McKinley 32, Gallatin, Tenn 14 (Aug 28-2010)

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McKinley 32, Gallatin, Tenn 14 (Aug 28-2010)

Post by The Bulldog » Tue Aug 24, 2010 8:21 pm

McKinley 32, Gallatin, Tenn 14 (Aug 28-2010)
Non-League game at
Fawcett Stadium, Canton


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McKinley gives Gallatin rude welcome
Josh Weir
josh.weir@cantonrep.com
Updated: Saturday, August 28, 2010

The boys from Gallatin, Tenn. visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Friday.

On Saturday, they found themselves in a high school football house of horrors.

The McKinley Bulldogs offered the Green Wave a rude welcome to Ohio high school football, beating Gallatin, 32-14, at Fawcett Stadium on Saturday night.

The Bulldogs owned too much muscle and too much speed for their visitors from Tennessee in front of a crowd of around 10,000. The Bulldogs jumped to a 32-0 lead and offered few reasons to doubt this season can be special before a sloppy second half made the final score closer.

"They're one of the finest football teams I’ve seen in a long time," 13-year Gallatin coach Robert Lassiter said. "... The quarterback is outstanding. The front line is unbelievable on defense. I give our quarterback some credit. He took some shots from some (Division I) players.

“They are outstanding on offense and defense. They do some things a lot of teams in our area won't do."

Gallatin boasts three Tennessee state titles and played in a regional final last year. McKinley defensive back Ruben Burrows didn't seem all that impressed when he knocked the helmet off Gallatin receiver Darin Banks in the second half. The Bulldogs hit hard and played with a swagger. They’ll need that as next up is Braxton Miller and Huber Heights Wayne on Sept. 5 at the Horseshoe in Columbus.

On a night McKinley led, 16-0, before Gallatin’s offense touched the ball and gained 478 yards overall, the Bulldogs showed glimpses of being a dynamic offense.

Tyler Foster and Taron Montgomery lined up at quarterback in the Wildcat formation. Defensive lineman Eric Snow moved to fullback for some I formation, with defensive ends Steve Miller and Se'Von Pittman playing tight ends. A number of potential playmakers emerged.

"We moved the football," McKinley coach Ron Johnson said. "We just have to stay ahead of the chains. The focus for 48 minutes is what we were talking about, not making the mistakes that are minus-yardage plays. We have a very diverse group of guys to make you defend the entire field and match us in personnel."

As intriguing as all that is, the Bulldogs were at their most lethal spreading the field and allowing running back Elijah Farrakhan to carve up Gallatin.

Farrakhan ran for 139 yards and two TDs on 20 carries despite battling leg cramps. But some inconsistency in the second half seemed to leave a sour taste in his and the Bulldogs' mouths.

"We just wanted to dominate from beginning to end, which we sorta did," Farrakhan said. "But we didn't execute in the second half."

McKinley QB Kyle Ohradzansky also battled leg cramps and finished 10-of-18 passing for 127 yards and one touchdown.

Gallatin had some offensive success going to a stacked I and running behind it's big line. But the Green Wave struggled to sustain anything. Snow, Chad Fite and Freddie Burton combined to stonewall Gallatin’s Maurice Box on a fourth-and-1 play in the first quarter.

The Green Wave didn't recover before it was too late, not gaining another first down the rest of the first half. They had a high snap go through QB Tremaine Smith’s hands and out of the back of the end zone for a safety in the second quarter.

McKinley took an 8-0 lead with a 15-play, 88-yard drive to start the game. The key play was Tyler Carney’s leaping catch to convert a fourth-and-10 from McKinley's 29.

Gallatin fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and McKinley's Etienne Morrow jumped on it. A play later the Bulldogs were celebrating in the end zone. Ohradzansky threw deep down the left side and Zach Sweat dove to haul in a beautiful 34-yard TD reception.

Burton returned the punt after the safety 31 yards to set up McKinley with good field position. The Bulldogs capitalized on it with Sa'Veon Holloway’s 8-yard TD run.


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Todd Porter: McKinley's successful start began Jan. 4
Updated: Sunday, August 29, 2010

That, football fans, is how you begin a season. You start it eight months ago, running and lifting and training in the dark of the morning when no one is watching. You start it pouring eight months of work into this one night, and then unleashing it with controlled fury.

Men among boys is the best way to describe how McKinley looked Saturday night at Fawcett Stadium against Gallatin, Tenn.

The Bulldogs started the season with a 14-play, 88-yard drive.

They ended it with a statement win, 32-14 against a Tennessee team that went three games into the playoffs last year.

“The forecast for this game wasn't set with (first drive)," McKinley head coach Ron Johnson said. “Hopefully, it was set Jan. 4."

That was the first day of the rest of the 2010 season for the Bulldogs. Now, the regular season is one-tenth over for McKinley seniors.

That's why senior running back Elijah Farrakhan had tears in his eyes when he ran from the locker room, through the tunnel and onto Fawcett Stadium’s field.

"I was teary-eyed because I was so pumped up," said Farrakhan, who finished with 139 yards and two touchdowns. "I was ready to go, and everything just wanted to come out at once."

Farrakhan scored on a 3-yard run, which was set up by a fourth-down pass from Kyle Ohradzansky to Tyler Carney. That 14-play scoring drive could not have made for a better start. Gallatin’s opening kickoff toed the sideline and McKinley caught it and stepped out of bounds.

“Our guys were excited at that," Johnson said of starting at the 12. “They all said ‘Let’s go 88.' Our guys were jacked up about going 88 yards."

And they did.

Then Gallatin fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Johnson went looking for blood. On the next play, Ohradzansky connected with Zach Sweat for a 34-yard touchdown pass. It was 16-0.

Before the play, Bulldog coaches looked Sweat in the eye and told him he was going to catch the TD pass.

“Guys achieve to the level expected of them," Johnson said.

Sweat laid out, dived and came down with the pass.

The only area of weakness is in the kicking game. Johnson tried out 170 players. Everyone on the football team. Soccer players. Open tryouts. He couldn’t find one player to kick field goals and PATs.

So McKinley went for two points after every touchdown, and converted on 3-of-4 of them.

“In 1968 Woody Hayes was asked why he went for two against Michigan and he said ‘because I couldn’t go for three,' " Johnson said. “Two is better than one and our guys are excited about that."

That package includes bringing in Eric Snow, Steve Miller and Se'Von Pittman, all defensive linemen, to move earth and bodies.

While McKinley's offense looked powerful and sleek, it was also varied.

But the Pups weren't satisfied. Both Farrakhan and Freddie Burton were pleased with the first-half dominance. They were frustrated in the finish.

"We did what we had to do to win," Farrakhan said. "We were dominant ... but at the same time, we can do much better. We know our limitations as a team. In the first half, we played our hearts out. In the second half, we slacked off."

McKinley was well aware of what happened to Massillon in week one. The Tigers were upset at home against Buchtel. Johnson spent weeks making sure his players took Gallatin seriously.

“The best team on our schedule is McKinley," Johnson said. "If we take care of ourselves and maximize the things we can control ... and play 48 minutes of focused football, we’ll be fine."


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Last year's success has McKinley hungry for more in 2010
Josh Weir
josh.weir@cantonrep.com
Updated: Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What “might be” finally starts to become what “is” for the McKinley High School football team.

The Bulldogs open a 2010 season filled with promise and big dreams Saturday night at 7:30, hosting Gallatin (Tenn.) at Fawcett Stadium.

"We started Jan. 4 in preparation for this year, after we took our 30 days off," McKinley head coach Ron Johnson said. “Through all the lifting, all the summer work, then the preseason. Now it's the season.

“Our guys are excited, but They're handling it very maturely. it's a business and They're treating it like a business. And They're ready to make some money."

This is no nickel-and-dime team. The Bulldogs own deep-pocket talent. And with big talent comes big expectations.

Some believe this can be one of McKinley's best teams in recent years. And maybe more.

“I’ve been hearing it for a long time growing up. ‘You all the ones. You all the ones,' " senior running back Elijah Farrakhan said. "But I just take it one day at a time out here. One game at a time. One play at a time. Execute and do what we do."

The hype doesn't seem to bother these guys. Talk about state title predictions, and the Bulldogs don't flinch.

"I think I speak for a lot of guys when I say this: our expectations for ourselves are a lot higher than any expectations we hear," senior quarterback Kyle Ohradzansky said. "We try to get one-day better every single day and push each other. We expect great things from each other."

The Bulldogs showed their capabilities when they saved last season from crumbling with consecutive wins against playoff teams Boardman and Massillon during the final two weeks of the regular season. After rolling through Toledo Whitmer and GlenOak, the Bulldogs lost a rematch with Massillon, 10-7, in a hard-hitting regional final.

Johnson doesn't believe momentum carries over to this year, but “the lessons learned to get us to that point have withstood."

Now the Bulldogs are a team brimming with confidence.

Ohradzansky looks like a third-year starting quarterback as he hits receivers in stride and makes on-time decisions at practice. He threw for 1,466 yards and 20 TDs last year. A number of speedy playmakers surround him, including Farrakhan, who rushed for 746 yards and seven TDs in 2009.

The Bulldogs defense looks like a potential nightmare for opponents.

The defensive line is book-ended by 6-foot-4, 242-pound Steve Miller and 6-5, 235-pound Se'Von Pittman, an imposing spectacle of huge frames and long arms looming over the line of scrimmage. Eric Snow, at 276 pounds, mans the middle and is a fire breather when it comes to leadership. DB Johnny Duncan is the quiet, calming influence. DB Freddie Burton, at 5-8, 192 pounds, produces the kind of hits that make spectators cringe.

When the Ohio State-bound Miller scratches his chin and says simply about his defense, "We're real hungry," one feels concern for those on the menu.

On Saturday night, the big dogs finally get a chance to eat.


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Week 1: Gallatin, Tenn. at McKinley preview
Updated: Wednesday, August 25, 2010

TIME 7:30 p.m., Saturday.

SITE Fawcett Stadium.


LAST year's RECORDS Gallatin 9-4, McKinley 8-5.

LAST MEETING First meeting.

WHAT TO WATCH New to the schedule this year is Gallatin, Tenn. but this is an upgrade. “Anytime you play one of the best teams from another state it's good," McKinley head coach Ron Johnson said. "We're all proud of Ohio high school football, but this is a great test." Gallatin will look to keep the ball in the hands of athletic QB Tremaine Smith. At 5-foot-7, 160 pounds, Smith isn't a dangerous threat to pass, but he moves well with the ball. RB Maurice Box can take a pounding at 6-1, 215, and he may have to. Gallatin’s strength on offense is running the ball. The bad news is it's running into Se'Von Pittman, Steve Miller and Eric Snow. “They spread you out formationally and try to find lanes to run inside," Johnson said. This will be a good test for MLB Chad Fite, who is replacing All-Ohio LB Jewone Snow. Moving Tyler Foster to WR gives McKinley legitimate threats to throw the ball wide and should open some lanes for RB Elijah Farrakhan. The Bulldogs' biggest question mark is in the kicking games. Both punter Etienne Morrow and kicker LaShan Robinson are new starters.


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Scouting report: 2010 McKinley Bulldogs
Todd Porter
Todd.Porter@cantonrep.com
Updated: Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Head coach: Ron Johnson, third season, 14-10
Last year: 8-5, 4-3
Postseason assignment: Division I, Region 2
Returning lettermen: 14

Shoes to fill: The Bulldogs return a great deal of experience and talent, but there are many shoes that are gone. Bryce Wilder was the team's leading rusher, and replacing a player who had one of the best seasons in team history will be difficult. Jewone Snow is gone at linebacker, and he was a piece of granite in the middle of the defense. Brice Everett was a lock-down corner and he graduated. Angelo Powell’s big-play ability at wideout needs to be replaced.

Difference makers: There have been times the last two seasons when head coach Ron Johnson had to watch his team grow and deal with growing pains. The pains are over. There are few newcomers and many difference makers. It starts on the defensive side of the ball with Steve Miller. The Ohio State-bound defensive end is quick and has a long reach that makes it difficult for teams to run in his area code. On the other side of the line is Se'Von Pittman, who may be more athletic than Miller. Pittman has really grown into his body this offseason and seems to be ready to be as good as Miller is. QB Kyle Ohradzansky has the kind of experience after starting the last two years to handle adversity. His mental makeup is such that he doesn't get rattled. Elijah Farrakhan is the real deal at running back. There are more than a half-dozen receivers for Ohradzansky to throw to. McKinley's skilled position players are protected by an experienced offensive line led by Skyler Parks.

Top newcomers: Sa'Veon Holloway is a newcomer again. He was slowed much of last season after an injury late in the preseason. He is a speed burner that can cause havoc on jet sweeps and catching the ball out of the backfield. Tyler Foster isn't new, but he moved from quarterback to wide receiver because his athleticism is just too good to keep on the sideline. Jermaine Edmondson moved back to Canton from California and he’ll man a spot in the defensive backfield.

Final analysis: McKinley will either sink or swim with Johnson’s spread offense. There have been times when the Bulldogs looked like a perfect fit for it, and there have been others when they looked better-suited for the I-formation. This team is too talented to win just six games in the regular season like it has the last two years. But the schedule is brutal. Gallatin, Tenn., is the opener and it went to the Tennessee regional finals last year and is a three-time state champion. Then McKinley heads to Columbus to play in the Herbstreit Classic against Huber Heights Wayne, which has one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Braxton Miller.


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McKinley's Ron Johnson and Massillon's Jason Hall: It's complicated
Todd Porter
Todd.Porter@cantonrep.com
Updated: Tuesday, August 24, 2010

They could not be more different, or on more opposite ends of Stark County’s high school football spectrum.

But Ron Johnson and Jason Hall have more in common than they realize.

Each head coach is beginning his third season, at McKinley and Massillon, respectively. Together, they coach more than a half-dozen Division I college football recruits. They are followed by thousands of fans with aspirations that stretch well beyond the rivals’ annual meeting in Week 10.

Expectations for Stark County’s two most storied programs are, collectively, as high as they have ever been. In fact, if either of their seasons ended in Week 11, both men would dread the long offseasons that would hover like storm clouds.

More stories:
• Todd Porter on spicing up the McKinley-Massillon rivalry
• McKinley season scouting report
• Massillon season scouting report

But Hall and Johnson won't have lunch together to discuss how they cope with their stressful jobs or lofty aspirations. Rarely will you find them in the same room.

Clearly there is something between them, perhaps deeper than the rivalry that separates two towns, two teams and two coaches. Last season, when McKinley and Massillon played each other in the playoffs, the teams and coaching staffs had to be separated at midfield before the game.

At issue was whether McKinley had disrespected Massillon's field after the Bulldogs defeated GlenOak in a playoff game there the week before.

"I wouldn’t say we dislike each other," Hall said. "I think my biggest issue with any situation is the Massillon-McKinley game is bigger than myself and Ron Johnson. Neither one of us needs to amp up the rivalry more than it is. it's the biggest rivalry in high school football.

“To have Obie decals in the urinals of the coaches’ office at McKinley? Not calling Massillon by its name and inferring you're some kind of Woody Hayes by saying ‘That school eight miles to the west’? C’mon. don't come up with this Woody Hayes crap and act like you're creating some mystique about the rivalry.

"It's bigger than me. it's bigger than him. it's about two towns that love high school football, and every 10th Saturday during the season, they tie their shoes on and strap on their helmets and go play. That's where I stand."

Johnson said he does not have a problem with Hall, personally. However, they are two men with competing interests.

“First of all, the amount of free time you have as a football coach -- you don't have much time for friends, period," Johnson said. “Any free time you get, you try to give to your family because you take from them so much during the year.

"But when you choose your friends, you choose people who have common and shared interests. I don't think it's inaccurate to say that Jason and I don't have a lot of shared interests when we're as big as rivals as we are. I'm not trying to say that with any disrespect."

Few coaches in Stark County have walked in their shoes. Coaching at McKinley or Massillon is one of the toughest high school jobs in the country, let alone the county. These aren’t places where fans settle for league titles every three or four years.

At these places, each opponent plays its best every year. These are places where in-game strategy is openly questioned at booster club meetings.

"I don't think you come to coach at Massillon unless you expect the same," Hall said. "You would be hard-pressed to find a coach who doesn't want high expectations. You want to be in a town where it's popular and everyone wants to know what's going on with the team.

"I don't think I’d want to coach any other place. I’ve been in those places where only three people show up to your booster club meetings. it's not fun. I like great expectations. I like passionate fans. Some people might say They're a little too passionate. That just shows you they care."

Hall hasn't changed since he was hired at Massillon. One Sunday before the grind of the season, he was cleaning his kitchen, earning points with his wife before he becomes a football hermit when the season kicks in.

No one has to wonder where they stand with Hall. Ask him; he will tell you. Just be prepared because sometimes it's an unvarnished opinion. Fellow coaches in Stark County, though, respect and appreciate Massillon's coach as much as they ever have because Hall is genuine.

Johnson is a bit more polished. He may say what is on his mind, but He's going to spin some yarn to do it, and it almost always comes out just right.

“There’s always great expectations here," Johnson said. "It's one thing to have those expectations, but it's a whole other challenge in itself to actually know you can meet those expectations."

Johnson and his players have experienced trying times. But his job never has appeared to be in jeopardy. He has been comfortable working on one-year coaching contracts.

Last year, when fans jumped on him at a quarterback club meeting, it seemed to galvanize the program.

"I wouldn’t say (closeness) was lacking, but it takes time to develop," Johnson said. "It's embedded in trust. It takes time to earn and realize that. There has to come a consistency, and that takes time. Our players and coaching staff are to the point where we realize we're all on the same team. We all have one goal ... and That's to make sure that one goal becomes a reality."

In Massillon, that one goal is the same. Two teams with so much talent, though, both can't play beyond a regional championship. A spot in the state semifinal for either one likely goes through the other.

Hall and Johnson aren’t having coffee together any time soon. They did, however, have an unusual exchange this summer.

It was at Fawcett Stadium for a county-wide 7-on-7 passing scrimmage. When the Tigers were finished, Hall walked over to Johnson, who was standing near a sideline talking with Louisville head coach John DeMarco. Hall politely thanked Johnson for hosting the event and how well organized the day was. He extended his hand. They shook.

DeMarco made a wisecrack about the Massillon and McKinley head coaches -- two men who had to be separated eight months prior -- making nice.

Johnson said, "If we start hugging and singing Kumbaya, then people are gonna start talking."

Hall laughed. Sorta.

Johnson did the same.

They left, and haven't spoken since, nor will they when it's time to exchange film. And in Week 10, who knows if that will go off without a hitch.

They're two men in high-pressure jobs with the hopes of entire communities riding on how well-prepared their teenage players are.

"I have higher expectations of myself than anyone could ever put on me," Hall said. “I’ve been fortunate to play and coach in some big games. That doesn't bother me. There could never be higher expectations than I have for myself as a coach, father and a husband. I go into every game thinking I'm winning."

Hall doesn't doubt Massillon is the perfect fit for him.

Neither does Johnson. Who has the better job?

They won't agree on that, either.

“Without question," Johnson said. "I believe, like in February 2008 when I was hired, I believed it then, and I believe it today; I still have the greatest job in the world."


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The Elite 11: Stark County's preseason best
Todd Porter
Todd.Porter@cantonrep.com
Updated: Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Here are the Elite 11 -- the best 11 players in Stark County entering the 2010 season, according to The Repository.

NO. 11: Dymonte Thomas, Marlington
Position: Running back/defensive back. Height: 6-foot. Weight: 175 lbs. Class: Sophomore. Uniform number: 1

2009 honors: First-team All-Stark County ... NBC second teamer ... All-Northeast Inland District honorable mention.

About Thomas: If you were starting a team and had to pick one Stark County player first, you couldn’t go wrong with Dymonte Thomas. One, He's the only sophomore in The Repository’s Elite 11, and that means he’ll be around a long time.

At 6-foot, 175 pounds, Thomas plays bigger than his frame would indicate. He hits hard on defense and can torch an offense with his speed. A year ago, he shared carries with Alden Hill, and Thomas gained 801 yards on just 91 carries. He scored eight touchdowns on the ground and one receiving. He returned kicks, and will do so again this year.

Thomas was equally impressive on defense. Marlington played him all over the field and kept him close to the line of scrimmage. He is instinctive and quick enough to disrupt a run or pass in the backfield.

His 4.55 40-yard time makes him one of the faster players in the county. Good luck to the linebacker who has to match up with Thomas when he comes out of the backfield on a pass route.

NO. 10: Jim Luther, Lake
Position: Running back/defensive back. Height: 6-foot-1. Weight: 181 lbs. Class: Senior. Uniform number: 27

2009 awards: First-team All-Stark County ... All-Federal League first teamer ... WHBC-Coaches Stark County first teamer ... All-Northeast Inland District first teamer.

About Luther: One of the most under-appreciated players in the county is Jim Luther. Part of the reason is, he makes running the football and slicing through defenses look so easy. Last year, he sliced and diced his way to 1,320 yards on 193 carries and 20 touchdowns.

Luther isn't just a threat on offense. He is a dangerous return man for the Blue Streaks.

If Lake is going to be a contender in the Federal League, it will have to be because of Luther’s ability to break tackles and run to daylight. He has great vision and is extremely adept at following his blockers to the second level and making the back end of a defense look silly -- something he did often a year ago to some of the best defenders in the Federal League.

One of the best examples of how well Lake head coach Jeff Durbin uses the 6-foot-1, 181-pounder was against Hoover. Lake threw a wide receiver screen and then pitched the ball to Luther around the end. That turned into about a 75-yard score.

NO. 9: Zach Higgins, Marlington
Position: Offensive lineman/defensive lineman. Height: 6-foot-5. Weight: 295 lbs. Class: Junior. Uniform number: 76

2009 awards: First-team All-Stark County ... NBC first teamer ... All-Northeast Inland District second teamer.

About Higgins: Linemen in the NBC aren’t supposed to be this big. They're particularly not supposed to be this big and this athletic.
Zach Higgins is the total package. He is the second of three Dukes in this Elite 11 and, as head coach Ed Miley said, “The best thing about my three is They're all back next year, too."

College coaches making the rounds through Marlington immediately notice Higgins’ 6-foot-5, 295-pound size. He plays right tackle because That's where the Dukes need him in their triple-option attack out of the shotgun. When Marlington needed a play in short yardage last year, it always ran behind Higgins. there's a good bet about 70 percent of the runs will be behind Higgins, unless defenses overload that side of the ball.

Higgins qualified to the state wrestling tournament as a sophomore. He's a strong kid with goals to improve his footwork this season. He bench presses about 350 pounds. Just a junior, Higgins is on Ohio state's radar and has been invited to Michigan’s season opener.

NO. 8: Rakim Reed, Timken
Position: Wide receiver/defensive end. Height: 6-foot-4. Weight: 215 lbs. Class: Senior. Uniform number: 3

2009 awards: Honorable-mention All-Stark County ... Honorable-mention All-PAC ... WHBC-Coaches Stark County first teamer.

About Reed: High school football fans looking for a reason to watch Timken no longer have to wait. Rakim Reed takes all the excuses away. The powerful Timken tight end is worth the price of admission, and head coach Kevin Henderson and his coaching staff plan to find more ways to get Reed involved on both sides of the football.

Reed doubles as a defensive end and he could play some wide receiver this season. At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Reed is a load to bring down. His 40-yard time is a respectable 4.8.

Last season, Reed caught 34 passes for 635 yards. Reed makes the entire offense better because of his consistent hands, but he also has a knack for opening holes and blowing up linebackers on sweeps. At defensive end, he made 73 tackles, 40 solos with seven sacks and six tackles for loss.

Reed reportedly has been offered by Marshall, Pitt and Buffalo. More Big East schools could be jumping on him soon, too.

NO. 7: Justin Olack, Massillon
Position: Wide receiver. Height: 6-foot-4. Weight: 195 lbs. Class: Senior. Uniform number: 14

2009 awards: Honorable-mention All-Stark County ... All-Northeast Inland District second teamer.

About Olack: Trying to decide who’s better at wide receiver in Massillon is like trying to argue the better pizzeria. Justin Olack certainly can hold his weight in any comparison, though. Massillon's 6-foot-4, 195-pound receiver lines up opposite of Ohio State-bound Devin Smith.

Olack is heading to the Big East to play at Pittsburgh when this season is over.

Olack had his choice of schools between the Big Ten, Big East and MAC. He is a polished receiver with consistent hands. His height provides a mismatch on the outside. His speed (4.55 40-yard time) makes him difficult to cover anywhere on the field.

Olack spent a week with former Pitt wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald in the offseason. He is better than a year ago, when he caught 49 passes for 763 yards. Look for Olack to be more of a threat in the red zone than he was last year, too.

NO. 6: DaShawn Hall, GlenOak
Position: Wide receiver/defensive back. Height: 5-foot-11. Weight: 190 lbs. Class: Junior. Uniform number: 7

2009 honors: None.


About Hall: There are some college football recruiters who believe DaShawn Hall is OHIO'S best cornerback in the Class of 2012. If Hall isn't the best, he is definitely in the argument.

With his size and speed -- at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds he runs a 4.55 40-yard time -- it is easy to see why college coaches love Hall. In last season’s playoff win against Wadsworth, Hall returned two interceptions for touchdowns. One of those returns was an eye-popping 102 yards that came after a 31-yarder, both in the fourth quarter.

Hall is a lock-down cover corner. He will be tested in the second week of the season against Massillon receivers Devin Smith and Justin Olack.

When it's all said and done, Hall could be the most recruited player in his class because of his position. Corner is a position of need, but because of his size -- and He's expected to get bigger -- Hall could be a strong safety or outside linebacker at the next level.

No. 5: Alden Hill, Marlington
Position: Running back/defensive end. Height: 6-foot-2. Weight: 220 lbs. Class: Junior. Uniform number: 30

2009 awards: First-team All-Stark County ... NBC first teamer... All-Northeast Inland District first teamer

About Hill: All Alden Hill did last year was punish opposing defenders when they tried to tackle him. Guess what? He's bigger, stronger and faster than he was as a sophomore. Hill carried the ball 154 times for 1,196 yards and 16 touchdowns in Marlington’s triple-option offense. He averaged nearly 8 yards a carry.

That isn't all he can do. Hill caught 10 passes for 134 yards and a score. Want more of him? Head coach Ed Miley plans to put Hill at defensive end this year. Look for him to be used in special teams as well. Hill will be a Division I college recruit.

With a 4.58 to 4.6 40-yard time and a 285-pound bench press on a frame that looks like it will get bigger, Hill’s best days still may be ahead of him. The only thing that will keep Hill from being the county’s leading rusher? He has a teammate in the backfield -- Dymonte Thomas -- who could be a 1,000-yard rusher as well. That's right: Two 1,000-yard backs in the same offense.

NO. 4: Se'Von Pittman, McKinley
Position: Defensive lineman. Height: 6-foot-5. Weight: 235 lbs. Class: Junior. Uniform number: 2

2009 awards: None.


About Pittman: Steve Miller is older and gets a lot of college recruiting attention at McKinley. But last year, when college coaches watched tape of the Bulldogs, they knew about Miller and found out about Se'Von Pittman. Now, the big junior is poised to have a breakout season at defensive end for the Bulldogs.

Pittman has freakish athleticism. At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, he shouldn’t be able to run a 4.75 40-yard time. He has.

At a summer camp at Ohio State this year, Pittman received a couple of camp awards from Buckeye coaches and was pulled aside along with about four other linemen to work on individual drills.

As offenses pay more attention to Miller, look for Pittman’s tackles and sack numbers to improve this year.

NO. 3: Bri’onte Dunn, GlenOak
Position: Running back/linebacker. Height: 6-foot-1. Weight: 210 lbs. Class: Junior. Uniform number: 25

2009 awards: Honorable-mention All-Stark County ... All-Federal first teamer ... All-Northeast Inland District first teamer.

About Dunn: If someone was looking to hang a nickname on Bri’onte Dunn, there might not be a better one than B-Train. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Dunn is as powerful as football’s version of a locomotive.

One of the knocks on Dunn is his acceleration isn't as fast as major college coaches want. That's an area that GlenOak head coach Scott Garcia worked with Dunn to address. Once he gets going, bringing him down isn't easy.

With offers from Notre Dame, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh already, Dunn’s stock will continue to rise. He's just a junior and only scratching the surface of how good he can be.

Last year, Dunn gained 1,332 yards, and he did that with a small and inexperienced offensive line. Garcia estimated that Dunn gained about 30 percent of his yards a year ago after the first hit. This year, GlenOak’s line is more experienced and bigger. That's not a light at the end of the tunnel. It might be the B-Train.

NO. 2: Devin Smith, Massillon
Position: Defensive back. Height: 6-foot-2. Weight: 175 lbs. Class: Senior. Uniform number: 9

2009 awards: First-team All-Stark County ... All-Northeast Inland District first teamer.

About Smith: About every three times Devin Smith caught a pass last season, it went for a touchdown. Massillon's 6-foot-2, 175-pound wide receiver has a long stride and quickness that make him difficult to cover. Smith’s height on the outside and his soft hands provide a reliable target for Tiger quarterbacks to hit.

Last year, he caught 50 passes for 989 yards and 15 touchdowns. Those are remarkable numbers considering teammate Justin Olack caught 49 passes for 763 yards. The combination of the two should make Massillon's offense difficult to stop.

Smith, like McKinley's Steve Miller, has verbally committed to Ohio State. Buckeye coaches were interested in Smith before their summer camp this year. After it, they were completely impressed and offered Smith a scholarship.

NO. 1: Steve Miller, McKinley
Position: Defensive lineman. Height: 6-foot-4. Weight: 242 lbs. Class: Senior. Uniform number: 88

2009 awards: First-team All-Stark County ... All-Federal second teamer ... All-Northeast Inland District first teamer.

About Miller: The mailman at Steve Miller’s house probably wished McKinley's big defensive end had a post office box. Every day, letters and packages would arrive. They came to Miller’s house and to Bulldogs head coach Ron Johnson’s office. Just about every major college program in the country wanted Miller to come play there.

Ohio State landed Miller’s verbal commitment over Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, Nebraska and many others.

Miller is a man among boys on varsity nights. Last year, he had 16 tackles for loss and seven sacks, and that was against a double team most nights. What makes Miller difficult to block is an unusual combination of power and speed. At 6-foot-4, 242 pounds, Miller gets off the ball and blocks extremely well. He's a heady player with a great understanding of the game -- and in The Repository’s view, the best player in Stark County entering the 2010 season.


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Todd Porter: Nothing wrong with adding spice to rivalry
Updated: Tuesday, August 24, 2010

There probably aren’t two coaching rivals who are more opposite than Ron Johnson and Jason Hall.

The relationship between the two opposing coaches was featured in our high school football preview section.

But the two men -- Johnson at McKinley and Hall at Massillon -- have more in common than meets the eye. Foremost, both are family men, who not only realize, but to a degree do as much as possible, to make up the time they lose to their families. They steal moments here and there that probably matter a great deal to their families.

What also is clear is how competitive the two are. Hall’s chief beef with Johnson is the historic rivalry between the two schools doesn't need anything added to it.

And That's where there's disagreement. Johnson correctly points out that when he was hired at McKinley the rivalry did need “amped up."

Quite frankly, there isn't anything wrong with a respectful professional relationship between the two coaches of the county’s two historic programs. But I don't want a cozy relationship by any stretch of the imagination, and it seemed to be heading that way prior to Hall and Johnson arriving.

STADIUM JERSEYS

I'm not quite sure who or what company is responsible for the “stadium jerseys” that area high school stadiums are being adorned with, but I like them. Bob Commings Field at GlenOak High School was the latest stadium to get dressed up with the stadium wrapping, and it adds ambiance. Smilek Stadium at Northwest High School and Tuslaw’s Kurtz Stadium both have them. Looks good.

DUKES COMING ALONG

Marlington’s football program has come a long way under Ed Miley. Considering when he first got there and the community had 31 days to raise more than $300,000 to build new bleachers or risk not playing at home because the bleachers were condemned, the stadium looks spiffy. Not only do they look good, the Dukes are good.

At least when the major college coaches come through town to watch the handful of Division I prospects in Marlington, the coaches will sit in comfort.

Most of the stadiums in the NBC have made facility upgrades, but everyone is trailing Louisville now that the Leopards have added turf and refurbished just about the entire stadium.

ELITE 11 TO DIRTY DOZEN

Also in Monday’s Repository was a list of the “Elite 11” players, or the top 11 players as ranked by our staff here. I'm not giving the list out. you'll have to get Monday’s paper for that or check our website. But if we added a 12th player, I would bet Nick Riley, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound left-handed quarterback at Northwest, would have been there.

it's ON IN WEEK 2

While we are all anxious for the start of high school football this week and willing to overlook a lot of the opening night mismatches, Week 2 offers a great game almost every night of the week. On Thursday night, GlenOak hosts Massillon. The Golden Eagles have turned the corner to respectability, but lost some of it in a lopsided loss to Massillon last year, and then in a lopsided loss to McKinley in the playoffs.

Then next Friday night, North Canton Hoover will try to break a three-year losing streak against Louisville at Memorial Stadium.

Sunday afternoon, McKinley heads to Ohio Stadium to play Huber Heights Wayne in the Herbstreit Classic. Huber Heights quarterback Braxton Miller is one of the best in the country, but McKinley defensive ends Se'Von Pittman and Steve Miller hope to keep him from being able to throw it.

BAND PRACTICE

As part of our new studio show “Under the Lights," there will be a “Behind the Lights” segment in which bands, fans and cheerleaders, among other aspects of the game, will be featured. Our first segment will be on the Jackson High School marching band.

I have gotta tell you, I have a new respect for bands after watching director Tom Holliday conduct practice. Aside from the contact and running -- to a degree -- there isn't much difference. Holliday threatened to send his band on laps around the field.

He wasn't kidding.
Attachments
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McKinley defenders (clockwise from left) Freddie Burton, Eric Snw, Javawn Moore (on ground) and Chad Fite gang up on Gallatin quarterback Tremaine Smith during Saturday’s game at Fawcett Stadium.
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McKinley's Steve Miller, The Repository's preseason top player in Stark County.
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McKinley's Elijah Farrakhan, who rushed for 746 yards and seven touchdowns last year, is one of the many reasons the Bulldogs expect a big season in 2010.
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Massillon head coach Jason Hall (left) and McKinley head coach Ron Johnson greet prior to the teams' meeting at Fawcett Stadium last season.
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