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.
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.
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.
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.
1) Cleveland St. Ignatius
2) Warren Harding
3) Lakewood St. Edward
4) Dublin Coffman
5) Massillon Washington
6) Cincinnati Elder
7) Massillon Perry
9) Cleveland Glenville
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
Coach Jerry Buti will have his Defiance
squad aiming at not only the WBL title, but a long run into the playoffs as
And Columbus Walnut Ridge will look to
improve on their 9-2 record.
1) Dayton Chaminade-Julienne
2) Youngstown Chaney
3) Toledo St. Francis de Sales
5) Columbus Walnut Ridge
9) Avon Lake
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
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
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.
1) Akron Hoban
2) Columbus Bishop Watterson
3) Poland Seminary
4) Columbus St. Francis DeSales
6) Akron Buchtel
7) Sunbury Big Walnut
8) Canal Fulton Northwest
9) Canton Central Catholic
Division IV is
probably the most interesting of all the divisions this 2002 season.
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.
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
1) Youngstown Ursuline
5) Akron SVSM
6) Kettering Alter
8) Akron Manchester
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.
Catholic returns 13 starters from last season's 10-4 team.
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.
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
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.
1) Maria Stein-Marion Local
2) Columbus Grove
5) Sycamore Mohawk
6) Strasburg Franklin
7) Cuyahoga Heights
8) Newark Catholic
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