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." We're not aiming for the popular vote. We look into the players and coaches. We look at what they've done to get where they are. We actually watch them on and off of the field. We look at the kids that bust their asses out there and give 110%!
WE'RE GIVING YOU A REALITY CHECK! We realize not many of you can handle reality, but here it is. Not everyone can be #1 boys!
9 weeks of God's greatest game have brought us this far:
1. Mayfield (8-1) Yes they lost to Olmstead Falls early in the season and this was a very hard decision to place them in the top spot, but you simply cannot argue with 6 straight shutouts by the defense run by coach Ricky Finotti. Simply the best around thus far. Talk about "shutdown defense." WOW. Oh yeah, did we mention Tim Wetzel scored again.....
2. Strongsville (8-1) You'd have to show me serious proof of a better quarterback in northeast Ohio than Kellen Pagel for us to believe you. He currently has an NCAA QB rating of 202.8! Not bad for his first full year as a starter. This kid is a winner and a true "player." Solid, poised and far too under-rated. Give him his credit and give coach Jacques the credit for putting together a terrific squad worthy and ready for a deep playoff run.
3. Youngstown Ursuline (9-0) You can say they struggled against Mooney, but we see it as if they battled the Cardinals in the very hard fought game of defense. Outstanding group of well coached, disciplined young athletes.
4. Kirtland (9-0) Not very hard to keep the Hornets near the top as they are worthy of the recognition and respect, BUT this team needs no accolades. They are hungry and focused. A one game playoff run simply isn't enough for them. They want it all and they may get their shot.
5. Mentor (7-2) For the last month the Cardinals have been playing at playoff intensity. Coach Triv (and yes WE can call him that) needs to keep the boys locked in and allow no slip ups. It's full steam now men.
6. Brunswick (8-1) The Blue Devils rebounded after their loss to Strongsville, but Mentor has the nod based on their intensity level this week. Brunswick will be a big horse in the home stretch we know that for a fact.
7. St. Ignatius (8-1) Iggy struggled to get to overtime with St. X this week, but pulled it out. They finally survived a worthy opponent this season and are gearing up for the playoffs.
8. Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary (7-2) Playoff fever has struck THESE Irish too! An exclamation mark put on their big win this week is proof of that. Next week it's just another game for these guys....BUT it's against Ursuline. Good luck.
9. Euclid (7-2) Staying put at the 9 spot, but screaming like a heat-seeking missile into the playoffs are the Panthers. Our buddy Tommy Gibbons has the defense pumped and our guy Donald Bell leads the fierce attack at linebacker for Euclid!
10. Youngstown Cardinal Mooney (7-2) The Cardinals slip quite a bit, but in all honesty they just got caught in a surge of wins over their tough loss to Ursuline. They'll be a force in the playoffs.
11. Aurora (7-2) The Greenmen make a small move up as they continue to surge their way to the post-season. Although easily bragged about regular season wins are nice, the Greenmen will see a whole new ballgame come playoff time.
12. Padua (7-2) The Bruins are back! Andy Dziak has led that team through thick and thin this year and against very tough opposition. They locked into conference play and it was all said and done for the NCL teams...Padua reigns supreme as the class of the North Coast League.
OH SO CLOSE:
St. Edward players and fans can put this one on the coaching. There comes a time when to kickoff deep and when to squib it. This was the time for the squib guys. Hell, you had the game won!
NDCL is very close to jumping onto this list as they are peaking at a critical time. A 31-14 knockout and second straight win over rival Lake Catholic is not a fluke. Willoughby South keeps on burying teams on their way to the post-season. Perry, Walsh and Streetsboro all continue to play well in the home stretch!
Stay locked in to the website SCOREBOARD and the FORUMS for updates and football talk all the way to championship weekend.