When Archbishop Hoban and Massillon meet in the Division II state championship game on Thursday, both sides will be looking to exploit a weakness on the other side.
Good luck with that.
Hoban coach Tim Tyrrell and Massillon coach Nate Moore could not find many flaws with the Knights (14-0) and the Tigers (14-0), who will square off at 7:30 p.m. at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
Hoban is trying to win its fourth state title in a row after being the top team in Division II in 2017 and the top team in Division III in 2016 and 2015.
“They are a very good team,” Moore said. “The thing that really sticks out watching the film is that they really don’t have any weaknesses.”
Tyrrell said he feels the same way about Massillon.
“They are very well coached and they have some really, really good players,” Tyrrell said. “We are still trying to figure out a weakness to be able to attack them on.”
Hoban is led by its five captains: seniors Nolan Rumler, Matt Salopek, Tyris Dickerson and Jacob Petit and junior DeaMonte Trayanum.
Massillon counters with six captains: seniors Jamir Thomas, Tre’Von Morgan, Dean Clark, Deon Williams and Justin Gaddis and junior Aidan Longwell.
A look at Hoban
Hoban’s defense features Division I college prospect Trayanum at linebacker, Salopek (Miami of Ohio recruit) in the secondary, and Petit, seniors Joe Michalowicz and Nick Griffith up front. Senior Marcus Saahir and sophomores Damon Ollison and Luke Bauer start at linebackers, and senior Isaiah Jackson, junior Devin Hightower and sophomore Alvin Stallworth contribute at defensive back.
“They play a lot of kids on the defensive line and they are all very well coached,” Moore said. “They are very active coming off the ball very well and they use their hands to get off blocks. The linebacker group is very aggressive with downhill players that have an attacking style of linebacker play, and they are well coached too. The secondary ... they can play zone and they can play man coverage.”
The Knights offense boasts Rumler (Michigan recruit) and Petit up front with seniors Jaden Baxter and Owen Robinson and junior Walter Ganous. Sophomore Shane Hamm is the quarterback, senior Tyris Dickerson (Eastern Kentucky) and Trayanum line up at running back, seniors Quan Easterling (Akron) and Matt Blanchard man the fullback spots, junior Caden Clark (Alabama) is the tight end, and senior Mason Tipton and sophomore Kharion Davis are the starting wide receivers.
“Offensively, they have a young quarterback, but he is very experienced,” Moore said. “They have two of the best backs in the state of Ohio and a big, strong, physical offensive line that comes off the ball very well, and a really good group of receivers.”
A look at Massillon
Massillon will be without Thomas (ankle injury), but junior Zion Phifer and senior Marcellus Blake are expected to be the running backs behind a line with four seniors (Williams, Gaddis, Aydan Burgess and Jory Maddox) and one junior (Cole Jones).
“Thomas is a big-time Division I player [committed to Washington State], but I don’t see much drop off with the back up,” Tyrrell said. “He runs the ball very well and they have a very good line.”
The Tigers' other impact players on offense are Longwell at quarterback, seniors Morgan and Aydrik Ford and sophomore Jayden Ballard at wide receiver, senior fullback Brock Orr and sophomore tight end Terrence Ranki.
“Out of the top five receivers we have seen this year, three of them play for Massillon, and the quarterback is just so efficient,” Tyrrell said.
Longwell (baseball) and Clark (football) have both committed to Kent State. Morgan and Ballard are both considering multiple Division I college scholarship offers.
Massillon’s defense includes seniors Williams, Hunter Wantz and Nakoa Keefer on the line. Seniors Kyshad Mack, Cameron Sunkle and Kameron Simpson and junior Ben Krichbaum fill the linebacker positions and seniors Clark, Max Turner and Tyree Broyles and junior Preston Hodges are in the secondary.
“Their defensive backfield is as good as it gets when it comes to coverage,” Tyrrell said. “You can really tell the type of program that he [Moore] is running because of the communication when you look at the ins and outs of film. ... Their DBs are always talking, and then they have the two big pluggers in the middle of the line and a lot like us they have linebackers that can run.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com.