We're taking a very early look at the upcoming season, but also looking back and seeing where some of "our boys" are heading to play in college.
D1 Football is very, very proud to work with our area's fine young talent all season long, but this season we amped up the off-season training a bit and had a stellar program at Lost Nation Sports Park. Over 30 schools had their teams represented in workouts that kept the kids fresh and kept their desire for football burning. We also witnessed some of our players take big steps in moving on to the next level. Here's a list of those off to college from the class of 2009 that we had the pleasure of being a part of their journey:
Randy Greenwood (Lake Catholic) - University of Akron
Patrick Nicely (Willoughby South) - University of Akron
Neil Perko (Kirtland) - Lake Erie College
Schyler Chappell (Kirtland) - Lake Erie College
Ben Madden (Kirtland) - John Carroll
Kyle Smith (Kirtland) - Ohio Northern University
Jeffvron Gill (Euclid) - University of Buffalo
Rossi Santo (Kirtland) - Edinboro
Andrew Pisorn (Kirtland) - Grove City College
Vinny Hokavar (Perry) - Case Western Reserve University
Torry Treu (Kenston) - Davidson College
AJ Holderman (Kenston) - Robert Morris College
Andre Wells (VASJ) - Lake Erie College
Congratulations to all of you and best of luck in your upcoming college experiences. WE WILL BE WATCHING YOU.
On to the upcoming season of northeast Ohio high school football.
A VERY early look ahead with mini-camps right around the corner. We start off down in D-V where Kirtland looks to return to the post-season and get a ring after coming so close last year losing a heart-breaking regional title game to Ursuline 18-17. The Hornets should be set to roll in the Valley Division of the CVC, but the post-season might be interesting as division rival Berkshire is now D-V along with former D-IV champ Coldwater and cross-county VASJ. The loss of key components from last year's stellar 10-0 team, including players and coaches, will be tough to replace, but Tiger LaVerde can get the most out of his players.
Keeping with the CVC, Chagrin Falls looks to be a favorite in the CVC, plus they drop to D-IV. The Iamarino brothers team up for what should be a competitive season to say the least for the Tigers. Another CVC Chagrin team, Wickliffe, has been flying below the radar in the wake of seasons of 1-9, 1-9 and 2-8 under very uninspired coaching staffs. This season looks to change all of that. P.J. Insana comes back to take the helm of his alma mater and is joined by an all-star cast of coaches, 7 of whom were former St. Joseph Vikings players of coaches. From red horns to blue this group is on a mission to help these kids find the passion that is football and get them winning again to jump start this program.
All is not lost in Lake County as Lake Catholic looks to rebound from a season of injury and a miss at the post-season. Head coach Mike Bell is confident that he and his staff have the kids ready. They've been working hard in the off-season, some with us here at D1, and they have one goal. Get back to winning and find the post-season. Mentor also needs a composure fix after the playoff beating they took at the hands of Strongsville last year to end a great 2008 campaign. Never say never with Steve Trivisonno. Willoughby South sees Cal Rainey take the reins from Pat Nicely and they have a ton of team speed. Watch out for these "runnin' Rebels in 2009.
Out west, Strongsville loses Kellen Pagel to graduation and must fill that void at QB, but our buddy Russ Jacques knows how to win, no matter what. Chico IS the man and St. Ignatius is the team to beat in D-I this year. No more talk of teams from down south until they can handle the Wildcats. Look for the "Holy War" to mean something this year as the St. Edward Eagles take flight with a new defensive-minded head coach in Ricky Finotti and the expert offensive play calling of Joe Perella.
In the city of Cleveland and the Senate in particular, keep an eye on John Hay. They are returning to Varsity football after a very long time out of the lights. We're not expecting them to come in and be gang busters, but we worked with this class group of young men all off-season and we think they have the fire burning and we believe they will open some eyes this year on the road back to football. We know they'll be baby steps, but as you know babies make a lot of noise.
Other teams to keep and eye on this season starting this spring with mini-camps:
Aurora - "Another title for the Greemen after losing so much beef?"
Chardon - "Can they get back to their winning ways?"
Mayfield - "How much will losing Finotti dampen the defense of the Wildcats?"
Perry - "We know Air Hokavar is gone, but can we get deeper into the playoffs boys?"
Glenville - "Will they ever win a playoff game beyond round one?"
Euclid - "Still hungry?"
Eastlake North - "Will they ever make it to the post-season?"
Solon - "Have the Comets lost their fire?"
Kenston - "Do we need to get out the shovels now?"
Richmond Heights - "Will they even have a team this year?"
Streetsboro - "Can the magic continue this year?"
Brunswick - "Manco is off to Lake Erie College, but count on these Blue Devils to be in the hunt again"
and YES BOYS...THE "DAMNED GOOD DOZEN" WILL RETURN TO STIR UP MORE CONTROVERSY THIS SEASON!!!!!! Here's how last year wrapped up : FINAL DGD