Once again this year, our staff members will select Ohio High’s Man of the Year award in high school football.
The award is somewhat of a companion to the Associated Press’ Mr. Football award.
A year ago, the Ohio High award went to Cleveland Glenville’s Ted Ginn Jr, while the Mr. Football honor went to Cleveland Benedictine’s Ray Williams.
Even though we are waiting on the start of the new season, we can pinpoint several names to watch in the battle for these two prestigious awards in 2004. Here are 10 seniors who we already have our eye on:
* Javon Ringer, running back, Dayton Chaminade-Julienne -- Back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons and a great showing in the 2002 Division II state championship game have made Ringer a household name. An Ohio State offer (and verbal) could be right around the corner, which would certainly help his cause.
* Tyrell Sutton, running back, Akron Hoban -- Sutton has already verbaled to Northwestern after piling up 6,000 yards over the last three years. He had over 2,500 yards for Hoban last year.
* Rob Schoenhoft, quarterback, Cincinnati St. Xavier -- Schoenhoft, an early Ohio State verbal, could vault into contention if he puts up some impressive numbers and St. X succeeds in its quest to step out of the shadow of Cincinnati Elder in the Greater Catholic League.
* Jamario O’Neal, defensive back, Cleveland Glenville -- The recruiting gurus say O’Neal is Ohio’s best college prospect and among the nation’s top five prospects overall. Of course, none of the same accolades helped Ginn get his just rewards from Mr. Football voters -- who didn’t even consider him -- a year ago. It hurts that O’Neal plays in the Senate League. But he, too, is an Ohio State verbal and is well known. His candidacy would be helped if he is also spotlighted on offense, as Ginn was a year ago.
* Mario Manningham, wide receiver, Warren Harding -- The diminutive Manning ham (6-0, 178) burst on the scene as a sophomore, catching a long touchdown pass in his team’s 2002 state championship game loss to Cincinnati Elder. He mustered just 32 catches a year ago, but still scored 11 touchdowns. He is a Michigan verbal, although that should not work against him if he’s able to put up some real numbers and Harding can somehow manage a third straight 10-0 regular season.
* Mister Simpson, running back, Cincinnati Colerain -- Simpson could get a lot of play for these awards, particularly if Colerain gets out of the gate early with a long-time-coming win over regional finals nemesis Cincinnati Elder. Some think Colerain could be the class of Division I in Ohio this year. The 6-0, 208-pound Simpson has verbaled to Michigan, but if he can reach 2,000 yards on the state‘s No. 1-ranked team he‘d be the guy to beat. He had 1,658 yards and 23 touchdowns in 13 games a year ago. And don’t think the Michigan verbal will work against Simpson. The state’s top honor has gone to a Michigan man before (remember Charles Woodson?).
* Tim Hiller, quarterback, Orrville -- Hiller threw for over 2,500 yards last year. If he can improve on those numbers, he could be in the running for top honors.
* Tyler Horner, quarterback, Clayton Northmont -- Horner threw for over 2,300 yards and could also be in the running if Northmont can reel off a big year.
* Matt Shumaker, running back, Delphos St. John’s -- The 6-2, 235-pound Shumaker will again be like a bull in a China shop in the Midwest Athletic Conference. He had 26 touchdowns in the regular season a year ago.
* Blaine Maag, running back, Columbus Grove -- Coming off a 287-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Division VI state championship game, Maag has some visibility. He had over 1,700 yards and 33 touchdowns in the regular season last year. But like Shumaker, Maag will need awards voters to look past the small-school bias.
Games To Watch: Week 1
We have a look at the key games from the first weekend of Ohio high school football.
One of the biggest events for the opening weekend of the season will be the Crosstown Kickoff Thursday and the Crosstown Showdown Saturday in the Cincinnati area. On Thursday, Boone County, Ky., tackles Cincinnati Roger Bacon at 5:30 p.m. with Covington (Ky.) Catholic facing Cincinnati LaSalle in the 8:15 p.m. nightcap at Cincinnati Princeton.
Then on Saturday, there will be five games at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium. The schedule: Princeton-Winton Woods, 10 a.m.; Anderson-Hamilton (with DB Adam Myers-White), 12:30 p.m.; Lakewood St. Edward-Cincinnati St. Xavier, 3 p.m.; Colerain-Elder, 5:30 p.m.; Lebanon-Moeller, 8 p.m. The Colerain-Elder game is a rematch from last year’s regional finals, won by eventual state champion Elder 24-23. The St. Ed-St. X game matches OSU verbals Alex Boone and Rob Schoenhoft, respectively.
Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, with RB Javon Ringer, will host Clayton Northmont Thursday.
Games of note Friday: Cleveland Glenville (with O’Neal, among others) visits Mentor, Logan hosts Lancaster (with OSU verbal OL Jim Cordle), Avon Lake hosts Mansfield Senior, Dublin Scioto hosts Westerville South, Toledo St. John’s visits Findlay, Troy (with OSU verbal DL Todd Denlinger) hosts Dublin Coffman, Canton McKinley hosts Washington (D.C.) Ballou and Massillon Washington hosts Akron Buchtel (8 p.m.).
Also Friday: Columbus Brookhaven, with LB Alex Daniels, hosts Chillicothe.
Middletown, with WR Andre Amos, hosts Cincinnati Withrow. Akron St. Vincent-St.
Mary, with DL Lawrence Wilson, hosts Ravenna. Washington C.H. Miami Trace, with
junior QB Miles Schlichter, hosts Circleville.
On Saturday, Cleveland Benedictine visits Cleveland St. Ignatius.
OSU Verbals Outside Ohio
OSU has two verbals – DL Ryan Williams and OL Kevin Bemoll – at Mission Viejo, Calif. They open play Sept. 9 against Los Alamitos. OSU’s other verbal from out of state (DB Malcolm Jenkins from Piscataway (N.J.) Township) opens play in September.