December 5, 2011

OHSAA Finals notebook

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Six state champions were crowned over the weekend as the OHSAA finals were held in Stark County. As always, some huge performances were turned in and some underclassmen emerged as prospects to watch in the future. Below, we breakdown some of the biggest performances of the weekend in our finals notebook.

Trotwood gets over the hump

After some close calls over the years, Trotwood-Madison and head coach Mo Douglass got over the hump on Friday night bringing home the Division II championship with a 42-28 win over Avon. The Rams had arguably more talent on their roster than any team that played this weekend and that talent came through in a big way.

Junior running back Israel Green set a D2 state championship game record with 326 yards rushing and six touchdowns. Green runs with a low center of gravity, has outstanding vision, and is a bull to bring down. Green may not have that top end speed that some programs are looking for, but he will certainly have his share of offers by the end of the process.

Fellow juniors Mike McCray and Cameron Burrows also continued to show why so many hold them in high regard. McCray simply does everything you can ask a linebacker to do; he fills gaps, makes plays in space, and does a great job in coverage. McCray capped off a junior season in which he was arguably the top linebacker in the state of Ohio, regardless of class.

Burrows didn't play his best game of the season and at times can rely too much on his natural ability but still showed flashes of why many people feel he is the best junior in Ohio. Prospects with his size, speed, and ball skills do not come around every year.

While it was Green who stole the show at running back for Trotwood, keep an eye on sophomore Ashton Jackson. Jackson is a name that we put out there back in August after Trotwood's red/white scrimmage and on Friday night he showed the potential to be a dynamic playmaker with great vision and burst. Jackson rushed for 81 yards in the game and if he fills out and gets stronger, will be a highly coveted recruit by his senior year.

Future Buckeyes make plays in D1 title game

The game that all Ohio State fans were waiting for was the Division I title game which featured three future Buckeyes in St. Ignatius tight end Blake Thomas and the Pickerington Central duo of wide receiver Roger Lewis and two-way lineman Jacoby Boren.

Thomas made his usual impact in the run game, doing a great job blocking but he also made some very timely plays in the passing game and finished with four receptions for 47 yards. Thomas is just a solid all-around player that does whatever is needed out of him in any given situation.

For Lewis, he managed three receptions for 28 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Playing on a bad knee down the stretch, Lewis showed tremendous toughness during the playoffs and had gut it out during the final few games of the season.

As usual, Boren lined up at a variety of spots for Central including guard, and both offensive and defensive tackle. The more reps Boren gets at defensive tackle, the more that looks like the position he projects at best at. Boren has a fantastic motor, and was getting a pretty good push for most of the game, even forcing and recovering a fumble in the first half.

Though not headed to Ohio State, the most impressive performance of the D1 final was turned in by Central safety Sebastian Smith. Smith is one of the best run-and-jump athletes in the state of Ohio and it showed on Saturday night. Smith has the size, length, and speed to run the alleys from his safety position and he simply flies to the football. Offensively, Smith is also an intriguing prospect and took a screen pass 75-yards for a score in the first half. Smith showed a great burst and once he got out in the open, it was over.

Another prospect that should get a bump after Saturday night is St. Ignatius quarterback Eric Williams. The first two times we evaluated Williams were on cold, windy nights where the Wildcats kept things mostly on the ground. On Saturday, the playbook was opened up and Williams showed excellent pocket presence, a good release, and outstanding accuracy. Williams can really spin the ball and also is athletic enough to make plays outside of the pocket. This is a prospect that will be on the rise between now and Signing Day.

Mooney duo shines again

Cardinal Mooney brought home another state title on Friday afternoon, winning the D3 championship over Springfield Shawnee by a score of 21-14. Once again it was the two outstanding juniors for Mooney leading the charge in safety Marcus McWilson and linebacker Courtney Love.

Love led Mooney with 7.5 tackles in the game and is really strong at the point of attack. Love has early offers from Michigan State and Nebraska and has cemented himself as one of Ohio's top junior linebackers.

While Love was good, McWilson was great. McWilson has the speed to cover sideline-to-sideline and has tremendous natural instincts which he put on display with a first half interception that he returned for 36 yards. McWilson is the total package from the safety position in terms of his ability to cover, support the run, and make big plays. This is the best unoffered junior prospect in Ohio.

Plenty of fireworks in the D4 final

Everyone was anticipating a great show from Kenton quarterback Maty Mauk in the Division IV final on Saturday afternoon. Mauk struggled for much of the first half but was outstanding down the stretch and finished with 421 yards passing, 50 yards rushing, and six total touchdowns.

Stealing the show for Kenton, however, was senior Kent State commit Brice Fackler. Fackler caught five passes for 178 yards and four touchdowns on offense. The four touchdowns were a D4 finals record. Fackler also chipped in five tackles and a pass break-up on defense. The Flashes are getting a versatile prospect that could project to either side of the football.

Despite the big numbers for Kenton, the Wildcats did fall to Creston Norwaye in the game, 48-42. For Norwayne, keep an eye on sophomore defensive back Trevahn Beery. Beery was outstanding in coverage throughout the game and picked Mauk off three times. Beery, is long and athletic and is dangerous in the open field after he makes an interception.

Don't sleep on D5

While the Division V ranks usually aren't known for producing Division I talent, there were a few prospects in Friday's game that should be on the radar after strong performances. First and foremost, senior Kirtland fullback/linebacker Christian Hauber. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Hauber is committed to Air Force and turned in one of the most dominant performances of the weekend with 196 yards rushing and two touchdowns on offense as well as 2.5 tackles on defense in a 28-7 win over Coldwater.

Also turning in an outstanding performance for Kirtland was junior running back/defensive back Damon Washington. Washington is a home run threat each time he touches the football and the shifty back rushed for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also adding three tackles and a pass break-up on defense. Washington should be a prospect that will get some serious MAC interest down the road.

Speaking of prospects that MAC programs should be aware of, Coldwater junior quarterback Austin Bruns had a strong showing in a losing effort. Bruns threw for 249 yards and also rushed for 62 yards and a score. Bruns is tall, mobile, and throws a good ball with good accuracy. Though he doesn't have a huge arm, his ability to deliver the football where it needs to be and to run the spread offense efficiently should get him plenty of looks as junior film starts to get out.


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