COACH: Sean Baker, first year
2010 Record: 3-7, 2-5
Returning LettermEn: 10
Strengths: With junior Peter Tanzi under center and a talented group of wide receivers led by Andrew Grose and Alex Sommers, Brooklyn will be able to throw the football.
Weaknesses: The Hurricanes are a small team and could be physically overmatched by some of the bigger teams in the division. With eight seniors on the roster, they will need to play a lot of underclassmen at key positions.
Scouting Report: Baker is beginning the process of rebuilding a football program that has struggled in recent years. A pair of non-league games against Senate Athletic League foes Rhodes and Lincoln-West gives the Hurricanes a chance to get off to a quick start before they get into a tough league schedule. Senior Travis Burgess is one of the better players in the division, but the team is probably still a year away from contending.
COACH: Mike Collier, fifth year
2010 Record: 7-3, 5-2
Returning Lettermen: 10
Strengths: The Clippers return the core of their rushing game and linebacking unit from 2010. According to Collier, Clearview has exceptional team speed and athleticism. Clearview is consistently at or near the top of the division and this year should be no exception.
Weaknesses: With just seven returning starters the Clippers will be an inexperienced team with numerous players getting their first chance at varsity action. A young defense is still learning how to run the 3-5-3 scheme. Depth on the offensive and defensive lines could be a problem.
Scouting Report: The Clippers will be able to run the football, but the defense is going to have to step up and keep opposing teams from putting big numbers on the board. Clearview finished ninth in the Division IV, Region 14 computer points last year, so a tough non-league schedule could get the Clippers over the hump and back into the postseason. But freshman quarterback Roger Engle will need to be ready to lead the team from Week 1.
Coach: Jason Ward, sixth year
2010 Record: 9-2, 7-0
Returning Lettermen: 13
Strengths: Veteran quarterback John Banyasz returns for a fourth season. Running back Brandon Heidinger and wide receiver Shane Lambert are also key returnees from an offensive that led the Raiders into the playoffs last year for the first time since 2002.
Weaknesses: The Raiders are young on the offensive and defense lines. If injuries begin to pile up, Columbia’s lack of depth could force it to play some players who may not be ready for the varsity spotlight.
Scouting Report: Many observers expect the defending champion Raiders to make it two in a row in the Stripes Division. No one can match Columbia’s offensive firepower. Ward often talks about building a tradition of winning football at Columbia. Another division title and playoff berth would go a long way toward that.
Coach: Tom Narducci, first year
2010 Record: 5-5, 4-3 (in the West Shore Conference)
RetuRning LettermEn: 19
Strengths: The Warriors will be one of the deepest teams in the division. Senior running back John Doherty will run behind an offensive line that is big and experienced. Quarterback David Lansu is also returning for his senior season. After going 5-5 the last two seasons, Narducci may be the final piece to put the Warriors over the top and on their way to the first winning season since 2001.
Weaknesses: It will be a season of transition for Fairview. A season that begins with a new coach, new league and a schedule with six new opponents negates much of the advantage of having 10 seniors.
Scouting Report: After being the only Division IV team competing against bigger schools in the West Shore Conference, Fairview will have the chance to play schools its own size. Expect Fairview to make some noise this season and have its first winning season in a decade.
Lutheran West Longhorns
Coach: Dave Geye, fourth year
2010 Record: 5-5, 5-2
Returning LettermEn: 6
Strengths: The Longhorns are athletic at the skill positions and have an experienced and talented offensive line. With 59 players in the football program, Lutheran West has the ability to dig deeper for talent than any of its divisional foes.
Weaknesses: With only five seniors with previous football experience, the Longhorns will be an extremely young team. Many of the young players on defense are still learning how to play the 3-4 and are susceptible to giving up the big play.
Scouting Report: A tough early season game against Hawken will give the Longhorns an idea where they stand heading into the league portion of the schedule. Geye is happy with the progress of his offense and feels it will be able to move the ball if it can avoid turnovers. The progression of the defense will be key if this year’s team is to get over the .500 mark.
Coach: Fred Howery, second year
2010 Record: 0-10, 0-7
Returning lettermEn: 24
Strengths: Oberlin returns more starters, 16, than any team in the division. After a long offseason in the weight room, the Phoenix will be greatly improved on defense. A revamped offense should be able to better utilize the talents of quarterback Melvin Medina.
Weaknesses: Oberlin may lack the depth necessary for a schedule that is among the area’s toughest in the second half of the season. After going 0-10 last season, will the Phoenix possess the intangibles necessary to win the close game?
Scouting Report: Howery has the Phoenix headed in the right direction. With his passion for coaching and the help of a veteran staff, he has his team prepared for success in 2011. Seniors Drew Randleman, Brady Jones and Trevon Tucker will all be standouts on the defensive side of the ball. If the offense comes together, Oberlin could surprise some teams in league play.
Defending champion Columbia and perennial powerhouse Clearview look like the best teams in the Stripes Division again this year.
Columbia should have little trouble lighting up the scoreboard with four-year starter John Banyasz under center. Banyasz threw for 22 touchdowns with just three interceptions as a junior. The Raiders also return last year’s leading running back, Brandon Heidinger, who found the end zone seven times.
Clearview is the most balanced team in the division with a multidimensional running attack featuring Matt Jordan, Chad Anderson and Alonso Southard. Linebackers Anderson and Josh Molina led the team with five sacks apiece in 2010. The wild card for the Clippers will be freshman quarterback Roger Engle and how he reacts to the pressure of varsity football.
Lutheran West is exceptionally young with just seven seniors and six returning letterwinners, but coach Dave Geye is confident the Longhorns will have a say in the divisional race. With a lot of talented athletes at the skill positions, Lutheran West will need its young defense to quickly grasp the intricacies of the 3-4 scheme to be successful. The Longhorns might have the best offensive line in the division, led by senior center Zachary Zupancic and senior guards Andrew Samoson and Art Schwandt.
Oberlin hopes to rebound from last year’s 0-10 season, and coach Fred Howery appears to have the team headed in the right direction. The Phoenix may have the strongest group of linebackers in the division, led by preseason Division V All-Ohio honorable mention Drew Randleman, Brady Jones and Trevon Tucker. The Oberlin offense should be more dynamic with Melvin Medina at quarterback and the 6-foot-5 Tucker at tight end.
Brooklyn and new Patriot Athletic Conference member Fairview come into 2011 with new coaches.
The Hurricanes promoted assistant Sean Baker to take over a young team that will look to rebound from a 3-7 campaign. The Hurricanes only return four starters, but one of them – senior Travis Burgess, a 5-8, 160-pound running back-linebacker – is among the most exciting players in the division.
Fairview brought in former Hudson coach Tom Narducci to lead a team that returns 19 letterwinners from a squad that finished 5-5 in the West Shore Conference. Three senior returnees on the offensive line should open holes for running back John Doherty.
THE TOP PLAYERS
John Banyasz, Columbia (above)
He was one of the top passers in the area last season, passing for nearly 1,500 yards and 22 touchdowns. He is the top quarterback in the division and maybe even the county.
Drew Randleman, Oberlin
The 5-foot-6, 235-pound linebacker was third-team All-Ohio in Division V in 2010. After spending a lot of time in the weight room this summer, expect him to be even better this year.
Matt Jordan, Clearview
As a junior he ran for 889 yards and 11 touchdowns while recording 35 tackles and three sacks on the defensive side. What will he do as a senior?
Travis Burgess, Brooklyn
Burgess may not look like a star, but the 5-8, 160-pound senior running back-linebacker will be all over the field and involved in almost every play for the Hurricanes.
Zachary Zupancic, Lutheran West
The senior center-linebacker was one of the Longhorns’ top tacklers in 2010. He will also be at the core of one of the top offensive lines in the PAC.
THE TOP GAMES
Columbia at Cleveland Central Catholic, Saturday
The Raiders open the season with a trip to Slavic Village to take on the only team that defeated them in the 2010 regular season.
Clearview at Columbia, Oct. 28
The winner of this Week 10 showdown should be able to look forward to seeing its season continue into Week 11, the start of the OHSAA playoffs. The Stripes Division title will likely come down to this game.
Firelands at Oberlin, Sept. 24
It’s Homecoming night in Oberlin as the Phoenix renews its neighborhood rivalry with newest PAC member Firelands.
BY THE NUMBERS
Players on the Columbia team, out of 32, who share the first name Brandon.
Years new Fairview coach Tom Narducci was the coach at Division I Hudson. He led the Explorers to their first four playoff appearances in school history.
Average margin of victory for Clearview in its seven wins in 2010.
Yards rushing by Columbia senior Brandon Heidinger in 2010.
Black River 6-1 6-4
Brookside 1-6 3-7
Buckeye 3-4 3-7
Keystone 2-5 4-6
Wellington 4-3 4-6
Brooklyn 2-5 3-7
Clearview 5-2 7-3
Columbia 7-0 9-1
Lutheran West 5-2 5-5
Oberlin 0-7 0-10
Division V, Region 18