The City Series regular-season football standings have been identical the past two years.
And it is probably not a stretch to say the standings could remain the same for the third year in a row, especially with Buchtel and East coming off playoff appearances.
Buchtel (6-5, 5-0) won the City Series title last year and then ran into Steubenville in the first round of the Division VI playoffs. East (9-3, 4-1) lost to Buchtel in the regular season finale, but recovered to beat Chardon in a first-round Division III playoff game before falling to Canfield in Week 12.
Buchtel and East both return several talented players, and each squad is also welcoming impact transfers who have either left a Catholic school to return to their public school, moved into the city or have moved on because of the college and career academy opportunities Akron Public Schools offers its high schools.
Buchtel returns junior running back Robert Young-Jones, senior lineman Ricky Good, sophomore lineman Keisean Wilson, junior kicker-punter Dylan West, and juniors Martavien Johnson and Julian Grimes, who both play defensive back and wide receiver. Senior Aaron Spooney is the quarterback after the graduation of Mychael Leno.
“We are extremely excited to get the season of 2019 started,” Buchtel coach Ricky Powers said.
The Griffins roster this season also includes six transfers who are expected to be difference makers, including junior running back Kyree Young, who rushed for 1,829 yards and 24 touchdowns on 177 carries in the regular season last year for Barberton.
Junior defensive end Mike Miller is at Buchtel after transferring from Hoban, and four former St. V-M players made the trek down Maple Street to Copley Road — senior defensive back-wide receiver Marquell Cook, junior linebacker-fullback Jumacius Portis, senior lineman Donta’ Wooldridge and junior defensive back-wide receiver Zion Paynther.
East enters the season with five seniors who have committed to play college football — defensive back-wide receivers Deshawn Jones (Cincinnati) and Amarian Robinson (Youngstown State), linebacker-tight end Bangally Kamara (Pittsburgh), defensive end Tariq Williamson (Toledo) and wide receiver Travon Walker (Central Michigan).
“Everyday we just have to get better,” East coach Marques Hayes said. “We keep on saying focus on the little things. I think that is first and foremost. We talk about that every day. ... We are trying to perfect our craft each time we go out there. The one thing that I can not complain about is that the guys play hard.”
Jones, Robinson, Kamara and Williamson all played at East in 2018 and Walker played at Ellet. Additionally, East has five other notable transfers — senior quarterback-defensive back George Rozier (Firestone), junior defensive back-wide receiver Shawn Gates (Firestone), senior wide receivers Corey Collins (Copley) and Jason Ware (Copley) and junior running back Kobe Campbell (Archbishop Hoban).
Rozier and junior Nakari Virden are both slated to play quarterback for East, where top running backs senior Romeo Felton and junior Richtell McCallister, and senior linebackers Marlon Lee and Cardeyaire Trammell also return.
Firestone, which finished third in the City Series in 2016, 2017 and 2018, will be led by senior athletes Kavaughn Lee, Trovon Davis, Jason Brooks and Daren Cornelius. Juniors Jahiem Moore-Shaw and Wallace Lockett provide muscle along the lines, and junior speedsters Alex Knight and Deron Postway figure to make an impact as well.
“Our strength is going to be offensive line and defensive line,” Firestone coach Eric Mitchell said. “Two areas of weakness will be lack of experience and lacking in depth. ... We are extremely young, but we have a hard working group.”
Ellet returns senior Josh Merring and junior Ethan “EJ” Jones, who both lined up at quarterback in 2018. The Orangemen will also be counting on leadership and production from seniors David Haverstick, Calvin Alexander and Jace Fletcher.
“Football-wise, we are not a very mature team,” Ellet coach Chuck Shuman said. “This is a team that will hopefully get better each game. We don’t have a lot of depth, so we are looking at quite a few players to go both ways for us.”
Seniors Chale Johnson, Lamont Evans and Dwayne Grandison and juniors Jonathan Dilworth and Kyjuan Brown return for Kenmore-Garfield.
“We are young and inexperienced,” K-G coach Kemp Boyd said. “I feel like we have the potential to have a really good offensive line. I really like the backs that we have. I feel like we have guys that can run the football. Defensively, I think we are going to attack and we are going to fly around and make some plays.”
North will feature seniors Moses Epps and Helton Culver and juniors Demetrious Williams, James Ware and Donovan Ware.
“We have got some depth,” North coach Sonil Haslam said. “In years past, it has been about plugging kids in and playing multiple positions. Our numbers are much better this year. In year one [in 2016] we were sitting at 22 and we have increased to 35 to 40 kids [in 2019].”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the #ABJVarsity high school blog at www.ohio.com/sports/high-school. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.