Once again some top linemen will be closely watched by college recruiters.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Every season college football recruiters search for tall, strong, quick offensive line prospects on high school fields.
Talented linemen are a priority to open holes for tailbacks to run through and also to block so the quarterbacks can find their receivers.
This year there will be plenty of colleges seeking to recruit linemen from the Mahoning Valley -- there are a wealth of good players at the position.
The best could be Warren Harding tackle Rocco Cironi, a 6-foot-7, 261-pound player with a 3.0 GPA. He can bench press 250 pounds.
Ursuline left tackle Corey Maizel (6-4, 293) will anchor the line for new Irish coach Dan Reardon. Maizel has a 340-pound bench press.
In the Tri-County League there are two giants playing tackle -- Mike Geer (6-4, 304) of Columbiana and Dominic DiFilippo (6-4, 280) of Lisbon.
Cardinal Mooney's Mike Philibin (6-5, 296) had a blocking grade of 95 percent as a junior while Howland's Dustin Rose (6-4, 330) made first-team all league last year.
Two other fine tackles are Chad Rankin of Newton Falls (6-3, 275) and Rocco Bello (6-3, 300), who led Warren JFK to the state semifinals in 2003.
The best guard prospect could play at Fitch -- J. R. Miller (6-1, 240), who made second-team all-Federal League.
Four wide receivers have shown plenty of promise.
Michigan-bound Mario Manningham (Harding) caught 32 passes for 656 yards and 11 touchdowns. He's 6-0, 175.
Marcellus Bowman (6-3, 195) of Liberty used his 4.5 speed in the 40 to catch 20 passes, four for TDs. His cousin, Bradley Fletcher, plays safety at Iowa.
At Ursuline, Derrick Stewart (5-11, 168) caught passes for 996 yards and he qualified for the state in the 110 hurdles, while Canfield's Jordan Ferns (6-1, 185) finished with 28 catches for 656 yards.
Ferns had nine catches for a school-record 284 yards against Fitch. Those passes were thrown by Jamie McNally (6-0, 184).
McNally (88-for-181, 1,408 yards, 12 TDs) passed for a school-record 421 yards against Fitch.
Mooney quarterback Kyle McCarthy (6-1, 170) showed his versatility when he ran for 200 yards and caught 17 passes for 223 yards as a junior. He added 124 yards on 10 punt returns.
Fitch QB John Mang (5-11, 190) was 48-for-93 with 636 yards and five TDs while LaBrae QB Todd Rowan (6-4, 190) passed for 1,732 yards and 13 scores.
At Ursuline the ground attack will be led by tailback Alex Allen (6-0, 192, three letters, 749 yards) who averaged 7.7 yards per carry.
South Range rusher Ben Johnston (5-10, 195) racked up 1,023 yards in 10 games while Poland returns Jim Shurilla (6-2, 203, 210 carries, 951 yards, 10 TDs).
The top tight end prospect could be either Keith Forstal (6-4, 225) of Liberty or Fitch's Frank Cardon (6-3, 220, 8 catches, 96 yards).
Schools seeking a prime linebacker will zero in on Hubbard's Ben Lane (5-10, 220). He led the Eagles in tackles last season and his brother Shaun Lane is now playing at Ohio State.
A quality defensive end is Mooney's Rick Solak (6-5, 253). Chaney's Mike Rosa (6-2, 210) led the Cowboys with 15 quarterback sacks.
Perhaps the top defensive back plays at Struthers -- Ty Campana (6-2, 170).