October 31, 2013
The Upper Arlington football team will need a win in its regular-season finale and help from others to make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, but it shouldn't be the last time on a field for at least a few of its players.
Linebacker Chris Frey, who verbally committed to play for Michigan State over the summer, will be joined collegiately by the latest Division I recruit to come through the program, senior defensive lineman Noah Spielman.
While some may recognize the last name because his father, Chris Spielman, was one of Ohio State's all-time greats, the younger Spielman is in his third season as a key player for the Golden Bears.
The 6-foot-1 senior, who depending on reference has been listed as weighing between 230-250, verbally committed to play for the University of Toledo on Tuesday.
The Rockets are 5-3 and could end up in a Bowl game for the fourth consecutive season.
"I really like what's going on up there," Spielman said. "I think I'll fit in perfectly."
Toledo has gone 15-7 since Matt Campbell took over for the last game of the 2011 season. He is the second-youngest coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Campbell played for Division III perennial super-power Mount Union.
"The coaches are great and I think it's the best place for me," Spielman said.
Spielman gets one last chance to show his skills at the prep level when UA plays host to Dublin Coffman on Friday in what could be a win-or-go-home scenario for both teams.
Coffman is 14th and UA is 20th in Division I, Region 2 heading into their meeting, with the top 16 making the playoffs. Pickerington Central, which plays host to Gahanna, and Hilliard Darby, which is host to Hilliard Bradley, could be in with wins. The wild card is probably Lebanon, which is 7-2 and plays at 8-1 Springboro on Friday.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @ThisWeekSports throughout Friday night's action for updates on central Ohio teams and their playoff hopes.
October 24, 2013
There might not be a player like Caleb Day leading the way for the Hilliard Darby football team this fall, but it's impossible to deny that the program knows what it's doing on defense.
The Panthers hasn't faced an opponent like Westerville Central, which they meet Oct. 25. Still, it's impressive that Darby, which didn't have tons of experience returning, has been giving up just 11.1 points this fall.
Senior Josh Humbert is listed on his ScoutingOhio.com page at 6-4, 264, and he has a Division I offer from Akron.
Then there's senior free safety Devon Rogers, a 5-10, 200-pounder who has been offered by Air Force.
Senior linebacker Trevor Parker has been the leading tackler.
None of these guys have the reputation of Day, who went on to sign with Illinois, or 2013 graduate Cameron Kohl, who is playing for Ohio Dominican, but they're obviously doing something right.
Another player in the program who likely will play in college is senior offensive guard Tony Hajjar, who has offers from Notre Dame College in South Euclid and Sienna Heights (Mich.). He's 6-3, 265.
*Another program that is proving it is legit is Worthington Kilbourne.
The Wolves are 7-1 heading into a huge game Friday at undefeated and top-ranked New Albany.
Because Kilbourne has struggled the last few years, names like Joe Schick (center), Seth Hill (RB/DB), D.J. Freer (DL), Gavin Elifritz (DL) and Chandler Bridges (RB/DB) don't exactly roll off the tongue, but this senior class is special.
They bought into a hard offseason plan and it's paying off.
Schick is 6-3, 270, and has led the program's focus on strength-building and conditioning.
Although none of the players I listed have Division I offers that I know of yet, there's still time for them to make a name for themselves especially if they can make the playoffs.
It should be interesting to see if Kilbourne can hang with New Albany, especially since it's logical to think the Eagles will come in in a bad mood after barely getting by winless Big Walnut last week.
October 22, 2013
Tom Izzo is no stranger to winning, and the long-time Michigan State coach came out on top in a big recruiting battle Monday afternoon when Gahanna senior Javon Bess announced his verbal commitment to play men's basketball for the Spartans.
Bess, a 6-5 guard/forward who helped Pickerington Central win a state title as a sophomore before leading Gahanna to a regional runner-up finish a year ago, also considered Kansas State and Dayton.
All three schools would have been solid choices.
Kansas State was 27-8 and is coached by Bruce Weber, who obviously knows a thing or two about Midwest basketball considering he used to coach at Illinois.
Dayton went 17-14 last season but does have a pair of former central Ohio stars on its roster in Northland graduates Jalen Robinson and Devon Scott.
Since Izzo took over at Michigan State in 1995, the Spartans have one national championship (2000), a national runner-up finish (2009), six Final Fours and seven Big Ten championships.
Last season, the Spartans were 27-9 and made the Sweet Sixteen.
"Kansas State and Dayton were still in the picture, but when I went to Michigan State I fell in love with the place," said Bess, who took his official visit to Michigan State last weekend. "I can tell (Izzo) really loves his players. He talked to me a lot."
Last season for Gahanna, Bess averaged 18 points and eight rebounds and was first-team all-OCC-Ohio Division and second-team all-district. The Lions went 22-6.
October 16, 2013
As is the case in most years, the City League is producing some of the best defensive backs in central Ohio.
Two of the area's better ones this fall have been Marion-Franklin's Omar Alfred and Walnut Ridge's Brandon Paschal, seniors who each have five interceptions.
Walnut Ridge's coach Byron Mattox might be the most underrated defensive mind in the area. When you consider that the Scots haven't had their best player, Michigan State-recruit Robert Bowers all season because of an injury and yet have been giving up just 13.1 points, the numbers back him up.
Paschal is a 5-8, 150-pounder in the 2014 class who might not be fast or big enough to go DI, but he's someone to watch the rest of this season.
Another of Paschal's teammates, 6-2, 197-pound free safety Anthony McKee from the 2015 class, already has offers from Toledo, Illinois, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Bowling Green, Tennessee and Pittsburgh.
Alfred still will have time to get noticed since his team likely will make the Division III playoffs. Walnut Ridge could be in line for a Division II playoff berth if it can win out.
*Speaking of the City League, has anyone noticed what Columbus South's Deone Lindsey has been doing this fall?
OK, I know, the Bulldogs haven't played the toughest schedule in the world, they're 2-5 and they still have to play Marion-Franklin so they're certainly not even a .500 team.
But Lindsey's numbers are at least taking note of.
He had three touchdowns last Friday in South's 34-21 win over Briggs to give him 15 on the season. More impressive is that he's averaging 11 yards per carry and battling Ready's Akili Taylor for the area lead in rushing yards with 1,352.
Lindsey strikes me as a kid who could thrive at the Division II or III level.
*The biggest game of last week was New Albany against Olentangy, and the Eagles proved again why they should be one of central Ohio's top candidates to go deep into the state playoffs.
New Albany is 7-0 despite battling injuries to multiple running backs and having a first-year coach. That's impressive.
Joe Siegenthaler is a senior standout athlete who had two interceptions, giving him four on the season, and also had five catches for 91 yards and one touchdown. According to his ScoutingOhio page, he has offers from Saginaw Valley State and Ohio Dominican.
October 8, 2013
Not sure how many of you caught the Ready-Washington Court House boxscore from Oct. 4, but it sounds like that game got ugly in a hurry.
It was the first game for wide receiver Myles Fowler and running back Deandre Golden, who sat out the first five games after transferring to Ready from Westland and Watterson, respectively, and both had touchdown runs as the Silver Knights blew past Court House 98-20.
There was some time before it got out of hand for Ready senior running back Akili Taylor to add to his area-best rushing totals as well, as he finished with 136 yards and three touchdowns on just eight carries.
That's 17 yards per carry, bringing his rushing totals during Ready's 6-0 start to 1,169 yards and 14 touchdowns on 104 attempts (an 11.2 average).
Taylor isn't especially tall considering he's 5-foot-9, but he packs a punch with his 190 pounds.
According to his profile on ScoutingOhio.com, Taylor has offers from Kent State and Navy in FBS as well as from Notre Dame College in South Euclid.
Taylor seems like a great fit for a MAC school.
In the meantime, it might be tough for him to get to 2,000 yards rushing in the regular season but I would guess that he'll get close to that mark.
*I got to watch a blowout of different proportions in week 6, one that featured two teams familiar with each other and that have been among central Ohio's top programs the last few years.
What Pickerington North did to Pickerington Central in a 49-14 victory was impressive to say the least.
The thing that stands out to me about North is how poised senior quarterback Zeph Miller looks.
Last season, the Panthers had a pretty good prep quarterback in Mason Olszewski, but Miller was progressing so much that he forced his way onto the field. Even in some big games, North brought Miller in as a change of pace because of his athleticism.
This season, Miller is wowing with his arm and his feet.
He was successful on several long passing plays in the first half and also rushed for three touchdowns.
Miller would seem to be in a battle with Westerville Central's Jared Drake, Marysville's Matt Mulholland and maybe a couple others for all-district honors at quarterback.
You can check out Miller's profile on ScoutingOhio.com here.
*Speaking of Mulholland, who could have predicted that he would be 119-for-201 passing for 1,412 yards and that his team would be 5-1 through six games?
Mulholland was the Monarchs' punter and backup quarterback last year but has blossomed under second-year coach Morgan Cotter.
It would be one of the feel-good stories of the year if Marysville makes the playoffs.
October 2, 2013
Plenty of players end up with Division I football scholarships despite not putting up standout numbers at the high school level.
A lot of what gets players recruited by big-time programs has to do with things that aren't under anyone's earthly control -- like height.
Regarding some players who have amazing skills but find themselves lacking in something such as height or God-given wheels, there's nothing wrong with appreciating what they're accomplishing as prep players.
One such player is Pickerington North senior linebacker Dylan Weigel.
North has been blessed the last few years with talent like Darien Bryant, Jake Butt, Godwin Igwebuike and a few others who have gone on to play collegiately. One of the greatest linemen to come through central Ohio over the last couple decades was Justin Boren.
Weigel, meanwhile, is having another monster year after entering his senior season as the program's all-time leading tackler.
During North's 5-0 start, he had 27 solo and 35 assisted tackles, and he also has 3.5 sacks and six tackles for losses.
Those are the type of numbers that will make him an obvious first-team all-district player.
So why does he, according to his page on ScoutingOhio.com, have no scholarship offers?
If he was 6-foot-5 instead of 6-foot, I've got a feeling numerous DI programs would be hard after him.
Two other players who have produced unbelievable numbers so far but aren't receiving DI offers are the Granville pair of senior wide receiver Ajay Alderman and senior quarterback Isaac Maurer.
Maurer is 6-5, 215, which would seem to give him the necessary size, and he's completed 107 of 159 yards for a central Ohio-best 1,826 yards. Perhaps as he continues to rack up the numbers, offers will come.
Alderman is just 5-10 but has 36 catches for 834 yards (23.2 average). His older brother, Adam Alderman, walked on at Ohio University, and Ajay would seem to be just as talented.
*Is Jared Drake moving closer to his dream of being a Division I college quarterback?
Well, his team, Westerville Central, is 4-1 and doing just about everything it can offensively to help his case.
Drake, who has a Division I offer from Indiana State and could end up at a DI college as an athlete, is an effecient 72 of 116 passing for 1,061. His team is averaging a whopping 46.2 points against a fairly tough schedule -- two teams on its schedule are 3-2, with its only loss coming 57-50 to undefeated New Albany.
What would help Drake's case would be a long playoff run in Division I, Region 2, which promises to be full of standout competition.
October 1, 2013
A few months from now, Reynoldsburg senior Alyssa Rice will be exchanging the purple and gold colors of her high school for blue and white.
Late Monday night on her Twitter account, the 6-foot-3 post player who is ranked No. 3 at her position and 20th overall according to ESPN Hoopgurlz, announced her verbal commitment to the University of Kentucky.
"I chose Kentucky because they had everything I was looking for in a college," Rice said. "They are extremely family oriented, run a fast-paced offense and an aggressive defense, have incredible program support and offer great academics, which were the key criteria I looked at when visiting schools."
Rice averaged 15.1 points, eight rebounds and four blocks last winter as the Raiders went 24-3 and were Division I regional semifinalists. She joins Alexis Jennings, a 6-2 forward out of Alabama, among the recruits to the Wildcats' 2014 class.
Last season, Kentucky went 30-6, losing to Connecticut 83-53 in the Elite Eight. The Wildcats have advanced to that level of the tournament in back-to-back seasons.
Ohio State made a coaching change in the offseason, bringing in former Xavier coach Kevin McGuff, and his 2014 recruiting class will feature the Mitchell sisters from Cincinnati Princeton and Africentric post player Alexa Hart, but it won't include Rice.
Although Ohio State originally was on Rice's list of about eight schools she was considering, her final decision came down to Kentucky and Virginia.
"The coaching staff was also a big reason I fell in love with Kentucky," Rice said. "They are all very personable and outgoing and I honestly feel like they care about me as a person as well as a basketball player."
- UA's Spielman to play football for Toledo
- Football news, notes: Unsung Darby defense continues to shine
- Gahanna's Bess to play men's hoops at Michigan State
- Week 7 news, notes: Alfred, Scots duo among area DB crop
- Week 6 news, notes: Panthers' Miller, Ready's Taylor stand out
- Football news, notes: Panthers' Weigel, Granville duo starring
- Reynoldsburg's Rice to play women's hoops for Kentucky