August 15, 2010

Instant Analysis: Best games in Ohio

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to and follow him on Twitter.

High school football is upon us. The games have started in Alaska and are set to kickoff all around the country.

The RivalsHigh100 football rankings have been released and the top players have been named.

The only thing left to do is take a trip around the country to check out some of the best games.

In the third of an eight-part tour we look at the best games inside the state lines of Georgia.

We have already profiled the best in Pennsylvania and Georgia and will look at the best games in California, Florida, and Texas before the games really fire up on Aug. 20.

Ohio: Top 10 games for the 2010 football season
10. Massillon (Ohio) Washington vs. Canton (Ohio) McKinley
Oct. 30 at Washington
It goes without saying that this is one of the best and most storied rivalries in all of high school football. But, we will say it again anyway. This game has a lot of heat, hate and hype every year, and this year is no different. It is expected to be a very good year for Stark County football and this is a fitting culmination to the season with two heated rivals taking to the field. McKinley ended a three-year losing streak in the series last year and looks to repeat this season. It will rely on defensive end and Ohio State commit Steve Miller to put the pressure on the opposition and get a season-closing win.

9. Massillon (Ohio) Washington vs. Steubenville (Ohio) High
Oct. 8 at Washington
This may be more of a "big game" for Steubenville than it is for Washington, but in the scheme of Ohio football it is certainly an interesting game. The beauty of Ohio football is its depth. Very similar to Georgia football, the Division I level is the highest level of play year in and year out, but going into Division III and IV there are certainly a fair share of good teams. The Big Red of Steubenville feel like they are among that group of teams that can transcend its Division III level. Washington has its eyes on a Division I state title with having one of its better teams in recent years. This will be either a signature win for Steubenville or a routine "big brother beating up little brother" outcome.

8. Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne vs. Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller
Aug. 29 at Wayne
Moeller, like many teams in the GCL, plays a very demanding non-conference schedule and this year it starts off with one of the most difficult games on its schedule. The Crusaders will have to contain dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller and the rest of the Warriors at Wayne. Moeller is a traditionally slow team and Miller's speed, especially when he breaks the pocket, could make for a long day. Also, Wayne has one of the best defensive backfields in the state, so even if Moeller liked to throw - which it doesn't - it would be made that much more difficult. Moeller enters the game as the higher-ranked team but could exit with a loss.

7. Cleveland (Ohio) St. Ignatius vs. Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco
Sept. 24 at St. Ignatius
It is a rare year when this matchup isn't in the top three games in the state but both teams are not close to where they normally are. St. Ignatius does not start the season in the Top 10 in Ohio and Don Bosco isn't the favorite in New Jersey, hence the low placement. Regardless of ranking, this is a good out-of-state game between two teams who are well coached and physical. St. Ignatius tends to make hay with its defense and that should be the same this year. The best prospect on the field is just a three-star in Gary Nova, the quarterback for Don Bosco. While the matchup does not have the glitz and glimmer of others, it can make some case for the quality of football in both states if this is a good game.

6. Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier vs. Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller
Sept. 24 at St. Xavier
While this is the fifth game of the season for Moeller and the sixth for St. X, it will mark the first GCL-South game for either team. With it being only a four-team conference, each game is vitally important for making the playoffs and establishing an early pecking order. St. X would seem to have the advantage in the game as the Bombers have won six of the last seven in the series and bring back a defense that would be the envy of most teams nationally. Look for a low scoring game (13-10 last year, 17-14 the season before) with whichever team that makes the least mistakes to win. Steven Daniels and Sean Duggan should clog the running lanes for St. X, making it tough for Moeller to move the ball.

5. Dublin (Ohio) Dublin Coffman vs. Hilliard (Ohio) Hilliard Davidson
Oct. 15 at Dublin Coffman
Hilliard Davidson made an improbable run to an Ohio Division I state title in 2009, but with the tragic death of its projected starting running back, Rico Butler, the team has a major hole to fill. The teams split the series last season with Coffman winning the regular season battle but losing in the playoffs. The playoff game was impacted by Coffman not having its star player, Cole Stoudt. Stoudt is the No. 17 ranked pro-style quarterback nationally and missed the 22-7 playoff loss last year due to injury. If Stoudt is back and healthy this year, it could be a role reversal. The two will certainly meet again in the playoffs but this will be a mid-season teaser of things to come.

4. Mentor (Ohio) High vs. Solon (Ohio) High
Sept. 10 at Mentor
This is a game that could be an early season indication of who is going to give Glenville a run for its money in the Cleveland Region of Division I in the playoffs. Solon missed a 50-yard field goal to beat Glenville in the playoffs last season and looks to make it back. In its way, potentially, stands Mentor. Mentor should be much improved this season and it stands to make this a game. However, the real storyline here is that with St. Ignatius being in a bit of a downturn, the potential exists for Solon to turn into a perennial power in this area of Ohio. Look for the Comets to ride the tail of Ohio commit Kyle Hammonds and a pair of potential Division I linebackers, Jovon Johnson and A.J. Hicks, to take them to the victory.

3. Youngstown (Ohio) Ursuline vs. Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney
Oct. 22 at Ursuline
A showdown in Youngstown steals the late October headlines in Ohio. Last season, many argued that Cardinal Mooney, which won the Division III state championship, was the best team regardless of classification. While the team will take a step back from that, it will still be among the best in the state despite its size. Ursuline won the Division V state championship last year and will rely on the legs of Akise Teague to make another trip. Like the aforementioned game between Stuebenville and Washington, this could be a big brother beatdown or it could be a feather in the cap for the lower-ranked team. It also could be a matchup of teams that could repeat as state champions.

2. Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier vs. Olney (Md.) Good Counsel
Aug. 29 at St. Xavier
The season-opener between the No. 2 team in Ohio and the No. 2 team in Maryland will be a great measuring stick for both teams. It is also a great strength-versus-strength game. Good Counsel returns 10 starters on offense and will welcome a sophomore running back, Dorian O'Daniel, who already has three Division I offers to the fold. St. X will rely on its attack-style defense - and especially its linebackers - to slow the rushing attack. The weakness, term used loosely, of each team will be the St. X offense, which enters the season with a lot of questions, having to find its way against the Falcons defense, which returns just three starters. The advantage of playing at home may heavily factor into this game, but it always does in Ohio, which may be why the teams rarely leave the state for these headliner games.

1. Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville vs. West Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer
Sept. 6 at Ohio State
The team everyone in Ohio loves to hate, Glenville, will be taking on the big three and the rest of the Dwyer Panthers at Ohio State on Labor Day weekend in what may be the national headliner for games that weekend. Glenville is, and usually is, loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. This year Cleveland's best brings with it Division I players, Cardale Jones, Andre Sturdivant,Aundrey Walker, and Shane Wynn{/db] among others. However, the Tarblooders are cursed with the stigma of being best team to never win the big one, as the state title has eluded them. This year, they enter the season No. 1 in Ohio and No. 4 nationally and will be plenty tested early with back-to-back games with Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central and Dwyer. Dwyer enters the game as the No. 3 team in Florida and No. 14 in the nation. With quarterback Jacoby Brissett, tight end Nick O'Leary - whose grandfather Jack Nicklaus has famously dotted the I - and defensive end Curt Maggitt, the Panthers have just as much talent on the field as Glenville. The travel, once again, could play a small factor in this game, but a nationally-televised shootout could make for great entertainment.

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