The football players who generally get most of the attention are the folks who score the majority of the points — the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.
Archbishop Hoban entered this season with a returning starter or starters at each position in sophomore Shane Hamm at quarterback, senior Tyris Dickerson and junior DeaMonte Trayanum at running back and Mason Tipton at wide receiver.
All four players helped Hoban win its third consecutive state title last season, and remain key players for the Knights (12-0) this season as they continue their quest for a fourth state title on Friday in a Division II regional final against Maple Heights (12-0) at Twinsburg High School.
Hamm and Tipton have each attracted attention from colleges. Dickerson has committed to Eastern Kentucky. Trayanum — who also plays on defense — is weighing several scholarship offers, including Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Stanford.
Hoban also has four other players who have pledged to a college in senior offensive lineman Nolan Rumler (Michigan), senior defensive back Matt Salopek (Miami of Ohio), senior tight end Quan Easterling (Akron) and junior tight end Caden Clark (Alabama).
There is no shortage of talent for Tim Tyrrell to work with, but the Knights' sixth-year coach still enjoys seeing unheralded players step into starting roles and flourish.
Tyrrell rattles off the names of seniors Joe Michalowicz and Marcus Saahir, sophomores Darryl Peterson and Luke Bauer and junior Ernest Witcher and others who have emerged.
“Both corners, [senior] Isaiah Jackson, the baseball player, and [sophomore] Alvin Stallworth, have really stepped in nicely as first-year starters,” Tyrrell said. “[Sophomore] Damon Ollison and [junior] Devin Hightower have also filled starting roles [at linebacker and strong safety, respectively] along with [senior] Matt Blanchard who is our utility guy. He can play end, three technique, linebacker — anytime somebody is banged up, he starts and does really well at every position. Ja’Sean Cogburn is another guy who has played a lot as a defensive back and done really well [as a junior].”
Tyrrell said he is also pleased with the play of his offensive linemen — seniors Jaden Baxter, Owen Robinson, Jacob Petit and Rumler and junior Walter Ganous.
“Ganous was also the starting nose guard last year, and then he flipped over to offense this year,” Tyrrell said. “The one that didn’t start on the offensive line last year is Owen Robinson, the center. He has filled in for R.J. Kelly [who graduated and is playing at the University of Akron]. Owen is the new guy on the O-line.
“[Sophomore] Jordan Mick went from starting that first game at quarterback and now he is playing receiver and doing really well. Blanchard is also an impact player on the offensive side of the ball as a fullback. [Sophomore] Kharion Davis and [junior] Dom Moegerle, the basketball player, have done well the past five games at wide receiver.
“It is awesome to see how these guys have grown from their freshman year. I said this at chapel on Friday, you look at some of the seniors that are now are starters, like Owen Robinson. He was 5-foot-6 and 145 pounds as a freshman and now he is the starting center on a pretty good team. He is about 5-foot-11 or 6-foot and about 230-pounds now. You would have never told me when he was a freshman that he would be our starting center by his senior year.”
Robinson started on the freshman team, and played junior varsity as a sophomore and junior. He played in a handful of varsity games as a junior.
“It has been really special to be able to fill the role as center,” Robinson said. “I am really enjoying this and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Robinson said weightlifting in the offseason helped him become a varsity player.
“I have just worked as hard as I could and I have been eating a lot,” he said with a laugh.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.