High School Spotlight - Week 1
Over the next ten weeks, the Cleveland Gladiators will be taking an in-depth look at some local area high school football programs as they get prepared for the 2018 season. This week’s High School Spotlight series take us to the Lake Erie Conference as well as four teams from the Suburban Conference’s National Division.
Lake Erie League
Head Coach – Sean Williams (9th season)
2017 Record – 10-2
Key Returners: WR/LB D.C. Townsend, DL Brian Kirk, RB/LB Aaron Stone, WR Jaden Smith, DB Gio Holmes
Key Losses: RB Kenny Wilkins, WR Davion Johnson, RB/WR DeAngelo Howard, QB Emmanuel Jenkins, DB Kevin Brewer
The Bedford Bearcats come into the 2019 campaign looking to build off the success the team had in 2018 when the Bearcats went 10-2, featuring a home first-round playoff win over Eastlake North before falling in the regional semi-finals to Barberton.
Although talented players like Kenny Wilkins and Davion Johnson have moved on, the Bearcats have plenty of talent left in the cupboard and will look to numerous young players to step up and contribute in a big way. The Bearcats open the season at home on August 24th when they host the Nordonia Knights
Cleveland Heights Tigers
Head Coach – Mac Stephens (4th season)
2017 Record – 4-6
Key Returners: QB/DB Josh Harris, RB Xavier Pillar, WR/RB Brandon Searight, DE Justin Wodtly, WR/DB Elijah Hodge
Key Losses: TE/DE Tyreke Smith, WR Grayson Green, WR/DB Zaire Webb
After finishing last year’s campaign with a 4-6 record, the Tigers enter 2018 with two goals in in mind – win the Lake Erie Conference and get back to the OHSAA Playoffs. With the kind of players returning this season, Head Coach Mac Stephens is confident his team has the leadership it takes to help propel his team in the right direction.
“At the high school level, you stress sportsmanship all the time, we like to carry ourselves with class here in Cleveland Heights,” said Stephens. “I don’t just throw the term “Student Athlete” around, our kids have to buy into our philosophy, which is to be outstanding socially, academically, and obviously athletically.”
Stephens is especially excited about the progress that senior quarterback Josh Harris has made.
“Josh is what you call a dual-threat quarterback. Last year as the season went on, he got better and better at passing the ball, this year in the offseason he’s really worked on that aspect of his game, so we’re looking for some really big things out of Josh.”
The Tigers open their 2018 regular season in Brunswick against the Blue Devils.
Head Coach – Dave McFarland (5th season)
2017 Record – 8-3
Key Returners: RB Daylin Dower, WR/DB Tyshawn Lighty, RB/FB Tyshawn Nelson, LB Kelvin Torres, DB Savon Chavis
Key Losses: QB Justin Sturgill, RB Dakota Mincy, TE Davion Dower, WR Zion Cross
The Lorain Titans dropped a hard-fought contest to the Bedford Bearcats, 54-48, during Week 8 of the regular season last year, essentially ending any chance of claiming the Lake Erie League crown. Then, as an eight seed in the first round of the OHSAA playoffs, the Titans gave the one-seeded Whitmer Panthers all they can handle before ultimately falling 31-28 on a last-minute field goal.
Despite the success of an 8-3 finish to the season, Coach McFarland and the rest of his squad will look to use the experience the team acquired last season, to help push them over the hump this season. The return of junior do-it-all playmaker Daylin Dower will help that cause, as will the return of skill position players Tyshawn Lighty and Tyshawn Nelson.
The Titans kick-off their regular season on the east side of Cleveland, when they travel to Euclid to take on the Panthers on August 31st.
Maple Heights Mustangs
Head Coach – Shaq Washington (1st season)
2017 Record – 4-6
Key Returners: WR/DB Antoine Holloway, RB Dante Abrams Jr., LB ShaMarr Simmons, WR/DB Devon Fox, WR Bernard Bates
Key Losses: QB Hollis Lemons, WR/DB Deshaun Garner
It’s been just under eight years since dual-threat quarterback Shaq Washington helped guide his Maple Heights Mustang team to a Division 2 State Championship. Now, fresh off a stand-out collegiate career the University of Cincinnati, the 25-year old Washington returns to his high school alma mater as one of the youngest high school head football coaches in the United States.
On the field the Mustangs return plenty of talent, as veterans Antoine Holloway, Dante Abrams, and ShaMarr Simmons all look to take on integral roles as the new leaders of a Mustang program looking to find their way back into the state playoffs.
Maple Heights opens their season on the road when the team travels to face the Willoughby South Rebels on August 31st.
Head Coach – Rodney Brown (13th season)
2017 Record – 2-8
Key Returners: LB Daeshawn Davis, RB/LB Quen’shawn Lee, WR/DB Jadyn Williams, FB/DE Andre Payton Jr., RB/DB Trevon Worship
Key Losses: QB Alejandro Cummings-Washington, LB Marshon Wilson
After a few disappointing seasons, Head Coach Rodney Brown and the rest of the Shaw Cardinals football program are looking to get back to the OHSAA State Playoffs for the first time since 2011. This year the Cardinals lose their quarterback Alejandro Cummings-Washington as well as one of their leaders on defense in linebacker Marshon Wilson, but returning seniors Daeshawn Davis and Quen’shawn Lee give the Cardinals some reliable veteran leadership to lean on.
Shaw makes the trip to Detroit, MI for their regular season opener on September 1st, as they take on East English Village Prep.
Warrensville Heights Tigers
Head Coach – Desean Washington (5th season)
2017 Record – 4-6
Key Returners: QB/WR Jayvion Williams, QB Devyn Byers,
Key Losses: RB/WR Donte Norris, RB Jaleel Patterson, RB Taivon Ervin
Warrensville Heights hasn’t been able to claim a conference title or a state playoff berth since re-starting the program and joining the Lake Erie League, but after a gradual climb of wins in the standings over the last four years, Head Coach DeSean Washington is hoping this is the season the program puts itself in position to contend for the Lake Erie League as well as clinching a berth in the postseason.
Quarterback Devyn Byers returns under center for the Tigers and while the team loses the playmaking ability of running back Donte Norris, the collective amount of talent returning across the offensive and defensive side of the ball gives the Tigers the confidence that this is the season that the team takes the next step.
The Tigers open the season on August 31st when they play host to the Gilmour Academy Lancers at Warrensville Heights High School.