WTAM 1100's Nick Camino breaks down the top high school football teams in Northeast Ohio and the Greater Cleveland area for the sixth week of the season.
1. St. Ignatius Wildcats: Head coach Chuck Kyle's squad continually seems to be improving with each passing week of the regular season, however the Wildcats 34-10 win over McDowell (Pa.) on Friday night was a lot closer than the final score might indicate. St. Ignatius defeated the same McDowell team that lost to fourth-ranked Mentor 34-27 earlier in the season, but still need to be a bit more crisp when they square off with fifth-ranked Glenville this upcoming Saturday night at Byers Field. The Wildcats have virtually wrapped up a first round home game when it comes to the OHSAA Playoffs, but match ups with the Tarblooders, Cincinnati powerhouse St. Xavier and third-ranked St. Edward will provide us with the perfect measuring stick to see if this team is in fact the best team in Ohio. In their win over McDowell Friday night, senior quarterback Michael LaManna was great again going 12-for-19 through the air for 242 yards and three touchdowns. Week 6 vs. # 5 Glenville 9/29.
2. Cleveland Heights Tigers: A weak regular season schedule could cost Cleveland Heights a first round home game in the OHSAA Playoffs, but it likely will not keep them from playing postseason football for the second consecutive season. The Tigers zipped past Maple Heights 35-12 on Friday night improving their undefeated record to 5-0 on the season. Unless head coach Jeff Rotsky's squad suffers an unexpected loss in the next five weeks, they should qualify for the playoffs in Division I Region I and also keep this spot in the WTAM Power 11 poll. During Friday night's impressive win over the Mustangs, wideout Shelton Gibson stole the show catching six passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately for Cleveland Heights, the OHSAA computer point rankings are based a lot upon who a team plays...the Tigers continue to fall in those standings due to a cake walk docket. Week 6 vs. Euclid 9/28.
3. St. Edward Eagles: Arguably the most surprising team in Northeast Ohio, St. Edward, is about to embark on a final five weeks to the regular season that does not compare to any team in the entire state. Four of the Eagles final five games are on the road and includes showdowns with McDowell (Pa.), Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, Cincinnati St. Xavier, Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller and top-ranked St. Ignatius. The Wildcats have already defeated McDowell and Cardinal Mooney, so Rick Finotti's team's results against those two teams the next couple of weeks may give us an accurate indication of not only just how good St. Edward actually is, but what to expect in the highly anticipated "Holy War" battle with top-ranked St. Ignatius on November 27 at Byers Field. In Week 5, the Eagles stayed undefeated improving their record to 5-0 on the season with another impressive victory; this time over Youngstown Ursuline 45-21 at Lakewood Stadium. Also, it should be pointed out that No. 1 St. Ignatius and No. 3 St. Edward currently sit atop the unofficial OHSAA computer point standings in Division I Region I at the midway point of the regular season. Week 6 vs. McDowell (Pa.) 9/28.
4. Mentor Cardinals: The next two weeks of the regular season will tell us a lot about Mentor; it could also dictate whether the Cardinals host a first round playoff game come November 3. This week head coach Steve Trivisonno's squad travels to Brunswick to battle ninth-ranked Brunswick, a game which carries a load of OHSAA computer points, followed by a match up with Solon, who could be playing for their postseason lives. Regardless of what happens, it appears Mentor is one of Northeast Ohio's top teams especially on the offensive side of the football. The defense had to replace nine faces this year, but following Friday's 55-0 drubbing of Parma it seems that unit is also getting better week after week. During the Cardinals decisive victory over the Redmen on Friday night, quarterback Mitch Trubisky passed for 181 yards and four touchdowns in just one half. While Conner Krizancic might be Trubisky's favorite target, wide receiver Brandon Fritts was also impressive Friday catching two touchdown passes. Week 6 vs. # 9 Brunswick 9/28.
5. Glenville Tarblooders: Make or break time. That's what this week likely means for Glenville as the Tarblooders get set to square off with top-ranked St. Ignatius in a game that could already decide whether head coach Ted Ginn's team qualifies for the OHSAA Playoffs in Division I Region I. Glenville is 4-1 right now and coming off another impressive victory in the Senate Athletic League in which they dismantled Rhodes 55-0, however their last three wins in the S.A.L. conference are not racking up OHSAA computer points. An upset victory this week over the top-ranked Wildcats would definitely lock up a spot in the postseason for Glenville, but a loss could prevent them from qualifying for the second-straight year. After their highly anticipated showdown with St. Ignatius, the Tarblooders clash with Collinwood, John F. Kennedy, Lincoln West and John Adams...combined those S.A.L. teams have a record of 5-15. Beating those types of opponents do not help their chances of reaching the OHSAA Playoffs. Nevertheless, the Glenville defensive unit has been impressive only allowing 11.8 points per contest and quarterback Quan Robinson has continued to improve. In Friday's win over the Rams, Robinson went 10-of-13 through the air for 151 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Herbert Walker Jr. was solid on the ground again rushing for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Week 6 vs. # 1 St. Ignatius 9/29.
6. Willoughby South Rebels: The Rebels stayed undefeated and improved their record to 5-0 on the season Saturday afternoon dismantling University School 53-21. If the OHSAA Playoffs began today Willoughby South would not host a first round game as they did a year ago, because this season their docket of games is simply too easy and not providing enough computer points. However, even hosting a first round home game a year ago did not help head coach Matt Duffy's squad as they lost to Solon, so it might not even matter. This week the Rebels have their best opportunity to rack up the most computer points they have in one game all season when they host No. 11 Chardon. The Hilltoppers are undefeated, featured in the WTAM Power 11 poll and currently sit atop the OHSAA computer point rankings in Divison II Region V. A victory for the Rebels this Friday night might give them a shot at hosting a first round home game and would definitely lock them into the postseason. In Saturday's victory over the Preppers, Willoughby South running back Kareem Hunt rushed for 335 yards and six touchdowns. On the season, the Mr. Football candidate has already rushed for 1,296 yards and 21 touchdowns. Week 6 vs. # 11 Chardon 9/28.
7. Midview Middies: The Middies may have already locked up a first round home game when it comes to the OHSAA Playoffs in Division II Region VI, but their showdown in two weeks against Avon (4-1) will give us a better indication of just how tough this unheralded group is. Next to No. 3 St. Edward, Midview has been one of the surprises of this 2012 high school football season and while it appears they will be playing postseason football for the first time in awhile, whether they go deep or not might be measured in their upcoming match up with the Eagles. The Middies 37-27 victory over Elyria in Week 3 is looking more and more impressive week after week as the Pioneers continue to show they may still be among some of the better teams in Northeast Ohio. Junior quarterback Cody Callaway continues to look more comfortable in the Middies high-octane offense and it was evident in Midview's 42-14 victory over Vermilion on Friday night. The only question mark surrounding this talented group might be its defense and special teams, but that should all get figured out before November 2. Week 6 vs. North Ridgeville 9/28.
8. North Royalton Bears: Friday night's exciting 62-55 victory over Elyria told us two things about North Royalton: 1.) The Bears defense still has a lot of question marks. 2.) This could very well be the best offensive team in Northeast Ohio...yes, including No. 4 Mentor in the conversation. Behind a veteran-laden offensive line which boasts size, quarterback Travis Tarnowski is a dual-threat to both pass and run the football. During the Bears shootout with Elyria on Friday night, Tarnowski went 18-of-31 through the air for 320 yards and six touchdowns, he also ran for a touchdown scamper. The senior signal caller has a plethora of wide receivers to throw to, but hooked up with wideout Nick Krempasky twice on the night. If the OHSAA Playoffs began today in Division I Region I, the Bears would be hosting a first round home game. Upcoming match ups with Mayfield and Hudson will be solid measuring sticks for this team, but already they have exceeded expectations. Week 6 vs. Normandy 9/28.
9. Brunswick Blue Devils: The Blue Devils showdown this upcoming Friday night at Judy Kirsch Field with fourth-ranked Mentor will not only serve as the perfect measuring stick to see just exactly where this group stacks up with elite talent around Northeast Ohio, but it will also be filled with loads of potential OHSAA Computer Points. If the postseason began today, Brunswick would qualify in Division I Region II...a win against the Cardinals might help them lock up a first round home game. On Friday night the Blue Devils improved to 4-1 on the season with an impressive 30-7 victory over Garfield Heights. Both Dan and Keith Yohman scored touchdowns in the easy Brunswick victory. Even after their upcoming showdown with fourth-ranked Mentor, head coach Luke Beal's squad still has tough tests with Twinsburg and Solon, which will also have a big impact on where they end up in Division I Region II and whether they receive a first round home game or not. Week 6 vs. # 4 Mentor 9/28.
10. Chagrin Falls Tigers: Heading into last Friday's game with Kenston, head coach Mark Iammarino's squad had won 20 consecutive regular season games...he watched that streak end as the Bombers stunned Chagrin Falls 28-17 on homecoming night. It was the Tigers first loss of the 2012 season and it came just one week after handing Aurora their first loss of the season in WTAM 1100's Game of the Week. Perhaps it was a let-down week after such an exciting win over the Greenmen, but either way the Tigers must find a way to get back on the winning track. The loss dropped them to No. 2 in the unofficial OHSAA computer point standings in Division III Region IX behind Niles McKinley, but Chagrin Falls is probably still the favorite to come out of the region. This might be the wake up call the Tigers need in order to make a deep run through the postseason. Quarterback Tommy Iammarino will look to improve this week against a steadily improving Wickliffe squad after tossing for just over 100 yards in Friday's loss to the Bombers. Week 6 vs. Wickliffe 9/28.
11. Chardon Hilltoppers: After making their debut a week ago in the WTAM Power 11 poll, Chardon may have played their worst game of the 2012 season just slipping past Madison 7-0 on Friday night. Perhaps the Hilltoppers were looking ahead to their biggest game of the season this week at Willoughby South? Either way, Chardon has to find a way to put up more points than in their recent win over the Blue Streaks. Besides struggling to score, the Hilltoppers did two important things: controlled the game tempo and stayed atop the Division II Region V unofficial OHSAA computer point standings. Regardless of what happens Friday night against the Rebels, the Hilltoppers will probably make the postseason and should host a first round home game. However, a victory over WTAM's sixth-ranked team would put this group among the elite teams in Northeast Ohio. In the Hilltoppers win over Madison, quarterback T.J. Benenati used his legs to scamper in for a one-yard touchdown run, the only score of the game. Benenati is a dual-threat to both pass and run the football. Week 6 vs. # 6 Willoughby South 9/28.
Other teams to watch for: Kirtland Hornets, Aurora Greenmen, Avon Lake Shoremen, Nordonia Knights and Hawken Hawks.