The Vindicator’s 2013 Blitz High School Football Preview is brought to you by insomnia, Diet Mountain Dew, egg-salad sandwiches from Sheetz and an eclectic (read: geeky) list of songs — some I’ll never admit to owning — on my iPod.
While it’s not the healthiest combination, it works for me. But you didn’t come here to read about my lifestyle, diet and editing background music.
In all seriousness, so much went into the conception, development and production of this 52-page product. We couldn’t have brought you the information contained in this preview and to come on the Blitz website without the dedication of people from every department at The Vindicator.
Our reporters, photographers, designers and editors view this project as one of our most important annual productions. So do our colleagues from advertising, circulation and production. All played critical roles in moving this year’s Blitz from an embryonic idea to the reality you’re holding in your hands or reading on your screen right now.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to play a role in the process and for the contributions of everyone who helped make it happen.
As you move from page to page, you’ll notice we’ve made some changes in our approach to previewing Mahoning Valley high school football. We think you’ll like what we’ve done. We turned our sports writers and correspondents loose and sent them all over the tri-county area — Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana — to bring you everything you need to know about your favorite teams and their biggest rivals.
You could call it football from A to Z:
A is for Angle, Dick: It will take some getting used to high school football in the Valley without this guy.
B is for Bohren, Bill: He has been a head coach longer than I’ve been alive. Now he’s an assistant — at Champion — for the first time at age 78. There’s something right about Bohren coaching football in northeastern Ohio.
C is for Cardinal Mooney: The Cardinals have a lot to prove after a 3-6 season a year ago.
D is for (life without) De’Veon Smith: Howland won’t have Trumbull County’s all-time leading rusher for the first time since 2008.
E is for East: The Panthers needed some stability on the sideline and they’ve got it in alumnus P.J. Mays.
F is for Fitch: Phil Annarella’s Falcons and the Warren Harding Raiders face off in Week 1 in one of the biggest games of the season in the area.
G is for Girard: If the Indians’ defense rebounds, expect perhaps even a reversal of last year’s 1-9 record. Nick Cochran’s teams always put up yards and points.
H is for Hake, Andrew: Western Reserve’s coach is a great quote and his Blue Devils are formidable and usually as entertaining as their leader.
I is for Ignazio, Joe: Boardman’s first-year coach faces the challenge of rebuilding a program with just 41 players on his roster.
J is for Jordan Graziano: Girard’s former QB became the Indians’ leading receiver last season.
K is for Krok, Josh: The Red Dragons will be running behind the West Virginia recruit a lot.
L is for Liberty: Kevin Cylar is the Leopards’ third coach in three years.
M is for McDonald: One of the best small programs around. The Blue Devils have as many kids out for football as Division II Boardman does.
N is for Necastro, Augustus: Brookfield’s sophomore QB replaces Jeremy Quinlan, who passed and rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season.
O is for OHSAA: The organization has given us seven divisions for 2013.
P is for Parry, Chris: The ball-hawking senior led Niles in receiving TDs and interceptions.
Q is for Quakers: Salem is looking to bounce back from an 0-10 season.
R is for Rebels: Crestview has won or shared the ITCL Tier One title every year since 2008.
S is for Scott, L.J.: Hubbard’s dominant running back is one of the area’s top talents.
T is for Temeko Holness: Struthers’ track star is also one of the area’s best receivers.
U is for Ursuline: What else would it be? The Fighting Irish had their season come to a bitter end in 2012. Michigan State recruit Chris Durkin and his teammates are motivated.
V is for Vikings: LaBrae has a new coach in John Armeni and is breaking in a new QB for the first time since 2009.
W is for Warren: Harding and JFK should be back in the playoffs.
X is for X’s and O’s: We’ve missed you both.
Y is for Youngstown Christian: Coach Brian Marrow’s Eagles have come a long way in just a few years.
Z is for Zzzzz’s: I’m always ready for a few after the Blitz deadline push.