Kirtland's Rossi Santo and Lake Catholic's Randy Greenwood will start of the year in a virtual tie for Northeast Ohio High School Player of the Year. Randy won it last year based on a very solid season and YES, post-season was taken into consideration. Randy played 5 positions throughout the season as well. Both players also earned the Global Intermed "Shut Up and Play the Game!" GameDay MVP awards during the season.
"Shut Up and Play the Game!"
The smaller Santo also put together a stellar season. In fact he scored more touchdowns than any other player north of Columbus. His 27 overall touchdowns were the most in ANY division. Three of those were via the interception, of which Rossi had 6 total (14 for his career).
Between these two high school seniors there is one descriptor that first comes to mind when you watch them play, HEART. Both are fast and elusive. Greenwood has a somewhat stronger running style while Santo uses speed and elusiveness as his main weapons along with an incredible ability to see the whole field. Using his blockers, finding ways through and around seemingly closed running lanes earned him the nickname "The Salamander" from his head coach Tiger LaVerde.
"The Salamander" makes his way through the line for a big gain
If we were to pin a nickname on Randy Greenwood it would be "Mr. Everything" having looked very comfortable last season at running back, defensive back, punter, receiver and even quarterback. Cougars' coach Mike Bell knows he can expect great things and stands a good chance of winning when it's crunch time and the ball is in Randy's hands.
Randy Greenwood stiffarms a Rocky River defender in the 2007 playoffs
Their respective teams may not meet in a regular season match-up, but that sure would be a classic match-up. Both are the heart and soul of their team. Neither will ever show signs of giving up and both are ready to lead their teams back into the post-season and if you ask either one their ultimate goal for this season is a state title for their TEAM. They know they aren't a one man show and they are quick to give credit to the horses around them, especially Rossi Santo who is surrounded by teammates that have been friends since kindergarten.
I have had the privilege to work with each of these players up close over the past year or two and getting to know them away from the field has been just as rewarding as seeing them on the gridiron. Cuyahoga County may be stocked with some good across the board talented teams, but when it comes to HEART, Lake County has cornered the market, starting with these two outstanding young men.
Randy Greenwood's Lake Catholic Cougars (Division III) won Region 9 in D-III last season during a thrilling post season journey that unfortunately ended one game short of the title game. Head coach Mike Bell knows the journey back this year will be equally as tough, but knows the Cougars are up to the task despite losing several big men at graduation.
The Cougars' loyal fan base
Rossi Santo and the Fighting Kirtland Hornets (Division V) ventured into the playoffs for the second straight year last season only to be eliminated in round one. This year will be different if you ask any of the players on this team. Anchored by Santo and one of the toughest offensive and defensive lines east of Cleveland, the Hornets have their sights set on deep run into the post season and quite possibly a state title.
WR Dominic Samf, QB Ben Madden and Santo are major players in Kirtland's title quest