Ohio High School Football 2002

JJ Huddle from JJHuddle.com has sent us his look at Ohio High School Football in 2002, which kicks off Friday.

JJ Huddle is both a website and a person.

The website covers all Ohio high school sports and gets "hit" by more than a million people every day!

The person is John J. Ansel, who founded the website and can also be found weekly on the "JJ and Jerry High School Sports Show", the most popular weekly radio high school sports show in Ohio.

JJ is a Bishop Ready graduate who coached high school football for 26 years in the Columbus area. His real job has been as a firefighter since 1978.

JJ stays busy writing about sports, hosting his radio shows, fielding hundreds of website inquiries and talking with coaches throughout the state.

With the season barely a week away, it is time to look at the teams we ranked highest at JJHuddle.com. I will preview Divisions I, II and III and give you a look at what to expect in Divisions IV, V and VI .

In Division I, the northeast part of the state looks to have the usual juggernauts on the horizon.

Cleveland St. Ignatius, led by Ohio State-bound Tony Gonzalez, will attempt to become the first school to win ten state football titles since the playoffs began in 1972.

It will not be easy as Warren Harding with Prescott Burgess and Mike Phillips have title hopes of their own.

Lakewood St. Edward and Massillon Washington also rank in the top five in our Division I rankings, giving the northeast four of our top five spots.

From Central Ohio, Dublin Coffman, with All-Ohioan Brady Quinn returning at QB, hope to prove their run to the state semi-finals last year was no fluke.

Cincinnati Elder and Colerain hope to be the first southern team to win the Division I title since Cincinnati Moeller won it in 1985.

Division I
1) Cleveland St. Ignatius
2) Warren Harding
3) Lakewood St. Edward
4) Dublin Coffman
5) Massillon Washington
6) Cincinnati Elder
7) Massillon Perry
8) Strongsville
9) Cleveland Glenville
10) Solon

Division II seems to have strong teams spread throughout the state, starting with Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, taking aim at their first State Title.

Youngstown Chaney and defending champion Toledo St. Francis de Sales will both have their eyes set on a trip to Massillon.

Coach Jerry Buti will have his Defiance squad aiming at not only the WBL title, but a long run into the playoffs as well.

And Columbus Walnut Ridge will look to improve on their 9-2 record.

Division II
1) Dayton Chaminade-Julienne
2) Youngstown Chaney
3) Toledo St. Francis de Sales
4) Defiance
5) Columbus Walnut Ridge
6) Louisville
7) Piqua
8) Chardon
9) Avon Lake
10) Green  

Division III is probably the deepest and toughest of all six divisions this season. There were 8-10 teams that could have made these rankings that didn't.  If you look at the top six teams here, it would not surprise me if any one of them of them was the final team left standing come late November.

Top ranked Akron Hoban returns three-year starter QB Tom Sitko to guide the Knights to what appears will be a very deep play-off run.

Last year's state runner-up in Division II drops to III this season and the Eagles of Columbus Bishop Watterson just keep reloading.

If Poland Seminary can rebuild their defense, the offense should take care of itself with seven returnees from last season.

If you weren't impressed with Columbus St. Francis DeSales 5-5 regular season record last season, you were by the time they missed the Division III title by just a whisker.   This season their schedule includes Worthington Kilbourne, Westerville South, Ignatius, St. Xavier, Moeller, Bishop Watterson and Ironton. I lost my breath just reading that list.

Steubenville's Big Red launches their 2002 with high hopes. Coach Reno Saccoccia will need to replace his QB, but both lines look solid, the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference should beware.

Division III
1) Akron Hoban
2) Columbus Bishop Watterson
3) Poland Seminary
4) Columbus St. Francis DeSales
5) Steubenville
6) Akron Buchtel
7) Sunbury Big Walnut
8) Canal Fulton Northwest
9) Canton Central Catholic
10) Willard  

Division IV is probably the most interesting of all the divisions this 2002 season.  

Starting with Youngstown Ursuline; they come back with a host of Division I college prospects to try and re-claim their 2000 title. Led by Ohio State-bound TE Louis Irizarry and by Matt Maizel on the offensive line, Terrance Graves should find lots of running room this fall.

The title will not be just given to the Irish. The Kenton Wildcats have Top Gun QB, Benjamin Mauk, for his senior season and he plans on setting just about every passing record there has ever been in this state.

Portsmouth and Ironton will first try to crush each other down along the Ohio River before moving on to the playoffs. And you can never count out Akron SV-SM (without Lebron James), Kettering Alter or Coldwater. Coldwater travels to Kenton on opening night.  

Division IV

1) Youngstown Ursuline
2) Kenton
3) Portsmouth
4) Ironton
5) Akron SVSM
6) Kettering Alter
7) Coldwater
8) Akron Manchester
9) Huron
10) Mansfield Ontario

Division V has many familiar faces in contention this year. Gahanna Columbus Academy plans on riding Scott Smith and Ray Jones deep into the play-offs. Both rushed for more than 1000 yards last season.  

Sidney Lehman Catholic returns 13 starters from last season's 10-4 team.

Woodsfield Monroe Central returns almost of the players who helped send them to the 2001 semi-final game last season. And Coach Jay Circosta will rely on his extremely quick Seminoles to take it one step further this season.    

Division V

1) Gahanna Columbus Academy
2) Sidney Lehman Catholic
3) Woodsfield Monroe Central
4) Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas
5) Liberty Center
6) Bedford St. Peter Chanel
7) Marion Pleasant
8) Delphos St. John's
9) Castalia Margaretta
10) St. Henry

Finally, there's Division VI. They may be the smallest schools, but there are some real fighters.  

At the very top is two-time defending state Division VI champion Maria Stein-Marion Local. To unseat this solid team of Coach Tim Goodwin's, you must bring your best game. No one has in the past two years!

Columbus Grove gave the Flyers all they could handle in the play-offs last year. They hope to kick down that door they were knocking on in 2001.

The Blue Devils from Danville will be as explosive as they are every year.

Mogadore has advance to the state finals three straight years. The last two (against Marion Local) have ended in routs for the Wildcats. Mogadore opens the season with Delphos St. John's. Between St. John's and Marion Local, the MAC has won the last five state titles in Division VI.

Division VI

1) Maria Stein-Marion Local
2) Columbus Grove
3) Danville
4) Mogadore
5) Sycamore Mohawk
6) Strasburg Franklin
7) Cuyahoga Heights
8) Newark Catholic
9) Minster
10) Tiffin Calvert

Well, there you have it. You have seen our preview of all six Divisions. But this year's champions will be decided on the field. And that's the way it should be!

I hope each and every one of you will get out and support all these young men and your schools. It is you fans that make Ohio high school football so special.

You can see all of our Top 15 rankings in all divisions by visiting the Huddle at: www.jjhuddle.com




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