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Old 08-23-17, 12:58 PM
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Lightbulb PD Top 25

The first 2017 high school football top 25 poll. With 2016 records in parentheses.

1. ST. IGNATIUS (13-2)
Why first? Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats reached the pinnacle game last year in the state and are strong in an area that can help them get back: the offensive line and running back.
Senior Mark Bobinski is back after a 1,000-yard rushing season with Kentucky commit Darian Kinnard at tackle and guard Jack Jamieson, a all-star. St. Ignatius' question mark is with its defensive front seven, but the secondary is a strength with cornerback Cameron Toppin and safety Justin Sands.
2. ST. EDWARD (9-3)
Why second? This St. Edward team is potentially the most talented squad in Northeast Ohio, but it still is unproven.
Coach Tom Lombardo's defense has more experience with linebacker Omar Fattah and Michigan State commit Michael Dowell at cornerback. How the offense responds, with new starters across the board, will determine this team's fate.
Why third? Unlike the two teams above, Hoban came home with another state crown in 2016. The two-time defending Division III state champions are now in Division II. They lost running back William Collier, set to take over for Todd Sibley, to Akron East. But this team has five Division I college commits, including OT Nolan Rumler, DE Daeshon Martin, WR/CB Nate Bauer, WR Garrett Houser and senior G/C R.J. Kelly.
HUDSON (11-3) Why fourth? From Ron Wright to Jeff Gough, the Explorers have not lost a beat regardless of who is running the ship.
Hudson has made three straight state semifinals, the last two ending with losses to Massillon Perry. Hudson brings back eight starters on offense, including QB Colt Pallay and WR Greg Mailey, plus six on defense.
AVON (10-1) Why fifth? Upset in the first round of the DivisionII playoffs vs. Avon Lake, the Eagles flirted with state title contention after a No. 1 ranking by The Associated Press.
They have a Division I-bound left tackle in Jimmy McKenna (Purdue), returning junior QB Ryan Maloy and senior LB Kyle Kudla to lead a defense based on speed.
Why sixth? Mentor has one of the most potent offenses in Northeast Ohio, returning eight starters on that side of the ball. The headliner is QB Tadas Tatarunas, who has thrown for well more than 2,000 yards in each of his first two seasons as the starter. This team has potential on defense, led by junior DE Noah Potter a Division I college recruit but can the Cardinals improve on that side? They just missed the playoffs last year and gave up at least 30 points in six games.
Why seventh? After playing their home games at Canton Central Catholic, the Bulldogs have upgraded back into renovated Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. McKinley gets four home games to start the season and has seven overall, which could make the difference for this team. West Virginia commit Josh Chandler leads the way at linebacker.
He is one of 12 returning starters for third-year coach Dan Reardon. Offensively, Javon Lewis rushed for 828 yards and six TDs last year.
Why eighth? After back-to-back DivisionII state title game appearances, coach Keith Wakefield takes his team to Division I after competitive balance's shakeup. The Panthers will be in the grinder of Region 1, which includes six other top 10 teams. Perry is built to survive the move with an experienced offensive line and eight returning starters on defense, led by Zach Blackiston.
STOW (10-2) Why ninth? Stow graduated a staggering 19 seniors from last year's playoff team and Suburban League co-champion.
However, coach Mark Nori's Bulldogs have returning pieces and a feeder system to make most programs envious. Junior DL/FB Adrian Woliver and senior RB/CB/KR Terrian Wray are among the veterans from multiple playoff runs.
SOLON (10-2) Why 10th? Several standouts from last year's Greater Cleveland Conference championship team are back. CB/ WR Taj Ward is a Cincinnati commit and RB Thomas Wilks emerged as a 1,000-yard back. However, coach Jim Mc-Quaide's squad is unproven up front. A serious test awaits in Week 1 with Aurora.
11. Euclid (7-4) 12. SVSM (7-5) 13. Aurora (10-2) 14. Barberton (8-3) 15. Warren Harding (11-2) 16. Lorain (10-3) 17. Akron East (8-4) 18. Olmsted Falls (9-4) 19. Midview (9-2) 20. Bedford (7-4) 21. Nordonia (3-7) 22. Massillon (8-3) 23. Woodridge (11-1) 24. Chardon (11-1) 25. Perry (13-1) On the cusp: Brecksville-Broadview Heights (8-3), Benedictine (3-7), Canton Central Catholic (11-3), Cleveland Heights (6-4), Youngstown Cardinal Mooney (8-3).
Matt Goul

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