We revive our Friday Fact or Fiction feature a few weeks into the 2010 high school football season. There are alot of topics on the minds of fans across the state so let's dig into some of the hottest discussions taking place across Ohio.
1. Cleveland St. Ignatius' 22-year playoff streak will come to an end this year.
FACT. It pains me to say this as an alumnus and former player, but it's going to take a herculean effort in their remaining seven games for the Wildcats, now 2-1, to make the postseason out of Region 1. It would mark the first time since 1988 that the ten-time state champions would fail to make the playoffs.
The bottom line is that the Wildcats are young, especially on defense. Despite winning their last two games, the defense has been gashed by solid rushing attacks and can't seem to force turnovers. The offense remains shaky with a first-year quarterback in Matt Hoyer and All-Ohio running back Bobby Grebenc nursing an ankle injury.
The schedule itself is ultimately what will be the biggest obstacle. St. Ignatius will travel to state-ranked Centerville this weekend, then turn around a week later and head to Steubenville to square off with national power Don Bosco Prep (NJ). State powers St. Xavier and St. Edward close out the season in weeks 9 and 10.
Given the hefty amounts of computer points the Wildcats should accumulate in their wins, a 6-4 record would likely get them in. But if they lost all the aforementioned games, thus ending the season with a 5-5 record, it likely would spell the end of the playoff streak.
2. Cardinal Mooney, Columbus DeSales, Lake Catholic and Kettering Alter's week three losses proved they were all highly ranked based on name recognition only.
FICTION. It was indeed shocking that those four state powers all took it on the chin in the same week (when's the last time that happened?) but overrated is a strong word.
Taking a close look, it was only Mooney that really suffered a considerable beatdown, and that was against a tough and rugged Division I team in St. Edward. Mooney was expected to have a rebuilding type year, so the loss wasn't totally unexpected. Meanwhile, Lake Catholic, Alter, and DeSales all lost narrow contests against talented, undefeated teams.
At the present moment all the losses rightfully raise an eyebrow, but my guess is that come November at least three, if not all four, are in the playoffs fighting for a state title game berth.
3. Willoughby South is the best team in the state nobody knows about.
FACT. South is off to a 3-0 start which is in itself impressive, but how they are doing it is what is turning heads. The Flyers are averaging a gaudy 56.7 points per game in three lopsided victories thanks to an explosive offense.
The passing game has been lights out, due in large part to the arm of quarterback Ray Russ, who has thrown five touchdowns in each of the Flyers' blowout wins. He has two standout receivers in Aaron Lindgren and Devyn Woods and a backfield mate in Dominique Darling who is on pace for over 1,000 rushing yards.
Don't think that the Flyers are doing their damage against bottom of the barrel opponents; they lit up a perennial playoff qualifier in Mayfield to the tune of a 50-0 halftime lead. Mayfield is a team always known for their gritty defense, so it's even more impressive. They'll get tested in the next two weeks by University School and Mentor, but if they survive those tests a 10-0 season is very probable.
4. A junior will win Mr. Football this season.
FACT. Ok, so there is still a long way to go, but by far the two most impressive players in the state through three games are Kenton quarterback Maty Mauk and Canton Glen Oak running back Brionte Dunn. Both are in the class of 2012.
Mauk is putting up crooked numbers that are borderline ludicrous. Through three weeks he already has 1,444 passing yards and 17 TD passes to go along with 5 rushing touchdowns. He's on pace for over 4,800 passing yards, 56 TD passes and 15 rushing touchdowns in the regular season, not even taking into consideration the playoffs. Insane.
Dunn has been equally impressive, rushing for 825 yards and 10 touchdowns through three games. That's an average of 275 yards per game and over three touchdowns. He's on pace to shatter the Stark County rushing record.
If either or both continue their torrid pace, it would be hard for anyone to catch them regardless of class.