By Michael Beaven
Beacon Journal sports writer
The coaches at the annual City Series football media day didn’t miss out on the opportunity to talk up their teams and players Wednesday afternoon.
First-year Kenmore coach Jason Knapp stepped to the podium at the Akron Education Association building and spoke glowingly about the two players he brought.
“We have 55 players on the roster right now, and I brought with me Michael Perry and T.J. Mays, a pair of experienced seniors,” Knapp said.
“Michael plays linebacker and center in football, and also plays basketball. T.J. plays guard on offense, linebacker and defensive tackle on defense and he is also our kicker. He is excited to kick, and another thing about him is that he is a three-sport athlete who also plays in the marching band. T.J. is going to play football with us, and then at halftime he will go play his instrument.”
Mays said he plays the saxophone. His other sports are wrestling (at 182 pounds) and track and field (100 meters, 200, 400 relay and shot put).
“That’s special,” Knapp said. “That is taking advantage of the high school experience.”
Knapp played at Wadsworth and Mount Union, and has been an assistant at Kenmore, Wadsworth and Massillon.
Kenmore went 5-5 overall last year and 3-3 in the City, It plays nonleague games against Warren Howland, Norton, Barberton and Northwest.
Ellet coach Joe Yost addressed the media about his team, which returns a solid core of players from last year’s City Series championship team.
“We’re very excited at Ellet,” Yost said. “We had a great season last year and we are very humbled by that success.
“It’s interesting, if one play was different against Buchtel (20-19), Firestone (13-7) and Garfield (7-0), we would have been 3-3 in the league instead of 6-0.”
Ellet went 8-3 overall last year after advancing to the Division II playoffs and losing to Kent Roosevelt.
“This is the most seniors we have since probably ’83,” Yost said. “We have 25 seniors.”
Ellet will play nonleague games against Springfield, Tallmadge, Alliance and Canfield.
Seniors Jake Fisher and Hussain Hamdan joined Yost. The Orangemen also feature seniors Matt Geer and Dakota King and junior Jacob Ivory.
Yost enters his 35th season with a 201-143-3 record at Ellet. He and Firestone coach Tim Flossie (33rd season, 191-145-3) are the most experienced coaches in the league.
Flossie brought seniors Brennan Williams and Edmund Williams from last year’s 5-5 team. Flossie said he is intrigued by a young offensive line and balanced talent throughout the team.
“We have a really good senior class and our attitude is much better this year,” Flossie said. “The league is going to be tough again this season.”
Firestone will play nonleague games against GlenOak, Copley, Stow and Massillon.
Buchtel coach Ricky Powers selected seniors Ali Grose and Chris Davis to attend off last year’s 4-6 Griffins team.
“Of course, we have the easiest schedule again this year,” Powers joked. “We start at Canton McKinley, then go to [Lakewood] St. Edward and then play at home against [Youngstown] Cardinal Mooney. We follow that up by playing the City teams, which is tough, and conclude the regular season at home with [Columbus] St. Francis DeSales.”
Garfield seniors Jarred Bell and Eric McCants accompanied coach Bob Sax, whose team went 4-6 last year and has nonleague games with St. V-M, Cuyahoga Falls, Tallmadge and St. Thomas Aquinas.
“For the first time in three years, we are returning a lot of our skill guys,” Sax said. “We have a lot of defensive backs, linebackers, wide receivers and running backs. We are looking forward to being better.”
East coach Marques Hayes tabbed two juniors to attend.
“I brought with me Maurice Thomas and Darius Griggs, two of our leaders,” Hayes said. “We have one senior on the roster this year. We had a rough go of it last year and didn’t win a game. We added 20 young men to the roster this year and have about 50 guys.”
North coach Mike Laktash picked junior Malik Al-Qaadir and senior Brandon Johnson to attend the event.
“We have a very competitive schedule and our team is very excited for this season,” Laktash said. “We are looking forward to Week 1.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.