Here is a look at the Week 1 football matchup between Garfield and host St. Vincent-St. Mary. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Thursday.
Garfield Golden Rams
League: City Series. 2013 record: 5-5, 3-3.
Coach: Bob Sax, 13th season. Coach’s record: 66-55.
Players to watch: Darrion Powers, Sr., RB-DB; Noland Palmer, Sr., WR-DB; Jatairis Grant, Jr., RB-DB; Sean Calhoun, Sr., OL-DL; Rauland Cross, Sr., OL-DL; Devante Lash, Sr., WR; Rico Harper, Sr., OL; James Corey, Sr., DE; Antonio Sanders, Jr., OL-DL; Benson Bonyo, Sr,. PK; Dayvon Mason, Jr., RB-DB; Trevon Shephard, Jr., QB-DB; London McKinney, Sr., LB-TE; Davon Clinton, Sr., LB-OL.
Experience: The Golden Rams return eight starters on offense and seven on defense, and Sax said he is very happy with how off-season conditioning went.
Preseason thoughts from coach Bob Sax: “I think Ellet graduated a lot, but they had a really good JV team and they have varsity players back who are good players. They are the defending champs [in the City Series]. They are the favorite, but you’ve always got to worry about a Buchtel team. [Tim] Flossie and Firestone were 2-8 last year, but that was not a true indicator of their team. They lost [five] games by between six and 14 points. We will be right there, too. East will surprise people as they have a lot of people back, and North and Kenmore have new coaches [John Allen Stewart at North and Kemp Boyd at Kenmore] who I think will do a good job.”
St. Vincent-St. Mary Fighting Irish
League: Independent. 2013 record: 15-0.
Coach: Dan Boarman, eighth season at St. V-M; 25th overall. Coach’s record: 67-21 at St. V-M; 184-91 overall.
Players to watch: Vince Lockett, Sr., RB/LB; Sam Yeaton, Sr., TE/LB; Jeremy Swords, Sr., OL/DL; Jack Williams, Sr., RB/DL; Joe Faetanini, Sr., RB/DL; Markus Hurd, Jr., RB/WR/DB; Tyrece Speaight, Jr., WR/RB/DB; Sean Devany, Sr., P; Pat Oliverio, Sr., LB/RB; Dre’k Brumley, Sr., DL; Jacob Sivec, Sr., OL/DL; Marcus McAlister, Jr., OL/DL; Kyle Kelly, Jr., RB/DB.
Outlook: St. V-M will look to reload this season after winning Division III state championships in 2012 and 2013 with veteran-laden teams. Several talented players have graduated (Dante Booker Jr. and Parris Campbell Jr. are at Ohio State and Newman Williams and Travonte Junius are at the University of Akron), but Lockett will be entering his fourth year as a starter and is expected to be a playmaker along with Yeaton, Hurd and Speaight. Swords and Brumley are two experienced linemen. All six players are receiving interest from colleges.
Preseason thoughts from coach Dan Boarman: “This is a new season with new challenges. This is why you coach. This is the fun part. We know that we lost a lot of good football players. That is not a secret, but we still have a lot of good football players. The things that I challenge them with is, are they willing to be the best they can possibly be? Can they rise to the occasion? Can we get better everyday? Those are the things that make coaching fun.
"We are going to be OK. It is not like the cupboard is bare. We ask kids to step up. We explained to them this is not last year. This is a whole new year. You make your history right now. . . . There is a legacy at this school. There is a tradition and one that they need to uphold. There is a tradition of toughness.”
The Fighting Irish have appeared in the playoffs in 18 seasons since 1972. The 1972 team won the Class AA state championship. Teams in 1981, 1982 and 1988 also won Division III state titles.
Note: A feature on St. V-M will appear in the 2014 Akron Beacon Journal High School Football Preview with several Fighting Irish players and Boarman talking about this season.