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JJ Huddle Power Poll


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1251127988.jpgAfter months of research, talking to coaches and players alike, we have compiled all our information and present the highly-anticipated 2009 JJHuddle Ohio High Preseason Power Poll! With the season just days from kickoff, check out the top teams in the state in each Division as they prepare for their march towards the 2009 state championship trophy.


With the kickoff to the 2009 season just days away, we are proud to announce the Sixth Annual JJHuddle Ohio High Power Poll!


The Poll has been a huge success in past seasons and once again we are excited to bring Ohio the best high school football coverage in the state this season.


Like years past, this preseason poll will remain as is until the third week of the season has been completed and then we will restructure the standings accordingly.


Division I



Cincinnati Elder (13-2, Division I State Runner-Up)


Elder moved back into the forefront in the GCL as well as on the statewide stage with its run to the state title game. There had been some lean times for the Panthers since winning back-to-back state titles in 2002-03. After winning the regional title, Elder downed Pickerington Central 24-10 in a state semifinal before falling to Cleveland St. Ignatius 28-20 in the title game. Still, it was a major breakthrough for an Elder program that had failed to win a playoff game in its two playoff appearances since winning its last title in 2003.


“It was an exciting year,” said Elder coach Doug Ramsey, who is starting his 13th year as the Panthers head coach. “I’m not sure there were a ton of expectations for that team. That team was a big-time overachiever. We won 13 games and we lost one to the eventual national champion (Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas) and one in the state title game.”


Elder will have four returning starters on offense and seven on defense.


“Our skill positions on offense should be pretty good,” Ramsey said. “But we lost all five of our linemen from last year. We have a chance to have a bigger line than we had last year. On defense, we don’t normally have seven guys back. We expect the defense to play well.”


Mark Miller threw for 1,968 yards with 21 touchdowns against just four interceptions.


“Mark understands the game,” Ramsey said. “He is a very accurate quarterback and gets the ball to the open receiver.”


Alex Welch, who had four touchdowns among his 16 catches last year, has already verbally committed to Notre Dame.


The schedule is tough as nails. Elder faces Illinois state champion East St. Louis and Kentucky state champion Louisville Trinity. Elder also faces Colerain, Lakewood St. Edward and Columbus DeSales in addition to the usual GCL challenges.


2. Cleveland Glenville (11-1)


The Tarblooders won their first 11 games and appeared to be a potential state championship contender. That streak including an opening week win over rival Cleveland St. Ignatius. But St. Ignatius avenged that early defeat with a stunning 8-7 win in a regional semifinal before going on to the state championship itself.


As always, there are heavy graduation losses. OL Marcus Hall and LB Jonathan Newsome signed with Ohio State. But coach Ted Ginn Sr. has quite a bit of talent still on hand to try and make another title run.


S Christian Bryant has scholarship offers from schools from coast to coast and could be the next spotlight player out of this inner city school.


Latwaan Anderson transferred from Lakewood St. Edward, where he was a defensive standout. Jayrone Elliott’s stock has also risen with colleges during the spring and early summer.


Glenville is expected to win the Senate League again. The nonconference is daunting with road games against St. Ignatius and trips downstate to face Reynoldsburg and Huber Heights Wayne.


3. Cleveland St. Ignatius (14-1, State Champions)


Coach Chuck Kyle, back for his 27th year with the Wildcats, welcomes back three players with starting experience on offense and five on defense from his 10th state championship team. Kyle hopes to maintain the momentum built on that title run.


“We had a couple of camps recently and the kids were all like, ‘It feels like we just stopped (playing),’ ” Kyle said. “Now the kids know what the reality is about winning a state championship. What you hope is that you get to practice an extra five weeks because last year, that really did help our young kids get more experience during our playoff run.”


LB Scott McVey issued an early commitment to Ohio State after a dominant four-sack performance in the state title game win over Cincinnati Elder. For the year, McVey had 94 tackles and 34-1/2 tackles-for-loss.


“Scott’s the type of kid, he’s a very focused athlete,” Kyle said. “He loves playing the game. It’s almost like, ‘That’s (his recruitment to Ohio State) done, now let’s get ready to play the season.’ He’s glad it’s out of the way so he can play the game for his team. He had an amazing season last year.”


Kevin Johnson, who rushed for 302 yards and four TDs last year, was a state qualifier in the 100-meter dash and is a Louisville recruit. Brendan Carrozoni is being heavily recruited as a tight end. Mark Myers started a few games for departed senior Andrew Holland last year at quarterback.


The schedule has Glenville at the beginning and rival Lakewood St. Edward at the end with a ton of challenges – including Clayton Northmont, Mentor, Massillon Washington and Cincinnati St. Xavier -- in the middle.


4. Cincinnati Moeller (11-2)


John Rodenberg stepped in as the Moeller coach last year and led the Crusaders to a playoff berth. Moeller dropped its first-round game to Colerain 17-10. Rodenberg’s team could be poised to go deeper in 2009 with seven starters back on offense and eight returning on defense.


“We were excited with the way we got into the playoffs,” Rodenberg said. “We beat St. Xavier and Lakewood St. Edward. Unfortunately, we got in there and lost to Colerain. We have a lot of guys coming back. We hope they can play up to their potential. Our region is extremely tough, but if they can do that we could be in the thick of it this year.


“We are excited to have that many starters back. That puts me under a lot of pressure I guess,” Rodenberg joked.


All eyes will be on Andrew Hendrix, who issued a verbal commitment to Notre Dame in late June. He threw for 1,609 yards with 11 touchdowns against seven interceptions last year.


“He’s got phenomenal arm strength and release,” Rodenberg said. “He is very intelligent, he makes great decisions and he is a humble leader.”


LB Nick Galvin tallied 9-1/2 sacks as a junior. LB Marcus Rush is a Michigan State verbal and OL Jeff Tanner is a Wake Forest verbal.


5. Colerain (11-2)


It has been a pretty good two years at the helm for Tom Bolden, who followed the legendary Kerry Coombs as the Colerain coach in 2007. In two seasons, the Cardinals have gone 21-3 under Bolden. Last year, Colerain downed Cincinnati Moeller and Huber Heights Wayne in the playoffs before falling to Cincinnati Elder 27-20 in double overtime in a heart-stopping regional final. Middletown snapped Colerain’s string of 61 straight Greater Miami Conference wins, but the Cardinals still won the conference title. Bolden welcomes back seven starters on offense and six on defense.


“Without a doubt, we are still a young team,” Bolden said. “We played six sophomores last year. They did not perform like sophomores. They excelled. Defensively, we think we will be as athletic and as fast as we have ever been.”


Greg Tabar is a caretaker in the option offense, although he threw for 515 yards and six touchdowns last year. Tyon Williams and Trayion Durham each eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark last year. Williams finished with 1,269 yards and 16 TDs rushing, while Durham had 1,032 yards and nine scores.


Colerain meets St. Xavier in the Crosstown Showdown and visits Cincinnati Elder as well. Another Greater Miami Conference title will be the goal when the conference season arrives.


6. Dublin Coffman (7-3)


After reaching the state semifinals with a 13-1 season in 2007, Coffman went 7-3 and finished 10th n the region to miss the playoffs. Mark Crabtree, back for his ninth year at Coffman and 15th season as a varsity head coach, has six starters back on offense and five on defense.


“I think our players were definitely disappointed about missing the playoffs last year, but we had nobody to blame but ourselves,” Crabtree said. “We started out 7-0, but we lost our last three games by a total of 15 points. We weren’t probably athletic enough to make enough of the plays we needed to defeat the teams we played at the end of the year. We lost to three playoff teams there at the end.”


Cole Stoudt, whose brother Zack was the previous starter and a Louisville signee last year, stepped in as the starter last year as a sophomore. Stoudt, son of former NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt, is now regarded as one of the state’s top 20 prospects in the 2011 class and has an offer to Cincinnati.


“The first thing we saw with Cole was he does have the ability to play at this level,” Crabtree said. “As a sophomore in high school, you never know. He came in and competed against kids two years older than him. He did a good job being a leader and taking charge. He was not intimidated by the situation.


“It’s nice to know we have him for two more seasons. He is mechanically sound and has the ability to make good decisions. His future is pretty bright.”


Coffman opens with Powell Olentangy Liberty with a game at Ohio Stadium as part of the Kirk Herbstreit Varsity Series. As always, the Ohio Capital Conference Central Division – with the likes of Upper Arlington, Hilliard Davidson and Worthington Kilbourne – looms large.


7. Huber Heights Wayne (8-4)


Wayne was off to a 5-0 start before Braxton Miller, its standout quarterback, suffered a broken leg in a Week 6 game against Clayton Northmont. Wayne still made the playoff field and swamped unbeaten Cincinnati Woodward 52-0 in its opener before falling to Cincinnati Colerain 23-0 in the second round. Miller has recovered from the injury and is considered Ohio’s top prospect in the 2011 class. After throwing for 1,000 yards and rushing for 500 as a freshman, he threw for 642 yards and five touchdowns in six games before the injury.


“When you have a player like Braxton, you have to feel good about that,” said Wayne coach Jay Minton, who returns for his 11th year as the Wayne coach and 19th as a varsity head coach. “His competitiveness and athletic ability, that is a combination that you don’t see very often. He’s a special player who, when he steps on the field, he makes everyone else around him better.”


Minton has five starters back on offense and six on defense.


“We feel we are pretty solid up front,” Minton said. “At receiver, we don’t have that one marquee guy. With Braxton being there, you want to make sure you have some guys who can run great routes and catch the ball.”


Brothers Terrence and Terry Talbott are Michigan recruits.


The schedule will be a challenge. Wayne opens against Cincinnati Princeton in the Crosstown Showdown before going upstate to visit Canton McKinley and hosting powerful Cleveland Glenville. Wayne also figures to be in the GWOC hunt.


8. North Canton Hoover (12-2)


Hoover reached the state semifinals behind the exploits of Ohio’s Mr. Football award winner and the Ohio High player of the year RB Erick Howard (5-10, 210, Sr). Howard rushed for 2,387 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also registered 98 tackles, three sacks and eight tackles-for-loss. Hoover dropped its semifinal game to Cleveland St. Ignatius 34-7.


9. Cincinnati St. Xavier (4-6)


From 2005-07, St. Xavier posted a 40-2 record with a pair of 15-0 state championship seasons. But the Bombers took a step back in 2008, losing several tight games and posting a losing record.


“You never settle for anything but the best,” said St. X coach Steve Specht, who is back for his fifth year with the Bombers. “But we felt the schedule we had was brutal. We played a number of teams ranked in the top 20 in the country. We didn’t stay healthy. We lost three games by a total of seven points. I don’t look at last year as a failure. We had a group of young kids who worked hard. The ball just didn’t bounce our way last year.”


Specht welcomes back seven starters on offense and five on defense.


“Our offensive line should be the strength of our team,” Specht said. “We bring back our quarterback and we feel he is a major college prospect. We have a nice stable of running backs. We have to find some receivers.”


Luke Massa split time at quarterback last year nursing an injury. He threw for 752 yards and three touchdowns a year ago and is a Cincinnati recruit.


“He is the smartest quarterback I have coached,” Specht said. “He makes unbelievable decisions. He is very even keeled and poised in the pocket.”


Matt James is considered one of the nation’s top offensive line prospects with offers from a number of top schools, including Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Ohio State.


“We have leaned Matt out a little bit and he looks good,” Specht said. “Other than the fact he’s got size and athleticism, if you come to our practices you’ll see a kid who works as hard in practice as he does in a game.”


St. X opens with Cincinnati Colerain in the Crosstown Showdown. Four state championship teams – Indianapolis Cathedral, Louisville Trinity, Fort Thomas (Ky.) Highlands and Cleveland St. Ignatius – dot the schedule. Plus, the usual Greater Catholic League challenges of Cincinnati Elder and Cincinnati Moeller loom large.


10. Canton McKinley (6-5)


Former Miami (Ohio) assistant Ron Johnson took over the McKinley program last year and led the Bulldogs to a playoff berth in his first season. McKinley dropped its playoff opener to Federal League rival GlenOak 14-7.


“It was very encouraging,” Johnson said. “We came in following a 3-7 season and took the program over. We came in and played so many young guys. We started out 0-2, but then we went on a pretty good run.”


Johnson welcomes back six offensive starters and 10 on defense.


“It’s very exciting,” Johnson said. “Our kids are locked in and focused. They got after it this off-season. I think this is a mature, seasoned group and they have high aspirations.”


One of the youngsters that got playing time in 2008 was Kyle Ohradzansky, who started at quarterback as a sophomore. He threw for 1,400 yards with 15 touchdowns against just seven interceptions.


DE Steve Miller is considered one of Ohio’s top five junior prospects as he tallied 100 tackles, 11 sacks and 23 tackles-for-loss. He earned first-team All-Ohio honors as a sophomore and is in line for a number of major college offers.


“He just plays with great effort,” Johnson said. “He takes coaching very week. He is strong, uses good technique and just plays very hard.”


McKinley could be a team to watch in the Federal League. Nonleague games with Cleveland East Tech, Huber Heights Wayne and rival Massillon Washington (which won that Week 10 showdown 17-0 last year) all loom large.



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