While the predictability of most northeast Ohio news rag top "25" teams is very obvious, we look at football from some different angles. NO MEDIA DARLINGS HERE nor will our list be comprised exclusively of Division-I primadonna blow-hards.
We look deeper than that. We don't care about the name of your school. We want to see players with heart and passion for the game. Not a group of kids that think they deserve to be page one because they go to "St. Play Nobody."
1. Strongsville (4-1) The Mustangs are running amok behind the leadership of Kellen Pagel at QB and an excellent supporting cast. A big match-up with Brunswick looms in the next month. stay tuned!
2. Youngstown Ursuline (5-0) The Fighting Irish lead Kirtland (also 5-0) by a mere fraction of points, but they have played "World Beater" again this season. They have taken on the big boys and have laid the wood to them!
3. Brunswick (5-0) The Blue Devils roll on up the list and are right back where they were a year ago...driving to the post season with aggression. What more can you ask of a staff that lost a ton of talent and yet continues to keep it together!
4. Kirtland (5-0) The Hornets have answered every question posed to them so far this season. They just knocked off the two toughest opponents on their schedule in Cuyahoga Heights and Richmond Heights in back to back weeks. They trail Ursuline in Division-5 points ever so slightly, but they are on a mission and most of all these kids are focused. A great group of kids that have grown up together and GROWN together. The offensive and defensive lines can bag with ANYBODY!
5. Euclid (4-1) The Panthers have staggered only once this year, against St. Eds. They have been solid on defense and really play inspired football! A great group of kids let by another great "kid" in head coach Tom Gibbons. Defensive-minded, but ready to fire at anytime on offense! Watch out for them!
6. St. Edward (4-1) The Eagles are SOLID. They have a schedule worthy of being a top ranked team. They play with absolute heart, as shown with how they fought toe to toe, blow for blow with Cincinnati Elder just like Rocky Balboa in a heavyweight title fight! Although they lost that knock down, drag out battle, they showed incredible Heart, Pride and Tradition.
7. Walsh Jesuit (4-1) The Warriors haven't fallen. They've simply been consistent while Brunswick and Ursuline have taken off! Walsh will be there come time for the post-season.
8. Youngstown Cardinal Mooney (4-1) A true thumping of poor Lake Catholic is just a footnote in the season the Cardinals have been having so far and the schedule is "balls out" from this point onward. This team fears nobody and they have more heart than a lot of teams in the BIGGER divisions by far.
9. Perry (4-1) The Pirates climb the ladder a bit after a blistering knockout of Wickliffe 55-14. Vinny "Air" Hokavar has been literally on fire and almost (loss to Aurora) unstoppable. This team is fueled by it's feisty head coach Matt Rosati and they play to win boys!
10. Streetsboro (4-1) The Rockets crack the list in the top 10 and are soaring high behind the skillful, strong play of D1's own Carrington Hanna at QB. He and his team are playing as predicted when the season kicked off.
11. Mentor (3-2) The Cardinals slip a notch, but remain in contention with a thrilling win over Cincinnati Moeller. They seem to be hit and miss this year, but more hit as of late and they may just be hitting their stride fellas!
12. Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary (4-1) Hello gang! We're heeeere! The Irish have quietly worked their way onto the list with great play and a great attitude to play hard and win! A weak schedule to come should make things easier for them, but also the reason they are at #12.
JUST MISSED - Padua (3-2) and Benedictine (3-2) both dropped off the list but have plenty of chances to get right back into the mix with some quality wins. The Bengals drop all the way from #2.
It will be fun to watch the Youngstown teams later this year as Mooney takes on Ursuline in what should be a great match-up and could have playoff positioning implications for either team. Keep an eye on the smaller division teams too for fun football. Kirtland is on a mission...a mission to prove to the CVC that they can roll with anybody in that conference and lend credence to the "small school" Valley Division.
These teams will change, of course, as the season goes on, but rest assured those who deserve it from a FOOTBALL PERSPECTIVE, will get their due from D1 Football....The organization that brought you the TRADEMARKED "Shut Up and Play the Game!" GameDay MVP award, The Northeast Ohio High School Football Player and Coach of the Year awards.