High School Spotlight - Week 5

This week the fifth edition of our High School Spotlight series takes an in-depth look at the football programs of the Suburban Conference.


Suburban League: National Division


Brecksville – Broadview Heights Bees

Head Coach – Jason Simonetti (2nd season)

2017 Record – 4-6

Division 2

Region 5


Key Returners: QB Joe Labas, RB Jordan Shaheen, RB/DB Chris Hager, RB/DB Ronny Wilson, WR Kenny Ganley, WR/DB Hayden Hebron, DB John Jesser, OL/DL Tanner Watson

Key Losses: RB/DB Alec Buckley, FB/LB Michael Rose, WR/DB Sam Wiglusz, TE/LB Michael Graham, WR/DB Adrian Asimou, OL/DL Cole Costanzo, OL/DL Jack O’Donnell, OL/LB Alex Barsotti, RB/DB Wilson Sternad

The Bees are coming off a 4-6 season in 2017 and unfortunately lose running back Alec Buckley, linebacker Michael Rose, and wide receiver/defensive back Sam Wiglusz to graduation.

The good news is that sophomore signal-caller Joe Labas returns after acquiring valuable learning experience as the program’s starting quarterback as a freshman in 2017.

Brecksville opens the regular season at home in a match-up with Garfield Heights on August 31st at 7:00 pm.


Cuyahoga Falls Black Tigers

Head Coach – Shane Parker (2nd season)

2017 Record – 0-10

Division 2

Region 5


Key Returners:  WR/DB Daizhaun Brazile, RB/LB Tyler Hitchings, QB/DB Tyler Vassalotti, FB/MLB James Cross, RB/DB Jordan Bosley, RB/OLB Garrett Hooker, DB Eric Rosiak, LB/FB Caleb Puchajda

Key Losses: DL/OL Saivon Davis, WR/DB Tyler Gibson, OL/DL Seth Asbury, WR/DB Ben Klinker, OL/DL James Bentley

Despite going 0-10 in 2017, Head Coach Shane Parker has to be feeling good about the amount of talent that is returning on both sides of the ball, including starting quarterback Tyler Vassalotti, running back/linebacker Tyler Hitchings, and talented playmaking wide receiver and defensive back Daizhaun Brazile

Cuyahoga Falls travels to take on Norton in their regular season opener, Friday, August 31st


Hudson Explorers

Head Coach – Jeff Gough (3rd season)

2017 Record – 7-4

Division 2

Region 5


Key Returners:  RB/DL Brady Ludewig, TE/LB Dean Palumbo, OL Nathan Slater, QB Liam Brennan, RB Drew Lightner, WR Brandon Lal

Key Losses: DL/OL Andrew Studer, LB Angelo Donatelli, WR/DB Colin Paltani, QB Colt Pallay, RB Dawson Wervey, WR Greg Mailey, OL Jack Nord, RB Kevin Callahan, DL Matt Rudy, TE Pat Burdett, DB Stephen Bianconi

Coming off two straight state semi-final trips it was another successful campaign for Hudson in 2017. The Explorers finished 7-4, including another state playoff berth, where they fell to Brush in overtime, 26-20.

The losses are heavy in 2018 as the team needs to replace numerous positions on both sides of the ball, including their star quarterback. The return of Brady Ludewig, Dean Palumbo and Nathan Slater gives the Explorers are a strong senior class, and the expectations of making another deep run in the postseason.

Hudson opens the regular season at home in a match-up with the Austintown Fitch Falcons on August 31st at 7:00 pm.


Nordonia Knights

Head Coach – Jeff Fox (7th season)

2017 Record – 2-8

Division 2

Region 5


Key Returners:  QB Robby Levak, WR/DB Brendan O’Donnell, OL Dylan Schneider, DB/RB Nyles Beverly, WR/DB Jordan Jones, WR/DB Julius Jones

Key Losses: RB/LB Tye Evans, WR Donny Wizniak, OL Noah Howard, OL Michael Dietzen, DB Sam Hopes, DB/RB Justin Bell

The Knights are expecting to be highly competitive in the Suburban Conference’s National Division in 2018. Even though Nordonia finished 2-8 last season the program returns quarterback Robby Levak, who passed for 2,579 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2017, in addition to defensive back/running back, and Purdue commit, Nyles Beverly.

Nordonia kicks off their season on the road, with a trip to Woodridge on Friday, August 31st.


North Royalton Bears

Head Coach – Nick Ciulli (15th season)

2017 Record – 6-4

Division 2

Region 6


Key Returners:  QB Joey Marousek, DB Bradley Kmetz, DB Dawson Grimm

Key Losses: RB Zach Antonio, RB/MLB Jake Franczak, WR Miles Strnad, WR Adam Barrett, RB Matt Griffie

The Bears just missed out a playoff spot in 2017 despite finishing the campaign at 6-4, including a three-game winning streak to close the season.

Although Head Coach Nick Ciulli loses plenty of talent at the skill positions on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball heading into 2018, he does return junior signal-caller Joey Marousek, who comes off a very strong sophomore campaign where he threw for 1,578 yards and 15 touchdowns.

With Marousek back for another year under center and a slew of underclassmen ready to prove themselves, the Bears are looking to compete Suburban League National Division championship, as well as a chance to get back into the postseason.

North Royalton opens the regular season at home in a match-up with the Parma Redmen on August 31st at 7:00 pm.


Stow Bulldogs

Head Coach – Tom Phillips (1st season)

2017 Record – 9-2

Division 1

Region 1


Key Returners:  RB/DB Jr. Atkinson, DB/WR Bryce Sheppert, WR/DB Brian Cartwright, DL Adrian Woliver, DE Paulo Gill

Key Losses: QB/DB Cory Rice, RB/WR Terrian Wray, WR/DB Tyler Shaver, OLB/RB Isaiah Gray, MLB Tim Manley

The Stow Bulldogs are coming off a 9-1 regular season in 2017 as well as their third trip in a row to the OHSAA playoffs, where they fell to the Mentor Cardinals in the first round.

Coming into the 2019 season, the Bulldogs are dealing with more turnover than usual. Head Coach Tom Phillips enters his first season at the helm for Stow, while quarterback Cory Rice as well as numerous athletes on both sides of the ball have departed due to graduation. However, no matter the changes, the Stow football program has proven over recent years that the Bulldogs do not rebuild, they re-load.

The Bulldogs open their 2018 season at home on Friday, August 31st against Hilliard Darby.


Twinsburg Tigers

Head Coach – Mike Bell (4th season)

2017 Record – 4-6

Division 2

Region 5


Key Returners:  QB/DB Adam Van de motter, WR/DB Tre Radford, WR/OLB Isaiah Savitt, WR/DB Jameel Banks, LB/TE Kyle Apple, TE/DE Rashad Jones-Land, DE/OL Aiden Malenchek

Key Losses: QB/DB Seth Grabowski, RB/OLB Cam’ron McClain, RB/OLB Khadafhi Taylor, WR Christian Edgerson, LB James Grammens

Head Coach Mike Bell and the Twinsburg Tigers are looking to rebound in a big way in 2017. After starting the season 3-1, the Tigers went to lose five of their remaining six contests to close the campaign at 4-6.

This season, the Tigers return quarterback Adam Van de motter under center as well as versatile playmaker Isaiah Savitt on both sides of the ball. With plenty of contributors returning from last year’s squad, the Tigers will look to punch their ticket to the postseason for the first time since 2010.

The path won’t be easy for Twinsburg in their quest to get to the playoffs. Up first for the Tigers in 2018 is a trip to perennial powerhouse Solon on Friday, August 31st.


Wadsworth Grizzlies

Head Coach – Justin Todd (3rd season)

2017 Record – 11-1

Division 2

Region 6


Key Returners:  RB Dominic Loparo, RB Brock Snowball

Key Losses: QB Joey Baughman, WR/DB Mitchell Blackburn, WR/DB Christian Szalay, WR Tyler Knurek

Behind senior quarterback and Ohio’s Mr. Football, Joey Baughman and the Wadsworth Grizzlies steam-rolled through their 2017 regular-season schedule, finishing with an unblemished record of 10-0 and a Suburban League National Division championship. After an opening first round victory over Sylvania Northview in the OHSAA playoffs, 61-42, the Grizzlies stumbled and lost a heartbreaker to the Olmsted Falls Bulldogs, 21-20, in the regional semi-finals.

Baughman and his 4,602 passing/rushing yards and 56 total touchdowns move on in 2018. Replacing Mr. Football as well as his top three wide receivers will be a difficult task for Head Coach Justin Todd and the Grizzlies team, but the return of running backs Dominic Loparo and Brock Snowball will help soften the blow and give Wadsworth a pair of weapons capable of piling up points in a hurry.

Wadsworth kicks its season off at Wooster on Friday, August 31st.


Suburban League: American Division


Aurora Greenmen

Head Coach – Bob Mihalik (18th season)

2017 Record – 6-5

Division 3

Region 9


Key Returners: OL Justin Lovell, RB Colin McNamara, RB Jack Arnold, WR/DB Graham Aldredge, WR Kyle Obly, DL Adon Tell, LB Cole Miller

Key Losses: QB/DB Evan Fromwiller, WR Gavin Blunt, WR/DB Jared DeMicco, WR Drew McVay, OL Mason Copley, OL, Sonny Quaranto, OL Montana Nietert, OL Michael Dudziak, OL Jacob Blue, TE Nate Smierciak, OL/DL Blake Lightfoot, K Robby Albrecht, LB Brent Henderson

In 2017, and for the 13th season in a row, the Aurora Greenmen played in an OHSAA playoff game – and that is despite the team only returning 11 starters combined on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.

The losses are extremely heavy once again as the Greenmen lose a very large senior class, including their leaders Evan Fromwiller, Gavin Blunt, Jared DeMicco, and Mason Copley. The Aurora football program doesn’t rebuild, however, and the Greenmen fully expect to be back in the playoffs for the 14th year in a row this fall.


Barberton Magics

Head Coach – Tony Grotto (5th season)

2017 Record – 12-1

Division 2

Region 5


Key Returners:  K Griffin Brown, RB Kenneth Hood, QB/DB Chase Haywood, WR/DB Spencer Hutchison, DB/WR Gavin Krska, FB/DT Kionnie Dukes, DB/WR Derek Vaughn

Key Losses: RB/LB Keye Thompson, QB Zane Reis, WR/DB Garrett Turnbaugh, OLB/WR Malcolm Boyd, DL Chris Maccaroll, RB/DB Jeffery Parker, DL Andrew Wasch, DB Dee Smith, DB/WR Keyandre Hood, DL/MLB Christian McCarroll, MLB Mason Haywood, DL Anthony Long, DB Dayoveon Smith

The Barberton Magics are coming off their best season in school history. Their first undefeated regular season since 1947 and their first-ever playoff wins, a 36-6 victory over Benedictine, and a 35-0 shutout of Bedford, before falling to Akron Hoban in the regional final.

The losses are big as quarterback Zane Reis and running back/linebacker Keye Thompson headline a very large senior class that departs to graduation. Head Coach Tony Grotto does return some key contributors from last year’s historic team as the Magics in 2018 look to build off the momentum they created a year ago.


Copley Indians

Head Coach – Scott Chouinard (5th season)

2017 Record – 4-6

Division 2

Region 5


Key Returners:  RB/DB Maliq Spragling, WR/DB Tyson Durant, WR/DB Rhett Van Voorhis, RB/DB Zeyad Misleh, WR/DB Devin Prude, LB Gabe Catlett

Key Losses: QB/DB Jake Nedolast, OL Vincent Fonte, RB/LB Blake Traylor, WR/DB Deon Millender, WR/DB Montell Hubbard, WR/DB Joe Kenyon, RB/LB Bryce Taylor, DL Adam Allen, WR/DB Ryan Mann, OL Andrew Martin

The Copley Indians finished with a 4-6 mark in the 2017 season. The Traylor twins along with quarterback Jake Nedolast move on, but Head Coach Scott Chouinard will be eager to find out who wants to step up and take their place during two-a-days.

Running back Maliq Spragling should make an impact at the running back position in 2018. Tyson Durant and Devin Prude should provide leadership for the Indians on the field as well.


Highland Hornets

Head Coach – Mike Gibbons (4th season)

2017 Record – 9-3

Division 2

Region 6


Key Returners:  RB Jake Rogers

Key Losses: LB Max Beier, WR Evan Kasulones, QB Matt Earnest, RB Brent Ponivkar, WR Ryan Frederick

The Hornets finished the 2017 regular season with an 8-2 record and clinched a spot in the OHSAA playoffs, where they defeated Anthony Wayne 21-14 in the first round before falling to Avon 28-10 in the regional semi-finals.

Head Coach Mike Gibbons loses quarterback Matt Earnest but returns standout running back Jake Rogers as the Hornets will set their sights on making a deeper run in the postseason this fall.


Revere Minutemen

Head Coach – James Boyeas (1st season)

2017 Record – 2-8

Division 3

Region 9


Key Returners:  QB/DB Nathan Klonowski, RB Matt Buser, RB/DB Brandon Trocano, RB Will Bowe, WR/DB Bryce Holt, WR/DB Sean Leyden, OL/DL Ben Christman

Key Losses: OLB Eric Lazbin, OLB Hunter Bonfiglio, TE/DL Jack Baker, OL/DL Connor Head, DB Will Mabee

Revere finished with a 2-8 record in 2017, but first-year Head Coach James Boyeas takes the helm and returns numerous skill position players on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Quarterback Nathan Klonowski and running back Matt Buser figure to take another step forward this season.


Roosevelt Rough Riders

Head Coach – Mark Geis (1st season)

2017 Record – 2-8

Division 2

Region 5


Key Returners:  QB/LB C.J. Anderson, RB/OLB Tyrell Fields, WR/DB Mikey Friedman, WR/DB Darrin Parks

Key Losses: RB/QB Nathan Jones, WR/DB Kelvon Blackmon, WR/DB Jerron Browder, WR/DB Travis Verh, OLB/TE Payne Hartman

Head Coach Mark Geis takes over at Kent Roosevelt in 2018 as the Rough Riders are coming off a 2-8 finish in 2017.

Despite some key losses, the team returns quarterback C.J. Anderson under center, as well as some playmakers in Tyrell Fields, Mikey Friedman, and Darrin Parks.

Coming into the 2019 season, the Bulldogs are dealing with more turnover than usual. Head Coach Tom Phillips enters his first season at the helm for Stow, while quarterback Cory Rice as well as numerous athletes on both sides of the ball have departed due to graduation. However, no matter the changes, the Stow football program has proven over recent years that the Bulldogs do not rebuild, they re-load.

The Bulldogs open their 2018 season at home on Friday, August 31st against Hilliard Darby.


Tallmadge Blue Devils

Head Coach – Alan Vanderink (3rd season)

2017 Record – 8-4

Division 3

Region 9


Key Returners:  QB Sam Seeker, RB Richie Eyre, TE/OLB Jason Grassie, WR Luke Thomas, MLB Mike Yamokoski

Key Losses: RB/DB Ty Shannon, RB Seth Baker, DB/WR Lawrence Benning, WR Zach Boyd, DL Scott Seeker, OLB Lawrence Strebler, DL Blake Bockus

It was another ho-hum successful season for the Tallmadge Blue Devils, a 7-3 regular season finish and a playoff win over Medina Buckeye before falling to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in the regional semi-finals.

A model of consistency, the Blue Devils find themselves in position to advance to the postseason year-in and year-out. Third-year Head Coach Alan Vanderink has to be thrilled to return quarterback Sam Seeker as well as running back Richie Eyre. Losing Ty Shannon is a blow, but Tallmadge will be prepared as they always are once the ball kicks off for real in August.