Here is a preseason look at City Series football for the 2007 season. In this post, you will find players (and any all-star recognition they received in the league last season) to watch from each team and my predictions for the upcoming season.
ELLET (8-2 overall, 5-0 in the City Series last season; City Series co-champs).
Top players: senior OL Tyler Dunagin (first-team All-City and honorable-mention all-district in Division III), senior RB Paris Wicks (first-team offense), senior LB-QB Chad Keppler (first-team defense), senior DL Branson Price (first-team defense), senior LB Aaron Byard (second-team defense), junior LB Travis Hamad.
BUCHTEL (6-4, 5-0; City Series co-champs)
Top players: sophomore DB-RB Solomon Griffin (first-team defense), senior DB-WR (now QB) Johnny Adams (second-team defense, special-mention All-Ohio in Division III).
FIRESTONE (4-6, 3-2)
Top players: senior RB Darshawn Thomas (first-team offense), senior DL-OL DeAndre Tucker (first-team defense), senior QB Trevor Kennedy (second-team offense), junior OL-DL Richard Barucci (second-team offense), senior LB-TE Alex Paul (second-team defense).
GARFIELD (3-7, 3-3)
Top players: senior DL Whitney Mercilous (first-team defense and second team all-district in Division II), senior DB-WR Jerome Beasley (first-team defense), senior Garrick Twitty (first-team defense), sophomore DB-RB Tyson Gulley (second-team defense), junior OL-LB Laimere Latson (second-team offense).
EAST (5-5, 2-3)
Top players: senior LB Shomari Akhdar (first-team defense), senior LB-FB Demetrius Bentley (second-team defense), senior DL-OL Mark Humphrey (second-team defense).
NORTH (1-9, 5-0)
Top player: senior RB-DB Larry Dawson (second-team defense).
KENMORE (0-10, 0-5)
Top player: senior LB-RB Thomas Cheairs.
Now that you have a feel for which players are returning this year, here are my predictions for how the City Series standings will look at the end of the 2007 season.
Here is my explanation for my picks: Buchtel is always a force to be reckoned with in the City Series, and I think the Griffins' excitement to play for legendary running back Ricky Powers in his first year as head coach will translate to success. Also, I think Soloman Griffin is a special player. He earned accolades for his defense last season, but he's also an excellent running back with big-play potential.
I think Firestone will continue to improve in coach Tim Flossie's second year with the Falcons. After the Falcons failed to win a game for two consecutive seasons, Flossie led them to a 4-6 record last year (and they had a winning record in league play: 3-2). Senior Darshawn Thomas had the best 2006 season of any of the City Series running backs. Thomas rushed for 1,126 yards and eight touchdowns on 211 carries.
I think Ellet will be very good, too. The Orangemen should have a dynamic offense with senior quarterback Chad Keppler and senior running back Paris Wicks returning. Travis Hamad and Aaron Byard should bring stability to the defense as inside linebackers in a 4-4 system. However, I think Firestone has a legitimate shot to beat Ellet. The Orangemen beat the Falcons 16-7 last season.
Garfield will have a tough defense, but its offense seems questionable. After a .500 record last year, East will need younger players to step up because it graduated several key seniors, including last year's City Series Player of the Year - quarterback Kenny Hicks. I think North will improve because senior running back Larry Dawson is good enough to carry the Vikings if he stays healthy. Kenmore has a lot to prove after going winless last season.
What do you think of these predictions? If you agree let me know. If you disagree let me know and give me your predicted finish ... and hurry because the season begins next Thursday.