After viewing Friday's scrimmage between GlenOak and Akron Garfield, an evenly matched contest, it's time to take a look at some of GlenOak's key personnel. I've spent more time with this team than any other in Stark County, and I believe this team has a chance to do great things in 2004.
Any discussion of GlenOak football has to begin with head coach Jack Rose, one of the truly good guys in the sport. If you don't like Jack Rose, then you haven't met Jack Rose. As well as being a super person off the field, Jack Rose is a darn good football coach. Rose, who won a state title in 1984 at St. Thomas Aquinas, just might have his best team ever at GlenOak this year. When I asked Rose what he liked about this team, he replied, "I like how hard they work. They really want to be a good team. These guys all pull for one another."
In looking at some individual players, the first one I want to mention is a player Duane Long and I have probably missed in senior linebacker Nick Roman. As a contributor to Ohio High magazine, I help Duane evaluate talent in Northeast Ohio. We have Roman listed as an honorable mention performer, just outside the top 100 players in the state. After seeing him play today and in practice, there is no way there are 100 football players in Ohio better than Nick Roman. Roman, 6-1, 205 pounds, is a pure football player. He might not bowl people over with his measurements, but he makes a ton of plays. Coach Rose said the best part of Roman's game is that "he's never tired. He's wrestler, and he's in great shape. In the fourth quarter, when others are tired, he gets stronger."
Any time a player has committed to one of the bigger schools, he carries a target on his back, and Brian Hartline is no exception. Every opponent knows who he is, and they all look to challenge him, but this kid will never back down. I'm running out of superlatives to describe this guy, because every time I see him he gets better. The more I watch him, the more convinced I am that will be a star at Ohio State.
In Friday's scrimmage, Brian ran an interception forty yards for a touchdown on the second play of the game. Later, he caught a thirty-yard touchdown pass from his brother Mike. I'm sure he can play wide receiver at OSU, but he just might make a better defensive back. Brian could be the next Chris Gamble. He also punts and returns punts and kickoffs for the Golden Eagles, so there's not much down time, and that's the way Hartline wants it.
Senior LB-TE Brandon Long is a player on the verge of stardom. He's a good player, and not far from being a great player. Great speed, strength and mobility make Long a player whose best football is ahead of him. Brandon has scholarship offers from several MAC schools as well as Cincinnati, and the Bearcats are his leader at this time. If he has the season he's capable of having, the Big-10 could come calling.
Junior QB Mike Hartline had another great week in his young career. On Tuesday, he played well in a scrimmage with state power Cleveland St. Ignatius. Friday, he was even better. His receivers had problems catching the football, but his throws were strong and accurate. In 2003, Mike showed more improvement than any other player in Stark County from week one through week ten. If his offensive line can protect him, Mike Hartline will put up some big numbers in GlenOak's wide open offense.
Another impressive performer was junior Ryan Palmer. Palmer, 6-6, 290 pounds, played well at guard, and on the defensive line. Palmer shows great feet for a man his size, probably because he's also a nice basketball player at GlenOak. Coach Rose singled Ryan out as a player who did well today, and I couldn't agree more. This kid is one to watch as he reminds me of former Golden Eagle star Nick Smith, a freshman at Michigan State.
This team is strong defensively and has a lot of playmakers on
offense. They will be fun to watch in 2004. Key games will be week two against
Mentor and week four versus Canton McKinley. A Federal League championship and a
playoff berth are two goals GlenOak has a realistic shot at. They start the
season next Saturday at Fawcett stadium, against Akron Central-Hower.
Mike and Brian Hartline