, Coldwater FB/LB Adam Homan, Sycamore S/WR Steve Hull, and entering his senior campaign with 5,300 career passing yards and 55 touchMiddletown ATH DeeJay Hunter, Canal Fulton Northwest OL Nate Klatt, downs, Cordell racked up nearly 2,000 yards passing through Week 7 and 21 Youngstown Boardman OL Corey Linsley, Bellbrook DT/OL Sam Longo, Toledo touchdowns with five interceptions. He also had 111 yards rushing and two more Central Catholic FB/LB Mike Marrow, Walsh Jesuit OL Pat McShane. scores. Should Indian Hill make a push in the postseason after claiming the top Toledo St. John’s OL Jack Mewhort, Cleveland Glenville DE/LB Jonathan seed in Region 12 each of the last four years, Cordell might be tough to beat out for Newsome, Portsmouth OL John Prior, Centerville DT Adam Replogle, Toledo the Mr. Football award. It will most likely come down to how the Braves do after Central Catholic LB/RB Brad Rogers, Cardinal Mooney DT Johnny Simon, Walsh Week 10. Jesuit OL Brian Smith, Medina Highland LB/RB Chris Snook, Dresden Tri-Valley Also hailing from the Greater Cincinnati area is Hamilton Badin quarterback Zach OG Ryan Spiker, Cincinnati Winton Woods DE/TE Anthony Talbert, Oberlin OL Toerner. Through seven games, the senior led the daunting Greater Catholic Hugh Thornton, Massillon ATH Justin Turner. League with 1,687 yards passing on 111-of-202 attempts (241 yards per game) with Pickerington Central ATH Patrick White, Pickerington Central S/WR Jamie 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also recorded 285 yards rushing and 14 Woods, Cincinnati Loveland LB/TE Brian Wozniak, West Chester Lakota West touchdowns. DE/LB Jordan Hicks, Steubenville ATH Dwight Macon, Trenton Edgewood OL From northwest Ohio, Fostoria quarterback Micah Hyde had the Redmen undeTaylor Miller, Boardman De J.T. Moore, Wadsworth WR Anthony Schrock and feated late in the regular season and was looking to become the second Mr. Youngstown Ursuline DE Jamel Turner. — OH

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J J H U D D L E . C O M 15


Northmont’s C.J. Barnett

Photo by Leslie Schneider

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A defensive back, Barnett is headed to Ohio State.

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Northmont’s C.J. Barnett

STORY BY MATT NATALI

I

t is believed that lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice – unless it is in regard to the Clayton Northmont Thunderbolts secondary. Senior cornerback C.J. Barnett became Ohio State’s sixth verbal commitment for the Class of 2009 and will join former TBolt and junior safety Kurt Coleman in the Buckeyes secondary next year. “Kurt Coleman going there probably opened up eyes (at Ohio State) to look at me,” Barnett said. “He paved the way for me and they have a great defensive back there and hopefully I can be another one.” Like Coleman in his senior year at Northmont, Barnett (6-1, 175) is on the national radar as one of the top players in the country. He is rated by ESPN’s Scouts, Inc. as the No. 74 prospect in his class and the No. 5 cornerback. His sophomore and juniors seasons, Barnett combined for 139 tackles and six interceptions and is a two-year captain. “He is a very physical player that does a great job in coverage but he has gotten pretty bored this year because nobody throws at him,” joked Northmont head coach Lance Schneider. “He is just a real smart kid and is always prepared.” Scouts, Inc.’s Bill Conley considers Barnett the top prospect coming out of the Buckeye State this year. “This future Buckeye is a smooth, fluid defensive back who is tall for a corner,” he said. “He uses his long arms effectively in press coverage to jam and re-route receivers. He has transitional quickness and can run with wideouts stride for stride when playing man coverage. “He’s also instinctive and breaks quickly both on the pass and when coming up on run support. He

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proves his physicality when unloading on the ball carrier or separating the receiver from the football. His overall athleticism, secondary fundamentals and toughness make him a special cornerback and well deserving of the honor of being the No. 1 player in Ohio.” While Barnett has natural talent, he has worked on his game just as hard to receive such recognition. “I have been trying to get smarter and getting to know the game better,” he said. “The coaches have stressed keeping my pad level low and I have been keeping low. I have been working on making better breaks on the ball and just my overall game has been getting better.” And Coleman has been a willing resource for Barnett taking the senior under his wing.

“Kurt (Coleman) was more physical than C.J. at this point but it is hard to get to that level Kurt played the game at. But C.J. is a great cover guy and Kurt is playing safety because he is so good at that (position). C.J. is definitely going to be a bona fide corner at the next level.” Northmont head coach Lance Schneider

“I think Kurt is giving him some insight to some things that he is going to have to work on at the next level,” Schneider said. “It is good Kurt comes back and does that because it helps (Barnett) with what he is doing and it is definitely going to make him a better player down the road and a really good cover guy.” Barnett said Colman’s advice has extended outside the lines as well. “He gives me life advice – advice for everything on how to handle things now and how to handle things when I get to college,” he said. Schneider sees a lot in common between the two players as well as some differences. “They play the game the same way,” he said. “They like to stick their noses in there and make the big hits. They also do a great job each week preparing for the opponent and are similar along those lines. “Kurt was more physical than C.J. at this point but it is hard to get to that level Kurt played the game at,” added Schneider. “But C.J. is a great cover guy and Kurt is playing safety because he is so good at that (position). C.J. is definitely going to be a bona fide corner at the next level.” Barnett made sure to get his college decision out of the way early so he could focus on the rest of his high school career issuing a verbal commitment February of his junior year. “I got college taken care of and know where I am going to play so I have just been focusing on my senior year,” he said. “I am just worrying about what happens in between the lines and not any of that other stuff.” Added Schneider: “He’s been a great player and another one of those guys that has come through the program and made a name for himself and us as well.” — OH

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ESPN National Top 150 Recruits

Six Ohio prospects included on national top-150 list

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he state of Ohio is represented in the latest edition of The ESPN 150. The Buckeye state has six players listed in ESPN.com’s survey of the nation’s top 150 football prospects. Ohio prospects listed in the national top 150 include: * Clayton Northmont cornerback C.J. Barnett. The 6-1, 175-pound Barnett is rated 74th overall nationally. He issued an early verbal commitment to Ohio State. * Cleveland Glenville offensive lineman Marcus Hall. The 6-5, 290pound Hall is rated as the 79th-best prospect overall nationally. He is still deliberating over his college choices. Schools in the running include Ohio State, Illinois, Miami (Fla.), Michigan and LSU. * Youngstown Liberty safety Isaiah Bell. The 6-1, 209-pound Bell is rated as the nation’s No. 93 prospect overall. He made an early commitment to Michigan. * Pickerington Central safety Jamie Wood. The 6-2, 185-pound Wood is ranked as the country’s 95thWhich schools have the most ESPN best prospect overall. He issued an 150 commits? Here goes... early verbal commitment to Ohio State. * Garfield Heights defensive end 1. USC (10) Melvin Fellows. The 6-4, 245-pound 2. Texas and LSU (9) Fellows is rated as the nation’s 109th3. Ohio State (7) best prospect overall. He committed to 4. Georgia (6) Ohio State last winter. 5. Clemson, Florida and Notre Dame (5) * Toledo St. John’s offensive lineman Jack Mewhort. The 6-6, 2856. Michigan, Alabama, Miami (Fla.) and pound Mewhort is ranked as the counOklahoma (4) try’s No. 122 prospect overall. He made an early commitment to Ohio State. In terms of which schools are off to a fast start in the 2009 recruiting race, it looks like everybody will be chasing USC. The Trojans, perennially in the top five in the recruiting wars under coach Pete Carroll, already have 10 commitments from members of The ESPN 150. Texas and LSU are next with nine top-150 verbals each. Ohio State has seven top-150 commitments, while Georgia has six. Schools with five top-150 verbals include Clemson, Florida and Notre Dame. Alabama, Michigan, Miami (Fla.) and Oklahoma all have four top-150 verbals. Four of Ohio State’s seven top-150 verbals are from within the state with Barnett, Wood, Fellows and Mewhort. OSU also has top-150 commitments from Florida running back Jaamal Berry (No. 11 overall), Pennsylvania linebacker Dorian Bell (No. 16) and Florida wide receiver Duron Carter (No. 150). The entire top 150 list is published in the graphic. Seniors in the class of 2009 will sign letters-of-intent for their college choices on national signing day, Feb. 4. — OH

ESPN 150 Leaders

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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 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

Name Matt Barkley Russell Shepard Aaron Murray Devon Kennard Dre Kirkpatrick Manti Te'o Jacobbi McDaniel Craig Loston Jelani Jenkins Rueben Randle Jaamal Berry Trent Richardson Mason Walters Bryce Brown Damario Jeffery Dorian Bell Marlon Brown Ray Ray Armstrong Garrett Gilbert Devonte Holloman Vontaze Burfict Shaquelle Evans Sam Montgomery Cierre Wood Nico Johnson Darius Winston Paden Kelley Eric Fields Stavion Lowe Andre Debose John Martinez Tyler Stockton Kevin Graf Richard Brehaut Washaun Ealey A.J. McCarron Jheranie Boyd Darren Myles Jr. D.J. Fluker Frankie Telfort Kendall Kelly Jarvis Giles Prince Kent Branden Smith Christine Michael Randall Carroll Austin Long Morrell Presley Morgan Moses Jamarkus McFarland Xavier Nixon Corey Adams Xavier Su'a Filo Je'Ron Stokes Chris Davenport Chris Burnette Barrett Matthews Chris Payne Nick Alajajian Darrell Givens Brandon McGee Demonte McAllister Montrell Conner Jarvis Jones David Wilson Bryce McNeal Craig Drummond Chris Watt David Barrent Byron Moore Jr. Gerald Demps Chris Whaley Eric Shrive C.J. Barnett Darius Jones

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

Ht. Wt. 6-3 222 6-1 183 6-1 198 6-3 257 6-2 180 6-2 230 6-0 267 6-2 193 6-1 210 6-3 195 5-11 185 5-11 219 6-7 285 6-0 215 6-3 210 6-0 220 6-5 205 6-4 215 6-4 195 6-2 213 6-2 244 6-1 203 6-4 220 6-0 192 6-2 220 6-0 180 6-6 280 6-1 210 6-6 294 6-0 180 6-2 264 6-1 290 6-6 302 6-2 206 5-11 205 6-4 190 6-2 184 6-1 175 6-7 325 5-11 197 6-3 210 5-11 180 6-2 193 5-11 170 5-11 202 5-11 175 6-5 270 6-4 215 6-7 347 6-3 280 6-6 263 6-3 277 6-4 285 6-1 178 6-4 318 6-2 300 6-2 225 5-10 190 6-4 280 6-1 170 5-11 186 6-3 260 6-2 210 6-3 215 5-11 190 6-2 170 6-5 260 6-3 280 6-8 290 6-1 188 5-11 190 6-3 220 6-7 285 6-1 175 5-11 175

State CA TX FL AZ AL HI FL TX MD LA FL FL TX KS SC PA TN FL TX SC CA CA SC CA AL AR TX GA TX FL UT NJ CA CA GA AL NC GA AL FL AL FL GA GA TX CA TN CA VA TX NC AZ UT PA LA GA TX SC FL MD FL FL LA GA VA MN IL IL IA CA GA TX PA OH TX

Grade 93 93 93 91 90 88 87 87 86 86 86 85 85 85 85 85 85 84 84 84 84 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 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 83 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82 82

Verbal USC LSU Georgia None None None Fla. St. Clemson None None OSU Alabama Texas Miami(Fla.) S. Car. OSU None None Texas Clemson USC USC None N. Dame Alabama Arkansas Texas Clemson LSU None None N. Dame USC UCLA Georgia Alabama None None Alabama None None Tenn. Miami(Fla.) None None USC Georgia USC None None None None None Tenn. LSU Georgia Texas S. Car. Florida Penn St. Miami(Fla.) Fla. St. Miss. St. None Vir. Tech Michigan None N. Dame Mich. St. USC Fla. St.. Texas Penn St. OSU Okla.

JJ H u dd le’s O h io High


ESPN National Top 150 Recruits

76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150

Thomas Ashcraft Janzen Jackson Gabe Lynn Marcus Hall Ryne Giddins Quinton Washington Marcus Davis Joshua Downs Tom Wort Terry Hawthorne Gary Brown Stephon Gilmore Craig Roh Steve Williams Donavan Tate T.J. McDonald Josh Nunes Isaiah Bell Rolando Jefferson Jamie Wood Justin Chaisson Zach Mettenberger Victor Marc Alshon Jeffrey Tom Savage Logan Thomas Dexter Pratt Dexter Moody Jamal Reid Kevin Brent Jon Bostic Zach Martin Tana Patrick Melvin Fellows Kraig Appleton Edwin Baker Patrick Hall Keenan Davis Greg Reid Jamal Patterson Lamar Miller Logan Heastie Tariq Allen Moses Alipate Antwan Lowery Tajh Boyd Jack Mewhort David Oku Bryn Renner Mike Gillislee Malliciah Goodman Drayton Calhoun Kevin Minter E.J. Banks Eddie Lacy Eugene Smith D.J. Adams Denard Robinson Chad Bumphis J.K. Jay Jordan Reed Petey Smith Cliff Harris Michael Ford Chris Bonds Tate Forcier Dyron Dye Jon Budmayr Kendrick Hardy Morgan Newton Donte Moss Kevin Newsome Jerod Askew Alex Okafor Duron Carter

OG CB S OT DE OG CB DT OLB WR DT ATH DE CB ATH S QB S WR S DE QB ATH WR QB ATH RB OLB ATH S OLB OT OLB DE WR RB ATH WR ATH WR RB WR ILB QB DT QB OC RB QB RB DE ATH OLB ATH RB QB RB ATH ATH OT QB ILB CB RB DT QB DE QB RB QB DE ATH OLB DE WR

6-5 290 6-0 174 6-0 185 6-5 290 6-4 225 6-3 315 6-1 185 6-2 267 6-1 210 6-0 168 6-3 275 6-1 180 6-4 225 5-10 165 6-2 195 6-2 182 6-3 208 6-1 209 6-2 190 6-2 185 6-5 252 6-5 229 6-0 210 6-3 214 6-4 217 6-6 233 6-2 225 6-2 215 6-0 175 6-0 200 6-1 218 6-5 260 6-3 215 6-4 245 6-3 190 5-10 205 6-1 185 6-3 195 5-9 175 6-2 194 5-11 205 6-2 192 6-2 231 6-5 225 6-4 330 6-1 208 6-6 285 5-9 178 6-3 190 6-0 190 6-4 258 6-0 175 6-0 231 6-0 185 5-11 200 6-3 171 5-10 210 6-0 179 5-10 180 6-7 280 6-3 230 6-0 240 6-0 165 5-10 200 6-4 262 6-1 183 6-4 215 6-0 200 6-0 210 6-4 215 6-4 225 6-2 217 6-0 214 6-4 216 6-3 183

Red = Ohio State Recruit; Blue = Ohio Senior

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TX LA OK OH FL SC TX LA TX IL FL SC AZ TX GA CA CA OH CA OH NV GA FL SC PA VA TX GA FL TX FL IN AL OH IL MI CA IA GA GA FL VA TX MN FL VA OH OK VA FL SC GA GA PA LA FL GA FL MS SC CT FL CA LA SC CA FL IL MS IN NC VA VA TX FL

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 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 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 81 80 80 80 80

Texas LSU None None None None Texas LSU Okla. Illinois Florida None Michigan Okla. None USC Stanford Michigan None OSU Okla. Georgia S. Fla. USC Rutgers None LSU Georgia Miami (Fla.) None None N. Dame None OSU None Mich. St. USC Iowa Florida Stanford None W. Vir. Texas Minn. None W. Vir. OSU None N. Car. Florida Clemson LSU LSU N. Dame None None Maryland None None Clemson Florida None None LSU None Michigan None Wisc. None Kentucky N. Car. None None Texas OSU

Photo by Stephanie Porter

STORY BY STEVE HELWAGEN

Toledo St. John’s senior and Ohio State recruit Jack Mewhort is ranked No. 122 in the ESPN Top 150.

J J H U D D L E . C O M 19


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Duane Long’s Updated Senior Prospects

Duane Long’s Top Senior Football Prospects

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With three months to national signing day, most top Ohio seniors have college choice made

t is just the nature of football recruiting now that the top high school seniors are making their college decisions earlier and earlier each year. That was illustrated this year, certainly. As we go to press with this issue, eight of the state’s top 10 prospects have already made their college commitment. As we go to press, there are still more than three months remaining until national signing day in February.

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This illustrates that most key prospects are making their choices before they get a chance to make multiple official visits. There has been talk for a long time that the NCAA should enact an early signing period for football. Given what we are seeing with the Class of 2009, that makes sense. There is no reason why the schools or the players should have to wait if each is certain of the commitment. At any rate, here is our updated top 100 for the Class of 2009.

1

***** Melvin Fellows (6-4, 255, DE/DT; Garfield Heights)

2

***** Storm Klein (6-3, 225, ATH; Newark Licking Valley)

3

***** Marcus Hall (6-6, 300, OL; Cleveland Glenville)

It was anything but a quiet off-season for Melvin Fellows despite the fact that he made an early verbal commitment to Illinois and then to Ohio State. Schools from across the country continued to come in and make offers. It is not very often that you see USC comes into Ohio and make offers but this spring Trojans coaching staff came to the Buckeye state. That is a good indication of just how special Melvin Fellows is – one of the nation’s top programs venturing outside of their usual hunting grounds to offer one player and one player only. Melvin Fellows is one of those “five play” prospects – all you need to see is five plays and you can move on to the next player. He has a great looking body, something that is so crucial to this process as projecting where a player is going to be three years from now is more important than where he is today. Fellows is the prototype strong side defensive end but he could end up at

It has been quiet on the ‘Storm Front’ these days. That is how it goes for a player that commits as early as Klein did. One negative about committing early is players don’t get the national rankings they deserve. There is no chatter about them and their videos do not get watched as much. I am sure that is the case with Klein. I think it has hurt him more than most because there is so little early tape of him at his projected college position, which is linebacker. I thought he could end up as a defensive lineman eventually but now I think he will be a linebacker. Klein played more at linebacker his junior year than as a freshman and sophomore but still has not played a lot at his projected college position. He has great closing speed and is an explosive hitter. I don’t want to compare him to Andy Katzenmoyer, the best linebacker I have seen in Ohio, but as a hitter, Kelin reminds me of ‘The Kat’. You don’t see yards after contact with Klein. He is a

I had Marcus Hall a few spots lower in the last rankings because I saw him as a right tackle. Left tackle is the most important position on the line because it protects the quarterback’s blind side. It demands a superior athlete because the best pass rusher is going to be lined up over top of him. After reviewing the piece of film again I have had to re-think where I had Hall ranked. I think Hall is a right tackle, born to play the position, but his performance in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl combine in January has left me wondering if he does not get a shot at playing left tackle. He handled the top junior pass rushers in the country snap after snap. I see a player better at going forward. He dominates at the point of attack but if he can handle the best pass rusher lined up on the other side of the ball, having a left tackle that is also a great run blocker is nothing but a plus. If he stays

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

tackle before he hits a college football field. For now, he is going to come in as an edge player. You will not find me projecting a player of this size to stay at defensive end but I think Fellows could be one of those rare ones who will hang onto to his athleticism and first step as he adds weight. He has leaned out his body and I am more confident that he will stay as a defensive end. He has the wingspan that I think is so important to an edge player. Fellows has a 85-inch wingspan which is the reach of the average 7-foot-1 person. For now he is everything you would want in a strong side defensive end. Fellows had 97 total tackles as a junior (39 solo, 58 assists) with 23 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Going into his senior year his totals were 154 total tackles (57 solo and 97 assists) with 40 for a loss and 11 sacks. Fellows is the best strong side defensive end prospect I have seen in Ohio and will challenge Ben Martin for the best ever with a strong senior year.

very physical player. He is also a very solid tackler. For as little as Klein has played as a linebacker he shows great instincts. He is a natural, shooting gaps to make plays in the backfield and taking on blockers like he’s been playing the position his entire career. Klein has a more natural body to stay at linebacker than Katzenmoyer did. That is one thing that kept banging around in my head when I first saw Klein. Katzenmoyer always seemed like he was headed to defensive end. My initial read was Klein was going to do the same. I will not forget the toughness Klein showed in the state championship game when he was injured late in a tight game and had to be physically restrained from going back on the field despite needing to be hospitalized after the game. Through seven games this season, Klein had amassed 1,098 yards and 17 touchdowns. In his career, he had 5,655 career rushing yards and a Central District record 88 touchdowns. Klein may have the best upside of any player in the class.

at right tackle he is going to be a better pass blocker than most right tackles. Being able to play both makes him all the more valuable so I moved him up a couple of spots. He has to be on anyone’s list of national top ten offensive linemen. His offer list confirms the high regard college coaching staffs have put on Hall. He has confirmed offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois, LSU, Tennessee, Florida State, Oklahoma, and just about every other program in the country but USC and Texas. Hall said he will take four visits, Ohio State, Illinois, USC and LSU. The Buckeyes are going to be hard to beat here. I like that Hall seems to be getting better with every outing I see from him. Improvement is what upside is about. Hall has been playing right guard this season. Since the Buckeyes have a senior at right guard it has fueled the speculation that he will keep the Glenville pipeline to Ohio State open.

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STORY BY DUANE LONG

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Duane Long’s Updated Senior Prospects

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***** John Simon (6-3, 277, DT; Youngstown Mooney)

5

***** Jonathan Newsome (6-4, 230; DE/LB; Cleveland Glenville)

6

***** Chris Fields (6-0, 180, WR/CB; Painesville Harvey)

7

***** Justin Turner (6-3, 190, ATH; Massillon Washington)

8

***** C.J. Barnett (6-1, 175, CB; Clayton Northmont)

Simon is another early commit that I feel is not getting the national recognition because of that early verbal. It is the nature of this business to look at the new names that are popping up so the early verbals get overlooked. They often end up not camping and going to combines but that doesn’t mean he isn’t improving himself. Simon is 6-3 and 277 pounds and is not resting on his laurels. He is now bench pressing 455 pounds and squatting 700 pounds. That bench press number is up 20 pounds since the last report. Simon reminds me of another Hall of Fame defensive tackle – former Dallas Cowboy star Randy White. If recruiting were just about what is going on on the football field, Simon would be the states number one player, and at one point Simon was the number one player. About the only chink that I can find in his armor is he There is always so much buzz about the top ranked players in the state that by this time there is not a lot left to say. That is not the case with Jonathan Newsome. Newsome is a player I did not see until later in the process and I am hearing, as well as seeing, more about him than any of the top ranked players. New film is showing just what kind of player Newsome is. I was impressed with his early tape but the new film is another level. Glenville head coach Ted Ginn, Sr. lines him up wide a lot to allow him to get a good start without a blocker in his face but it does not seem to matter. Newsome also plays well when he is lined up with someone in his face. He takes on blockers well and splits double teams. Ginn has such confidence in Newsome at the point of attack that he allows him to play as a down lineman when he runs a 3-4. Linemen usually come along later as it takes time for coordination to catch up

I know it sounds like a broken record but we have another early commitment which means he is not doing the unofficial visit tours, the combines or the camps. Fields never hid the fact that he wanted to be a Buckeye and committed immediately after the offer from Ohio State came. He did go the Cleveland Combine last spring and ran back-to-back 4.43 and 4.39 forty times on a track where everyone was knocking one or twotenths off the times because it was considered a slow track. I will do the math for you. At one tenth his times were 4.33 and 4.29. At two tenths Chris Fields ran 4.23 and 4.19 forty times. Explosion is such an important factor in the combines and camps. That is why we are seeing so much emphasis put on the broad jump and the vertical. Fields added a 36-inch vertical and a broad jump of 10 feet to his speed numbers. You are not going to see a more impressive all around showing.

There is little argument that the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is the biggest in college sports. A recent documentary about the rivalry touched on the number of Ohio players who were part of the rivalry but they were wearing Maize and Blue. It is a simple fact that recruiting Ohio is key to winning the Big Ten. Two of Michigan’s three Heisman Trophy winners, Charles Woodson and Desmond Howard, are from Ohio. The Buckeyes recent domination of the series has everything to do with winning the Ohio recruiting wars over Michigan. New Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez has gotten off to a good start by winning the head to head battle with the Buckeyes for this unique athlete. A few years ago there was an athlete at Cleveland Glenville named Dareus Hiley that was such a great player that he earned the nickname “Superman.” It was beyond the fact that he was such a great athlete. He was so good at so many different positions that he could play any of them.

Barnett has not been idle since he verballed to Ohio State. Players that commit as early as Barnett often get overlooked in the national rankings like we saw with Storm Klein. That did not happen with Barnett. He is still getting the national recognition he deserves by placing on every national top 100 list I have seen and every national top ten cornerback list. Barnett belongs up there in the same conversation with the likes of E.J. Underwood, Donte Whitner and former Thunderbolt Kurt Coleman as the best corners to come out of Ohio in my time. He has the size that every college as well as every pro franchise is looking for in corners these days to offset the size we are seeing in wide receivers. Barnett is every bit his listed 6-1 and could be taller than that now. He has the feet and hips that are necessary to be a good corner. He

JJ H u d d l e ’ s O h i o H i g h

does not have the ideal size that I want to see in a defensive tackle prospect. That is why he reminds me so much of White, who was not a prototype player for his position when he came out. Simon is such an instinctive player. He finds the ball as well as any defensive tackle I have seen. It is one of those attributes that can be such a huge asset to any defensive lineman but more so for a defensive tackle. The game is moving so fast with tackles being so close to the ball. Ones that can get off blocks and find the ball are huge assets to their team. This is a player that demands double teams. I have yet to see anyone block him effectively one on one. He splits double-teams easily and shows a good burst to the ball carrier. I don’t know if Simon will ever be ideal-sized but I think he is one of those rare few where it really doesn’t matter. with the big bodies but we are usually talking about offensive linemen. ‘Upside’ is the word with Newsome. His body is nowhere near filled out. Another thing I see in the new film is the possibility of playing linebacker. There was talk of him possibly playing linebacker before but I just did not see it. I now think it is a possibility. I think his body takes him out of that discussion in time but if he does not get defensive end size it won’t be a problem. I think Newsome has the speed to play linebacker, especially as an edge player in the 3-4. Schools that like to play a defensive scheme where a versatile linebacker, one that can play as a linebacker or as a defensive end, will find the perfect player for the position known as the Leo at Ohio State in Newsome. He makes plays all over the field. ‘Relentless’ is the word I would use. Newsome did not wait until after the season to make a college choice as Glenville players usually do. He committed to the Buckeyes in late June.

You can see those numbers on the football field in Fields strength. He is very strong and a determined runner after the catch and regularly breaks tackles. You don’t often see receivers this size with yards after contact. It happens more often than not with Fields. I also like the fact that you see him running slants. He is not afraid of the middle of the field and does not shy away from contact. I would compare him more to Carolina Panther Pro Bowler Steve Smith than I would to Ted Ginn, Jr. because of the tough minded nature of his game. Any other year this is the number one player in the class. I have spoken to a couple of Ohio high school coaches who have seen Fields this year. They think he will threaten to play as a freshman despite the Buckeyes receiver depth.

Most players that earn the athlete label are best at position but could play one or two others. I would put Justin Turner in that same category. I really do not know what to do with him. Never has the term athlete been more apt. I saw Turner first as a running back and still like him as a running back but he has played cornerback, wide receiver and even some quarterback. I would like to see him at receiver with a really good quarterback. He has the size and athleticism that is the hallmark of the top receivers these days. I like a player that can make plays on offense but he is such a tough and physical defender that I want him on defense, too. He is an excellent tackler and has outstanding ball skills. He has a long lean frame that is going to fill out a lot more so I think safety is in his future but I suspect he will be give an look at corner. If a player can play corner, you let him play corner. He is very much like Eugene Clifford, the super athlete out of Colerain from two years ago.

has the ball skills and the confidence to play man to man, but also seems at home in zone coverage. The only question that remains about Barnett is whether he will follow in the footsteps of the other recent elite corner prospects that have come out of Ohio and move to safety. He has the size and he can tackle. He brings it. He is both a solid tackler and a big hitter. I think he is better in coverage than both Whitner or Coleman and plays with a little more control so I think he will likely stay at corner. Barnett was one of the first players from the class of 2009 to be offered by Ohio State and committed soon after. Because of recruiting we sometimes forget what a learning experience it is for these players, not to mention the opportunity to drill against other elite level talent. He is also a 4.0 student.

J J H U D D L E . C O M 21


Duane Long’s Updated Senior Prospects

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***** Jamie Wood (6-1, 190, Ath; Pickerington Central)

In this top 10, I have noted that some players who commit early do not get the recognition they deserve because everyone forgets about

them. Wood is an exception. He has actually increased his stock despite an early verbal. He is one of the elite athletes in the state of Ohio in the class of 2009. Wood jumped out at me on film right away with his playmaking. He was lined up on the line of scrimmage from his safety position and just reeking havoc coming off the edge. He has that knack for timing the snap and is an excellent tackler. Later he was in the defensive backfield disrupting the passing game. Finding players that are comfortable in both roles is something every school in the country is looking for. He plays offense at tight end. At his size, in the Ohio Capital Conference, that gives you an idea of how physical Wood can be.

10

He had 65 tackles on the year last season and broke up fifteen pass attempts. Speed is important but for receivers and defensive backs it is the thing that makes or breaks their recruitment. I was not sure about Woods speed so I have him down the list in my first “mock” top 100. I have since learned he has a 4.5 40 and a 33-inch vertical. I did not have any questions about him as a player. The offer list he had in front of him before committing to the Buckeyes in February was all I needed to see to go ahead and move him up. In addition to Ohio State, Penn State, Stanford, Illinois, Northwestern, Kentucky, Indiana, Akron and Miami (Oh.) came in with offers. The Stanford and Northwestern offers are all the evidence necessary to show academics are not going to be a problem. Wood will be a safety at Ohio State.

***** Cornelius Carradine (6-4, 230, DE; Cincinnati Taft)

It seemed like it took forever for him to get there but once Carradine found his way into the spotlight he has found it to his liking. He has been racking up a nice offer list with a good number of the Big Ten schools coming in with offers Every school is going to have to decide if he is going to be big enough to project as a defensive end or does he have the speed to play linebacker. On first blush, I thought Carradine looked like he could fill out to 260-265 but out of his uniform he weighed 205 pounds. He still could make it to that size because he is so long and has room to fill out. For the longest time I have heard about Carradine. I never could lay my hands on any tape. I have begun to believe he was an urban legend. Just when I was about to give up, I asked former Cincinnati Withrow coach Doc Gamble if he had seen him. He told me Carradine gave them fits. I finally got Taft coach Mike

Martin on the phone. It took me time to get tape but it was worth it. He reminds me of a young Jevon Kearse. He has the wingspan of a 747. He is such a natural pass rusher but he plays the run very tough. There is an edge to his game. He is not out there dragging ball carriers and quarterbacks down. He is running through them. I think motor is the thing that completes the package for any lineman. No question about that with Carradine. Martin, a former Cincinnati Bengal, lines him up all over the place. He has played both end spots in the 4-3. He has played defensive tackle. He has played end in a 3-4 alignment. He always finds a way to the quarterback. Carradine uses that imposing wingspan to great effect. He does a great job of keeping blockers off his body. In addition to Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Pittsburgh have come in with offers.

Nos. 11-50 11. **** Devontae Payne (6-6, 220, QB; Cleveland South) Undecided Payne leads the list of players that every school wants to see. He has been getting around a little and the interest has picked up. His only offers to date are Bowling Green and Akron but we are seeing the interest intensify now that they are seeing him up close. Payne is the best looking quarterback prospect I have seen in Ohio since Justin Zwick and Troy Smith back in 2001. He reminds me a lot of Byron Leftwich but is a better athlete, good enough that should he end up buried on a depth chart wherever he goes to college, he could accept a move to tight end. I have heard some say they do not see that in him and it leaves me baffled. He is not going to be Kellen Winslow or Jeremy Shockey but there is no question we could see a very good tight end once he adds the weight. I don’t think that is going to be an issue. He is a quarterback in my mind. You see a lot of players getting credit for being bigger than they actually are, especially quarterGH backs, a position where height is a make or break issue. That is not the case with Payne. He is every bit his listed 6-6 and looks thin at 220. He has a big arm and throws over the top. I saw him running to his left and throw a ball 35 yards in the air with a flick of the wrist. As I watch him play I think I have never really seen him cut it loose. Another thing that makes me believe that Payne is special is the fact that he has not thrown the ball but 250 times in his entire high school career. We are seeing high school quarterbacks throw the ball twice that many times in a year all over the state of Ohio. He has thrown 29 touchdowns in that time but only six interceptions. That tells me he is an excellent decision maker despite his lack of reps. He had 35 dropped passes in his junior year alone. Payne is such a competitor that he went to South head coach Jarvis Gibson and volunteered to play on the offensive line because he thought the team had a better chance of winning if a bigger player was up there. I think intelligence is the most underrated aspect of player evaluation. Payne has a 3.25 GPA and has had at least one 4.0 grading period. Through seven games, he had thrown for 998 yards and 12 touchdowns. I see a big time player once he has enough reps under center. Ohio State is still in touch. He has been down to Kentucky recently. Penn State is the Big Four school paying the most attention.

12. **** DeeJay Hunter (5-11, 190, ATH; Middletown) Tennessee I was very surprised to see the lack of offers for Hunter after I saw his film. Hunter has such great cover skills. He has a good feel for the position. Sometimes it looks like he is just trying to bait the quarterback into throwing the ball. He can turn and run with receivers and has ball skills that any receiver would love to have. Hunter is a complete corner as he has a linebacker mentality against the run. In fact, I could see him as a safety. Some recruited him as a safety because of his physical play. The way he hits I think he would relish the opportunity. He has stated that he does not care which position

JJ H u d d l e ’ s O h i o H i g h

he plays. Hunter is worth a scholarship as special teams player. I have said in the past that other players were worth a scholarship as a kick returner but with Hunter it is about covering kicks as much as it is about returning kicks. He is an outstanding gunner. A defensive back that could project at all four positions is a special talent. That says it all about Hunter. Tennessee came in with an offer and it was too much for Hunter to pass on. 13. **** Adam Bellamy (6-4, 280, DT/OT; Aurora) Ohio State I had a lot of discussions about Adam Bellamy. A number of people whose opinions I respect really liked him but wondered if he was a Big Four kid. They wondered if I had him just a bit too high. I never had a question about him. I look at his film and see a player who has to be accounted for on every snap or he will make the play. His size and speed numbers do not appear to be fudged. On the first play of his video he comes from the far side of the line and runs down a small, quick back outside the numbers. He does not blow by and get him before he gets outside. He literally runs him down. He weighs about 270 pounds when he does this. He is up to 280 right now. He shows a good burst and finds the ball very well. Motor is such a kid with the big kids. You take it for granted with the top skill kids but it is not a given with linemen. He may grow into an offenGH sive lineman but for now he is a great looking defensive tackle prospect. If he is not a great defensive tackle, I am sure he is going to be a great offensive tackle. He continued to camp culminating in an outstanding performance at the Ohio State camp which earned him an offer from the Buckeyes. It did not take him long to make a decision, committing the next day. Bellamy had a really nice offer list going into that camp. Michigan, Boston College, Michigan State, Northwestern, Kansas, Cincinnati, Indiana, Vanderbilt, Miami (Oh.), Akron and Ohio University had all come in with offers.

14. **** John Prior (6-6 1/2, 280, OL; Portsmouth) Florida State There is not a hotter commodity in Ohio than Prior. A junior season that was not cut short by injury would have likely started the offers coming in earlier. I saw Ryan Spiker before I saw John Prior. That is the only reason I gave Spiker the title of the most physical player in the class. Prior is just as destructive a player as Spiker and maybe more so. The biggest hole I have seen this year was on a short yardage play for Portsmouth. He blew his man completely out of the play then peeled off and pancaked a linebacker. No question the one most impressive block I have seen on film this year. He comes off the ball with such explosion that he has already won most of his trench battles before he has touched his man. He is huge and gets so much thrust that his target is just overwhelmed.

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Duane Long’s Updated Senior Prospects He scores more knockdowns than Mike Tyson. Prior is showing maturity by taking this seriously. He is speed training two days a week. He is in the weightroom three days a week. He is doing plyometrics and he is doing step training. That kind of dedication, focus and work ethic will pay dividends in the future, Prior is currently 6-6½ with a 330-pound bench press and a 480-pound squat. Those are awfully impressive weight numbers for someone this young with the long arms and legs Prior has. Prior decided not to wait around on the regions powers accepting an offer from Florida State in July.

15. **** Corey Linsley (6-4, 275, OG; Youngstown Boardman) Ohio State It did not take long for Linsley to cause a nationwide stir. When you see Miami (Fla.) come to Ohio it speaks volumes about what kind of player we are talking about. The Florida schools really do not need to leave the state to come up with top ten national recruiting classes. Stanford coming in with an early offer this far off their beaten path says all that needs be said about Corey Linsley the student. Ohio State, Notre Dame, Illinois and Georgia Tech also came in with offers. He is one of those “Five Play” football players. Linsley comes off the ball as well as any lineman in the state. With his first step explosion he is moving at a rate of speed that overwhelms most high school linemen. He locks his guy up and it is over. He shows good pad level and uses leverage very well. Linsley shows what kind of athlete he is very early in his film. He is downfield throwing second level blocks. He is in a run dominated offense so we have not seen as much out of him as I would like as a pass blocker. What little I have seen GH of him gives me confidence that he is not going to have problems getting up to speed. He has excellent feet and hips. I love his tenacity. He stays after it until his man goes down or until the whistle. He is a very physical player. If not for Jon Prior and Ryan Spiker I would be talking about Linsley as the most physical player in the class. He is so athletic and quick I might give him a day or two in practice at defensive tackle. He is a high school offensive tackle but projects as a guard. After taking a look at Stanford, Linsley decided to get it over with and committed to the Buckeyes in late April. 16. **** Sam Longo (6-5 260, OL/DT; Bellbrook) Ohio State Last issue I said, “I would put a star or something beside Sam Longo’s name if I could.” I am not surprised that I have had to move him up more than any player in recent memory. You want to talk about great frames – Sam Longo is one of the first names out of my mouth when the subject comes up. He has a long body and long limbs. He will weigh 300 pounds even if he was not trying to weigh 300 pounds. He has really good feet and plays nasty. Some of the top programs in the country took notice with Florida State, Miami (Fla), Penn State, Boston College, Virginia, Stanford and Michigan State leading the parade of offers but he NF committed to Ohio State in July. Longo also plays defensive end. I felt confident he would outgrow defensive end and I thought a player this athletic might get a look at defensive tackle but he was recruited as an offensive lineman.

17. **** Denicos Allen (6-0, 205, ATH; Hamilton) Michigan State I look at Denicos Allen’s video and I see a player that put forth an argument for the best defensive player in the class. If he were a little bigger I think he would have offers from the Big Four as well as some of the other national powers – not that his offer list is not an impressive one with Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Purdue, Louisville, Northwestern, Cincinnati, Marshall and Toledo all having come in with offers. Ideally, he would be big enough to play middle linebacker. He ends up playing a lot of what looks like middle linebacker. I don’t know if that is what Hamilton head coach Jim Place calls it when he has a strong safety-sized player lining up there but that is surely what it looks like. What I am sure of is the defense is designed to put Allen in the middle of the field where he can just run to the ball. His instincts are second to none. He is reading and reacting to plays before they develop, has the speed to get there and make the play, and does he ever make plays. He is such a great tackler. You could make ‘How-To’ tapes with Allen as the demonstrator. Allen ran a10.9 in the 100-meter event as a freshman and was an All-Greater Miami Conference selection on the grid iron as a freshman. He is more a strong safety in size but is so dynamic at the line of scrimmage. He boasts a 3.2 GPA and Place says he is a great character kid, a player every college coach wants in his locker room. Allen issued a verbal commitment to Michigan State in early October.

18. **** Tyler Replogle (6-3, 265, DT; Centerville) Indiana I can not remember the last time I had such a response from fans than when Tyler Replogle was not in the magazine at all, let alone the top 100. Centerville head coach Ron Ullery gets info out on his juniors as soon as national signing day is over for the seniors. I received a package and found Jake Feldmeyer’s film but

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no Tyler Replogle. I received e-mails from fans and one from Ullery and all wondered how I could not see Replogle as one of the top players in the state. There is not just one outstanding defensive tackle in Ohio this year. I think Replogle belongs in the same conversation as John Simon. Obviously, from the rankings I give the edge to Simon but the number of places between the two is not an indication that Simon is so much better. Before you get to the film you have to look at the numbers – 81 total tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and 10 hurried throws as a junior. That is about as impressive as a tackle gets. His first step is so explosive that opposing linemen often do not have a chance to try and block him. He splits double teams. Like Simon he locates the ball carrier quickly. It is such a bang-bang situation inside. Things are happening so quickly. I marvel when tackles have this attribute. On his film there is a series of downs that show what kind of player Replogle is. From the 4-yard line down to the 1-yard line he makes the tackle on all three plays, including forcing a fumble on the third play. He is relentless in pursuit. One area where I would give Replogle the advantage over Simon is in body. He is a little taller and longer. He is leaner. I think he may be a bigger player in the long run. I think if he had waited around Replogle could have had a Big Four offer or two but he accepted an offer from Indiana where his older brother Tyler is a linebacker. 19. **** Davon Custis (6-5, 220, DE; Columbus DeSales) Undecided College coaches are forever looking for more tape on a player. Davon Custis is a perfect example of why I saw two full games from Custis. I liked his body but I did not see a top 100 talent. The third game I saw he looked better. I thought he would end up in the top 100 for this issue on his body alone. He has an offer list that includes Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Boston College, Virginia, Stanford, Northwestern, Michigan State, Pitt, West Virginia and Cincinnati. One thing that came to my attention recently is a 4.58 forty. I noticed from the beginning that Custis plays to the whistle. Size, athleticism, speed and effort are enough for a lot of schools to give him a shot. He has a body a lot like Cornelius Carradine. Both are long and have long arms. In fact, they are so similar if you changed the uniforms I would not be able to tell them apart. Bodies mean so much to this process. That is what made me finally decide to put Custis in the top 30. Recruiting is about what a player is going to be, not what they are now. In time Custis could be just as good a football player as Carradine. Custis is an outstanding student with a GPA over 3.5.

20. **** Hugh Thornton (6-5, 285, OL; Oberlin Meridian) Illinois It has been some time since I have not seen a player this late. It has been even longer since I have ranked a player this high who I have not seen on tape. He is a transfer to Ohio from Idaho. Hugh Thornton is a rare player. He had offers from the region’s top team in Boise State before he came to the Buckeye State, as well as Washington State. Since he has arrived in this part of the country he picked up offers from Illinois, Michigan State, Akron, Indiana and Bowling Green. What I like hearing the most is that he has won a state wrestling championship. Idaho is a sparsely populated state but the wrestling out there is solid. I like hearing that he is athletic enough to play defense. The best news is that he did not allow a sack all of last year. He committed to Illinois in August. 21. **** Jack Mewhort (6-6, 285, C; Toledo St. John’s) Ohio State I have talked about how important hard work is in how successful players are in college. That bodes well for Jack Mewhort. Mewhort hits the weight room hard. His weight is up but he is not concerned with conditioning currently. He is focused on getting stronger right now. He has a punch that looks like a George Foreman jab. Now he is getting stronger. That is not something future opponents want to hear. On his film there is a play early on where he punches an opposing defensive tackle, a good sized kid, and literally lifts him off his feet. He is athletic enough to pull. You don’t see that from a center. GH That is a lot to ask of a player at the college or pro level, let alone high school. I am unsure what is going to happen with Mewhort at the next level. The plan appears to be to keep him at center. He has very long arms. I have never seen a 6-6 center at any level of football, but natural centers are hard to find. He has been a center since the beginning of his sophomore year. Still, when I see a body like Mewhort’s I think tackle. Mewhort has committed to Ohio State. With Michael Brewster the heir apparent at center, I could see Mewhort getting a look as a tackle. In fact, about midseason we saw Mewhort getting reps at tackle. Despite his long arms Mewhort is benching 365. In time long limbed people will be stronger but that kind of bench this early is very impressive.

22. **** Dan Fox (6-4, 215, LB/DE; Cleveland St Ignatius) Notre Dame I called Fox one of the most intriguing players in the class of 2009 back in the last issue. It looks like college coaches staffs have found him just as intriguing. He had offers from Virginia, Illinois, Michigan State, Maryland and Northwestern when I

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Duane Long’s Updated Senior Prospects last profiled him. That list now includes Notre Dame, Iowa, Illinois, Stanford and Pitt but has committed to the Fighting Irish. All you need to do is see the Glenville game from his junior year to see what kind of talent Fox is. Running is at the core of football. It always has been but never more than it is in this day and age. Fox has a great body and can he ever run. Year in and year out no school puts more skill and speed on the field than Ted Ginn’s Tarblooders. Last year was no exception. In this game, Dan Fox may have been the best player on the field, as well as the fastest. Keep in mind that Cordale Scott was on that field. He intercepts a pass and outruns everyone for a touchdown. He runs down one of the Glenville receivers from behind. GH Maybe he grows into a defensive end eventually but right now he is a great looking linebacker who is fast enough and athletic enough to cover slot receivers. He has the wingspan of a bird of prey. He has plenty of room to fill out into a defensive end but it doesn’t really matter if he doesn’t. He has everything you would want in a linebacker. He had 79 tackles, nine tackles for loss and three interceptions last year.

23. **** Chris Freeman (6-8, 325, OL; Trotwood-Madison) Undecided I do not know if I can recall a recruitment like the one I have seen for Chris Freeman. Before he came along if someone had told me that there would be a player recruited who had only played one high school game and he had offers from LSU, Miami (Fla.), Florida, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin, I would have laughed out loud. What is going on with Freeman shows us two things. First, it is absolute proof of something I have been saying since I started into talent evaluation. Feet and frame mean everything with offensive linemen. Secondly, it shows what kind of talent Chris Freeman has. He has drawn early offers from the last two national champions who have left their region to make those offers. His film shows a player who has picked up the game quickly BK and easily. He is moving his feet and seems to mirror naturally. As a basketball player, he is used to the footwork of pass blocking because it is very similar to defense in basketball. He is going to have to work on his run blocking. He needs to learn to sustain his blocks and he needs to learn to come off the snap with authority. Those are things that will come with reps. He has a lot of catching up to do. I think that has kept some schools from coming in with offers.

24. **** Bud Golden (6-0, 190, ATH; Cincinnati Sycamore) Illinois When I first started this top 100 for the class of 2009 I did not see a good class. Now I look at someplace where I could slide Bud Golden in and this is the only place I can put him. I think I will have to try harder when the season is over. When I first saw Bud Golden it was in a game that Sycamore dominated. He impressed me enough in that game to make my initial top 20 for the year but it was not until I saw him later in a more extensive film that I saw why he got the early offers from Ohio State and Illinois. He reminds me a great deal of former Akron Buchtel star Antonio Pittman who went on to a career at Ohio State that was impressive enough to get him to the NFL. I needed to see more of Pittman back then, too. Golden has the same efficient style, an economy of motion. Other runners might be more dazzling but runners like Golden and Pittman beat you. Golden has a better body and is faster. He is credited with a 4.5-second 40. He looks that fast or faster on film. He has a better body and looks to be a better athlete. In fact, when I first saw him I thought he might project on defense or maybe as a receiver, he has shown really good hands as a receiver coming our of the backfield, but after seeing him more I try him as an running back first. His offer list included Illinois, Pitt, Purdue, North Carolina State, Indiana, Cincinnati and Bowling Green. Golden decided not to wait around on Big Four offers, committing to the Fightin’ Illini over the summer. 25. **** Ryan Spiker (6-3, 290, OG; Dresden Tri-Valley) West Virginia I go back and watch favorite film all the time. Ryan Spiker’s is one that I go back to again and again. I love to watch tough, physical players. I think toughness and intelligence are the two most underrated aspects of recruiting. So often in big games it comes down to who is the toughest and who is the most physical. Spiker plays the game with such violence. He has a motor that never stops running and has an explosive first step. I take a player like that and at least take a look at him as a defensive player first. There is no such thing as too many good defensive tackles. Spiker does not have the kind of frame you want in an offensive tackle so he will be a guard on offense. He is legitimately 6-3 to 6-4 but does not have the long body and the wingspan you want in a tackle prospect. That makes it all the more a good idea to take a look at him as a defensive tackle where the length and reach matter less. He is very disruptive. He plays with good leverage and pad level. You don’t see him get moved out of the hole. That is especially impressive when you consider he is just now getting into the weight room. He is solid in pass protection, not allowing a sack last year. Michigan Sate, North Carolina State, Cincinnati, Indiana, Wake Forest and West Virginia have offered, but he decided to commit to the Mountaineers.

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26. **** Will Studlien (6-2, 220, LB; Big Walnut) Northwestern I said it before and I will say it again. I see the next in the “Hawk” line - A.J. Hawk to James Laurinaitis to Ross Homan to Andrew Sweat. Hawk did not get an offer from Ohio State until he camped the summer before his senior year. Studlien has the same game and the same body as those players in that illustrious Buckeye line. What I see when I look at his film is my kind of linebacker. He makes plays at the line of scrimmage and he makes plays in the opponent’s backfield. It seems like the desire to add speed at linebacker has left some forgetting what a great linebacker does. Making plays all over the field but five yards down field does me no good. I am getting passed a lot of tape of linebackers with lots of speed but they show no ability to read the game. Studlien has made over 350 tackles in the last two years. He has the frame to add another 20 pounds to his body and it will not GH impact his speed and athleticism. He reminds me of Hawk in so many ways. Both are a step ahead because they read the game so well. Both have that “stealth” ability. What I mean by stealth is they seemed to be able to disappear on the field. They keep themselves clean of blockers and run free. He has outstanding closing speed. Some players seem to find another gear when they get a ball carrier lined up. That is another attribute Studlien has in abundance. Play after play I see other players closer to the ball carrier but Studlien makes first contact. I have watched full games of Studlien and not seen him miss a tackle yet. He committed to Northwestern in September, choosing the Wildcats over Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Cincinnati, Miami (Ohio) and Akron. 27. **** Jake Brandt (6-6, 260, DT/OL; Bexley) Undecided I did not see Brandt until after the early bird list that I put together in January. I was surprised to see a player of his caliber that late. It is unusual for a player of Brandt’s caliber to be out there and I do not find him until this late in the process. The only question about Brandt is where is he going to play in college. He is a high school defensive end but I don’t see the explosion or athleticism to play there in college and he is going to get a lot bigger. He is a lanky 260 pounds He has the frame to go over 300 pounds. I think he could be a defensive tackle but where he stands out to me is as an offensive lineman. He moves very well. He is a fluid athlete for such a big kid and has great feet. He shows an impressive punch, sometimes taking players off their feet with it. In run blocking he uses it to knock his man off balance, get lower and drive him off the ball. One of the defining things about this class is the number of two-way tackles - players that could line up on either side of the ball in college. Brandt falls into that category but he is such a good looking tackle, he plays left tackle in high school, that I would not waste time messing around with him on defense. Let him get as many reps as possible as a left tackle. Of the two-way tackles, Adam Bellamy is the only other one that would be a college offensive tackle. I am surprised to learn that Brandt still does not have the offers that I expected. He has Illinois, Cincinnati, Miami (Oh.), Akron and Eastern Michigan but I thought we would see schools like Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin in on such an athletic big kid.

28. **** Bradley McDougald (6-1, 190, ATH; Dublin Scioto) Ohio State Last issue I called him the best player that you never heard about. It looks like that has changed. The first thing that hit my mind after seeing a few plays from Bradley McDougald was how was this kid running under the radar? He is playing at a major Division I program in Columbus. It is a program that has put players in major programs and done so recently. It is a program that has had recent success. In just a few plays I could see this was at least a top-50 player in this class. McDougald is a poor man’s Eric Turner. He poses the same problem for me. He is so good at so many things I really cannot pencil him in to one spot. His regular position on offense is running back but the Scioto coaching staff lines him up receiver sometimes. He has good hands and is elusive after the catch so they want to get him out in space. As a running back, he impresses me greatly. He makes use of his elusiveness there but he runs tough and shows excellent balance and a good burst. He has really good vision. If I was looking at him as an offensive player I would put him at running back. As a defensive back he plays corner but I think he projects better as a safety. His offer list is mostly as a safety. He is very aggressive on the ball and on the ball carrier. He is a solid tackler. McDougald is an excellent return man and a good gunner. I think need is going to determine where he plays. McDougald is one of those three sport athletes, football, basketball and track. Once he is focused on one sport I think we see just what kind of player he can be. Ohio State came in with an offer in May and he committed. Michigan State, Wisconsin, Kansas, West Virginia, Indiana, Cincinnati and Louisville also offered. 29. **** Pat Muldoon (6-4, 240, DE; Cincinnati St. Xavier) Undecided Aaron Kampman, Aaron Schobel, Jared Allen, Kyle Vanden Bosch. Not exactly a bunch of household names. They were all unheard of coming out of college. They are now members of an elite handful of players that are the best pass rushers on the NFL. They were not high draft picks. None was a first rounder. If the were in a roomful of fans of the team that drafted them, they likely would have heard a collective, ‘Who?’, when they were chosen.

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Duane Long’s Updated Senior Prospects I bring them up because Muldoon has a lot in common with them. They are all high motor guys and workers. Others are going to have better combine numbers but nobody is going to be more effective. That is what I see with Muldoon. He did not stand out physically when I saw him but he was always around the football. However, someone that I respect greatly saw him up close and thinks Muldoon looks like he is early in his physical development and will get a lot bigger. I have always thought he likely grows into a defensive tackle and the fact that he looks like he is just now starting to physically mature makes me sure that he will and it pushes him up these rankings. Recruiting is about what players will be in time. Muldoon has played against a level of competition second to SP none and he racked up double digits in sacks and tackles for loss in both his sophomore and junior years. The St. Xavier program is one of the elite programs in the country. That means Muldoon is getting a lot of good work in practice. Players get better is practice every day, not on Friday nights. It would be easier to list the schools that have not offered Muldoon than those that have. Notre Dame is the most recent. Boston College, Wisconsin and Virginia lead. Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Iowa, Pitt, Purdue, North Carolina State and Northwestern have all offered.

30. **** Brian Wozniak (6-4, 225, TE; Loveland) Wisconsin I had Wozniak on my early lists. Great athlete is what I kept hearing. He was a very good basketball player. It seemed like everything I was getting on him had little to do with him as a football player. I did not see film of him until June. He must be one outstanding basketball player if he is better in that sport to the degree that those that talked to me about him always mentioned his hardwood exploits because after seeing him I can tell you he is a fine football player, and I think we have not seen the best of him. He only caught 22 balls last year but ended up with 331 yards on that small number of catches. He averaged 15 yards a catch. That is impressive for any tight end. It shows how dangerous he is after the catch. He has a reported 4.7 forty. On film, he runs away from defenders. He is the best pass receiver of this years tight ends and is the best overall tight end in the class. He works the middle of the field like a veteran. He shows soft hands and excellent body control as he adjusts well to under thrown balls and balls thrown behind him. Wozniak has room to fill out. I can see him carrying 250 comfortably. His offer list included Wisconsin, Maryland, Louisville, Akron, Marshall, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Marshall. Wozniak got it over with in late June accepting an offer from Wisconsin.

31. **** Dan France (6-6, 260, ATH; North Royalton) Michigan State We are seeing France appear on the radar. I am not surprised at that but I am surprised at the position. I don’t see a defensive end in France. I see an excellent tight end but defensive tackle or offensive line makes sense. I think he is going to outgrow defensive end before he arrives on a college campus. The first time I saw France he was playing standing up as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. ‘ Are you kidding me?’, was the thought in my mind. He is every bit his listed 6-6, 260 pounds. That is a decent sized defensive end in a 4-3 at the NFL level. I got my next surprise when he ran down a quarterback when I hit the play button again. The next play he chases a quarterback down from across the field. This went on for the rest of the film. I saw every type of blocking scheme tried against him. None of them worked. SP He is an impressive player on defense but I think his body takes him to offense. He is the one tight end in the class that shows he could be a national player. France fits the kind of tight ends that the Big Ten offenses are looking for. He is an outstanding inline blocker. He has the frame to add the kind of size to be just as good at the next level. He catches everything thrown to him and knows what to do with it after he catches it. He reminds me a lot of Springboro tight end Jake Ballard from a few years ago who ended up at Ohio State – great frame and a really fine athlete for his size. He had offers from North Carolina, Iowa, Michigan State, Cincinnati, Purdue, North Carolina State, Indiana, Vanderbilt, Miami (Oh.), Akron and Bowling Green before accepting an offer from Mark Dantonio and Michigan State in August.

32. **** Isaiah Bell (6-2, 200, S; Youngstown Liberty) Michigan I want to say “I told you so” about Bell so bad. I had so much reaction to having him ranked so high. The general consensus was top 50, not top 30. A Michigan caliber player is a top 30 player. Bell was offered by coach Rich Rodriguez new staff and accepted. He had offers from West Virginia, Pitt, Cincinnati and Bowling Green on the table in addition to the Michigan offer. Simply put Isaiah Bell is the best safety nobody is talking about. I don’t know where he is best at. He has the instincts of a linebacker against the run and is a very good sized safety. The 6-2, 200 pounds seems a bit on the small side. He looks to be a bigger kid. He has the wingspan of a much larger player. In GH fact, I would not be surprised if he ends up growing into a line-

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backer. He has a nice frame and I have noticed these long-limbed kids tend to fill out a good bit. He is big enough to take on blockers and still make plays, but he is fast enough to make plays in the open field. Once he finds the ball, he closes like nobody’s business. But he has such tremendous ball skills that he could just as easily be a free safety. He has the best ball skills I have seen from a projected safety in this class. He returned at least two interceptions for scores, including a 102-yarder, and at least one punt. He has more return yards off of interception, punt and kickoff returns than any player in this top 100. I think this is a great get for the Wolverines. He is a player that is big enough to play right away.

33. **** Darrell Mason (6-1, 210, ATH; Youngstown Ursuline) Undecided Mason’s lack of offers is a big surprise to me. I would like to ask college recruiters what the problem is. Athlete is not a position on the football field. Where he fits in their program is something schools will want to see. Most of the talk about Mason has been focused on whether he will be a safety or grow into a linebacker. If you want to make it about his athleticism then he is probably a linebacker but if you want to play him where he is best at then he should be a running back. He played most of last season with a torn MCL in his knee. Another thing that came from the knee injury is there is so little film of Mason as a junior on defense. He did manage to rack up 58 tackles and three interceptions. On offense he had over 500 yards rushing and scored five touchdowns. Mason is a physical player. He does everything going downhill, whether it is carrying the ball or tackling. On one memorable play, he takes the handoff, gets hit the first time at the line of scrimGH mage, bounces off that tackler and the next, gets hit clean but keeps moving and takes on two more defenders before finally being dragged down when a third tackler jumps on him but Mason has already carried them all into the end zone. He is the kind of big back that excels because he runs with his eyes and has good feet. He uses his blocking very well. I think his size says he will play linebacker if he stays on defense. He is up to right around 215 pounds and I do not see the kind of ball skills that would make a coaching staff want to keep him as a safety. He has offers from Illinois, Nebraska, Bowling Green and Akron. A nice list but I expected it to be deeper and more impressive. 34. **** Chris Snook (6-2, 220, LB; Medina Highland) West Virginia West Virginia is not a recruiting hot bed. The coaches who have done well realized that right across the border was a rich recruiting ground with more players than the local power could take. Under Don Nehlen and Rich Rodriguez, the Mountaineers always pulled in a few players from Ohio. I wondered whether that would continue under the new staff. Getting an early verbal from a player the caliber of Chris Snook says head coach Bill Stewart has picked up the lead and run with it. Most of the film on Snook is as a back. If he was not going to get much bigger I think someone would have offered him as a back. He is that impressive. He shows vision, a good burst and is a very physical runner. He rushed for 1,400 yards as a junior. But I look at the body and see a player that is not done growing. JS I see 240 pounds in his future. Such a great looking frame on this kid. He can really run and is so athletic that he lines up at safety sometimes. He is arguably the best striker in the class. It should be illegal for him to play safety. He plays very well in space on defense at both linebacker and safety. No matter where he lines up he makes plays.

35. **** Patrick White (6-0, 175, CB/WR; Pickerington Central) Michigan State We saw offers coming in for Patrick White from all corners. He picked up offers from Kansas, Oregon, Cincinnati, Akron, Toledo, and Indiana but committed to Michigan State. I think he is one of the elite athletes in the class. Where he plays is the question. Most are talking cornerback but looked really good in drills at a combine as a wide receiver. He has the best hands I have seen this year, and that is saying something. He could be even better as a cornerback. Some players seem to have an almost unnatural attraction to the football. We call it instinct. White is one of those players. No matter where the ball is on the field White is there. He attacks the ball in the air no matter if he is on offense or defense. The best skill players have that mentality. The ball is theirs. That is especially the case with GH White who has an explosive leaping ability and catches anything he can reach. He is a very combative player. He had an impressive 27 passes defended and three interceptions but the most telling stat might be his 49 tackles. That is why I see him on defense. He has a solid body and can get bigger. He comes up in run support like a safety. 36. **** Mike Edwards (6-0, 185, CB; Cleveland Glenville) Undecided I look at where I have Mike Edwards on the list and find it hard to believe that I cannot find a higher spot for him. He is an exceptional talent. His offer list is proof with Wisconsin, Illinois, Cincinnati, Michigan State, Purdue, West

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Duane Long’s Updated Senior Prospects Virginia and Louisville heading a lengthy list. Edwards transferred in last year and immediately grabbed one of the starting spots. He put himself on the recruiting map with a solid season where he racked up over 40 tackles and had three interceptions. He took his recruitment to another level with an eye catching performance at the Cleveland Combine where he ran a 4.4 40 on a slow track and put up an impressive 34-inch vertical. Putting up 13 reps on the bench press was pound for pound as impressive a number as any of his speed and athletic numbers. So often freshmen do not play because of little things, one of them is not being strong enough. Edwards is a solidly built corner. With his strength and college-ready body he may be a candidate for early playing time. On the field, he shows he is capable of playing on an island. He GH is aggressive and utterly fearless. He is a very willing run support player and chases the ball until the whistle. One play on his film defines Edwards. He shows the speed as well as the tenacity when he chases a back down who has busted through the middle of the line. The ball is on the right hash, at the 45-yard line. Edwards is lined up one-on-one outside the opposite hash. It looks like Glenville can just go get ready for the kickoff. Edwards won’t quit on the play and has the speed to do something about it. It defines what kind of player he is.

36. **** Branko Busick (6-1, 220, LB; Steubenville) West Virginia I have no opinion on early verbals one way or the other. Well, most of the time. Sometimes I think a player could have done himself some good by waiting and going to camps and combines. Busick is one of those players that I wanted to see do the circuit. Busick is a small school superstar that hits a ton and has great instincts. He is a great blitzer. He reads the game as well as any linebacker I have seen in the past few years. I marveled at how many times I saw this kid step into the right hole pre-snap. He sometimes appears to have been in the opponents huddle. On one memorable play he ran over the guard and the fullback who tried to pick him up and still managed a tackle for loss. That is how quickly this kid diagnosed the play and was in the backfield. He is reading and reacting to plays so quickly blockers are having a hard time finding him. On another, he grabs both the quarterback and the runGH ning back because he has gotten there so fast he is not sure who has the ball so he grabs both until he figures it out. A couple of plays later in the film against a different team he does it again. The most impressive play is on an end around. He is moving before anyone else on the defense knows what is going on. The receiver gets about three steps before Busick lines him up. He is as football smart as any player in the class. He is not getting the attention he deserves because he is not ideal sized and plays at a smaller school. Someone is going to overlook that and get a really great player. One of the best blitzers I have ever seen. Busick committed to West Virginia back in April. I remember reading about how impressed the NFL scouts were with Chris Spielman after seeing him in drills. He was exceptional at everything but the 40. I think Busick would have been good at everything including the 40. Great get by the Mountaineers.

37. **** Aaron Mershman (6-3, 200, QB; Bowling Green) Ball State Mershman is a joy to watch. There is very little to be critical about. He is a mechanically as sound as any quarterback I have seen in Ohio. He sets his feet and delivers the ball over the top. He has a really good arm. He can make every throw in the book. You name it and I can pull up a clip where Mershman throws it. He sees the field so well. He is not just sitting on certain routes. He sprays the ball all over the field. He throws on the run about as well as he does sitting in the pocket and throwing. Mershman put up nice numbers as a junior, 109-of-208 for 1,466 yards and 13 touchdowns. He shows really good mobility. His 370 rushing yards and six touchdowns are testament to that. Camps were crucial for Mershman. He came through with an impressive performance at the Nike camp in Columbus. It did not take long for schools to take notice. Ball State, Bowling Green, Akron, Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan came in with offers. Ball State got a commitment from this much underrated player in July.

38. *** Adam Homan (6-3, 233, ATH; Coldwater) Ohio State I am going to make a big statement here and one I am sure someone would challenge me on. Adam Homan is as good a linebacker as older brother Ross, an Ohio State linebacker. He has the same kind of instincts. He reads the game as well as Ross. He dominates the game to the same degree as Ross. He is as physical, or even more physical, than Ross was. I know I saw more memorable hits out of Adam. He showed his football I.Q. to be as good as Ross. Then why is he not a Buckeye linebacker recruit like Ross? GH So much of this is about bodies. These two brothers are a text book example. Adam was likely going to outgrow linebacker but was not going to be quite big enough to be a defensive line recruit. The other thing he shared with Ross was both were excellent high school running backs. Adam was very smart to accept that fullback was the ideal position for him.

JJ H u d d l e ’ s O h i o H i g h

I think it is such a wasted position in today’s offenses. I can’t believe that coaches have voluntarily given up a skill player. Homan is big enough to be the battering ram everyone wants in a fullback but he can make something happen when he has the ball. He is committed to Ohio State and maybe the Buckeyes have re-discovered the back part of fullback.

39. *** Chris Williams (5-11, 175, DB/WR; Cincinnati Winton Woods) Williams did not need to get to the athlete season like I thought he would to make an impression. He had offers before all that got started. I am not surprised. The first two plays I saw from Chris Williams made me think what a great decathlete he would make. On the first, he lines up at receiver and leaps out of the stadium to make a one-handed grab. The next play he gets down in a sprinters stance and shoots through the line and makes a sack. Williams is one of the most explosive players I have seen this year. He shows it when he goes up to make a play on the ball and when he lines up a ball carrier for a hit. Most of the defensive film is of Williams making plays at the line of scrimmage but he shows his ball skills on the offensive plays. I think it is premature to say he is a safety at the next level. He shows such great hands and play making ability that I think someone is going to get the idea to give him a shot at wide receiver. Williams is a very physical player on both sides of the ball, as he is one of the better blocking receivers in the state this year. As a defensive player, he brings it. This is one of the most underrated players in the class of 2009. He had offers from Cincinnati, West Virginia, Minnesota, Indiana, Akron, Ohio, and Marshall. What a great recruiting get for the Cincinnati staff outdueling Big Ten teams and West Virginia for this underrated athlete.

40. *** Terrence Davis (6-4, 205, WR; Fremont Ross) Undecided I ended up seeing three full games from Fremont Ross. The one thing I came away saying was they have a pretty good sophomore quarterback and he needs to throw the ball to Terrence Davis on every play. It doesn’t matter that if the defense knows if he is going to get the ball. They still have to stop him from catching it and tackle him after he gets it. When I first saw Davis I thought I was looking at a linebacker, a linebacker who may be headed to defensive end. He is that big. He reminds me of Terrell Owens. After the catch he is so difficult to corral because he is so strong. His size is the reason he is down the list a bit for a player who reminds me of Terrell Owens. Owens is an NFL veteran. This is a high school kid. He is going to get bigger. If he holds his speed as he gets bigger he is an NFL player himself. Last year Davis had 15 touchdowns and had over 600 yards receiving. He averaged over 20 yards a catch. Michigan, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Purdue and Cincinnati are all showing interest. Davis ran a 23.0 flat 200 meters. That is a good time regardless but at Davis size it is really impressive. A talent like this that can only claim offers from West Virginia, Cincinnati and Miami (Oh.) leaves me looking for answers as to why.

41. *** Nate Cadogan (6-6, 265, DE/OL; Portsmouth) Penn State When I first heard about Nate Cadogan Portsmouth head coach Curt Clifford said he was going to be a special one. It looked like he was going to be a defensive end but he has undergone a growth spurt and is now mostly being recruited as an offensive lineman. He plays tight end on offense so he is pretty raw as far as playing the offensive line is concerned at this point, but it does give an idea of what kind of athlete Cadogan is. He is off to a good start in that transition showing very well at the Ohio State senior camp. He showed really good technique in pass protection drills. He is a fine defensive player and more and more we are seeing tall defensive tackles but the build I see on Cadogan tells me he is going to get a lot bigger, more along the lines of his older brother, Penn States All-Big Ten offensive tackle Gerald Cadogan. He has the long arms that are important to an offensive tackle. Cadogan was offered by Penn State in the spring. He accepted over the summer.

42. *** Brian Underwood (5-10, 175, WR; Cleveland Heights) Undecided The speed factor that Brian Underwood brings continues to bring offers his way. His latest was a big one. Michigan came in with an offer in late May. That I am not fan of small backs is not news. My attitude about smaller receivers is different. I prefer big receivers but there is an old expression that ‘speed kills’. There is a place in the game for the smaller players if they bring speed to the game. Brian Underwood is one of those players that can change the game with one touch. I don’t know if he is really 5-10 but for what he brings to the game, it really doesn’t matter. He gets open, he catches really well then he hits the clutch and finds a gear that very few players can. Underwood caught 40 balls and took seven for touchdowns, while averaging over 14 yards a catch. You can see it on tape. The best thing about it is he knows it. Some players that have speed do not have confidence SP in it. Underwood kicks in that gear and knows he is going to run by everyone chasing him. He has run 4.31 and that time was recorded independently, not at school. I am going to hear he is too small until about January. That is always the case. I have heard it already this early in the recruiting season. Schools find reasons not to offer a player. They are focused on what is wrong with a player at some point in the process.

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


Duane Long’s Updated Senior Prospects The closer we get to signing day the more they will remember why he is on the board in the first place. Some have already realized it. North Carolina, Colorado, Michigan State, Pitt, North Carolina State, West Virginia, Louisville and Cincinnati are amongst the schools who have offered.

43. *** Luke Kuechly (6-3, 215, LB; Cincinnati St. Xavier) Undecided Kuechly is fast becoming one of the hottest properties in Ohio. I was looking at a St. X game tape from 2008. I wanted to get a good look at outstanding St. Xavier linebacker who was a senior in the 2008 class, Fred Craig. I was really impressed with the player I was looking at. I did not recall that he was as tall and rangy as I remembered from 2007. I remembered that Craig was a single digit number playing linebacker. So is Kuechly. He is the player I was looking at. Kuechly is a bigger player and more athletic but his game is very similar to Craig. Both have top drawer instincts. Both can run really well and both play with good discipline. The more I see him the better I like him. He is every down sound as well as being a big play linebacker. Seeing him up close is where you decide to hand a sold sign on him. He is going to add weight and not impact his speed and athleticism. He had an impressive 143 tackles and six sacks against a level of competition that nobody can question. I am not the only one taking a longer look at Kuechly. Last issue he had offers from Stanford, North Carolina State, Miami (Oh.), Louisville and Cincinnati. He has added Boston College, Illinois, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Northwestern and Indiana to his list.

44. *** Javon Cornley (6-5, 215, DE; Columbus Northland) Louisville After seeing Cornley’s tape the first question I had was, “Why didn’t I know anything about him?” I learned recently why. He was out for football for the first time last year. He played as a youngster but had given up the sport to concentrate on basketball. His older brother is a name that fans in the Big Ten region will recognize. Jamelle Cornley is a forward for Penn State, also coming out of the Columbus City League. Jamelle is one of those basketball kids I remember because he was a bit undersized to be a basketball player. He would have made an ideal defensive end. It looks like the light has come on for Javon. He is still playing basketball but will be a football player in college. He had a solid season on the football field as he racked up seven sacks and five tackles for loss. He has a great looking defensive end body. He is long and has a huge wingspan. He will fill out to 250 or so once he is in a weight program. He is just now scratching the surface of what he can be. He still runs like a basketball player. He is controlled. Once he learns to come off the edge with explosion, Cornley looks like he could develop into a special player. Cornley is a sprinter and a high jumper, and has a 4.68 40. He has an offer from Miami (Oh.) but Ohio State and Michigan have both been in. He is so inexperienced I am not surprised to see he is not getting top offers yet. Another season of development and he will likely see the same thing happen to him as it happened for Cincinnati St. Xavier’s Greg Scruggs last year who ended up with offers from Tennessee, Michigan State and North Carolina State before settling on Louisville, and had Ohio State and Michigan interested. Cornley did not wait around to see if any of the regions powers would come in. He selected Indiana over Bowling Green, Akron, Marshall and Ohio.

45. *** Jeffvon Gill (6-0, 190, ATH, Euclid) Undecided Sometimes I talk about a player flying under the radar and players I cannot believe do not have offers. That there is not one offer for Gill is one of those stories that makes the old adage, if you have the talent they will find you a myth. He rushed for over 600 yards last year and scored 11 touchdowns but it is defense where he makes an impression. Against Mentor Lake Catholic, a school that boasts Randy Greenwood, an Akron commitment and one of the best all-around football players in Ohio, Gill was the best football player on the field. Against Bedford he scored on a kickoff return, and a 70-yard run. He added two sacks on defense. I think all that qualifies him as the best player on the field that day, too. Gill has returned an interception for a touchdown this SP year. He has a great looking body. He might be able to grow into a major college linebacker but I think he would make a great safety. Running back is a possibility. He needs some polish. He is a GPA over 3.0. Euclid is a school that has produced some talent so it is not off the beaten path. A strong candidate for the best player nobody knows about.

46. *** Jairus Campbell (6-5, 240, DE/OLB; Pickerington North) Bowling Green Take this top 100, plus the Others to Watch list, and combine all the players from the two Pickerington schools. You would have an all-star team. Campbell is one of those players that was flying under the radar until recently. Most of the time when a player is flying under the radar, there is something I can point to as to why. I have no information on Campbell’s academics. If that is not it then I have no clue. He had 72 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and five sacks last year. Campbell is long in the body and long limbed but he is a little more ample than the other top defensive ends in this outstanding class for that position. He could hold his speed and be a weak side

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

pass rusher but I think he grows into a strong side defensive end. He offers a strong argument for being the most physical of the defensive end class. He is tough at the point of attack, not trying to use his length and superior athleticism to deal with blockers. He is just stoning them. He runs really well and comes off the ball with a good burst so he could be a weak side pass rusher. Head coach Tom Phillips lines him up all over the field, strong side, weak side and at linebacker. He is an effective blocker as a tight end and fullback on offense. I have not seen him catch the ball so I can not say whether offense would be an option for him. I was surprised to see his only offers were from Bowling Green and Akron. He pledged Bowling Green In July. Great pickup for the Falcons. 47. *** Maalik Bomar (6-2, 185, LB; Cincinnati Winton Woods) Cincinnati When I first took a look at Maalik Bomar’s film I thought I was looking at another undersized linebacker that is going to look good because he is athletic and being put in a position where he is running around with no blocker in front of him, free to make plays. Everyone has a package for players like that at the high school and college level. That all changed when I got to a section of film where Bomar was not running free. The downside of the undersized outside linebackers is they are vulnerable to being run at. Bomar showed he is not so vulnerable to that strategy. I saw him stand up a number of blockers. I am not just talking about backs. He was stepping in and taking on linemen. He showed no hesitation, and stood up some really big guys, then made the play. He can fill out some more but is not going to get a lot bigger. From what I can see it is not going to matter. He brings it on every play. Bomar is a high motor player with good instincts and outstanding speed. He has picked up some nice offers with Nebraska, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Marshall, Toledo, Akron , Miami (Oh.) and Toledo coming in early but in another coup for the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, Bomar chose to stay home. 48. *** Fitzgerald Toussaint (5-10, 180, RB; Youngstown Liberty) Michigan In April, the Michigan Wolverines came in with an offer and Toussaint committed to Wolverines over Illinois, Michigan State, West Virginia, Pitt, Akron and Cincinnati. In the last issue I made the point that I did not think that Toussaint fits in every offense as a back, and I don’t know how much bigger he is going to get. He made a wise decision going with the read option that new Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is putting in. Smaller backs fit well in the system. Steve Slayton is not a big back and Toussaint is bigger than heir apparent Noel Devine who played very well in this offense last year. All of them have one thing in common - speed. Sometimes I watch a player and I see another level of speed. That is what I saw the first time I took a look at Fitzgerald GH Toussaint. Speed is something top 100 skill players have in common but there are some players that just leap off the screen at you. He ran a 10.7 100-meter as a freshman. Last year, he ran a 10.59 100-meter and had a 21.79 200-meter. That is an entirely different level of speed. Toussaint rushed for 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore. He came back with 1,400 yards and racked up 24 touchdowns as a junior but his speed fits any system. He is as elusive as he is fast. Some of his runs look like something staged, they are so incredible.

49. *** Eric Finklea (6-1, 185, RB; Cincinnati Woodward) Undecided Finklea is a player who brings a strong argument for the best back in the class. He is definitely the most explosive back in the class. From the time he takes the handoff to the time he hits the hole he is already up to full speed. He never seems to be in trouble because he has such great feet. He is stepping out of the way of trouble before tacklers realize that he is in trouble. All the good backs have great balance. Finklea is no exception. He is not a power back but he is physical when he needs to be. Top end speed is the most overrated attribute for a back but it is an extra that you want to see. Like Bud Golden, Finklea has good speed. Vision, instincts and acceleration are what separate Finklea from other backs in the state. What little I have seen of him catching the ball he looks like he is a three down back. Last year, he rushed for over 800 yards and racked up double digit touchdown numbers. He has offers from Miami (Oh.), Akron, Kent State and New Mexico. I am not hearing a lot of buzz about this fine back. One of those schools may secure a signature from a Big Ten caliber back. Wisconsin is now showing a lot of intetest. Nice work by those staffs. 50. *** Patrick Nicely (6-4, 210, QB; Willoughby South) Bowling Green Nicely was a starter as a freshman at quarterback and a varsity baseball pitcher. It was a tough year for him as a junior with a number of new starters at key positions. There is no question about his physical tools. His numbers from the Cleveland combine were definitely got my attention. He came in a legit 6-4 and ran a 4.67 40. Those are the kinds of numbers that are going to get him a look just as an athlete. He added a 29-inch vertical and an impressive 4.56 shuttle Bowling Green got a verbal from Nicely in August. I have not seen him yet this season but coaches I have spoken to think Bowling Green has stolen arguably the best quarterback in the region.

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Duane Long’s Updated Senior Prospects

Nos. 51-101

Best Of The Rest...

51. *** Zach Boren (6-1, 230, LB/FB; Pickerington Central) Ohio State

Quarterbacks

52. *** Dannell Smith (6-4, 290, OT; Newark) 53. *** Henry Conway (6-7, 320, OL; Shaker Heights) 54. *** Jeff Walker (6-4, 200, WR; Akron Coventry) 55. *** Rickey Steele (5-11, 175, CB; Cincinnati LaSalle) 56. *** Erique Geiger (5-9, 200, SS; Huber Heights Wayne) 57. *** Jowan Peterson (6-2, 180, Safety; Cincinnati Withrow) 58. *** Jeff Duckworth (6-0, 200, WR; Cincinnati Princeton) Wisconsin

SP

Dale Peterman

59. *** Cody Pettit (6-4, 230, DL/OL; Patrick Henry) Central Michigan 60. *** Alex Bayer (6-3, 225, TE; Pickerington North) Bowling Green 61. *** Nate Klatt (6-4, 270, C; Canal Fulton Northwest) Michigan State 62. *** Austin Moore (6-0, 210, LB; Springfield) Miami (Ohio) 63. *** Steve Hull (6-1, 190, S; Cincinnati Sycamore) Illinois

GH

64. *** Perez Ashford (5-11, 175, WR; Shaker Heights) 65. *** Travis Freeman (6-1, 190, Linebacker/Strong Safety; Glenville)

Tyler Scott

66. *** Sean McClellan (6-4, 241, DE; Cincinnati Moeller) Cincinnati 68. *** Aunre Davis (6-0, 180, Athlete; Warren Harding) 69. *** Brian Slack (6-5, 225, TE; Akron Hoban) Miami (Ohio) 70. *** John Taylor (6-5, 260, Ath; North Olmsted) Ohio U SP

71. *** Jake Feldmeyer (6-2, 260, OL; Centerville) Illinois 73. *** Terrence Owens (6-2, 160, QB; Cleveland Glenville)

Aunrae Davis

74. *** Ricky Harris (6-3, 320, OL; Westerville South) Cincinnati 75. ** Brian Winters (6-3, 280, DT; Hudson) 76. ** Tyler Scott (6-3, 230, LB; Warren Howland) 77. ** Dan Molls (6-1 ½, 215, LB; Padua Franciscan) Ohio U 78. ** Mark Mays (5-8, 170, CB; Clayton Northmont) Bowling Green 79. ** Dale Peterman (5-11, 175, CB/WR; Youngstown Ursuline) 80. ** RonCarlos Hilton (5-11, 185, SS; Youngstown East)

SP

Perez Ashford

81. ** Brian Smith (6-7, 280, OL; Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit) Northwestern 82. ** Dwayne Woods (6-0, 200, LB; Cincinnati Princeton) Bowling Green 83. ** Adam Schneid (6-4, 265, OL; Avon Lake) Central Michigan 84. ** Brandon Rice (5-9, 180, RB; Columbus Walnut Ridge) 85. ** Ryan Cheek (6-1, 225, LB; Lancaster) N.C. State

GH

86. ** Patrick Tucker (6-4, 200, Ath, Cincinnati Princeton) 87. ** Zakee Bashir (6-2; 210; OLB/DE; Columbus Walnut Ridge)

Ricky Harris

88. ** Xavier Fugate (6-4, 210, Ath; Trenton Edgewood) 90. ** Anthony Talbert (6-5, 220, TE/DE; Cincinnati Winton Woods) N.C. State 91. ** Blake Fraley (6-3, 205, LB; Hilliard Darby) Akron 92. ** Randy Greenwood (5-11, 175, Ath; Mentor Lake Catholic) Akron 94. ** Zac Costlow (6-3 1/2, 235, DE/DT; Steubenville Central Catholic) 95. ** Ryan O’Rourke (6-2, 190, QB; Avon)

SP

RonCarlos Hilton

96. ** Lamar Passmore (6-3, 190, WR; Cincinnati Sycamore) 97. ** Zach Murray (6-2, 230, LB; Avon Lake) 98. * Jeremy Johnson (6-4, 310, OL; Springfield) Buffalo 100. ** Tommie McBride (6-1, 205, LB; Cincinnati Taft) 101. * Tyler Arend (6-5, 290, OL; Paulding)

JJ H u d d l e ’ s O h i o H i g h

SP

Randy Greenwood

Tol. Cent. Cath. Kettering Alter (Toledo) Hopewell-Loudon Cin. Indian Hill Sherwood Fairview Clyde Day. Chaminade-Julienne Fostoria Chillicothe Lakewood St. Edward W. Milton Milton-Union Gahanna Lincoln Sylvania Southview Louisville Tol. Woodward Hamilton Badin Hillsdale Cols. Bexley (Ball State) Troy

5-9/190 6-0/195 5-11/215 6-3/250 6-1/210 5-9/195 5-11/180 5-9/201 6-3/215 5-11/229 5-10/205 5-11/185 6-0/200 6-1/205 6-0/190 6-0/210 5-11/185 6-2/175 5-9/180 5-10/185 6-1/195 5-9/205 5-10/195 5-11/190 5-11/170 5-11/220 5-11/203 6-0/200 5-9/175

Cin. Western Hills Troy Canfield Pickerington Cent. University School Midpark Ravenna Padua Franciscan New Phila. Cin. LaSalle (Ohio) Lakewood St. Edward Cin. Elder Avon Cle. St. Ignatius (Miami Oh.) Sandusky (Bowling Green) Ayersville Warren Howland Poland Seminary CVCA Clayton Northmont Eaton Youngs. Chaney Gahanna Lincoln Pataskala Licking Hts. Leavittsburg LaBrae Akr. SVSM Cle. Benedictine Conotton Valley Can. McKinley

Kyle Baker 6-2/180 Mike Bickley 5-11/175 Alex Carter 6-0/185 Derek Harris 6-0/186 Jordan Hopgood 6-0/180 Josh Jones 6-3/200 Jack Karlovec 6-1/175 Brandon Magbagbeola 6-4/180 Joey Parris 6-2/175 John Runk 6-3/190 Connor Ryan 6-1/180

Ada Akr. E. Troy Kings Mills Kings Cin. Princeton Cin. Elder (Cincinnati) Chagrin Falls Gahanna Lincoln Cle. St. Ignatius Cin. Anderson Cle. St. Ignatius (Ball State)

Tight Ends

98. ** Kevan Westenbarger (6-4, 190, QB; McComb) 99. * Trae Tiller (6-2, 235, DE/DT; Canal Winchester Harvest Prep)

D.J. Alexander Matt Allen Dan Banna Blaine Burgess Mordecai Cargill Jamaine Cook Blair Davis Cory Depiero Tyler Dummermuth Tim Edmond Dominique Goodwin Nicholas Gramke Marquis Harrell Patrick Hinkel Eric Jordan Anthony King Dante Marsh Ben Moody John Pettigrew Kevin Ringer Josh Slemker Marqueal Smith Jeffery Stone Storm Timson Cameron Truss Harvie Tuck Anthony Urbania Tucker West Monterae Williams

Wide Receivers

89. ** Mark Hilty (6-4, 235, DT; Olentangy Liberty) Cincinnati

93. ** Danny Gress (6-0, 205, LB; Clayton Northmont) Kent State

6-1/180 6-1/205 6-5/210 6-1/185 5-11/165 6-1/181 6-3/225 6-0/160 6-2/180 6-1/200 6-5/198 5-11/185 6-2/216 6-1/190 6-1/175 6-3/215 6-5/200 5-10/185 6-1/195

Running Backs

67. *** Brad Rogers (5-10, 220, RB; Toledo Central Catholic) Iowa

72. *** T.J. Fatinikun (6-2, 225, OLB/DE, Perrysburg) Bowling Green

Eric Bates Austin Boucher Tyler Brown Bo Cordell James Elchinger Alex Gillett Kurt Hess Micah Hyde Caleb Knights Alex Lavisky Jon Mason Cord McAllister Alex Pidcock Neal Seaman Orland Spikes Zach Toerner Mike Tyson Seth White Tyler Wright

Blake Annen Tim Caillet Joe Gaydosh Jacob Green Derek Hoebing

6-3/200 6-5/200 6-4/200 6-4/220 6-6/245

Upper Arlington (Cincinnati) Canal Fulton Northwest Avon Lake Cin. Wyoming (Ball State) Vermillion (Michigan State)

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


Duane Long’s Updated Senior Prospects

Pat McFall Cody Parker Jim Teknipp

6-4/240 6-4/235 6-5/225

Youngs. Boardman Cin. Roger Bacon Pʼville Riverside (Cent. Fla.)

Offensive Lineman

John Anevski Alex Bobel Austen Bujnoch Joe Coyne Colton Griffis Tyler Johns Terry Johnson Alex Jones Josh Kessler Anthony Koehling Zach Laird Jimmy McMahon Pat McShane Dillon Miller Taylor Prusz Michael Shope Craig Stan John Taylor Brian Wagner Brandon White

6-4/280 6-3/318 6-5/245 6-2/260 6-5/305 6-5/250 6-5/302 6-9/325 6-3/260 6-4/290 6-4/263 6-3/260 6-4/285 6-2/260 6-1/220 6-4/250 6-6/235 6-5/265 6-5/285 6-5/290

Defensive Line

Theo Barnes Ben Bertsch Jarius Campbell Austin Crawfis Vince German Donovan Jarrett Dan Sprague Aaron Williams

6-4/230 6-3/250 6-5/240 6-4/230 6-2/230 6-3/305 6-3/260 6-2/250

Linebackers

6-1/220 6-3/195 6-0/213 6-0/213 6-2/220 5-8/180 6-1/245 5-11/217 6-3/225 6-3/240 6-0/215 6/2/225 6-0/200 6-2/230 6-3/205 6-2/205 6-2/220 6-1/190 6-1/220 6-2/200 6-1/220 6-2/190 6-3/211

Cornerbacks

Anton Addison Jelani Alford Ryan Ballenger Todd Culver Romel Dismuke

5-10/175 5-9/175 6-3/205 5-9/170 5-8/170

Akr. Hoban Akr. SVSM Pickerington N. (Bowling Gr.) Dublin Coffman Steubenville Cath. Cent. Hamilton (Ball State) Wʼton Kilbourne (Cincinnati) Can. GlenOak Garfield Hts. Liberty Twp. Lakota E. Lakewood St. Edward Kettering Alter (Wisconsin) Kettering Alter Walsh Jesuit (Ball State) Youngs. Liberty Austintown-Fitch Medina Highland Buckeye Valley Shaker Heights Fairborn Cin. LaSalle Tol. Cent. Cath. (Alabama) Cin. Winton Woods Lodi Cloverleaf Cols. Eastmooor Acad. Cols. Walnut Ridge Gahanna Lincoln Girard Garfield Hts. Youngs. Liberty Akr. SVSM Bedford Cin. Withrow Gahanna Lincoln Akr. SVSM Cle. Benedictine

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

Safeties

Kelley Barnes Darwin Cook Michael Giresi Tony Harlamert Javon Marshall Tim Moore Logan McCormick Ben Schneider

Kickers

Scott Blasinsky Eric Duale Rainer Duzan Ben Levy Vince Penza Skylar Roberts Jonathan Simmons Korbin Smith

Athlete

Mario Dovell Rhys Edwards Sylvestry Gibbs Vinny Hokavar Everett Horne Stephen Houston Gannon Hulea Jonathan Hyde Brandon Kish Eric Page Alex Thomas Cameron Truss

5-8/183 5-10/175 5-10/170 6-1/175 6-2/190 6-2/170

Olentangy Liberty Cle. Hts. Akr. SVSM Cin. Winton Woods Sylvania Southview Cle. Benedictine SP

SP

5-11/160 6-0/180 5-11/178 6-0/185 5-11/175 5-11/185 6-3/180 6-1/190

Cin. Moeller E. Cle. Shaw Westerville Cent. Coldwater Huber Hts. Wayne Mentor (Bowling Green) Clinton-Massie Cin. Moeller

5-11/175 5-9/145 6-0/175 5-10/180 6-2/185 6-1/180 6-2/205 6-2/180

Padua Franciscan Medina Highland Dublin Scioto Cin. Wyoming Youngs. Mooney Findlay Eaton Delta

6-0/175 6-1/195 6-0/170 6-3/200 5-10/175 5-10/208 6-2/210 6-0/180 6-0/200 5-10/170 6-3/215 5-10/175

Cols. Whetstone (Ohio) Akr. SVSM Austintown-Fitch Perry N. College Hill (Cincinnati) Lakota West (Mississippi) Poland Seminary Perry Amherst Steele (Ball State) Holland Springfield (Toledo) Stow Munroe-Falls (BGSU) Leavittsburg LaBrae Photo by Stephanie Porter

Jamaal Ali Luke Barker Brian Boland Chris Borland Collin Boucher Armand Dehaney Julius Ferrell Nick Groat Tyler Houska Scott Kidwell Roman Lawson Adrian Lester Ryan Luggen Mike Marrow Tristin Marvin Cody Roberts Victor Rodriguez Lamar Ross Nick Snoad Kyle Stadelmyer Dillon Voss Jamon Wagner Garrett Wilcox

Cin. Elder Parma Normandy Cin. Elder (Cincinnati) Avon Lake Sunbury Big Walnut Waynesfield Goshen Trotwood-Madison Sandusky Cin. LaSalle Cin. Roger Bacon Olmsted Falls Sylvania Southview Walsh Jesuit (Indiana) Uniontown Lake Gahanna Lincoln Kettering Fairmont Warren Howland N. Olmsted Crestwood (Kent State) Colerain

Allen Eggleston Aric Jones David Lee Christian Pankey Bernard Pickney Jason Pinkston

Henry Conway

Sylvestry Gibbs

GH

GH

Brandon Rice

Cortland Lakeview’s Ben Moody set three school records in a 42-7 win over Newton Falls. The senior RB’s records included rushing yards in a game (341), TDs in a game (five) and longest TD run (91 yards). Moody did this all in two quarters.

Best Of The Rest...

Dante Marsh

GH

SP

Jason Pinkston

Julius Ferrell

GH

SP

Kyle Stadelmyer

Ben Bertsch

GH

NF

Zach Toerner

Neal Seaman

SP

NF

Montrae Williams

Kevin Ringer

SP

NF

Kurt Hess

Dan Bana

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Duane Long’s Top Junior Prospects North Canton Hoover junior Eric Howard had 351 total yards, including 336 on the ground, in a 27-7 win over Uniontown Lake. He scored four TDs.

Photo by Os Figuero

really like the Ohio Class of 2009. It has blossomed into a really nice class and more players keep surfacing. That said, I can't stop looking at the Class of 2010. I love line play. Everyone else is watching the quarterback and running backs. I am watching what is going on in the trenches when I watch a game. Linemen come along later. We did not see the Class of 2009's number one player, Melvin Fellows, really blossom until his junior year. When I see linemen showing this well as sophomores it gets me very excited. If Ohio High was going to press with the top 100 for the Class of 2010, six of the top seven players would be linemen. It is looking like a really good offensive line class again with three players showing early. I have Cincinnati St. Xavier's Matt James ranked higher than Taylor Miller from Trenton Edgewood and Andrew Norwell from Cincinnati Anderson but that is just a number. They are really 5a, 5b and 5c. All are looking like five-star national linemen. There are a few other offensive linemen who I am hearing good things about but I have not seen yet. It could be another great offensive line class in Ohio with high end talent and with depth. On the other side of the line we have three edge players that are going to be on everyone's want list. Jamel Turner and O'Neal Brown, from Youngstown Ursuline and Warren Harding respectively, are players that have been on this list in earlier editions. Turner looks like a young Lawrence Taylor. He is such an athlete and has a non-stop motor. Whether he is a linebacker or grows into a defensive end is the only question about him. Brown is a sure defensive end but he is athletic enough to cover slot receivers right now. He is very young for his grade too, which makes his upside all the more intriguing. The new name is Columbus Brookhaven’s Derrick Bryant. He is a recent transfer from Gahanna Lincoln. His more ideal

I

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

size for a defensive end is what gives him the edge as the top player in the class. The read option is the hot offense sweeping across college football. Any coach that is thinking about running that offense needs to get to Ohio and take a look at the Class of 2010 quarterbacks. There are a number of undersized signal callers in Ohio that do not fit the tradition pro-set offense but are perfect for the read option. They have arm strength but do not have the size most schools are looking for in a pro-set offense. Instead they have speed and athleticism. Dwight Macon at Steubenville and Spencer Ware at Cincinnati Princeton top the list, and there are several others. The good news about offering athletes like these is that if they do not fit at quarterback, they will fit at other positions. Running backs are starting to emerge. Cincinnati Northwest’s Nick Dardy reminds me of a West Virginia recruit from a couple of years back, Jason Gwaltney. He has good size and very quick feet. He shows he can be a good receiver coming out of the backfield. Eric Howard of North Canton Hoover is really coming into his own and Antonio Banks from Middletown may be the fastest of the bunch. I look at the list for 2009 that I have now and compare it to the early bird list from January. It is definitely a different list in that short period of time. Some players get better. Others show they have peaked. I am sure there are players that I simply have not seen yet, so this list could change by the time we put out the next issue. But, overall, it is looking like another strong class in Ohio for 2010. Here is our updated top 25 list for 2010. We will update this list in the Winter 2009 edition and then will reveal our top 100 for 2010 with bios in the Spring 2009 edition. — OH

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STORY BY DUANE LONG

Ohio High’s Top 25 Junior Prospects

Duane Long’s Top Junior Prospects

1. Jamel Turner (6-3, 215, LB/DE; Youngstown Ursuline) Turner tallied 20 sacks as a sophomore and has excelled again this year. 2. Jordan Hicks (6-2, 210, LB; West Chester Lakota West) Playmaker. Fast. Relentless. Great in coverage. Great frame. Enjoying a big junior year. 3. Matt James (6-7, 260, OT; Cincinnati St. Xavier) A regular at St. X as a sophomore says it all. Ideal feet and frame. 4. Mike Dorsey (6-2, 190, SS/Ath; Warren Harding) Could be the 2010 version of Eugene Clifford and Justin Turner. Really brings it. 5. Darryl Baldwin (6-6; 240, DE/DT/TE; Solon) Impressed everyone at Ohio State camp. Looked great in early scrimmage. 6. Andrew Norwell (6-6, 255, OT/DT; Cincinnati Anderson) Caught my attention in the state championship game. Looks a lot like Alex Boone. 7. Erick Howard (5-10, 210, TB; North Canton Hoover) The potential is there to be at least an All-Region player, and maybe a national prospect 8. Derrick Bryant (6-6, 220, DE; Brookhaven) He has prototype size and athleticism for a college defensive end. 9. Taylor Miller (6-5, 285, OL; Trenton Edgewood) Already an invitee to Ohio State games. Very physical and runs great. 10. Scott McVey (6-1,210, LB; Cleveland St. Ignatius) I am hearing he is the real deal. 11. Gerald Robinson (6-3, 190, WR; Canton South) Great hands, athletic, size and fearless. 12. Nick Dardy (6-1, 215, RB, Cincinnati Northwest) Great looking body and outstanding feet for his size. Runs with balance and power. 13. J. T. Moore (6-3, 230, DL; Youngstown Boardman) A physical specimen that cannot be ignored. Already verbaled to Ohio State. 14. Spencer Ware (5-10, 200, QB/ATH; Cincinnati Princeton) Showed very well as a receiver in the athlete season. Through eight games, had thrown for 1,573 yards and 10 TDs and ran for 492 yards and 10 TDs. 15. Clint Sheppard (6-4, 265, OL; Eaton) Looks like a player who could fit anywhere on the offensive line. 16. D. J. Williamson (6-1; 180, WR/CB; Warren Harding) Looks like the best receiver from Harding since Mario Manningham. Speed to spare. 17. Andrew Donnal (6-7, 250, OL/DT; Anthony Wayne) As athletic as any lineman in the class. Great frame. 18. Josh Davis (6-6, 270, OL/DT; Jonathan Alder) A DT now but may be a better offensive tackle. Sure Big Four offers in his future. 19. Brad Ferguson (6-7, 260, OL/DT; West Branch) Another long lean athletic big kid that can really run. Lots of room to grow. 20. Anthony Gibson (6-3, 212, DE/LB; Trotwood-Madison) Playing defensive end right now but is linebacker size and running a 10.6-second 100 meters. 21. Aaron Edwards (6-1, 185; LB/SS; Austintown Fitch) Fast, physical high motor playmaker. 22. O'Neal Brown (6-6, 210, DE/LB; Warren Harding) Young for his grade. He could top this list by the time it is all said and done. 23. John Ballard (6-3, 200, QB; Austintown–Fitch) Good arm and a fine athlete. Could be a receiver if he doesn't pan out at quarterback. 24. Dario Bivens (5-10, 170, Ath; Campbell Memorial) Plays quarterback but likely moves to receiver or the defensive backfield. 25. Dwight Macon (5-11,180, QB/ATH; Steubenville) With the read option coming into vogue maybe Macon stays at quarterback.

JJ H u d d l e ’ s O h i o H i g h

Steubenville quarterback Dwight Macon is a solid “athlete” prospect but may get offers at quarterback.

Photo by Gary Housteau

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


High School Boys Basketball Preview

Anna only lost two games last year and both were to state champions - New Knoxville in the regular season and OttawaGlandorf in the D-III state semifinals. The Rockets return three starters and six of their top eight, including junior gaurd Wesley Hunsucker.

Photo by Nick Falzerano

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JJ H u dd le’ s O h io High


STORY BY OHIO HIGH STAFF

Division I Big-schools always provide entertaining competition Photo by Gary Housteau

N

Newark senior Cody Dennison returns for his third year as a starter.

ewark made an impromptu run to the Division I state championship a year ago. The Wildcats capped a 24-4 season with a 65-52 win over perennial powerhouse Lakewood St. Edward to claim the coveted title. Coach Jeff Quackenbush will return three starters from that championship squad and Newark figures again to be in the mix in the big-school division. The state of Ohio boasts several of the nation’s top boys basketball prospects. They will be on display in Division I. Columbus Northland’s Jared Sullinger is considered one of the top five players in the country in the Class of 2010, while Cincinnati Aiken’s Chane Behanan is one of the very best nationally in the Class of 2011. Sullinger has already committed to Ohio State, while Behanan is ticketed to Cincinnati. Their respective teams could also figure in the race for the state title this season. Also in that mix will be schools like Cincinnati Princeton, Middletown, Garfield Heights, Cleveland Heights and Warren Harding. Below we take a look at some of the key teams in Division I.

I:

Teams To Watch

Here are some of the key contenders in Division

Newark As noted, Quackenbush will welcome back three

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High School Boys Basketball Preview

Top Players: Who You Want To See in D-I * Jared Sullinger, 6-9, Jr., 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 considered one of the nation’s top five players in the Class of 2010. He is already is committed to Ohio State. He averaged 22 points and 14 rebounds a game last year. He was a third-team All-Ohio pick as a sophomore. * Bill Edwards, 6-7, Sr., F, Middletown – Averaged 17.5 ppg and was a first-team All-Southwest District pick as a junior. Father of the same name was a star at Wright State. * Matt Kav anaugh, 6-10, Sr., C Centerville – Kavanaugh averaged 20.3 ppg as a junior and earned secondteam All-Ohio honors. He has already verbaled to Dayton. * Luke Kraus, 6-1, Sr., G, Findlay – Kraus averaged 21.3 ppg in earning third-team All-Ohio kudos as a junior. * Sheldon Brogdon, 6-1, Sr., G, Warren Harding – Brogdon earned third-team All-Ohio honors last year after averaging 19.5 ppg. * Desmar Jackson, 6-4, Sr., G, Warren Harding – Jackson was a second-team all-district pick as a junior. He averaged 14.1 ppg last year. * C.J. McCollum, 5-11, Sr., G, Canton GlenOak – McCollum earned third-team All-Ohio honors as a junior. He averaged 25.1 ppg last year. * Jon Smith, 6-7, Sr., F, Grove City – Smith, a St. Louis verbal, averaged 16.7 ppg as a junior. * Tanner Furno, 6-8, Sr., F, Columbus Whetstone – Furno averaged 14.9 ppg as a junior. * Bobby Capobianco, 6-8, Sr., F, Loveland – Capobianco was a second-team all-district pick last year as he averaged 21.2 ppg as a junior. He has committed to Indiana. * Orlando Williams, 6-4, Sr., G, Cincinnati Princeton – Williams was a second-team all-district pick, averaging 13.3 ppg as a junior. He will play college basketball at Miami (Ohio). * Jordan Sibert, 6-4, Jr., G, Cincinnati Princeton – Sibert averaged 11.6 ppg last year as a sophomore. He is considered a national top-50 prospect in the 2010 class and has already verbaled to Ohio State. * Chane Behanan, 6-6, So., PF, Cincinnati Aiken – Behanan is considered one of the nation’s top prospects in the Class of 2011 and also tops that list for that year in Ohio. He earned second-team all-district honors last year after averaging 20.2 ppg. Behanan has already committed to Cincinnati. * Carl Jones, 5-11, Sr., G, Garfield Heights – Earned first-team all-district honors after averaging 25.7 ppg as a junior. He is committed to St. Joseph’s. * Anthony Wells, 6-1, Sr., G, Shaker Heights – Was a second-team all-district pick last year after averaging 23.4 ppg

senior starters from the team that rolled to the state title last year. They are 5-9 point guard Cody Dennison, 6-2 forward Rahlin Watson and 6-9 center Dane Kopp. They each averaged right around 10 points a game last year. Dennison and Kopp will be back for their third season as starters. “We’ve got guys who have gotten a lot of experience and had some success,” said Quackenbush, who is back for his 10th year as the Newark head

2008-09 Basketball Preview Kenton’s Garrick Sherman 41 Girls Basketball Preview 42 C-J’s Samarie Walker 49

coach. “Any coach who wins the state is concerned with how hard those guys coming back will work. But these guys worked hard in the summer and so far during this fall they have been great. I think they want to be successful again this year. “I think they want to make their own mark as seniors. Those three played a lot as juniors and sophomores. We treated them as seniors almost last year.” Newark lost 6-4 starter Greg Avery, who aver-

aged 19 points a game. He is playing college ball at Western Carolina. But Quackenbush will look to 6-3 forward Shaun O’Keefe and 6-1 power forward Taylor Huffman to pick up the slack. Newark will play in a reconfigured Ohio Capital Conference division this season. A regional final rematch with Westerville South (Newark won 6257) is on the books in the nonconference schedule.

Columbus Northland Northland has been one of the most impressive teams in Ohio over the last two years, posting back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. But Northland failed to make it out of the district level either of the last two years. “(The state title) is our goal, but you still have to take it one game at a time,” said coach Satch Sullinger. “Over the last two years, we’ve been 452. But each year, we lost the last game of the season. Our goal this year is to not necessarily run the table, but we do want to win the last game of the season. If we’ve done that, it means we’ve won a state championship. “We went 45-2 with mostly freshmen and sophomores. Now they are juniors and seniors. I think these kids have that maturity.” Sullinger has his son, Ohio State verbal Jared Sullinger, to depend on. “Jared sees the game two passes ahead,” Satch Sullinger said. “He has been around the game for so long he has a great knack for it and can anticipate what is coming.”

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


High School Boys Basketball Preview Sullinger also has 6-6 senior forward Javon Cornley and 6-6 junior wing J.D. Weatherspoon. Weatherspoon averaged 13 points a game last year, while Cornley chipped in seven points a game. Cornley is verbaled to play college football at Indiana. Northland lost stellar guard Devon Moore to graduation. He is playing college ball at James Madison. In his place at the point will be 5-9 sophomore Trey Burke, who already has scholarship offers from the likes of Xavier and Dayton. Northland is favored to win a third straight Columbus City League title, although Brookhaven and Beechcroft will also provide a challenge. Northland will also play marquee games against Memphis (Tenn.) White Station, San Diego (Calif.) Senior and Cincinnati Aiken.

former Ohio State star Mark Baker), Huber Heights Wayne (has couple of talented sophomores), Toledo St. John’s (most everybody back from a young team last year), Westerville South (reached regional finals last year), Cincinnati Moeller.

– Steve Helwagen

Division II Number of stalwart, upstart programs will vie for state title Photo by John Ritter

Cincinnati Aiken Leon Ellison takes over as the new head coach at Aiken. Standout 6-6 power forward Chane Behanan is the clear leader even though he will be just a sophomore. He will be joined in the lineup by 6-4 senior wing forward Darren Goodson and 6-1 senior point guard Cortez Howell. Goodson and Howell are ticketed to attend Bowling Green.

Cincinnati Princeton The Vikings advanced to the regionals before falling to Cincinnati St. Xavier 70-56 in a regional semi to end the year 18-6. Orlando Williams has made a verbal commitment to play college ball at Ohio U., while 6-7 power forward Marquis Horne is headed to Miami (Ohio). Princeton also features 6-4 junior guard Jordan Sibert, who committed to Ohio State already.

Middletown The Middies feature 6-7 senior forward Bill Edwards as well as Liberty Twp. Lakota East transfer Kirby Wright, a 6-7 sophomore. Senior Allen Roberts, a 6-2 shooting guard, provides balance. Warren Harding The Raiders will be one of the most talented teams in northeast Ohio with the backcourt of 6-1 senior guard Sheldon Brogdon, 6-4 senior guard Desmar Jackson and 5-11 junior point guard Fred Williams. Harding reached the regional finals last year before falling to Lakewood St. Edward 77-75 in overtime. The Raiders were 23-2. Cleveland Heights Heights is led by a pair of seniors in 6-7 power forward Reggie Keely and 6-3 point guard Christian Williams. Keely will attend Ohio U.

Garfield Heights Carl Jones, headed to St. Joseph’s, will lead the way. But Garfield Heights will also feature 6-7 senior power forward Mario Hines, who will play college basketball at IUPU-Fort Wayne.

Also Keep An Eye On

Lakewood St. Edward (will be young this year and will build around 6-10 sophomore center James Price), Trotwood-Madison (new coach is

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

H

Graham senior gaurd Josh Schuler was second team All-Ohio last year. eading into last season, Division II looked to be the most competitive and top-heavy of the four divisions in terms of the boys basketball power structure. That reputation was met as Toledo Libbey’s William Buford and Canal Winchester’s B.J. Mullens finished 1-2 in Ohio’s “Mr. Basketball” voting before embarking on their collegiate careers at Ohio State. Also, two teams Ohio High Magazine tabbed as top tier – Libbey and Chillicothe – staged one of the most exciting state finals in many moons as Chilly won 70-69 with a shot at the buzzer in overtime. Off to college campuses as well as the 6-5 Buford and 7-1 Mullens are Chillicothe hero and point guard extraordinare Anthony Hitchens (Akron), Dayton Dunbar big man Josh Benson (Dayton) and Delaware Buckeye Valley sharpshooter Scott Thomas (Bowling Green). While the 2009 class isn’t considered as talentladen by comparison, D-II still has plenty of star power and several teams that could emerge as the cream of the crop.

II:

Teams To Watch

Here are some of the key contenders in Division

Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary The Fighting Irish were 15-8 last year but head coach Dru Joyce believes in facing a daunting schedule – and now he has a deep roster better equipped to handle it. “We are pretty loaded,” he said. “I think I can go 12 deep this year. On paper we have everything you need to be a successful team, but that’s on paper. We need to prove it, and I think we will. We have size, a good skill set, speed, depth – we have it all. “Our key issue will be leadership. I’m curious to see who is going to step up in that regard. But I think they are hungry to have a great season.” SVSM is strong inside and out, especially with 6-7 senior forward Daylen Harrison and 5-9 sophomore Ricky Johnson. Harrison actually is skilled enough to play on the wing, although he averaged right around eight rebounds a game last year to go with his lofty scoring output (17.4 ppg). Johnson, who averaged right around 14 points and four assists last season, started 28 games – the first freshman to appear regularly in the starting lineup for the Irish since a guy named LeBron James. Harrison and Johnson will get plenty of help from seniors B.J. Brophy, 6-7, and Mike Hammonds, 6-1; sophomores DeVonte Beard, 6-1, and Oliver Hildebrandt, 6-5; and 6-5 freshman Lorenzo Cugini. As for the typically adventurous schedule, SVSM will face Warren Harding, Canton McKinley, Massillon Jackson, North Canton Hoover, Lakewood St. Edward, Cleveland Benedictine and Chicago Whitney Young.

Cleveland Benedictine The Bengals not only have 6-5 junior wing Cameron Wright in the backcourt, they also are blessed with 6-foot junior point guard Derek Jackson. “Those guys should be outstanding,” coach Rob Stircula said. “Cameron is really playing well right now and Derek just continues to get better. He’s a guy who can just explode this year.” Jackson averaged 17.5 ppg last season but is “too unselfish at times” according to Stircula. Last season Jackson averaged 5.8 assists a game compared to just 1.2 turnovers per outing. Wright logged 7.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game in addition to his 18.5 ppg. That dynamic duo added to the other parts could equal very big things in 2008-09 for the Bengals. In fact, two transfers have Benedictine fans talking about a run to the state tournament. Liam Walsh, a 6-5, 220-pound combo forward, has meshed right in with Wright and Jackson in open gyms. Walsh, a junior, came in from Chesterland (Ohio) West Geauga. The other is an even bigger catch – 6-7, 215-pound center Nick Harney, a junior who came over after beginning his prep career at Cleveland Glenville. “I think with the guys we got transferred in we could be a terrific basketball team this season,” Stircula told Bucknuts.com. Benedictine lost the services of 6-9 center Justin

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High School Boys Basketball Preview

Top Players: Who You Want To See in D-II * Garrick Sherman, 6-10, Sr., C, Kenton – Michigan State’s Tom Izzo already has locked up Sherman, which is looking wise after he racked up 23.6 points per game last season and was named second-team all-state. * Juwan Staten, 5-10, Jr., PG, Dayton Thurgood Marshall – Super quick lead guard who exploded with 23.8 ppg last season. Committed to Dayton. * Cameron Wright, 6-5, Jr., W, Cleveland Benedictine – Wright is as versatile as he is athletic. The OSU commit averaged 18.5 ppg as a soph. * Nick Kellogg, 6-2, Jr., PG, Columbus DeSales – Clark’s youngest child already is considered one of the best point guards in the state and manages to get better every year. Big-time scorer (22.1 ppg) who involves others and defends. * Josh Schuler, 6-2, Sr., SG, St. Paris Graham – Second-team all-state last year after putting up 20.0 ppg for one of Ohio’s top teams. * Daylen Harrison, 6-7, Sr., WF, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary * Robert Wilson, 6-4, Sr., F, Streetsboro * Alex Falk, 6-3, Sr., SG, Upper Sandusky * Tim Congrove, 5-11, Sr., PG, Circlev ille Logan Elm * Caleb Knights, 6-2, Sr., SG, Chillicothe

Jamison, who transferred to Strongsville to play baseball there. However, Harney should make up for that loss inside and Stircula also is high on senior power forward Robert Stallion, an aptly named 6-4, 180-pound floor burn. The Bengals also showcase a productive bench, including 6-7 junior Justin Thomas, 6-4 senior Excel McClain, and freshman guards Desmond Ridenour, Luke Heben and Winston Grays. Stircula has won three district titles in as many seasons as Benedictine’s coach, but he believes the Bengals, 19-6 last season, can go much further. “This is the best team we’ve had here by far,” Stircula said.

Columbus DeSales While the departure of 7-1 center Sean Hobbs is big both literally and in terms of the loss of an intimidator inside, the Stallions could be more dynamic this season. Ike Ariguzo, a versatile 6-5 performer and senior, will shift down to the five spot. The result could be a more dynamic attack with 6-2 junior guard Nick Kellogg running the point of a four-out, one-in alignment. Joining Kellogg on the perimeter will be 5-9 Adam Griffin and a pair of reliable seniors in 6-3 wing Nick Goff and 6-0 off-guard Zak Gabarcik. Goff averaged 11.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last season and those numbers figure to go up. Griffin, the son of former Ohio State grid superstar Archie Griffin, is coming off an impressive summer and fits in with coach Blair Albright’s aggressive tactics on both ends of the court. “With Ike at the five he can play out on the floor but also in the post, which is good for us because we are really going to open up our offense this year with the dribble-drive, motion game,” Albright said. “It’s really predicated on getting to the rim and creating perimeter shots. It’s an attacking wide-open style of offense.” DeSales advanced to the state semifinals in Division II in 2006 and ’07 but lost in the district finals to Columbus Eastmoor Academy last season to finish 19-4. A brilliant season from Kellogg could give the Stallions another deep run. “As he got more and more dangerous last sea-

JJ Hu d d l e ’ s O h i o H i g h

son we got more and more dangerous,” Albright said. “But I trust Nick to make the right reads and decisions. He can probably score even more than he does but he has a good balance of when to look for his opportunities and when to find others.”

Poland Seminary A magical season burst in Columbus for the 2007-08 Bulldogs as they fell 78-70 to eventual state champion Chillicothe in the semis. PS came in undefeated and averaging 89 points per game but the wheels came off against Chilly as the Bulldogs shot just 21 percent from the field in the first half and finished at 35 percent. Even Ken Grisdale, co-Coach of the Year in Division II last season, couldn’t find solutions as his team finished 9 of 35 from three-point range and bowed out at 25-1. However, as Grisdale pointed out afterward, there is no shame in losing to the No. 2 team in the state poll. Plus, the 16thyear coach could have enough to make another run, especially with all the postseason experience his squad gobbled up in March. Yes, the Bulldogs will be hard-pressed to replace 6-3 guard Ben Umbel, who was a firstteam all-state performer and averaged 14.0 ppg. However, there is lots of returning firepower. Guard Niko Fatimus came on last season as a sophomore and figures to have a more prominent role. He should be joined in the backcourt by 6-1 guard Ben Brocker. Another member of the now robust junior class is 6-4 forward Ben Donlow, a board eater and returning starter. Donlow should get plenty of help from 6-5 forward David Baker, yet another junior. Poland Seminary advanced to the state tournament for the fourth time last season but is 0-4 in state semis, including losses each of the last two years. Grisdale would like nothing better to return again this spring and prove his frenetic style can take the Bulldogs all the way to the top.

St. Paris Graham Graham’s 2007-08 story is very similar to Poland Seminary’s. The Falcons entered the postseason ranked No. 5 in Division II by The Associated Press after logging an undefeated regular season.

Photo by Nick Falzerano

Dayton Thurgood Marshall junior Juwan Staten has committed to Dayton. Their destiny appeared to be perfection after knocking off Cincinnati Taft in a district final and taking out Mullens’ Canal Winchester squad in a regional semifinal. That was followed by a thrilling 69-61 survival in overtime over Kettering Alter, earning the school’s first appearance at state. However, Graham struggled to hold up athletically to Libbey and lost 51-44 in the opening semifinal game as Buford logged 21 points and 10 boards. Senior guard Josh Schuler had an off day from the outside. Coach Brook Cupps, a former player in the program and the school’s athletic director, said he was able to see a half-full glass after a 26-1 finish. “Our goal is always to play to our potential and reach our potential, and at the end of last year I felt we were doing that,” he said. “Of course we wanted to win the state, and that is always our goal, but I am very proud of that team.” Easing the off-season pain for the Falcons is the return of Schuler and, it can be assumed, his 20 points per game. He will be rejoined in the backcourt by classmates and fellow returning starters Ben Rosenberger and Austin Jones. The 6-0 Rosenberger will run the point and the 6-2 Jones, who averaged right on 11 ppg last season, will play off the ball with Schuler. All three can stroke the deep ball. Graham loses starting forward Travis Crooks but welcomes back 6-4 Ethan Ward, who averaged 12 ppg as a sophomore last season. Another youngster, 6-0 sophomore guard Nick VanHoose, also appears ready to make a big contribution as well as 6-1 junior forward Casey Crable. “We have six kids capable of scoring at any time,” Cupps said. Chillicothe The defending state champs will try to trudge onward without Hitchens at the point and Ray Chambers inside. Freshman Malik London could make an immediate impact teaming with 6-2 senior shooting guard Caleb Knights. Dayton Chaminade-Julienne Some coaches believe C-J may be the best team in the area regardless of division.

J J H U D D L E . C O M 37


High School Boys Basketball Preview Dayton Dunbar The Wolverines lost the 6-10 Benson and lots of experience in the backcourt, but they always manage to showcase impressive talent. Kenton Michigan State recruit Garrick Sherman, a 6-10 senior center, provides a great focal point for a team that is developing around him. Sherman is the No. 1 college prospect in the Class of 2009. Kettering Alter Legendary coach Joe Petrocelli can never be counted out. With a career mark of 719-252, he enters the season ranked second in all-time wins to Kalida’s Richard Kortokrax (726-282).

Also Keep An Eye On

Circleville Logan Elm, Dover, Byesville Meadowbrook, Cincinnati Taft, Greenfield McClain, Lexington, Upper Sandusky.

– Jeff Rapp

Division III Look for usual suspects, familiar faces again Photo by Gary Housteau

O

Senior gaurd Taylor Kuhlman is OttawaGlandorf’s leading returning scorer.

ttawa-Glandorf no longer can be considered an outsider to the elite of Division III after capturing the state crown in March. The Titans look capable of living up to their nickname again in 2008-09 as most of their key players are back for another run. However, they will have to overcome several traditional challengers

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along the way, including a few teams – Findlay Liberty-Benton, Sugarcreek Garaway and Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph – that are coming off highly successful seasons of their own. The D-III level also houses pesky competitors with a history of deep tourney runs including Wheelersburg and Archbold, the second-winningest program in state history on any level behind only Canton McKinley.

III:

Teams To Watch

Here are some of the key contenders in Division

Anna When the Rockets lost their third game of the season, 78-55, to Division IV New Knoxville, many people wrote them off. All they did after that was blitz through the rest of the regular-season schedule, storm all the way to the regional final and nip Columbus Academy with a state berth on the line, 75-74 in overtime. The season ended at 25-2 with a loss to Ottawa-Glandorf in the semis and with coach Matt Meyer being honored as the D-III Coach of the Year. Not a bad way to spend a winter. Meyer has good anchor points inside with 6-4 senior Eric Niekamp, a starter last season, and 6-5 Nathan Snyder. Both are seniors. Also, a pair of juniors are ready to flourish in the form of 6-0 guard Jade Billing and 6-2 swingman Wesley Hunsucker, who also took the Value City Arena floor as starters against O-G. Meyer enters his ninth season at Anna with a mark of 123-67. Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph The 13-man roster that VASJ took to the state tournament had eight seniors on it, including 6-7 post Klein Harper, 6-8 forward Dominick Haynes, 6-10 center Taylor Young, 6-4 forward Ashen Ward and 5-10 guard Nate Barnes. Therefore, all conventional wisdom would suggest that it will be a rebuilding year for coach Dave Wojciechowski. However, this is VASJ and this is Division III, a domain the Vikings have conquered since shifting down from D-II in the mid-1990s. It follows that Wojciechowski, who has compiled a record of 15663 in nine years, can’t be counted out. Barnes, the Division III co-Player of the Year in Ohio last season, averaged 18.0 ppg and will be tough to replace. However, VASJ has a couple returnees in guards Scott Szczepinski and Jeff Albert. Szczepinski is a scrappy 6-0 senior; Albert a 5-8 junior. Other returning players of note include senior forwards Bryan Morgan and Clinton Brewer. Findlay Liberty-Benton The Eagles have things cooking. They rolled to the top spot in the AP rankings two seasons ago after an undefeated regular season before settling for runner-up status in the state tournament and a 26-1 record. Last season, even after losing four key seniors, longtime coach Steve Williman got his squad on another roll – a second straight 20-0 regular season and D-III state poll championship. But the goal

is to finish the deal, and the Eagles were clipped in a district semifinal with St. Henry in March, losing stunningly by the score of 51-38 to finish 21-1. Again there are questions to go with the high hopes, but L-B now has a bona fide star in 6-1 junior guard Aaron Craft, who brings energy to both sides of the floor and produced 18.5 ppg as a soph, good for second-team All-Ohio honors. “Aaron is a very gifted athlete,” Williman said. “He is a very unselfish player who gets as much satisfaction from an assist as he does from a score. “I’ve always felt the best compliment that can be given to a player is that he makes other players better because of his presence on the court. I think that sums up what Aaron means to our team.” Craft learned a leadership role last season from Andy Smith, who chipped in 15.5 ppg as a senior. He’ll need more help this campaign, but Williman, who is entering his 23rd season and has more than 400 career wins, has a knack for balance. Plus, the Eagles also return 6-5 senior wing Derek Recker, who scored 10.9 ppg last season. Forward Justin Hyde, a 6-3 senior, also should maintain a starting role and classmate Scott Wallace could jump into a more developed role.

Ottawa-Glandorf The Titans were just the 13th-ranked D-III team going into the postseason but won all eight contests thereafter by eight or more points to claim the title. O-G lost some key players, including 6-1 guard Justin Schomaeker, who posted 16.9 ppg last season and popped for 26 points in the title game. The Titans also got 15 points off the bench in that game from senior forward Jake Meyer and they also lose the services of starting forward Luke Bellman and starting guard Jake Pothast. However, coach Josh Leslie has plenty in place. Eric Brickner is slotted into the point guard spot after serving in a backup role last season. Taylor Kuhlman, the leading returning scorer, maintains his spot at shooting guard and Jacob Moening, who backed up Schomaeker last season, will play on the wing. All three are seniors. Colton Everett will start at power forward and Brent Kuhlman (no relation) is slated to play the pivot. Both are 6-4 seniors – and like the members of the backcourt they enter the campaign with invaluable postseason experience. Plus, there is more talent in reserve. “We’ll play 10 guys, maybe 12 early in the year,” Leslie said. “We have seven of our top 11 players back and the guys filling those spots are from our JV team that went 18-2 last season. We like what we have.” O-G once again will apply pressure. “These guys are not satisfied,” he said. “They’ve worked as hard or harder than the year before. I see a group that is hungry to get back to states.” Sugarcreek Garaway The team Ottawa-Glandorf defeated in the state championship, Sugarcreek Garaway, is operating with a hunger of its own. The Pirates, 24-4 last season, will be challenged to return to Columbus given the loss of Tyler Gerber, a 5-10 guard who averaged right around 20 ppg last season, and 5-

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High School Boys Basketball Preview

* Paul Honigford, 6-8, Soph., PF, Sugarcreek Garaway – Son of former Buckeye Jim Honigford can face the basket and defend inside. * Aaron Craft, 6-1, Jr., SG , Findlay Liberty-Benton – Outstanding shooter and scrappy performer who committed to Tennessee over the summer. * Kenny Kornowski, 6-7, Sr., PF, Smithville – Talented big man is coming off a junior campaign in which he averaged 18.5 ppg and was named first-team All-Ohio and Player of the Year in the Northeast Inland district. * Phillip B eans, 6-8, Sr., C, Toledo Ottawa Hills – Strong, physical big man with some face-up ability and a consistent scorer (18.8 ppg). Committed to Holy Cross. * Blake Justice, 6-1, Soph., G, Peebles – His varsity debut season netted 22.1 ppg and first-team all-district honors. * Matthew McCollister, 5-7, Jr., PG, London Madison Plains * Michael Lamb, 6-5, Sr., F, Proctorville Fairland * Aaron Deister, 6-0, Sr., PG, Dayton Christian * Clay Roll, 6-3, Sr., W, Frankfort Adena * Skyler Simpson, 6-6, Jr., C, Centerburg

10 Chase Stingel, who chipped in 11.7 ppg. That backcourt was consistently menacing to opponents last season, especially Gerber, who added about five assists and three steals per contest. However, if fifth-year coach Dave Shutt can find consistency from his ball handlers this season, SG could be dangerous again. “That would be our goal, to get back to the state tournament, but obviously it is going to be tough to fill those guys’ shoes,” Shutt said. Standout 6-8 sophomore forward Paul Honigford is expected to be even better after an eye-opening freshman season and he’ll be rejoined by 6-2 senior forward David Gerber and 5-11 senior guard Devin Schie, who happen to be the school’s quarterback and running back in the fall. Junior Brennan Mullett is expected to help Schie with some of the backcourt duties and Shutt has plenty of other candidates such as Caleb Hostetler and Luke Yoder, two more diminutive seniors. “Our keys to success will be being able to take care of the ball and not turn it over and finding players who can come off the bench and contribute,” Shutt said.

Also Keep An Eye On

Chillicothe Huntington, Dayton Christian, Ironton, Portsmouth, Smithville.

– Jeff Rapp

Division IV New Knoxville enters season with 54 wins in last 55 games Photo by Nick Falzerano

Archbold The Blue Streaks are looking for more success even after losing district POY Gene Goering, a 6-3 guard who scored 20.1 ppg. Cincinnati North College Hill Onetime home of former Mr. Basketball O.J. Mayo is a perennial D-III contender.

Beverly Fort Frye The Cadets figure to be led by seniors Brandt Thieman and Jarrod Arnold. Thieman can play all over the court at 6-4.

Maria Stein Marion Local The losses for the Flyers include the aptly named Jordan Winner, a 6-6 inside force who will be hard to replace.

Wheelersburg Tom Barrick says his team is not a contender this year but some believe the 15th-year coach still has a dangerous outfit.

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New Knoxville junior Ryan Vanderhorst is one of four starters back for defending champs. ew Knoxville had a storybook 2007-08 season in which it held the No. 1 ranking by the Associated Press, went undefeated with a 27-0 record and captured the Division IV state championship. What can the Rangers do for an encore? Well,

Photo by Gary Housteau

Top Players: Who You Want To See in D-III

Sophomore Paul Honigford is one of the state’s top players in the Class of 2011. they certainly welcome back a fantastic nucleus with four returning starters and will be one of the favorites all year. However, there are several talented teams across Ohio waiting to knock them off their throne and establish themselves as the premier Division IV team in the state. For the smallest division in the state, D-IV also has more than its share of top college prospects, led by center Adreian Payne from Dayton Jefferson. This season has all the makings of another exciting year on the hardwood and here is our complete rundown of the division.

Teams To Watch

Here are some of the key contenders in Division IV:

Bedford St. Peter Chanel The Firebirds were state semifinalists last year (17-9) and return all five starters, led by the highflying 6-6 senior forward Lamar McKnight. Chanel was just 12-8 in the regular season last season, but caught fire in the tournament before bowing out to Worthington Christian in Columbus, 66-58. This year, many insiders think they will once again contend for the state’s top prize. “They are the most athletic team in the state in Division IV,” Hoop Scoop Ohio editor Chris Johnson said. Last season, the Firebirds’ biggest victory was a 75-65 win over Malvern in the regional finals. Malvern was 25-0 at the time and ranked No. 2 in the state behind New Knoxville. McKnight is a force in the paint and he will play Division I college basketball at Youngstown State. And he has plenty of help returning with four other seniors that return to the lineup. They include 5-11 point guard JoVaughn Brown (14 points, 6.5 assists), 6-4 forward Arthur Jordan (12 points, 8 rebounds), 5-10 guard Jareed Robinson and 6-2 wing Jordan Duke. The head coach is Bernie Tarr, who is in his ninth season at Chanel. Dayton Jefferson Last season, the Broncos (18-6) saw their season end abruptly after it was learned they had an ineligible player. Jefferson defeated Lockland 83-

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High School Boys Basketball Preview

Top Players: Who You Want To See in D-IV * Aramis Greenwood, 6-1, So., G, Fairport Harbor Harding – Was named second-team All-Ohio last year (23 points per game). * Chad Harvey, 6-2, Sr., G/F, Ironton St. Joseph – Was named first-team All-Ohio last year (21.6 ppg). * Brian Hecker, 6-4, Sr., F, Worthington Christian – Selected as the D-IV state player of the year last season (21.3 ppg, 7.6 rebounds per game) and averaged 18.1 points as a sophomore (third-team All-Ohio). * Lamar McKnight 6-6, Sr., F/C, Bedford St. Peter Chanel – Already accepted a scholarship offer to Youngstown State. Third-team All-Ohio last year (16 ppg). * Adreian Payne, 6-9, Jr., C, Dayton Jefferson – Hands down the most highly-recruited player in the state in Division IV. He is a top-25 national recruit and had several scholarship offers by press time, including one from Ohio State. Was named second-team All-Ohio last year (15.4 ppg). * Brad Piehl, 6-7, Sr., C, New Knoxville – Leading scorer and rebounder on state championship squad should have even bigger year this season. Headed to Robert Morris. * Tyler Tucci, 6-2, Sr., G/ F, Malvern – First-team All-Ohio as a sophomore and second-team All-Ohio last season (17.3 ppg). * Brook Turson, 6-3, Jr., G/F, Plymouth – Was named second-team All-Ohio last year (21.5 ppg).

59 for the district championship, but then learned four days later from the OHSAA that the team would not be permitted to play in the regional tournament. Lockland, which was ranked No. 4 in the state by the AP with a 22-1 record entering the game against Jefferson, ended up advancing in place of the Broncos. The Broncos have one of the best players in the nation in 6-9 junior center Adreian Payne who is a force on both ends of the floor. His recruitment has been a mystery as he’s kept everything close to the vest, not wanting to let anyone know where he’s leaning. Payne lives with his grandmother in Dayton and is very close to her and many in his inner circle feel that he will stay close to home. Ohio State could be the favorite, but Cincinnati, Dayton and Xavier are also in the running. Jefferson’s head coach Art Winston is entering his 13th year at the helm.

Haviland Wayne Trace The Raiders were state semifinalists last year (21-5) but they lost all five starters to graduation and head coach Al Welch decided to retire after 33 years. Wayne Trace won the D-IV state title in 1991 and made a total of four appearances in the state final four during Welch’s impressive tenure. The only player that received a lot of playing time last year that returns this season is 5-9 senior guard Kevin Hale. He was one of the first two players off the bench last year. The new head coach is Jim Linder.

Malvern The Hornets had a great season last year in which they finished 25-1 and were ranked No. 2 in the state behind New Knoxville at the conclusion of the regular season. They lost to Bedford Chanel in the regional finals and must replace 6-6 center Zak Kapron, who averaged 20.7 points and was named first-team All-Ohio. Also lost to graduation was 6-5 forward Trevor Halter, who averaged 18.1 points and was a first-team all-district selection. However, returning to lead the way is 6-2 senior

guard Tyler Tucci who was named second-team all-state last year and first-team all-state two years ago. Tucci was also the district co-player of the year last season (along with Kapron). The head coach is Dennis Tucci.

New Knoxville The Rangers were unbeatable last year – literally. They rolled through the season with an undefeated record (27-0) and won the first boys basketball state championship in school history with a 7452 dismantling of a very good Worthington Christian team in the finals. And unfortunately for the rest of D-IV, they might be even better this year. They lost just one player from their starting lineup, but he was a good one. Point guard Tony Meyer averaged 12.1 points per game, 5.1 assists and 3.5 steals. He was named conference player of the year, first-team all-district and second-team all-state. However, the rest of the starters return intact led by 6-7 senior center Brad Piehl, who was the team’s leading scorer (13.7) and rebounder (6.2) last year. He was named first-team all-conference and third-team all-district. Piehl was New Knoxville’s leading scorer in the state title game with 16 points and has already accepted a scholarship to Robert Morris University. Other returning starters are 6-2 senior forward Austin Arnett (11.3 points, 2.9 assists, 1.9 steals), 6-3 junior forward Ryan Vanderhorst (9.1 points, 5.2 assists) and 6-0 senior guard Caleb Allen. The head coach is New Knoxville alumnus Dan Hegemier, who ranks 61st all-time in Ohio high school basketball (all divisions) with 444 wins (444169, winning percentage of .724). He coached at Fort Loramie earlier in his career (where his teams won state titles in 1987 and 1993) and is entering his 27th season as a head coach. Oak Hill The Oaks finished with a 21-4 record last year and advanced all the way to the regional finals where they fell to Worthington Christian. Returning

Photo by Nick Falzerano

Worthington Christian senior Brian Hecker is a two-time All-Ohioan. to lead this year’s team is 6-foot junior guard Kyle Ondera who was named first-team all-district last season (12.9 points). Ryan Borden, a 6-2 senior, was named second-team all-district last year (11.9 points) and J.D. Hale, a 6-5 senior, was named third-team all-district (12.2 points). Joining the lineup this year will be 6-3 sophomore wing Jesse Sloane. The head coach is Norm Persin.

Worthington Christian The Warriors were state runners-up last year (26-2) and they return three starters, including the reigning state player of the year in 6-4 senior forward Brian Hecker. The other returning starters are bruising 6-2 senior forward Brady Beals (who racked up 9.5 rebounds per game last year) and 59 junior point guard Zach Joseph. Worthington Christian lost second-team all-district selection Tyler Joseph to graduation (he averaged 15.4 points). However, younger brother Zach averaged 13.4 points and was named third-team all-district. Joining the lineup this year will be 6-4 senior forward Nick Thomas. As for Hecker, he had a phenomenal season, but was left with a bad taste in his mouth entering the offseason after being held to a season-low four points in the state championship game. The Warriors have the team to go very deep in the postseason once again this season under head coach Kevin Weakley. Worthington Christian won the D-IV state championship in 1999 and finished as runners-up in 1994 (Weakley – who is also the school’s athletic director – was a player on that team).

Also Keep An Eye On

Canal Winchester Harvest Prep, Cincinnati Seven Hills, Columbus Africentric, Columbus Tree of Life, Defiance Ayersville, Fairport Harbor Harding, Glouster Trimble, Houston, Ironton St. Joseph, Lockland, Plymouth, Van Buren, Waterford, Windham.

– Dave Biddle

Log onto JJHuddle.com for complete statewide basketball coverage and the state’s most active forums 365 days a year. JJHuddle is your home for Ohio high school basketball. You ready for tip-off? We are.

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Garrick Sherman

STORY BY STEVE HELWAGEN

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Dame were very interested. Coach Izzo and his staff showed a lot of interest last fall and into the winter. I think they have enjoyed a lot of success in that program under Coach Izzo over the last decade. If Michigan State is interested in a kid, that will instantly get their attention. “I think Garrick wants the opportunity to participate in that Michigan State program and continue the suc-

Sherman averaged 23.7 points, 15.5 rebounds and 5 blocks last season.

Photo by Kenton times/Kendrick Jesionowski

he state of Ohio has produced its share of top basketball talent in recent years. At various times in recent years, the state’s top prospect was LeBron James, Daequan Cook, O.J. Mayo, Kosta Koufos, B.J. Mullens and William Buford. All of those players were essentially household names who were considered among the nation’s best prospects. That is why the state’s top prospect for 2009 may seem out of place. But he could also be the best player you have never heard of and, like most of those predecessors, he will be playing college basketball at the highest level. Kenton center Garrick Sherman is the preseason pick as the top boys basketball prospect in the state for the 2009 class, according to Ohio High magazine. The 6-10, 240-pound Sherman has already committed to play at perennial Big Ten power Michigan State. Sherman was a man among boys last year in earning player of the year honors in the Western Buckeye League. Sherman averaged 23.7 points, 15.5 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game for a team that ended up 17-5. He shot 68.2 percent from the floor. He was second-team All-Ohio in Division II. “Garrick is a very skilled big man,” said Kenton coach Terry Rowe. “But he has also put the time in to become that skilled. The first three years I have coached him, he has made tremendous progress each year. For a big man, his passing skills and ballhandling skills are something you don’t usually see.” Sherman is no johnny-come-lately. He averaged roughly 16 points and 16 rebounds as a freshman at Kenton. As a sophomore, he averaged 16.4 points and earned Special Mention All-Ohio in Division II. “He has started here for us from day one,” Rowe said. “He has been a double-double guy since his freshman year. In fact, I think he has had at least 10 rebounds in every varsity game he has ever played. That says a lot about his consistency and effort level. “He is already the all-time leading scorer at our high school and he is also approaching 1,000 rebounds in his career.” While Sherman operated in relative anonymity in rural northwest Ohio, several major colleges did take notice. He had a number of offers before committing to Michigan State and coach Tom Izzo on March 17. “I just went there and I knew that was where I wanted to go,” Sherman said. “Coach Izzo is a Hall of Fame coach. It is a great atmosphere. Their arena, the Breslin Center, is about as good as it gets.” Sherman had offers from Purdue, Notre Dame, Iowa and a host of MAC schools. Rowe talked about the process that led Sherman to Michigan State, which has been to four NCAA Final Fours in the last decade and also boasts the 2000 NCAA title under Izzo. “I think Michigan State got into the game late in the recruiting process,” Rowe said. “Iowa and Notre

“He has been a double-double guy since his freshman year. In fact, I think he has had at least 10 rebounds in every varsity game he has ever played.” Kenton head coach Terry Rowe

cess they have had there. He understands how a lot of big men have gone in there and had a lot of success.” Rowe said Sherman gained notoriety and also improved his game playing in AAU events with the Columbus Basketball Club and also by participating in various national camp events. “He was injured between his freshman and sophomore years,” Rowe said. “He didn’t get as much gym time in that off-season. But since then, he has added a lot of muscle and he is constantly in the gym working out and working on his game. “We definitely saw when Garrick went out between his sophomore and junior year to play great competition that it definitely made him a lot better. With his upper and lower-body strength, he became a lot more comfortable around the hoop. When he was a sophomore, if he was pushed or had contact, he would change his shot. “I think it was a great experience for Garrick to get

out there nationally and improve his game. Plus, he did quite well.” At the NBA Players Association camp in June, Sherman ended up as one of the top rebounders. “The talent level at the camp was amazing,” Sherman said. “Everybody there was a good player. It was a lot of fun. It was the first time I had been to a big-time camp. It was a great challenge. “I try to find a balance between the AAU ball and the high school team,” Sherman said. “Our high school coach doesn’t schedule a lot of stuff in the summer, but I still have a chance to play with my high school team. Plus, I can go out and play against good competition. “I took a week off after the season and a week off in July after AAU. That’s it. I’m always in the gym trying to get better.” Sherman has a scholarship to Michigan State. But he understands he is not a finished product. When asked what makes him a special player, he said, “I would probably say my post moves and my overall post play. I think I am a pretty good post defender and a pretty good defender. “But I know I have a lot of things to improve on. That’s why the NBAPA camp was great for me. I got a chance to use some of my post moves against bigger people. I know I need better balance.” This past year, Kenton was ousted early with a sectional tournament loss to Shelby. As a senior, Sherman said he would like to make a deep run. “We should be better,” he said. “We lost six seniors who played, but we actually might be improved. Some of those seniors didn’t do that much. It will all depend how the young guys play.” According to Rowe, Sherman will be joined by senior guard Chase Barnes as a returning starter. Barnes averaged 11 points as a sophomore and 13 a game last year as a junior. “We hope we can have some success this year,” Rowe said. “We lost a lot of guys off our team from last year, but we have our two leading scorers returning. We are going to be kind of young, but I think we are confident we can put the best group of shooters around Garrick that we have had in his four years here. “We have guys coming in with the capability to shoot the ball. We will probably have some freshmen and sophomores that will need to contribute. We will need to jell early on.” Sherman said he isn’t worried much about holding up the mantel of being the state’s top prospect. “It is great to hear that and get that kind of respect,” he said. “But I am still going to Michigan State. That is what I am most proud of. I am just looking to get better.” At the high school level, Sherman plays the center spot. He figures to be a power forward at MSU. “Coach Izzo said I would likely play the four, but I could play the five in some lineups,” said Sherman, who plans on signing with MSU during the early signing period in November. “I want to get stronger and quicker. I’ll try to extend my game to 15-to-17 feet so I can play the four. Being able to pass and rebound are something I’ve always taken pride in.” Under Izzo, Michigan State has been an NCAA Tournament fixture and a Big Ten championship contender. Sherman is hoping to carry on that tradition. “It is a great challenge,” Sherman said. “I am really excited and looking forward to it. We are expected to win. That is great to have a chance to go there. I want to go there and help them win championships.” —

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High School Girls Basketball Preview

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Photo by Nick Falzerano

Hathaway Brown and Lima Bath, seen here in the 2008 state semifinals, each have enough talent and experience returning to get back to Columbus.

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STORY BY OHIO HIGH STAFF

Division I Mount Notre Dame set to add to dynasty in big-school division Photo by Gary Housteau

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MND senior Kendall Hackney is headed to the University of Southern California.

ometimes, things just click. And for Mount Notre Dame girls basketball, things have been clicking for some time. The Cougars made OHSAA history last season winning the Division I state title for the third straight year and it’s fourth in the last five years. Last season’s title wasn’t without a bit of controversy, though, as freshman Kathryn Reynolds netted a layup at the buzzer to down southwest Ohio rival West Chester Lakota West 69-67 in the title game. The Lakota West side argued that Reynolds got the shot off late – but without official review – the call stood. Regardless, there is no questioning the dominance of the MND program or that of southwest Ohio – particularly the Cincinnati area – in recent years. The last six state champions have hailed from that area of the state and early on it appears we can expect much of the same for the 2008-09 season. The following is a look at the top players and teams in Division I to keep an eye on for the upcoming girls basketball season:

I:

Teams To Watch

Here are some of the key contenders in Division

Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame Dante Harlan is entering his third season as MND head coach with a 49-6 record and is aiming to continue the winning tradition he helped build as

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High School Girls Basketball Preview

Top Players: Who You Want To See in D-I * Tiffani Blackman, 5-10, Jr., P, Toledo Start – The Collegiate Girls Basketball Report (CGBR) has Blackman rated as the No. 27. small forward in the country for the Class of 2010. * Phylesha Bullard, 6-1, Jr., P, Cincinnati Walnut Hills – Bullard had 12.8 points and 5.0 rebounds last season for district finalist Walnut Hills. She is rated as the No. 20 small forward in the country in her class by CGBR. * Shawnta Dyer, 6-1½ , Jr., P, Marion Harding – Dyer is the No. 49 rated player in the country for the Class of 2010 by the CGBR following last season’s district championship. * Ashley Fowler, 5-6, Sr., PG, Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame – Fowler has been the quarterback of the MND offense in each of the last three state championships running the point since her freshman season. She is rated as one of the top 25 players in the state in her class and is an Ohio University recruit. * Kendall Hackney, 6-2, Sr., F, Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame – Hackney has been named the most outstanding player in the state tournament each of the last two years in MND’s last two state title runs. She averaged 12.4 points per game last season. Hackney is rated as the No. 17 player in the country at her position and No. 94 overall by the CGBR. She is a University of Southern California recruit. * Emilee Harmon, 6-2, Sr., W, Pickerington Central – Harmon earned first-team All-Ohio honors last season for the regional semifinalist Tigers averaging 18.8 points per game. Ohio State recruit, she is rated as the No. 7 prospect in the country at her position by the CGBR and No. 43 overall. * Dayeesha Hollins, 5-6, Sr., PG, Cincinnati Winton Woods – Hollins shot 50.9 percent from the field last season (good for fifth in the Fort Ancient Valley Conference) and averaged 11.7 points, 3.4 steals and 2.9 assists per game. She was named first team all-conference and verbally committed to the University of Michigan in early July. The CGBR has her rated as the No. 26 point guard in the country. * Natasha Howard, 6-3, Jr., PF, Toledo Waite – Howard earned first-team All-Ohio honors last season with 17.6 points and 12 rebounds per game. Both were tops in the Toledo City League. She was named the Toledo Blade Player of the Year and is considered by many to be the best girls cager to come out of that area in many years. The CGBR has Howard rated as the No. 2 power forward in the country for her class and No. 8 overall. * Brianna Jones, 6-2, Sr., PF/C, Toledo Central Catholic – Jones poured in 13.2 points per game last season for the state semifinalist Lady Irish. She rated as the No. 22 center in the country for her class by the CGBR and verbally committed to Illinois in late September. * T’Shera Lucas, 5-9, Jr., P, Reynoldsburg – The CGBR has Lucas rated as the No. 37 small forward in the country for her class. * Darryce Moore, 6-2, Jr., C, Youngstown Boardman – Moore committed to Ohio State in mid-October and is rated as the No. 14 center in the country in her class by the CGBR. * Allison Papenfus, 6-0, Sr., Whitehouse Anthony Wayne – Netting 21.1 points per game last season, Papenfus was named to the All-Ohio second team for Anthony Wayne and is a Bowling Green recruit. * Karisma Penn, 6-2, Sr., Shaker Heights – Penn earned third-team All-Ohio honors in the 2007-08 campaign with 19.3 points per game. She is rated as the No. 15 player in the country at her position by the CGBR. * Alexis Rogers, 6-1, Sr., PF/W, West Chester Lakota West – Rogers finished last season No. 7 in scoring in the Greater Miami Conference with 12.3 points per game and she led the conference in field goal percentage with a mark of 52.7 percent. Rogers, who is rated as the No. 2 power forward in the country and No. 23 overall, is a Duke recruit. * Mikaela Ruef, 6-3, Sr., W, Beavercreek – Ruef led the Greater Western Ohio Conference in rebounding last year with 11.2 per game and also contributed 13.1 points for district finalist Beavercreek. She is rated as the No. 27 player in the country by the CGBR and verbally committed to play college ball at Stanford in late September. * Brianna Sanders, 5-11, Sr., G, Cincinnati Princeton – Sanders played only about half the season last year but still managed to average 7.5 points per game for the Lady Vikings. She is rated at the No. 30 guard in the in country in her class by the CGBR and is an Ohio State recruit. * Cassie Sant, 6-2, Jr., C, Kettering Fairmont – The CGBR has Sant rated as the No. 40 center in the country for the Class of 2010. * Jasmine Shaw, 5-7, Sr., G, Cincinnati Winton Woods – Shaw led the FAVC is steals last season with 3.9 per game while netting 12.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. The CGBR has Shaw rated as the No. 47 small guard in the country for her class. * Gabby Smith, 5-10, Sr., G, Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame – Smith contributed 12 points per game last season for the state champion Cougars and has been a vital playmaker for MND since her freshman year. She is a Vanderbilt recruit. The CGBR has her rated as the No. 60 small guard in the country in her class. * Taylor Stanton, 6-0, Jr., P, Cincinnati Walnut Hills – Stanton poured in 14.6 points and 9.9 rebounds in 23 games last season. The CGBR has her rated as the No. 32 small forward in the country for the Class of 2010. * Asia Taylor, 6-1, Sr., PF/W, Columbus Whetstone – Taylor averaged 21 points per game last season and is a University of Louisville recruit selecting the Cardinals over major Big Ten, Big 12, Big East and ACC programs. She is rated as the No. 23 power forward in the country for the Class of 2009. * Samarie Walker, 6-1, Jr., W, Dayton Chaminade-Julienne – Walker was named first-team All-Southwest District and was an All-Ohio Special Mention honoree last season. She is currently considered the top prospect in the country for the Class of 2010 by ESPN.com’s HoopGurlz and is rated No. 2 by the CGBR.

A Special Thanks goes to Tom Jenkins of the Ohio Girls Basketball Report and Daniel Olson of the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report for their help in obtaining information for these previews.

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High School Girls Basketball Preview an assistant coach and now as the leading man. MND graduated five seniors from last season’s title team but only two starters. This will be a seniorladen team with 5-6 senior Ashley Fowler at guard and 6-2 senior forward Kendall Hackney and 5-10 senior guard Gabby Smith on the wings taking the reins. Super sophomore Kathryn Reynolds will play an even bigger role this season after exploding onto the scene her first season of high school basketball. Other role players include seniors Maria Redwine, Kara Friedman and Evy Iacono in the front court and seniors Amanda Wilken and Kristi Dricoll and junior Shelby Kissell in the front court. Freshman Raeshawn Gaffney and Jazmin Hayes will see time in Redwine’s and Friedman’s positions as well. So, will MND make it an unprecedented fourth straight state title this season? On paper, it certainly looks like the Cougars have all the parts of the puzzle in place to put it all together.

Cincinnati Princeton The Lady Vikings finished 16-6 last season and were bounced out of the postseason in the district semifinals. In her seventh season as head coach, Jill Phillips is looking to take Princeton to the next step in a buzz saw of a region but will have to do it without eight seniors from last season’s team. Standout 5-11 senior guard Brianna Sanders looks to rebound from last season after missing nearly half the schedule due to injury. If she can stay healthy, she will provide the spark Princeton needs against a tough nonconference and Greater Miami Conference schedule. Senior forward Jerrhonda Stallworth saw about 21 minutes per game last season contributing 5.6 points and 2.6 rebounds. Cincinnati Walnut Hills Walnut Hills was ousted out of the postseason last year by eventual state champion MND but not before claiming the Fort Ancient Valley Conference Cardinal Division title with a perfect 10-0 record in the league.Taylor Stanton, a 6-0 junior post, is the center of the team – figuratively and literally. Joining Stanton this season will be senior forward Taylor Ware (19.0 ppg) and Bullard.

Cincinnati Winton Woods The Lady Warriors finished a perfect 10-0 in the Fort Ancient Valley Conference Buckeye Division to claim the league title and finished the season 23-2 falling to Oak Hills by seven in the regional semifinals.Winton Woods loses seven seniors from last season’s squad but 5-6 senior point guard Dayeesha Hollins and 5-7 senior point guard Jasmine Shaw will provide leadership on and off the court this season. Seniors Vora Smith and Samantha Partore will step into starting roles in the front court after seeing limited action last season.

Dayton Chaminade-Julienne Like MND, C-J is another girls basketball program that has enjoyed great success. From the state title in 2005 to the runner-up finishes in 2001 and 2004 to Ms. Basketball award winners Tamika Williams and Maria Getty, the Lady Eagles are a mainstay on the statewide scene.

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And this season should be no different. It doesn’t hurt to have the top player in the country for the Class of 2010 in 6-1 junior wing Samari Walker but to also have junior post Shene Fleming, senior point guard Tyesha Jones and junior post Mileah Walker also helps. C-J finished last season 19-5 falling to state runner-up Lakota West in the district championship but has its sights on soaring back into the state tournament. Shaker Heights Shaker Heights reached a district championship game last season under fifth-year head coach Don Readance but the Raiders are looking for bigger things this season. With two starters returning in 6-2 senior post Karisma Penn and senior guard Jasmine Jones coupled with seniors A’licia Harrell and Tai WrightBey in the frontcourt and senior Charday Robinson in the back court, Shaker Heights could take that next step this season coming out of the region. Junior guard Byanca Henderson and junior forward Mary Clair were regular contributors last season and will have a presence on the court this season as well. Khadijah Young is a point guard transfer from Revere and will be a difference maker in the back court.

in the paint as all five players saw significant time last season. This Boardman team has the experience and potential to bring the state title back to northeast Ohio – the first since North Canton Hoover’s championship in 2002.

Also Keep An Eye On

Toledo Start, Green, Marion Harding, Pickerington Central, Mason, North Canton Hoover, Kettering Fairmont, Beavercreek, Akron Kenmore, Springboro, Dublin Scioto, Dublin Coffman, Solon, Lorain Admiral King, Toledo Waite, Mayfield, Twinsburg and Canton McKinley

– Matt Natali

Division II Top teams from last season all in the mix once again

Toledo Central Catholic The Lady Irish were a state semifinalist for the sixth time in school history last season but TCC was denied its first trip to the title game falling to MND. Following the graduation of seven seniors, the Lady Irish will rely on the leadership and play of 6-2 senior center Brianna Jones and senior guard Ashley Sujkowski against a tough Toledo City League schedule.

West Chester Lakota West Noticeably missing from this season’s Lady Firebirds squad will be Ms. Basketball award winner and McDonald’s All-American Amber Gray, who is playing her college ball for Tennessee. In addition to the departure of Gray, six other seniors from last season have moved on. Standout 6-1 senior forward Alexis Rogers will be the focal point of the West squad while senior guard Tess Elkins and junior Brittany Harriel step into the post. Post Erica Almady has moved to Cleveland and is now at Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown. Despite taking a heavy hit to graduation, West still needs to be considered one of the top teams in the state as head coach Andy Fishman has built a formidable, successful program in his 12 seasons at the helm. Youngstown Boardman The Spartans reached the state tournament for just the second time in school history last season. Though All-Ohio selection Courtney Schiffauer is off to Michigan State, she is only one of two seniors lost from last season’s team making Boardman a legitimate contender to get back to Columbus. Senior guards Katie Fiffick and Emily Abraham will be featured in the backcourt as well as junior Doriyon Glass and Monica Touvelle, although Glass has battled injury in the offseason. Junior post Darryce Moore, an Ohio State recruit, will hold court

A

Photo by Nick Falzerano

Alter junior Ashley Christie played huge in the state final last year (20 points).

lways the bridesmaid and never the bride… That has been the story for the Shaker Height Hathaway Brown girls basketball team the last two years, reaching the state tournament back-to-back years but coming home empty-handed both times. The Blazers bowed out in the semifinals in 2007 and in the championship game last season, but this Hathaway Brown team could finally hoist the trophy after this season’s campaign with a wealth of talent and experience returning. However, defending champ Kettering Alter should not be discounted yet as the Lady Knights lost little from last season and return a solid core from its title team.

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High School Girls Basketball Preview Lima Bath, a state semifinalist from a year ago, also has a good chance to return to Columbus after graduating just one senior from last year. Beyond last year’s final four, the usual suspects should be expected to excel on the D-II court this season, including Akron Hoban and Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit among others. Keep an eye out for the up-in-coming Cincinnati Indian Hill squad under the direction of coach Scott Rogers. Rogers built the Mount Notre Dame powerhouse in Division I with four final four appearances in six years and three state championships. The following is a look at the top players and teams in Division II to keep an eye on for the upcoming girls basketball season:

Teams To Watch

The following are some of the key contenders in Division II:

Akron Hoban The Lady Knights lose just three seniors from last season’s regional semifinal team and return All-Ohio special Mention Rachel Tecca. Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary Joe Jakubick is entering his third season as the Irish head coach. His team lost some key seniors to graduation but return seven letter winners that gained experience last season during the run at the district championship game. SVSM faces a tough schedule with tilts against Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit, Akron Hoban, South Euclid Regina and Hathaway Brown but the Irish are confident with the return of sophomore point guard Courtney Taylor.

Canfield The Cardinals fell to state runner-up Hathaway Brown 45-41 in the regional championship last season and lose three starters off that team, including 6-4 center Kate Popovec, who is now playing at Pittsburgh. Junior guard Jillian Halfhill will run the point again and Anokha Padubidri returns in the front court for the Cardinals. Senior guard/forward Kalie Luklan will join Halfhill in the back court. Junior guard Rachael O’Hara and sophomore guard Kaitlin Kaleel will play more prominent roles this season. Cincinnati Indian Hill The Braves finished 15-8 last season and third in the Cincinnati Hills League but could have the tools to build a run at the state tournament this season. Senior forward Amy Taylor finished fifth in the league in scoring with 12.1 points per game and fourth in rebounds with 8.4. Junior guard Aubrey Rogers, daughter of head coach Scott Rogers, had 2.9 assists per game – good enough for fourth in the CHL. Junior center Morgan Givens is expected to fill the role Mackenzie Rolls left behind. She saw action in 14 games last year and had 2.4 points and 1.5 rebounds. Freshman point guard Nicole Bell has the Indian Hill coaching staff excited as well. Columbus Mifflin State semifinalist Mifflin loses five seniors from last season’s team, including three starters. Senior

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Top Players: Who You Want To See in D-II * Erica Almady, 6-1, Jr., F, Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown – Almady played in 21 games for Division I state runner-up West Chester Lakota West last season averaging 4.7 points per game but has moved north and will suit up for the Blazers this season. She is the No. 10 rated player at her position in the country and No. 82 overall by the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report (CGBR). * Mary Brunner, 5-11, Sr., Kettering Alter – Brunner netted 12 points in the state title game for the champion Knights and averaged 3.5 per game in last season’s title run. * Ashley Christie, 5-7, Jr., G, Kettering Alter – Christie averaged 8.7 points per game last season as a sophomore and had a game high 20 points in the state championship. * Molly Crosby, 6-2, Sr., P, Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown – The transfer from Chagrin Falls Kenston will contribute to the Blazers and vie for a starting position. * Kari Daugherty, 6-2, Sr., P, Warsaw River View – Daugherty has started for River View since her freshman season and won back-to-back state titles her first two years of high school ball. She was named to the Division I AllOhio first team last year with 21.0 points per game and is a University of Dayton recruit where her older sister, Kristin, is a sophomore guard for the Flyers. Daugherty is rated as the No. 27 player in the country at her position and No. 148 overall by the CGBR. * Ashley Dennis, 6-1, Sr., W, Bexley – Dennis earned second-team All-Ohio honors last season with 17.5 points per game for district semifinalist Bexley. She is a Stetson recruit * Alexis Dobbs, 5-5, Jr., PG, Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown – Dobbs started for the state runner-up Blazers last season running the point and scoring 8.6 points per game earning all-state Special Mention recognition. * Jillian Halfhill, 5-5, Jr., G, Canfield – Michigan State in hot pursuit of this All-Ohio Honorable Mention selection. She is ranked as the No. 48 player in the country at her position by the CGBR. * Catheryn Hardy, 5-11, Sr., F, Dayton Oakwood – Hardy is committed to the College of Charleston (S.C.) and was All-Ohio Honorable Mention last season. * Nicki Hopkins, 5-6, Jr., G, Lima Bath – Hopkins started for Lima Bath on its run to the state final four with 7.7 points per game. She is a Buffalo recruit. * Tanisha Lawler, 5-6, So., W, Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown – Lawler is slated to start for the Blazers this season and is considered one of the top players in the state for her class by the Ohio Girls Basketball Report (OGBR). * Patricia Mack, 5-11, Sr., P, Columbus Mifflin – Mack had 9.0 points per game for the state semifinalist Lady Punchers last season. * Rachael Mauk, 5-10, Sr., Lima Bath – The Central Michigan recruit contributed 16.6 points per game last season for the state semifinalist Wilkittens and was All-Ohio Honorable Mention. * Stephanie Mauk, 5-10, Sr., G, Lima Bath – Mauk netted 18.7 points per game last season for the state semifinal Wildkittens earning second-team All-Ohio recognition. She is a Central Michigan recruit. * Amy Scullion, 6-1, Jr., P/W, Salem – Scullion already has an offer to Penn State after earning All-Ohio Special Mention recognition last season. She is rated as the No. 2 player in the country at her position by the CGBR. * Courtney Taylor, So., PG, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary – Taylor returns from injury this season and is considered a top player in Ohio in her class by the OGBR as a major Division I college prospect. * Mylan Woods, 5-10, Jr., G, Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown – Woods has led the Blazers to the state tournament each of the last two season reaching the title game last year. She was named was to the All-Ohio first team last season with 13.2 points per game. Michigan State has offered and Northwestern, Connecticut and Cincinnati have all shown interest. She is the No. 9 rated small forward in the country by the CGBR.

Top Players: Who You Want To See in D-III * Chelsea Bowker, 5-10, Sr., F, Columbiana Crestview – Named second-team All-Ohio last year after averaging 25 ppg. * Jackie Cook, 5-11, Sr., F, South Euclid Regina – Cook comes to Regina after transferring from Medina Highland mid-season last year. Through 13 games at Highland, Cook was averaging 23 points and 11.2 rebounds. She’s headed to Old Dominion. * Tay’ler Mingo, 5-5, Jr., PG, South Euclid Regina – Royals leading returning scorer (10.2 ppg) is arguably the division’s top player. Mingo is ranked as the No. 5 point guard nationally and the No. 21 prospect overall in the Class of 2010 by the prestigious College Girls Basketball Report. She is being courted by every Top 25 program. * Taylor Ruper, 5-7, Sr., G, Garfield Heights Trinity – Akron recruit was second-team All-Ohio last year after averaging 21.2 ppg. She also logged 123 rebounds, 63 assists, 57 steals and 57 3-pointers. * Ally Malott, 6-1, So., C, Middletown Madison – Standout post is one of the top three recruits in Ohio – regardless of division – in the Class of 2011 according to CBGR. Malott averaged 13.5 ppg as a freshman en route to first-team All-Southwest District and special mention All-Ohio honors * Taylor Langenderfer, 5-6, Sr., G, Metamora Evergeen – Named second-team All-Ohio last year after averaging 18.3 ppg. * Katie Mengos, 5-7, Sr., G, Casstown Miami East – Third-team All-Ohio after averaging 11.5 ppg last year. * K.C. Elkins, 5-6, Jr., G, West Jefferson – Point guard was third-team All-Ohio after averaging 20.5 ppg.

Continued on Page 48

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High School Girls Basketball Preview post Patricia Mack and guard Alisa Marshall will take the floor again and will have to lead a young squad following last season’s run. Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit The Warriors lose four seniors from last season’s district finalist team, including third-team All-Ohio selection Brianna Sergerson. Senior All-Ohio Honorable Mention Amy Gardner will take on the leadership role of this year’s team and incoming freshman point guard Rachel Theriot and freshman post player Elizabeth Reeves are expected to step into key roles immediately.

Kettering Alter The Lady Knights won their first girls basketball state title last season with a convincing 60-46 win over heavy favorite Hathaway Brown. Alter lost only three seniors from that squad but they were the main cogs of last season’s success. However, the cupboard is not empty. Guard Ashley Christie is the next in line to take the reins of the program in only her junior season as well as senior Mary Bruner and junior guard Ali Mygrants. Sophomore wing Kaila Howe is a youngster that saw plenty of floor time last season and gained valuable experience. Don’t be surprised if a return trip to Columbus in March is in the cards for the Lady Knights this season.

Lima Bath Four starters returning from last year’s state semifinalist team make the Wildkittens legitimate contenders to return to the state tournament this season. The Mauk twins, seniors Rachel and Stephanie, captained last season’s team and are the natural leaders for this season under the tutelage of their uncle Greg Mauk, who is entering his 11th season as head coach. Senior guard McKenzie Snoke was also a co-captain and guard Stephanie Sanders and junior guard Nicki Hopkins provide experience and talent on the floor. Sophomores Alyssa Brandon in the post and Emily Mauk, daughter of head coach Greg Mauk, at guard are two upand-coming players in the program that will also contribute this season. Lima Bath won the state championship in 1987. Sandusky Perkins Perkins was a regional finalist last season but noticeably missing from this year’s Lady Pirates team will be D-II Player of the Year Cierra Bravard (Florida State) and second-team All-Ohio pick Trisha Krewson (Bucknell). Senior Bethany Caudill returns to run the point position and junior wing Mallory Mullins will contribute on the floor but the Lady Pirates could have a hard time making a long run in the postseason due to inexperience. Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown The Blazers have finished their past two seasons in the state tournament but have failed to come home with the hardware both times. D-II Coach of the Year Paul Barlow hopes to buck that trend this year and this could very well be the team to do so. The Blazers are the only D-II team in the state that can start five Division I college prospects (5-10 junior forwaard Mylan Woods, 5-5 junior guard Alexis Dobbs, 6-1 junior post Erica Almady, 6-2 sen-

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ior post Molly Crosby and 5-6 sophomore wing Tanisha Lawler) and the only team that will be able to go nine deep. Woods is rated as one of the top players in the country in her class by the CGBR and Dobbs is rated as the No. 21 point guard in the nation. Off the bench will be senior wing Lauren Ryan, who was a major contributor last year, and senior post Ashley Benedict. Sophomores Sarah Poland in the post and Alanna Guy on the wing will also provide depth off the bench. Crosby is a key addition transferring in from Kenston

Also Keep An Eye On

Kenton Ridge, Tipp City Tippecanoe, New Albany, Bellbrook, Bucyrus, Minerva, Salem, Ravenna Southeast, Parma Heights Holy Name, New Philadelphia, Mentor Lake Catholic, Lewistown Indian Lake and Millersburg West Holmes

Division III Several established programs and newcomers vying for No. 1 Photo by Nick Falzerano

suspects will be there again, expect the unexpected. Versailles did. III:

Teams To Watch

Here are some of the key contenders in Division

Versailles The defending state champions will be hard pressed to repeat and make their third straight appearance in Columbus, but it’s never smart to bet against a team from the MAC. Finding two players to replace graduated seniors Justine Raterman (Dayton) and Emily Bohman will be impossible. Versailles will need some new names to step forward. Of course, last year, the Tigers returned only two starters and four players with varsity experience from the 2007 state semifinal team and won a state title. Expect the Tigers to go deep into the postseason. How deep is the question.

South Euclid Regina The Royals lost three starters (all were All-Ohio) from last year’s state semifinalist team including state player of the year Shay Selby (Duke), but the cupboard isn’t bare. Regina hasn’t earned its reputation for rebuilding. The Royals reload. According to Ton Jenkins of the Ohio Girls Basketball Report, Regina is the only D-III school in Ohio that could start five legitimate D-I college recruits in 5-5 junior guard Tay’ler Mingo, 5-11 senior forward Jackie Cook, 6-2 sophomore post Therany Dunnigan, 5-10 senior forward Riley McCormick and 6-2 junior post Pa’Sana Hope. Garfield Heights Trinity The Trojans have three state titles in program history, but haven’t reached the big dance since 1996. This could be the year they return. Standout 5-7 senior guard Taylor Ruper will play a large role. Marion Pleasant The Spartans could be best D-III team in central Ohio with 5-7 senior guard Ashley Andrews and Amy Daniels returning. Daniels (6-0, Jr., F) averaged 16.7 ppg last year en route to earning honorable mention All-Ohio honors. Pleasant finished No. 5 in the final AP Poll before bowing out in the district tournament to Baltimore Liberty Union. That bad taste has to linger.

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Regina point guard Tay’Ler Mingo is one of the country’s top junior prospects.

– Matt Natali ast season Versailles shocked the basketball world by handing South Euclid Regina its first loss in six trips to the state tournament. En route to winning the program’s first state title, the Tigers also finished the season as the state’s lone unbeaten girls basketball team, regardless of division. Don’t expect an encore from Versailles or anyone in D-III this season. The field is wide open, and although the usual

Casstown Miami East The Vikings gave Versailles its toughest game in the tournament last year, losing to the state champions 47-37 in the regional final. That loss, coupled with a regular season loss to the Tigers, were the Vikings only two defeats (finished 24-2 and No. 4 in the AP poll). This could be the year East makes it to Columbus for the first time since 1999 (finished runner-up) thanks in part to the return of Katie Mengos (5-7, Sr. G) and Ashley Rice (6-1, Sr., P) who averaged 11.9 ppg last year. The Vikings were also a state semifinalist in 1997.

Sugarcreek Garaway The Pirates made their fourth state tournament and second in three years last season. Gone is twotime All-Ohio pick Laura Bardell (Findlay) but return-

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High School Girls Basketball Preview sophomore Sarah Bardell (5-11, So., F). Key subs from last year’s team – Trish Seilhamer (5-5, Sr., G) and Kenzie Kaufman (5-11, Sr., F) – add depth. Middletown Madison The Mohawks could be a year away from seriously challenging for a state title. In addition to 6-1 sophomore center Ally Malott, the Mohawks return 5-7 junior guard Lindsay Hoskins, who was a thirdteam All-Southwest District pick (10.3 ppg).

Mt. Blanchard Riverdale The Falcons made their first state tournament last season before bowing out to Garaway in the semis. A return trip could be in the works. Riverdale returns senior starters 5-9 senior forward Kayla Brown and Amy Fox (5-6, G, 6.7 ppg). Also back are senior guard Kaylee Sheets (5-7) and sophomore post Lacey Kessler (6-0).

Smithville, West Salem Northwestern and Waterloo.

– Eric Frantz

Division IV State’s smallest division could be its deepest Photo by Gary Housteau

Stewart Federal Hocking The Lancers are another team to watch in the Lancaster Regional. Hocking returns two all-district players in 5-8 junior guard Iris Butcher and 5-6 senior guard Emily Dunfee. Each averaged 15.8 ppg.

South Point The Pointers made the regional semifinals last year before bowing out to Garaway. A return trip is the plan. South Point is powered by all-district selections Jordan Fletcher and Tineesha Taylor. Fletcher (5-0, Jr., G) averaged 16.7 ppg last year, while Taylor (5-9, Jr., P) chipped in 11 ppg. Richmond Heights In addition to 5-5 senior guard Brittni Journee’, the Spartans return second-team all-district honoree J’Brai Williams (5-6, Sr., G, 14.5 ppg). Making it out of the district is a priority. Burton Berkshire The Badgers fell in the district semifinal last season, but don’t be surprised to see them in the regional this season. Berkshire returns all-district players in senior Jessica Ronyak (5-10, F, 12 ppg) and sophomore Meghann Wright (5-9, F, 17 ppg).

Also Keep An Eye On

West Milton Milton-Union, West Liberty-Salem, Middletown Fenwick, Fredericktown, Cincinnati Summit Country Day, Rootstown, Oak Hill, Nelsonville-York, Findlay Liberty-Benton, Castalia Margaretta, Genoa Area, Columbiana Crestview,

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Columbus Africentric The Nubians fell short of defending their 2007 state title last year, losing in the final, but don’t count out a return trip to the Schott. Africentric brings back a talented trio in 5-5 senior guard Shardi MorrisonFountain, 5-10 senior forward Ashar Harris and 5-10 sophomore forward Raven Fergusan. New Riegel The Blue Jackets stung a lot of people last season en route to 22 wins and a berth in the state tournament. Things look even brighter this year. New Riegel lost just one senior from last year’s team and returns four starters, including: Jami Wagner (5-4, Jr., G, 6 ppg), Rachelle Lucius (6-0, Sr., C, 10.4 ppg), Lauren Hutton (5-10, Sr., F, 12.1 ppg) and Paula Kelbley (5-7, Jr., F, 6.3 ppg). In addition, senior Kaiti Hughes (5-8, F) started the state semifinal against Hiland. Overall, the Blue Jackets return 11 players who logged minutes in the state tournament.

Cadiz Harrison Central No one’s claiming the Huskies will win a state title, but they could challenge for a district championship and maybe more. Key players returning include a pair of third-team all-district selections in seniors Sara Pelegreen (5-7, G, 12.5 ppg) and Sarah Wilden (5-9, F, 9.6 ppg).

Woodsfield Monroe Central The Seminoles lost in the sectional opener last season but look for better results this time around. First-team all-district performer Aliesha Guiler (5-10, Sr., F, 18.6 ppg) returns as does third-teamer Karlie Davis (5-7, Sr., G, 10.8 ppg).

Junior forward Katelyn Stuckey is the lone returning strater (6.7 ppg), but she’ll receive ample assistance. According to Tom Jenkins of the Ohio Girls Basketball Report, the Hawks have the state’s top four-guard rotation and most lethal 3-point arsenal – regardless of division – in 5-7 senior wing Karli Mast, 5-6 junior guard Hillary Weaver, 5-6 junior guard Noelle Yoder and 5-7 junior guard Mykeila Mast. Incoming freshman Missy Mast (6-0) will solidify post play.

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Hiland and New Riegel appear loaded for another run at the state tournament.

hey could rename the Division IV girls basketball state title the Hiland Trophy and no one would have a problem. At least they wouldn’t have a real argument. The Hawks from Berlin have won three of the last four D-IV titles and last season became just the fourth school in history – regardless of division – to claim four or more state titles in girls basketball. Only Pickerington, Delphos St. John’s and South Euclid Regina have more state hardware in girls basketball than Hiland. While the Hawks have some reloading to do, DIV looks as stacked as it’s ever been. Columbus Africentric is aiming for its third straight state tournament and second title in three years, but they’ll be pushed – along with Hiland – by a deep field.

Teams To Watch

Here are some of the key contenders in Division IV:

Berlin Hiland The Hawks lost four starters off last year’s state champion, but this is Hiland we’re talking about. Any discussion of a state title starts here. The Hawks have won three of the last four state championships and don’t be shocked if they make it four out of five.

Convoy Crestview The Knights, who made the state tournament for the third time and first since 1985 last year, are a favorite to get back. Crestview returns four starters including leading scorer Melissa Eickholt (5-5, Sr., G, 10.4 ppg). Also back are Kelsey Nedderman (59, Sr., F, 8.6 ppg), Carly Lichtensteiger (5-8, Sr., C, 7.9 ppg) and Jo Thompson (5-8, Jr., G, 7.6 ppg). A deep senior class (nine) bodes well for the Knights, who allowed just 28.1 ppg last year.

Bedford St. Peter Chanel The Firebirds were regional finalists last season after making the state semis in 2007. Senior forward Katie Bubna, a three-year starter, leads what is expected to be another lengthy postseason jaunt. Cincinnati Seven Hills The Stingers made the district final last season and appear ready to take the next step. Seven Hills returns a solid tandem in senior Alyssa Dunn (5-10, F) and junior Sarah Evans (5-10, F). Dunn (17 ppg) was first-team all-district, while Evans (11.3 ppg) was a second-team pick. Dunn is getting college interest from every Ivy League school.

Strasburg-Franklin The Tigers, who lost to Hiland in the district final last season, might be a year away from something special, but they should be plenty good this season. Junior Carly Clark (5-11, F) returns after earning first-team all-district honors, while classmate Santana Bonifant (5-9, G) is back after earning third-team honors. Clark averaged 12 ppg, while Bonifant chipped in 10.

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High School Girls Basketball Preview South Charleston Southeastern Head coach Jim Lightle was named district coach of the year last season. Now he’d like to make amends for his team’s surprising district semifinal loss to Fayetteville-Perry. All-district performers Amber Hayslip (5-11, Sr., F, 12.1 ppg) and Amanda Harvey (6-0, Sr., P, 12.6 ppg) give the Trojans a solid nucleus to build around.

South Webster The Jeeps were bumped in the regional semifinals by Africentric last year, but things look good for another deep postseason run. Junior guard Kayla Cook (5-9, 18.5 ppg) returns as does senior guard Erin Sherman (6-2, 8 ppg). Both earned alldistrict laurels. Cleveland Heights Lutheran East The Falcons had four players make all-district from last year’s team that lost to Chanel in the district final. The good news for East is three of those individuals return. Senior Annjelina Robinson (5-7) and junior Latisha Walker (6-1) each averaged 11 ppg last year, while sophomore Amber Bogard (6-0) averaged 9 ppg.

Waterford The Wildcats could be a sleeper pick for the state title. Waterford returns a ton of talent in junior forward Sina King and seniors Jessi Drayer and Britany Brown. King, a 6-0 forward, Drayer, a 5-6 guard, and Brown, a 5-8 forward, were all alldistrict last year. The Wildcats lost to Africentric in the regional final.

Also Keep An Eye On

Fostoria St. Wendelin, Canal Winchester Harvest Prep, Mt. Gilead Christian, Caldwell, New Boston and East Canton.

– Eric Frantz

* Ashley Andrews, 5-7, Sr., G, Marion Pleasant – University of Findlay recruit earned third-team All-Ohio honors last year after averaging 10.9 ppg. * Ginny Petties, 5-6, Sr., G, Steubenville Central Catholic – First-team Eastern district standout was named third team All-Ohio last season after averaging 22 ppg. * Brittni Journee’, 5-5, Sr., G, Richmond Heights – Named third-team All-Ohio after averaging 24.8 ppg last year. * Kayla Brown, 5-9, Sr., F, Mt. Blanchard Riverdale – Earned third team All-Ohio honors after averaging 13.8 ppg last year. * Iris Butcher, 5-8, Jr., G, Federal Hocking – Averaged 15.8 ppg last season en route to second-team all-district honors. * Therany Dunnigan, 6-2, So., C, South Euclid Regina – Dominant post player is the No. 9 ranked center nationally in the class of 2011 by CBGR. She is receiving heavy interest from Michigan and Purdue.

Top Players: Who You Want To See in D-IV * Sina King, 6-0, Jr. F, Waterford – Named first-team All-Ohio last year after averaging 19.9 ppg. Is a two-time district co-player of the year and was special mention All-Ohio as a freshman. * Kayla Cook, 5-9, Jr., G, South Webster – Named first-team All-Ohio after averaging 18.5 ppg. Was also district co-player of the year. * Shardi Morrison-Fountain, 5-5, Sr. G, Columbus Africentric – Standout point guard was second-team All-Ohio after averaging 14.2 ppg. * Kendra Votaw, 5-10, Jr., F, Mt. Gilead Christian – Post averaged 19.9 ppg last year en route to third-team AllOhio honors. * Kayla Wiley, 5-6, Sr., G, New Boston – Guard earned third-team All-Ohio honors last year after averaging 17 ppg. * Katie Bubna, 5-11, Sr., F, Bedford St. Peter Chanel – Akron recruit averaged 10 ppg last season en route to second-team all-district honors. * Ashar Harris, 5-10, Sr., F, Columbus Africentric – Standout post player was 2007 state tournament MVP and averaged 10. 5 ppg last season. She’s tabbed the No. 51 post player in the country in the senior class by the prestigious College Girls Basketball Report. * Raven Fergusan, 5-10, So., F, Columbus Africentric – One of the country and state’s top players in the Class of 2011 according to CGBR, which has her ranked as the No. 5 small forward in America. Fergusan is the cousin of former Mr. Basketball O.J. Mayo. * Latisha Walker, 6-1, Jr. C, Lutheran East – Ranked the No. 39 center nationally in the junior class by CBGR. Averaged 11 ppg last year. * Noelle Yoder, 5-6, Jr., G, Berlin Hiland – Talented transfer from West Holmes was honorable mention All-Ohio last season in D-II. She’s ranked the No. 53 point guard in the country in the Class of 2010 by CBGR. * Hilary Weaver, 5-6, Jr., G, Berlin Hiland – Standout guard is already being heavily courted by Lehigh, Furman, Stateson and Marshall. * Karli Mast, 5-7, Sr. W, Berlin Hiland – Tiffin recruit turned down several D-I college offers to state in state. Photo by Gary Housteau

Hiland head coach Dave Schlabach enters his 18th season at the school with a career record of 370-55. His teams have won four Division IV state titles and have made seven trips to the state tournament.

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STORY BY MATT NATALI

T

Samarie Walker

amika Williams, Megan Duffy, Maria Getty and Brandie Hoskins are all legendary names that have come out of the Dayton Chaminade-Julienne girls basketball program and some of the best players to ever come out of Ohio. C-J junior wing Samarie Walker is the next. The 6-1 Walker was named first-team All-Southwest District and was an AllOhio Special Mention honoree last season averaging nearly a double-double with 14.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. She is currently considered the top prospect in the country for the Class of 2010 by ESPN.com’s HoopGurlz and is rated No. 2 in the country by the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report. “She is such a hard worker and is so passionate about the game,” C-J head coach Marc Greenberg said. “She is determined to make herself as good of a player as she can be. It is hard not to focus on her enthusiasm for the game and her joy for the game.” Walker added: “I try to work on my game everyday whether it’s lifting weights or shooting around or working on ball-handling. I just continue to work hard to get better.” Walker fills in at every position for C-J but excels in the post and wants to be a three guard at the college level. “She probably has the most unique skill set in the sense that if you look at her now and the improvement she has had in the last six to eight months,” Greenberg said. “She has made herself into a great ball handler, she has made herself into a three-point threat and she’s always been a dominant post player. There are so many things she can do on the court but she is most dangerous when she gets the defensive rebound and is in the open floor in transition.” While polishing her game, Walker burned up the AAU circuit Chaminade-Julienne Girls Basketball this past summer cementing herself Greats Through The Years among the top players in the U.S. Tamika Williams, UConn 1998-02; 1998 for the Class of 2010. “After her showing in D.C. and Ohio Ms. Basketball winner Maryland this past July she estabMegan Duffy, Notre Dame 2002-06 lished herself with many of the Brandie Hoskins, Ohio State 2003-07 national services as the No. 1 playMaria Getty, Purdue 2005-2009; 2005 er in America,” said Tom Jenkins of Ohio Ms. Basketball winner the Ohio Girls Basketball Report. “Samarie comes from a great family where her dad and mom greet her daily with the Walker mantra of ‘hard work’ both in the classroom, where she is a truly a student-athlete, and on the court. It is scary to think how great of a player this incredible young person can become but what is most impressive is how humble she is about her talents.” Following her successful summer, some of the top collegiate programs began taking notice and Walker committed to the University of Connecticut in midOctober selecting the famed Huskies over Rutgers. “UConn is my absolute favorite,” she said. “The thing I like about UConn is the coaching staff. They have a lot of great coaches and some of them are alumni so they know what it takes to get through the program. Coach (Geno) Aurieamma is a great coach and he is demanding and successful. The girls there are amazing as athletes and people.” But before she hits the college hardwood, Walker has two years of high school basketball left and some big expectations. “For the team, I want to win a state championship, make my team better and get a lot further than we did last year,” she said. “My personal goals would be to win Ms. Basketball as well as averaging 20 points and 15 rebounds per game.” As for being next in the long line of C-J basketball stars, both Greenberg and Walker are modest about that distinction. “Samarie, while coming in a line of really good players, she’s still the first Samarie Walker,” said Greenberg. “I think the biggest thing about her to fit in that mold is she wants to get better and she is coachable. She continues to improve and is not satisfied with merely being a talented player. That is what has separated some of our top players with some of the other kids – the ability to understand there is more to the game than simply talent. You’ve got to be willing to work and be willing to work within your team. I think that is what puts her on par with that. “But Samarie is a regular kid and I think people get caught up with what they see on the basketball court and think that this is all this kid is. It is certainly not. Samarie is just a high school kid like all the others.” Added Walker: “It is kind of hard to make your own name when you have great players like them. I just think if I keep working hard I can make a name for myself and follow and their footsteps.” — OH

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High School Wrestling Preview

O

hio high school wrestling fans could be in for a treat this season. This year’s crop of Ohio wrestlers features a slew of stars, two of whom will be trying to become the 17th and 18th four-time state champions, and three others – from the same small Division III school – who appear to be on that path. All five wrestlers will be strong candidates to be ranked No. 1 nationally at their weight class of choice. The wrestlers in question? Three-time state champs David Taylor of St. Paris Graham and Collin Palmer of Lakewood St. Edward, and young phenoms Hunter Steiber, Logan Steiber and Chris Phillips of Monroeville. Taylor, Palmer, and two-time champion Logan Steiber each finished last season ranked No. 1 nationally in their weight classes, while Hunter Steiber ranked second and Phillips accomplished the rare feat of ranking fourth nationally in a higher weight class (171 pounds) as a freshman. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Taylor, Palmer, Phillips, and the Steiber brothers are just five of the brightest lights in the sea of stars that makes up this year’s Ohio wrestlers. Below is a glance at some of the top returning wrestlers in the state by division. (Note: Wrestlers are listed by the previous season’s weight class due to the fact that weight classes aren’t finalized until later in the wrestling season. Therefore, weight classes here will likely change in most instances.)

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Division I

Division I is where we find the first of two wrestlers going for their fourth state championship in Collin Palmer. Palmer will be aiming for a double dose of history as a state championship would make him and brother Lance only the third tandem of brothers to win four state championships. Palmer ended the season ranked No. 1 nationally at the 135-pound and will be a big favorite to bring home the gold again. Palmer’s Lakewood St. Edward team will be shooting for their 13th straight team title and their 25th overall, and they return a solid nucleus to work with. Three state champions and seven qualifiers return overall, starting with junior Gus Sako, who finished first at 103 and was rated 11th nationally by Wrestling411 USA. Seven out of eight placers at 103 will be returning, including junior and second-place winner Kory Mines of Maple Heights, junior and third-place winner Uland Ralston of Lorain Southview, and junior and fourth place winner Garrett Manley of Holland Springfield. A similar picture can be seen from last year’s 112 weight class as a St. Edward state champion and five other qualifiers return. Junior champion Jamie Clark and senior second-place finisher Sam White of state runner-up Massillon Perry squared off for the state championship for the second straight year, with Clark getting the best of White in a 2-1 overtime battle after White topped Clark at 103 in 2007. Both wrestlers finished in the top ten nationally and will be near the top of the list again this year. Time will tell as to whether or

not they wrestle away from each other in 2008-09 or if fans will be treated to one more showdown between these two wrestlers before White moves on to college. Four placers return from 119, led by runner-up Nick Lawrence of Westlake. Lawrence, a junior, also finished fifth at 103 in 2007. Also back are junior fourthplace finisher Waquiem Comar of Twinsburg and junior fifth-place finisher Jasper Few of Reynoldsburg. The 125-pound class loses its state champion in Cincinnati Elder’s Tommy Pretty but returns five placers, starting with junior runner-up Shawn Fayette of Miamisburg and senior third-place finisher Scott Mattingly of Uniontown Lake, who also took fourth at 112 in 2007. Junior Anthony Salupo, who finished fifth, is another of the returning wrestlers to watch for St. Edward. The 130-pound class was home to a talented crop of competitors last season, and several of them will be back for more this year. Senior Seth Horner of Massillon Perry leads the way, winning his first title last year after two third-place finishes as a freshman and sophomore. Also back will be junior runner-up Brad Squire of Wadsworth, who won at 119 as a freshman and junior third-place finisher Nick Sulzer of St. Edward, who finished second at 112 as a freshman. The 135 class belonged to Collin Palmer, who cruised through the tournament to finish his season undefeated. Fifth- and sixth-place finishers Zack Cline of Uniontown Lake and Tommy Sasfy of Reynoldsburg also both return for their senior years. The 140 class saw a tough struggle for the title as unbeaten Richie Spicel of Brunswick bested Kyle Lang of Brecksville-Broadview Heights. The two-time champ Spicel has moved on, but Lang, a three-time state placer, will be back for his senior year and one last shot at winning a gold. Also back will be junior and two-time third-place finisher David Habat of Cleveland St. Ignatius. The 145 class was the home to Austintown-Fitch superstar Tony Jameson, who became the 16th wrestler in Ohio history to win four state titles. The runner-up to Jameson, T.J. Rigel of New Carlisle Tecumseh, will return for his senior year, as will junior third-place finisher Josh Demas of Westerville North, who also took second at 130 in 2007. The 152-pound class brings back another Massillon Perry standout in senior Nick Heflin, who fell in the state finals to Jesse Dong of Westerville North. Senior Zack Goins of Elyria, a two-time placer who finished fourth at 152 last season, also will return. Three of the top five finishers at 160 will be back again this year, led by runner-up J.T. Rice of Hilliard Davidson and fourth-place finisher Kyle Dilley of Lancaster, both seniors. Also keep an eye on sophomore Tylan Coleman of Mayfield, who finished fifth and made a rare splash for a freshman at a higher weight class. Many of the top competitors at 171 wrestled their final high school match last year, as senior fifth-place finisher Joe Abujaradeh of Berea is the highest returning place-winner. But quite a few familiar faces will be back from the 189-pound class, including secondplace winner Greg Isley of Sylvania Southview (sr.), third-place winner and three-time placer Andrew Tumlin of Harrison (sr.), and fourth-place finisher Cody Lamberg of Akron Kenmore (jr.). Both Tumlin and Lamberg posted unbeaten regular season marks last year. Orlando Scales of Cincinnati Elder, the 215-pound champion, will be returning for his senior year after finishing his junior season undefeated and ranked 11th

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STORY BY KIRK LARRABEE

High School Wrestling Preview Lakewood St. Edward senior Collin Palmer won his third Division I state title at 135 pounds last year.

Photo by Nick Falzerano

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High School Wrestling Preview nationally. Also back from 215 will be Beavercreek senior Cody Smith. The heavyweight class returns a high amount of competitors, including second-place finisher Delonne Baker of Sandusky (sr.), third-place finisher Jordan Beverly of West Carrollton (sr.), and fourth-place finisher Ben Buzzelli of Wadsworth (jr.).

second at 112 in 2007. He knocked off Cody Garabrandt of Uhrichsville Claymont (jr.) in the finals after losing to him at 112 in 2007. Also returning is three-time placer Jacob Garringer of Miami Trace (sr.), who finished fifth last year. Graham’s third champion, Tucker Armstrong, won the gold at 125 and will be trying to win a second title in his upcoming junior season. 125 runner-up Kyle Leek of Warren Howland (sr.) returns as well. Division II There was a slight surprise of a winner at 130 as The question isn’t whether or not St. Paris Graham Harrison Hightower of University School (jr.), who will will win Division II, but by how much. The Falcons set return for more this year. Also back are third-place fina record with 221.5 points in last year’s state champiisher Jeremy Maiwurm of Orrville (sr.) and senior onships, breaking their previous mark of 208.5 set in Brian Stephens of Graham, whom many thought 2007. With 10 qualifiers and three state champions could win at 130 last year but did not place. returning, that number could be challenged yet again. The 135 class was a senior-dominated class as The cream of the crop for Graham, Division II, and each of the top four finishers have graduated. Watch quite possibly all of Ohio, is mega-talent David Taylor. out for fifth-place finisher Manuel Cintron of Alliance Having lost just two high school matches in three sea(sr.) and sixth-place finisher Brad Wukie of University sons, Taylor is one of the top overall wrestlers in School (jr.), who also finished second at 119 in 135. Three seniors also topped the ranks at 140. Matt Stephens of Graham (soph.) returns after posting a strong fourth-place finish as a freshman. At 145, third-place finisher Jonathan McGookey of Sandusky Perkins (sr.) and sixth-place finisher Steven In regards to team titles, wrestling is the one OHSAA McLaughlin of Athens return, while eighthplace finisher Harrison Rosch of Canal sport dominated by a select few. In Division I Winchester (sr.) was the only underclassLakewood St. Edward has won 12 straight state titles man to place at 152. and 24 overall. In Division II St. Paris Graham has Another of Graham’s expected title contenders returns from the 160 weight class, won eight this one being senior James Mannier, who straight state finished third last year. Among the other titles and 10 returning competitors to watch are senior overall. In Adam Walters of Chesterland West Geauga, who finished fourth, and senior Division III, and two-time place winner Zach Troy Christian Garabrandt of Uhrichsville Claymont. is the two-time A few other wrestlers to watch return at the higher weight classes. At 171, senior defending and two-time placer Nick Mills of University state champiSchool will be looking to improve on his on. third-place finish. Junior Max Thomusseit of St. Paris Graham comes back from the 189 class and hopes to give Graham another champion after finishing third in 2008. America regardless of weight class. After demolishing Three of the top four finishers return from 215 – the competition at last year’s tournament, Taylor will second-place winner Tyler Houska of Medina be an overwhelming favorite to win his fourth title this Highland (sr.), third-place winner Branko Busick of year and cement his place among the list of all-time Steubenville (sr.), and fourth-place winner Logan Erb Ohio greats. of Wapakoneta (soph.). The favorite at the heavyTaylor is just one of many talented wrestlers in weight division will likely be Graham senior Adam Division II. The lower weight classes are crowded, Walls, a three-time placer who took second last seastarting with last year’s 103-pound crop that returns all son. eight placers. First-place winner Ty Mitch of Aurora (jr.) and runner-up Johnni DiJulius of Cuyahoga Falls Division III Walsh Jesuit (soph.) lead the way, along with the first Troy Christian, Marion Pleasant, and Monroeville of the returning Graham placers, third-place finisher battled it out for the team crown in Division III last Nick Brascetta (soph.). year, with Troy Christian winning its second title in a Taylor ran the show at 112, but several other quality row. Each team will be back for more this year, with competitors return from that weight class as well. Troy Christian returning six qualifiers and two state Runner-up Codey Neff of Washington Court House champions, Marion Pleasant returning five qualifiers, Miami Trace (jr.) is a two-time placer, as is third-place and Monroeville returning four qualifiers, all of them winner James Inghram of Hunting Valley University champions. School (sr.). Also back is three-time placer Nate The fascinating story comes out of Monroeville, a Westfall of Perry (sr.) and two-time placers Alex school with an enrollment of just 103 boys, three of Minnard of Lancaster Fairfield Union (sr.) and Jake whom are among the best wrestlers in the country. Strausbaugh of Orrville (sr.). Junior Logan Steiber won his second state title and The 119 class saw the second of the Graham finished ranked No. 1 nationally at 119. His brother, champions in Zach Neibert. Neibert, now a senior, sophomore Hunter Steiber, posted an unbeaten seawon his first title after placing sixth at 103 in 2006 and

Total Domination

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son, a state title and a No. 2 national ranking at 103 as a freshman. Then there’s sophomore phenom Chris Phillips, who cruised unbeaten to a title at 171 as just a freshman and finished ranked fourth nationally by 411 Wrestling USA – the only non-senior to be ranked. All three wrestlers finished the season with a record of 51-0. And oh, by the way… Monroeville’s fourth state qualifier, Cam Tessari, was also a state champion, posting a 39-3 mark as a freshman at 112. Hunter Steiber is among eight placers that return at 103. Among the others are second-place finisher Spencer Pierce of Richwood North Union (sr.) and third-place finisher Tyler Reed of Waterford. All eight winners placed for the first time in their careers. The 112 class also returns all eight of its place winners. In addition to Tessari, returning will be sophomore Tyler Heminger of Galion Northmor (second place) and senior Riki Reynolds of Marion Pleasant (third place, fifth at 103 in 2007). Back from 119, in addition to Logan Stieber, will be third-place finisher Johnny Carpenter of Cincinnati Madeira and fourth-place finisher Mike Kovach of Bedford Chanel. The 125-pound class featured three seniors at the top of the winner’s stand. Fourth-place finisher Shelton Morris of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy returns for his senior year. The 130-pound class brings back the first of Troy Christian’s returning champions, senior Zac Hancock. Hancock, a three-time placer, knocked off two-time champion Daniel Kolodzik in last year’s finals and will be aiming to go out on top this year as a senior. Also returning is two-time placer Cody Coomes of Marion Pleasant, a senior who finished fifth last season. Troy Christian returns another state champion hopeful from the 135 class in senior Jordan Thome. Thome, also a three-time placer fell in the finals last year to three-time champion Ryan Gambill of Miami East. He will be shooting for his first title this year. Another Troy Christian wrestler to watch returns from the 140 class, fourth-place finisher Chris Burns (sr.) – the highest-placing wrestler to return from 140. Yet another Troy Christian contender comes back from the 145-pound class, this one being perhaps the team’s blue-chipper – senior Zach Toal. Toal won his second consecutive state championship last season and finished as the No. 9 rated wrestler nationally at 145. Toal will likely be favored to win a third title this year. Also returning from 145 is third-place finisher Aaron Hunter of Akron Manchester. The higher weight classes in Division III were senior-dominated in 2007-08, but a few wrestlers of note return. The 152-pound class lost its top six finishers, with sophomore Cody Walters (seventh place) of Chanel being the highest placing returnee. The 160pound class brings back sophomore Alex Utley of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, who impressively placed third as a freshman, as well as two-time placer and fifth-place finisher Kyle Kwiat of Tiffin Calvert (fifth place). Chris Phillips dominated a senior-laden field at 171, and he will likely do the same once again regardless of what class he chooses. He could run into some familiar faces from the 189 class as second-place winner Stuart Miller of Delphos Jefferson returns, as does fifth place finisher Colton Bowers of Marion Pleasant. At 215, senior Schuyler Bondy of Woodsfield Monroe Central (seventh place) returns, while the heavyweight division returns fifth- and sixth-place finishers Tyler Obringer of Spencerville (jr.) and Mike Treon of Versailles (sr.). — OH

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High School Wrestling Preview Monroeville junior Logan Steiber, an Ohio State verbal, won his second state title and finished No. 1 nationally at 119 pounds last year.

Photo by Nick Falzerano

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Leslie Cikra Chagrin Falls High School

Josh Selway Leetinoia High School

Wyatt Lippert West Chester Lakota West High School

Adena Volleyball Frankfort Adena High School

Ursuline Volleyball Cincinnati Ursuline Academy

STORIES BY OHIO HIGH STAFF

Stories of Success, Substance and Something Extra


Around Ohio

A

Leetonia’s Selway excels when faced with adversity

Senior overcomes cancer to return to field

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Photo by Gary Housteau

small lump became big news in a small town. “Some people hear one thing and it escalates into something else and then there’s a bunch of stuff going around that’s not true,” Josh Selway said. “Some people had me buried and in the grave after two weeks.” Those who know Selway know not to bet against him. Now cancer knows that, too. A senior at tiny Leetonia High School in Columbiana County, Selway is enjoying his final football season as the Bears captain. A standout in all phases of the game, Selway never leaves the field – ever. He’s the kick returner, holder, punter, quarterback and free safety. Selway is even the safety on the kickoff team. He’d stay on the field at halftime to direct the band, too, if they let him and after you hear his story you’ll know why. Last year, Selway was tackled for a loss and not by an opposing player. Selway was sacked by cancer. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, to be exact. “It was a bad day, a dark day for Leetonia,” senior teammate Andrew Trummer said. “When we found out Josh had cancer it was real quite throughout the whole town.” Now there’s reason to cheer. A year after being diagnosed with the disease, Selway is back under center and out of the hospital. He’s been given a clean bill of health – and a different outlook on life. “It’s one of the weirdest things you can tell someone, but I’m glad I had cancer,” Selway said. “It teaches you so much as far as life goes. You like to think that you’re a strong person and that you can handle obstacles Leetonia High School that come your way, but this really tests you. Obviously I’m glad this Columbiana County happened to me other than one of my friends. I hope I was able to show some leadership through it and show that I was able to handle it well. ” Selway handled the hurdle much like he does the football and basketball – successfully. A two-sport standout who started varsity in both sports since the first day of school his freshman year, Selway entered his junior football season last fall with lofty expectations. Not only were the Bears set up for an Inter Tri-County League title run, but rumors around town had the team going deep into the playoffs. Those rumors turned to the serious nature before the first kickoff. In June 2007, Selway said one of his friends noticed a lump on the right side of his neck. He thought nothing of it. His mother wasn’t so sure. “She’s a nurse so it raised some red flags with her,” Selway said. “We went to our family doctor and he put me on antibiotics for two weeks but the lump didn’t go away and got bigger. Then we went to see a specialist.” Selway visited a surgeon on a Thursday and had the lump removed four days later on Monday at Canton’s Aultman Hospital. The surgeon called the lump “suspicious” and ordered more tests. A definite answer didn’t arrive for two more weeks, but when it did it wasn’t good. The tests came back positive and the news arrived the same day as the Bears’ season opener against Lisbon David Anderson. Selway played, led the team to a 33-7 win and then told his coach. His teammates found out after a Week 2 loss to rival Columbiana.

Senior Josh Selway never comes off the field for the Leetonia football team. He is the starting quarterback and free saftey and is on every special team.

JJ H u ddle ’s O h io Hi gh


Around Ohio

STORY BY ERIC FRANTZ

“Looking back it’s pretty remarkable that he was able to play that first game sive backfield. As a sophomore, he started at every skill position in football at and do so well with that weighing on his mind,” Leetonia head coach Matt least once en route to first team all-league honors at running back. As a sophoAltomare said. “There were rumors circulating and people talking. After the secmore in basketball, he was Leetonia’s leading scorer (12 points) the night they ond game, he addressed the whole team.” beat Southern to get off to the school’s best start (8-1) in school history. Selway Selway played the first four games at 100 percent. The Thursday before a went six-of-six from the foul line in the fourth quarter of the 50-42 win. Last year, Week 5 showdown with Wellsville he got his first dose of chemotherapy. Things despite knowing he had cancer, Selway was the team’s leading tackler through suddenly changed. the first four games. “It’s not what you think,” Selway said of his chemo treatments. “They put a “Josh is a natural leader,” Altomare said. “He’s been a leader since his freshport in my chest that stuck out a quarter of an inch and then the IV drip went in man year. Some kids just have that special thing and you know they’re different. there. The actual treatment took nearly three hours and ate up a good portion of He has it. the day. “Our practices are different when he’s not here. I hate to say that but that’s “The chemo kills the cancer cells but it also kills the good cells and demolishhow it is. When he’s not at practice you can see it.” es your immune system over time. Every week I’d get my blood checked and Selway’s been to practice all season this year and yes, you can see it. they’d tell me ‘Well, you’re healthy enough to play football this week.’ That was a Through six weeks Leetonia is 5-1 and reached as high as No. 10 in the week to week thing the rest of the season.” ONN/Ohio High Division VI Power Poll before dropping a Week 6 game against Selway dressed for the Wellsville game and wore a kneepad with a hole in it Wellsville. The Bears are in position to make the D-VI playoffs. over the port. He saw limited action on defense towards the end of the contest. Selway has close to 2,000 total yards and is the team’s leading rusher (1,047 Selway also logged minutes in weeks 6-8, but missed Week 9 all together. Week yards). He has accounted for 16 touchdowns. 10 he wasn’t supposed to play either but dressed anyway and got on the field. In a 41-21 win over Sebring McKinley in Week 4, Selway ran for three touchThe Bears made the playoffs, thanks to several things going their way, on the downs and scored on a 34-yard punt return and 83-yard kickoff return – all final weekend, but lost their first-round game to Bascom Hopewell-Loudon, the eventual state runnerup. “I’ve said it before but you have to try to appreciate the talent you’re given,” Selway said. “I always did, but you don’t really grasp it until you can’t go out there. I “Some teammates “He didnʼt let anything “Last year it really remember going out for the Wellsville game knowing and even a couple get him down. put things into perthat I wasn’t going to be able to play and I remember kids in school who He still tried to be spective. Kids would tearing up. “The rest of the games it was always just something werenʼt on the team himself and he complain about a that when I was able to play it made it that much better. shaved their heads. always had a smile small injury and then And I feel the same way now. I keep that in the back of my mind. I guess you could say I use that to my advanWell, they shaved it on his face. He tried look at Josh and see tage – knowing how lucky I am to be able to play.” down short, but as far to maintain his what their quarterSelway had ample time to expand his appreciation. as completely shavenergy and not show back and captain After his third and final chemo treatment in late November, his attention turned to basketball, which is ing it off some of he was hurting. He was going through arguably his best sport. A two-year starter at point them whimped out, stayed strong and shurg it off. guard, Selway was regulated to a rotation. He said he but thatʼs alright. I throughout We became a started a “handful of games” at mid-season, but wasn’t even “semi-healthy” until the team’s final tournament knew they cared.” everything.” tougher team.” game. Thirty radiation treatments that started Dec. 31 and Leetonia head football coach Leetonia senior Andrew Leetonia senior two-sport ran through January did not help his playing time. Matt Altomare Trummer and childhood friend standout Josh Selway “When he wasn’t there you could just tell,” said Trummer, a two-sport standout himself. “The team just wasn’t all together. He’s the glue. We play so much better with him. It was hard not having him there.” before halftime. Selway regularly got sick during basketball games and would have to exit the In a 19-6 Week 2 win over Columbiana, which was the Bears’ first in the court at timeouts to throw up in the locker room. He gutted it out though and perseries since 2004, Selway rushed for 200 yards and scored all three Leetonia severed as much as he could. touchdowns. In the opener, a 34-13 win over Anderson, he ran for a team-high He was voted all-district despite his limited minutes. 150 yards and scored two touchdowns. “As a freshman and sophomore, I never came off the court and suddenly I His marquee outing was a 40-34 win over Berlin Center Western Reserve in was being pulled in and out.” Selway said. “Honestly every game I did play I Week 8. Selway scored the wining TD with two seconds left to cap a night in probably shouldn’t have been out there at all but I had to try.” which he rushed for 205 yards and three TDs on 38 carries, threw for 124 yards After the radiation, Selway’s situation started to improve. and two TDs and returned an interception 47 yards for a TD. Although he hadn’t played baseball since eighth grade, he went out and made “Coming into the season and knowing that he was going to be 100 percent the varsity team where he started at shortstop and pitcher. He batted over .300. under center made us all happy,” Trummer said. “He’s amazing back there.” Selway says he wasn’t 100-percent restored until June. Since then, he’s been When Selway graduates from Leetonia in June, he plans to hang up his unstoppable. cleats. “They’ve given him a clean bill of health and it is in remission,” Altomare said. Despite having the ability to play sports in college, Selway is just going to be “You can never say it’s cured, because you just never know. But he’s back to a student. Ohio State is the destination. Medicine the major. being himself physically. Who knows? Maybe one day Selway will find a cure for cancer. “We lost a lot of starters from last year and he’s one of the few holdovers. He already knows how to beat it. People expect big things out of him this year and he’s accepted it. He’s expect“Every week at games people I don’t even know talk to me and shake my ed to make that pass on third down or make that play on fourth down and he’s hand and tell me they are rooting for me,” Selway said. “It really means a lot, handled it very well.” especially the ones who come up and say they are survivors too. Just the other Selway has always carried weighty expectations and star status, which is why day I got a letter from a man in Alliance telling me about how his wife had cancer and that he was going to be rooting for me, too. his situation and handling of it is inspiring. Selway isn’t just one of Leetonia’s “Stuff like that is mind blowing.” athletes. More often than not he is THE athlete. Stories like Selway’s are, too. — OH As a freshman, he set varsity records in basketball and started in the defen-

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J J H U D D L E . C O M 57


Around Ohio

Adena volleyball seniors cap career unbeaten in SVC play

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Warriors have won 56 straight conference bouts

STORY BY SHAYNE COMBS The record stands at 56 now. Adena has also won 115 straight matches on its home floor. “We are aware of them, but we do not dwell on them,” said Smith when asked about all the historical numbers. “A lot of times when the season is over you look at some things like that and think about it, but during the season you just play. It is more about going into each practice and each match just trying to play well.” Another incredible storyline that was followed throughout the season was the history that this year’s seniors were chasing. Adena is one of eight schools in the Scioto Valley Conference, and in the history of SVC volleyball, no senior class had ever won every match in a four-year span. Not anymore. This year’s Adena seniors became the second senior class in any sport in SVC history to win every league game during their tenure. The only other class to do it was Adena’s 1974 football seniors. This is obviously an amazing achievement in any sport, but even more so in a sport like volleyball where teams are forced to play a 14-game league schedule with home and away games with each opponent. Adena’s only loss of the season came on August 30. It was at the Lehman Tournament, and with it being a Saturday tournament the matches were only bestof-three. The Lady Warriors defeated Hopewell Louden and Minster in straight sets, but were beaten by Anna in three. This year’s roster has nine seniors, all of whom have remained in the program from junior high through high school. Senior Ashley Jordan, who is heading to Ohio University, has been a four-year standout. She’s a left-handed hitter who averaged 4.38 kills per game this season. The 5-11 star also averaged .67 blocks per game, and her versatility has allowed

hen a program is currently celebrating its 17th league title in the last 18 years, riding a 56-game conference winning streak and has a 115-match home winning streak, all the success starts to run together. This could be said about coach Laura Smith’s tenure in charge of the Frankfort Adena volleyball program. However, the story of the 2008 season – another 20-win campaign – is even more dramatic. One of the biggest highlights came on September 13 when the Lady Warriors played in the Worthington Kilbourne Invitational. On the day, Adena beat Olentangy Liberty, Dublin Jerome and Dublin Scioto – all in straight sets – to give Smith her 500th career win. This milestone is incredible no matter when it takes place, but the fact that Smith did it in just her 598th career match makes it amazing. “It means that I have had a lot of great kids and great volleyball players who have worked really hard,” said Smith when asked what it means to Adena’s volleyball program has won 115 straight home matches. her to reach this milestone. “Coaching has been so much fun. I can remember how tough things were when I started with zero varsity experience. Over the years, I Adena High School have been blessed with great Ross County coaches as well.” This year’s Adena staff is a great example of what Smith is talking about. Photo by Shayne Combs Reserve Coach Donna Atchison, who led Paint Smith to use a variety of weapons throughout the front row. Valley High School to the regional tourJuniors Kirsti Yates and Allison Morgan have been great complements to nament as a head coach in the midJordan. Yates averages 2.67 kills per game and 3.68 digs. Morgan leads the SVC 90’s, continues to coach the Adena junin blocks with .97 per game. Sophomore middle-hitter Kelsey Bielanow is also in ior varsity team – a team that posted a the top-10 of the SVC in blocks with .58 per game. perfect regular season in 2008. Jim “We do have a lot of talent, but we have also worked really hard to accomplish Hutton, a former head coach at Zane what we have accomplished,” Jordan said. “Throughout junior high and early in Trace, does a lot of work in the Adena junior high program, and he also doublesmy high school years, I think I was naïve to just how incredible the tradition of up by helping on game nights at the high school level as well as throughout severAdena volleyball is year in and year out. After my sophomore year, we graduated al summer activities. Sarah Wayland and Julia Leisure, who both played for Smith, a lot of really good players, but we just had new people step in and we continued coach the ninth- and eighth-grade, respectively. to win.” “I can’t say enough about my coaching staff and the time they put in during the This entire attack is quarterbacked by freshman setter Cadie Cory who averseason and especially in the off-season,” Smith said. “I always try to show them aged an incredible 11.04 assists per game. Cory’s job is helped by a great my appreciation through coaching apparel and other things, but most of them get defense that usually provides pinpoint passing to start the Adena attack. This back little to nothing for their time and they do it anyway. This is the type of commitment row play is anchored by senior Megan Purdin. The senior libero averages a teamthat has allowed Adena volleyball to be so successful.” best 3.77 digs and is also an outstanding server. Smith’s place in Adena volleyball history starts with her playing days. She was a The Snyder twins, Brittney and Brooke, join Purdin in the back row where they member of back-to-back state championship teams at Adena in 1976 and 1977. not only are great passers but really give their team great serving numbers. As a coach, Smith led the Warriors to the state semifinals in 1982, 1993, 2004 and Brittney averages .76 aces per game while still maintaining a 98-percent in terms 2006. The 1993 squad finished runner-up as Smith was named the OHSVCA of serving percentage, and Brooke’s percentage is at 97.4. She averages .58 aces Division III Coach of the Year. per game. This season the Warriors broke their own Scioto Valley Conference consecutive Senior LeeAnn Junk provides solid back row play off the bench. win streak record with a victory over Chillicothe Unioto on Sept. 18. That win was “I usually like to keep 10 on varsity, so I was really struggling with the numbers Adena’s 50th straight. The old mark of 49 was set by the Warriors in the early situation throughout the summer,” said Smith who ended the regular season with a 1990s.

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

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Around Ohio

STORY BY OHIO HIGH STAFF

Ursuline volleyball rises up, earns national ranking

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Lions win first GGCL title since 2001

he nationally-recognized Girls’ Greater Cincinnati League is turning out yet another girls’ volleyball state power this fall. While the past three Division I state champions have been from the Cincinnati-based Scarlet division, it’s been a longer wait for Ursuline Academy. Mother of Mercy (2007), Mount Notre Dame (2006) and Seton (2005) have captured recent state titles, but Ursuline hasn’t won a state title since 2002. It might not seem like a long drought for teams across the state, but the highly competitive GGCL leaves little room for error. This fall, Ursuline clinched the Scarlet division title for the first time since 2001. Ursuline (22-0, 10-0 GGCL-S) is ranked No. 1 in the state coaches’ poll, No. 6 nationally by PrepVolleyball.com and No. 12 in the ESPN Rise Fab 50 national poll. Ursuline Academy Ursuline opened the sectional tourHamilton County nament Oct. 15 at Withrow High School. “I think the girls are very excited about the postseason,” Ursuline coach Jeni Case said. “They know we have a good chance at making a good run and they are ready.” Case, who is in her third season at Ursuline, has a 61-15 record entering the postseason. Case, who led Ursuline to a 19-8 record and a regional final appearance last season, passed the 200-win career milestone earlier this fall. “The key to our success is our experienced players and the depth we have,” Case said. “Anytime someone is struggling, we can put someone else in to get the job done.” The Lions have had several key contributors on the floor this season. As of Oct. 8, senior middle hitter Katie Schings had 182 kills (.383 kill efficiency) and 75 blocks. Case said Schings has been a force at the net. “It’s been a great season so far with our program,” said Schings, who noted the freshman and junior varsity teams also won the league title.

career mark of 510-98. “In the end, I just couldn’t see breaking this senior class up at all. This is a close group and they have been wonderful together.” Seniors Megan Core, Leslie Gallaugher and Tori Skinner round-out the Adena roster. This trio does not get a lot of floor time, however, Smith gives them a lot of credit for making the team better in a variety of ways. “The reason keeping so many this year has worked out is because of how hard these girls work,” Smith said. “Their leadership in the huddle, in practice, and throughout the games has been outstanding.” Perhaps the best example of this unselfishness comes from the move Megan Purdin made from last year to this year. Purdin, who helped lead Adena to the regional finals last season as the setter in their 5-1 offense, has moved to libero this season to replace All-Ohioan Casi Coy (Adena’s 2007 libero). Purdin is the first to tell you that she just wants to win and when it comes to her role she just wants to help her team be successful. “I was really excited about the move,” Purdin said. “Cadie is a great setter and I have tried to help her in whatever way possible.” The Adena volleyball team was honored last season by the American Volleyball

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Submitted Photo

Ursuline is trying to become the fourth GGCL school in four years to win the D-I state title.

“Our varsity is going continue to work hard to hopefully continue our success in the postseason.” Junior setter Dani Reinert had 635 assists and has been running the offense well. Sophomore libero Kori Moster had 433 digs and has also been consistent. “Kori is playing like a senior and she is only a sophomore,” Case said. One of the season’s turning points for Ursuline came when the Lions won the Northeast Ohio Power Volleyball Invitational at Mentor High School in late September. Ursuline fared well against Solon and Walsh Jesuit in the final matches. Reinert was named the tournament MVP while junior outside hitter Jade Henderson was on the all-tournament team. Case said Henderson, who has about 176 digs, has made a remarkable comeback from last year when she tore her PCL. “I think (the tournament) was a great bonding trip for the girls also,” Case said. “They seem to be a little bit closer. They all get along very well and that helps a lot with team chemistry.” Ursuline athletic director Diane Redmond said the volleyball team has brought the school community together this fall. “The play of this year’s team has brought out many of our former players and their parents,” Redmond said. “It is exciting having them back in the building and supporting our team and school.” The two regular-season matches Ursuline won against MND drew a packed house at Moeller each time. “Our students, families and faculty appreciate the atmopshere that a GGCL match generates and the talented young women of our league schools,” Redmond said. “Coach Case and her team display a great deal of passion on the court and our fans respond to that.” — OH

Coaches Association for its academic performance, and this year’s classroom effort is ahead of that pace. This is another example of the glaring success of Adena volleyball. “From the time you enter the seventh-grade you start to understand that being in this program is a special honor,” Purdin said. “You know that Adena is always going to accomplish so much, and that motivates you to want to be a part of it when you get into high school.” “After you have had a chance to be a part of it, you realize winning is what is expected and you start to expect it of yourself,” Jordan said. “Sure, there is pressure at times, but I don’t really look at it like that. All the streaks and all the history stuff is great and we definitely didn’t want to be the class it ended with, but in the end, it is just about winning.” When it comes to winning volleyball matches, excelling in the classroom and representing the community, few do it better than Smith and her Adena volleyball program. Wearing the two-shade blue carries heavy expectations, but more often than not the Warriors deliver - wins, titles and history. — OH

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


Around Ohio

Chagrin Falls’ Cikra blossoms into elite volleyball player

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STORY BY MARTY GITLIN Photo by Wayne Turoczi

Senior headed to Tennessee on scholarship

ive years ago, a gawky, painfully thin seventh grader meandered on to the junior high school volleyball court for her first practice. Her name was Leslie Cikra. She was already 5-foot-10 with no skills and little coordination. Her rather generous coach allowed her to play once in a while so she could gain experience and a touch of confidence. Indeed, it was five years ago, but it seems like ancient history. For Cikra has since evolved into one of the finest volleyball players and most feared front-liners in the state. The Chagrin Falls High School middle and outside hitter has become so talented that she has landed a scholarship to the University of Tennessee. Cikra admits that she didn’t develop her abilities until joining the Renaissance Cleveland Volleyball Club in ninth grade. But as she grew to her present height of 6-foot-3, she certainly took off. And though she began playing volleyball with little intent to ascend to the next level, Cikra is thrilled now that she stumbled upon the sport in junior high. “I had been playing basketball since third grade,” says the well-spoken senior. “The only reason I started playing volleyball was that I wanted to do something in the fall. I enjoyed it, but I had to get better. I didn’t really start learning the skills until the club season.” Then she really blossomed. Cikra Chagrin Falls High School played junior varsity through most of her freshman year and showed Cuyahoga County enough progress to dress varsity during the postseason. She earned a starting spot at middle hitter her sophomore year and has remained an integral part of the team ever since. She has moved to outside hitter this year. Cikra began to realize her talent three years ago when she arrived at tournament with her club team and saw a sea of scouts, after which she received her first recognition letter. As she gained skill and motivation, her natural personality began to shape her volleyball future. “I’m a very competitive person,” she admits. “I developed a great passion for volleyball, even when I’m playing in my backyard with my little sister (Lucy, now a Tigers teammate).” Cikra could have hightailed it to a private school that makes annual appearances at the state volleyball tournament. But she has opted to remain at Chagrin Falls, where she led the team to the Division III district finals in 2006 and into the district semis the following year. Cikra registered an impressive 379 kills as a junior and 243 already this season. Though she could have been part of a team that advanced further had she taken her vast talent elsewhere, she doesn’t for a split-second regret staying. “Leaving Chagrin Falls hasn’t even been a thought in my head,” she says. “Nothing could make me change schools. My mom went to Chagrin Falls and my grandma went to Chagrin Falls. I couldn’t imagine playing any place else. The atmosphere in this town and the spirit of this school I can’t get anywhere else. Plus, volleyball is different than football in terms of recruiting because volleyball scouts also look at your club season.”

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

Chagrin Falls senior Leslie Cikra has registered over 600 kills the last two years combined. Tigers coach Dan Kerul believes Cikra’s physical development, though quite remarkable, has been no more impressive than her maturity as a teammate. Kerul began working with Cikra as an eighth grade coach and has witnessed a tremendous change and eagerness to maximize not just her own success, but also those of others. “I’ve had the good fortune of coaching Cikra for five years,” Kerul says. “Back then, she was just a really tall person and she was very raw. Her strength and coordination were not there. Now everything has come together for her. She’s pretty strong and pretty quick. She’s still pretty slender and I’m sure (at Tennessee) they will add meat to her bones and more agility. “They have a great Junior Olympic program at Cleveland Renaissance and I think now Leslie sees the bigger picture. Her work ethic has an effect on other kids. Now she understands that if she works hard, so do the other kids. If she panics, it has a negative effect on the whole team. But if she stays cool, it has a positive effect. I don’t think she knew the positive and negative effects she could have on her teammates last year. This year she does.” As for being 6-3 and forced her hear all those “How’s the weather up there?” cracks? That’s no problem. “I’ve always been tall and I love it,” she says. “I just laugh it off.” Leslie Cikra stands tall. And that has nothing to do with her height. — OH

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Around Ohio

STORY BY OHIO HIGH STAFF

Defending state tennis champ Lippert picks Ohio State

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Photo by Nick Falzerano

Senior to join Buckeyes talented program

fter he won the Division I state singles title last spring, West Chester Lakota West tennis standout Wyatt Lippert discussed the busy summer he had ahead of him. Of course there were plenty of tournaments, workouts and conditioning. But there was also the college recruiting aspect. Lippert mentioned how he liked Ohio, but had considered attending a school in the Southeast. And while Lippert took some visits to various schools this fall, his mind seemed to have changed about the Buckeye State. He made an unofficial visit to Ohio State in mid-August and continued to evaluate his options. But, last weekend Lippert took an official visit to Columbus and was convinced. On Friday, he made it official: he made an oral commitment this week to play for the Buckeyes. “I had a great visit and got along great with the team,” said Lippert, who is ranked No. 31 nationally in the 2009 class by TennisRecruiting.net. “I want to play tennis for a top 10 school.” The Buckeyes are a national power in men’s tennis. Three Ohio State players are ranked among the top 11 in ITA’s national rankings. One promising young Ohio State player is Kings Mills Kings Lakota West High School graduate Matt Allare. A friend of Lippert, Allare is ranked as the Butler County nation’s 96th best player as a sophomore. “Coach Ty Tucker is a great coach,” Lippert said. “He led Ohio State to a No. 3 ranking in the country last spring.” There is also another reason why Ohio State is a good fit. New Albany senior Peter Kobelt also recently committed to the Buckeyes. Both are good friends and often compete with and against each other during the summer. Ironically, Lippert defeated Kobelt 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Division I state final this spring at the Stickney Tennis Center. Kobelt, a five-star recruit, is rated No. 76 nationally by TennisRecruiting.net. He also reportedly considered Michigan State, Alabama and Kentucky. “(Kobelt) and Wyatt played in the championship match last spring and now look forward to rooming together as teammates,” Lakota West coach Mike Mueller said. Lippert, 17, chose the Buckeyes over Clemson, Maryland, North Carolina-Wilmington, Alabama, Xavier and Indiana. Lippert, who was 31-1 last season, is the first and only Lakota District tennis player (male or female) to win a state tennis title. Lippert, who has an overall record of 77-17 (82 percent), was the Huntington Bank/Ohio High Magazine Boys’ Tennis Player of the Year last school year. He was third at state his first two seasons. Lippert, an all-state selection and Greater Miami Conference player of the year, will certainly be one of the state’s best returning players in

JJ Hu d d l e ’ s O h i o H i g h

Lakota West senior Wyatt Lippert beat future Ohio State teammate Peter Kobalt, a senior at New Albany, for the Division I state title last spring.

the spring of 2009. “Wyatt is in great position to repeat as state champion,” Cincinnati St. Xavier coach Russ King said this summer. This summer, Lippert said he has gotten stronger with a consistent workout regiment outdoors and in the gym. That should only help him again this upcoming season. Lippert plans to study architecture with a minor in Spanish at Ohio State. "Wyatt is a fine young man," Mueller said. "It's a win-win situation for Ohio State and Wyatt and his family." — OH

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM OUR READERS Know a good story for inclusion in Around Ohio? Contact Ohio High Magazine managing editor Eric Frantz at efrantz@bucknuts.com with your sugggestions.

J J H U D D L E . C O M 61


Ohio High Fall 2008  

Boys and Girls Basketball Preview, Football Playoff Preview, Mr. Football Candidates, Wrestling Preview

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