Here is a preseason look at Federal League football for the 2007 season. In this post, you will find players (that received all-star recognition in the league last season) to watch from each team and my predictions for the upcoming season.
*** Please note that the 2007 High School Football Preview Section will appear in the Wednesday Aug. 22, 2007 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal with complete analysis of every league, team and top players in the area. ***
CANTON MCKINLEY (12-2 overall, 7-0 in the Federal League last season; Federal League champions)
Top players: Senior DB-WR Brandon Mingo (first-team Federal), senior OL-DE Sean Whited (first-team), senior DL-OL Isaac Gatlin (second-team), junior DB-RB Derrick Gordon (honorable mention).
PERRY (9-2, 6-1)
Top players: Senior TB-DB Eric Magnacca (first-team Federal, second-team All-Ohio and first-team all-district in Division I), senior QB-OLB Matt Vick (first-team Federal), senior TE-DL David Baughman (second-team), senior OT-DE Doug Elliot (honorable mention).
NORTH CANTON HOOVER (7-3, 4-3)
Top players: Senior WR-DB Matt Wakulchik (first-team Federal, second-team All-Ohio and first-team all-district in Division I), senior LB Kevin Dahl (second-team), senior DL James Georgiades (second team), senior DE Greg Tischler (honorable mention).
JACKSON (5-5, 4-3)
Top player: Senior TB-DB Carlin Isles (first-team Federal).
LAKE (7-5, 3-4)
Top player: Senior FB-LB Matt Higginbotham (honorable mention all-Federal).
AUSTINTOWN FITCH (4-6, 2-5)
Top player: Senior RB-DB Nick Wiery (honorable mention all-Federal).
BOARDMAN (3-7, 1-6)
Top players: Senior HB-CB Tyler Amdendola (second-team Federal), senior FB-OLB Eric Polen (honorable mention).
GLENOAK (3-7, 1-6)
Top player: Senior RB-S Anthony Smith (honorable mention all-Federal).
Here is my predicted finish for the Federal League (which is the same as the Federal League coaches predictions at media day):
1. Canton McKinley
3. North Canton Hoover
6. Austintown Fitch
Here is an explanation for my predictions:
I think tradition and talent will again lift Canton McKinley to another Federal League championship under coach Brian Cross. The Bulldogs will be seeking their third consecutive league title after reaching the Division I state final four last season.
The "Pups" will have a solid defensive secondary with Mingo, Gordon and senior Tremaine O'Neal. Whited will lead a young offensive line. Inexperienced players will line up on both lines, and also at running back, quarterback, receiver and linebacker. McKinley must replace tailback Morgan Williams, linebackers Disi Alexander and George Tabron, kicker Zack Campbell, center Drew McIntyre and quarterback Dan Grimsley. Replacing that collection of graduated stars could prove to be too much, opening the door for Perry or Hoover.
Perry, which was runner-up last season in the league, returns a solid tailback and quarterback combination in Magnacca and Vick. Magnacca is powerful and fast, two attributes that will strike fear in any defense. The Panthers have 24 lettermen back from a season ago and are poised to challenge for the title under coach John "Spider" Miller.
Hoover's defense should be excellent with Dahl, Georgiades, Tischler and senior Mitch Rose under the tutelage coach Don Hertler Jr. The Vikings offense could be explosive with Wakulchik catching passes from senior quarterback Jared Wackerly.
Boardman should rise up the Federal standings with 22 lettermen returning. Spartans coach D.J. Ogilvie is very high on Amendola, Polen and seniors Evan Klepec and Nick Tuminello.
Lake could surprise with seven starters back on offense and six back on defense. Higginbotham and senior Gene Onabiyi should lead under coach Jeff Durbin.
Fitch, Jackson and GlenOak will each have new coaches. The Falcons will be guided by Phil Annarella, the Polar Bears have Thom McDaniels in charge and the Golden Eagles hired GlenOak alumnus Scott Garcia. Annarella and McDaniels are experienced leaders, and Garcia is entering his first season as a head coach.
Isles gives Jackson a game-breaking running back with tremendous speed. Add in McDaniels success as coach at Canton McKinley and Warren Harding, and the Polar Bears could challenge the top three teams in the league -- McKinley, Perry and Hoover.
Let me know what do you think of these predictions?