Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Stealthy Teams

After a thrilling 2007 season, northeast Ohio is geared up and ready for 2008!

We know that Mentor, St. Ignatius, Glenville and possibly St. Edward will be considered in Division I. That's all well and good, BUT northeast Ohio goes way, way beyond the Division I glamor show. The other divisions are just as stacked and are full of teams that come out every weekend and lay it all out there on the field and play their hearts out. Teams that get lost in the fray of the larger schools when they deserve equal time and sometimes put out more effort on the field.

Division II sees Chardon tearing it up out east as a perennial dominant force in the Premier Athletic Conference. Avon lake is the measuring stick on the west side of Cleveland within the division while Normandy has been silent but very strong the last few seasons. Don't count out Padua with Mr. Consistent Adrew Dziak behind the controls at quarterback.

When Division III is mentioned immediately Lake Catholic, Walsh Jesuit and Rocky River come to mind, BUT never count out Dave Bors. He is in the second year of building a VERY solid program over at West Geauga after years of success as defensive coordinator at Chardon.

Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, Steubenville, Akron St. Vincent-St.Mary and Perry are teams in Division IV that can play with ANY TEAM IN ANY DIVISION. The Cardinals of Mooney are coming off a heartbreaking loss in the title game a year ago, but you can bet they'll be among the best again this year. Perry hasn't gotten much respect state wide lately, but behind Vinny Hokavar at QB and safety the Pirates are ready to start their surge back to the post-season. Keep an eye on Villa Angela-St. Joseph this year. Let's see if missing the playoffs by a handfull of points last year can drive the young Vikings back to prominence.

The smaller schools in Division V and VI represent teams that never fail to produce teams that will never quit and give 110% every week on the gridiron. The Fighting Hornets of Kirtland are a great example, not shown much respect within the Chagrin Valley Conference because of being in the smaller Valley division of their conference, they fail to garner much of a look statewide. However, with a 2006 overall conference title and a 2007 playoff appearance to his claim, head coach Tiger LaVerde looks to take his troops deeper into the playoffs and quite possibly bring home a state title. A classic match-up is brewing with very strong Cuyahoga Heights for the Hornets. A rematch of last season when the Hornets sent Heights packing! Richmond Heights came on strong last year and look for the push to continue in 2008. The same goes for Chanel who opened some eyes at the end of the 2007 campaign.

The bigger schools will get the media hype, but we all know the every team in northeast Ohio represents a tradition that goes deeper than most within this great nation. High School football in Ohio...the Cradle of High School Football.

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