The Ellet football team enters the 2013 season full of promise after a season in which it won the City Series title and made the playoffs for the first time in two decades.
Orangemen coach Joe Yost and his players relished the triumphant moments, and they are seeking a repeat performance this season with 22 returning letterwinners.
Fullback-linebacker Matt Geer, wide receiver-linebacker Dakota King, offensive lineman-linebacker Hussain Hamdan, quarterback Jake Fisher and defensive lineman-punter Jacob Isenhart are five Ellet seniors who played starring roles as juniors.
“Naturally, Ellet is going to be one of the top teams because they have so many players coming back,” Buchtel coach Ricky Powers said. “I think we will be pretty good and Firestone will be tough. Kenmore is coming off a big victory against us last year, and you can’t sleep on Garfield and East. I think North is a tough football team. If they can last four quarters, they can beat you.”
Ellet posted an 8-3 overall record last year and a 6-0 mark in the City Series. The Orangemen won nine games on the field, but a blowout victory against Springfield was taken away because an ineligible player was used in the second half.
Seniors Austin Fink and Jacob Williams and juniors Jacob Ivery and Maurice Mackey are four other playmakers to watch for Ellet.
Senior Stephen Mosley is a key cornerback-wide receiver for Buchtel (4-6, 4-2), which has five starters back on offense and six on defense. Senior quarterback Chris Davis returns along with senior running backs Ali Grose and Travon Wilkes, senior linemen Darius Wilson and Anthony Harris and juniors Daquan Davenport and Tymeon Ollison.
Firestone (5-5, 4-2) returns six starters on defense and five on offense. Seniors Brennan Williams and Edmund Williams will make an impact as linebackers and are playmakers on offense. Senior cornerbacks Howard Dover and Louis Christian are also back, along with senior linemen Miles Kirk, Damon Pullens and Luther Holley.
“We have a lot of good seniors and juniors that have a lot of experience,” Falcons coach Tim Flossie said. “I think we will play better as team. We didn’t do very well last year. I thought we were capable of better. I think the team chemistry is better this year. We also have big and agile linemen on offense and defense.”
Garfield (4-6, 3-3) returns seven starters defensively and four offensively, including junior running back-safety Darrion Powers and junior wide receiver-cornerback Noland Palmer. Eric McCants, Jarred Bell, Eric Bussey and Anthony Robertson are key seniors.
“The number of returning players on defense is the key for us right now,” Garfield coach Bob Sax said. “We have experienced backs and linebackers. We had a really good defense last year. Those guys are athletes and some of them are playing on both sides of the ball. On offense, we need to get them the ball. I think this year we can be pretty balanced. We have a sophomore quarterback [Jataires Grant] who is an athlete and he has shown all summer that he can play in practices and scrimmages.”
Jason Knapp is in his first season as Kenmore’s coach. The Cardinals went 5-5, 3-3 a year ago and return five starters on each side of the ball. Michael Perry, TJ May, Chris Richardson, Astin Johnson, Kris Beard and Willie Johnson are top seniors.
“We are young and unproven in many positions, but we are very excited about our potential,” Knapp said. “The kids are working hard and cannot wait for the season to begin. Our skill level is encouraging. I think we have a lot of potential. Our team speed is something to be excited about. We lack a little bit of size along the lines.”
North (1-9, 1-5) has seven starters back on defense and six back on offense.
“We are still going to be young, but we have some kids with varsity experience who played as freshmen,” Vikings coach Mike Laktash said. “I think our quarterback [junior Will Mixon] is doing a great job as of now. He is getting better at his decision making and managing the offense. He is smart and knows how to read defenses. I am really pushing the running game, and [junior] Malik Al-Qaadir is our top running back.”
Al-Qaadir and seniors Malik Riechers and Brandon Johnson are key defensive players. Sophomores Jordyn Johnson and Dion Becker are quality receivers and defensive backs.
East looks to rebound from a winless season with seven starters returning on defense and four on offense. Juniors Darius Griggs, Maurice Thomas, Galen Thompson and Kalyn Gregory figure to be prominent players along with senior Dion DeJournett.
“The strength of our team is our quarterback [Thomas] and our defense,” East coach Marques Hayes said. “Our quarterback is a returning starter. He got a little banged up in some games, but when he was in there he showed promise. He has improved and gotten stronger, and has played well this summer.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.