It's really the same old story in the Division I Region I playoffs every year. The four team race between St. Ignatius, St. Edward, Mentor and Glenville. It has always been the mantra that the real playoffs don't begin until the second week, when it is usually these four teams playing each other in some combination.
2013 has proven to be a little different. Glenville has moved to Division II under the new state of Ohio high school playoff format. St. Ignatius is just 4-3 on the year. St. Edward and Mentor are still very good, but there is another team that is currently leading the new Division I computer ratings seven weeks into the season.
Division I Region I Computer Rankings (top 16 teams qualify)
- St. Edward
- Austintown Fitch
- Canton McKinley
- Cleveland Heights
- Westerville Central
- St. Ignatius
- Shaker Hts.
- Massillon Jackson
That is right.....The Hudson Explorers
I thought Hudson was only known for their band.... Not this year. Despite losing All-State performer Ben Gideon to the University of Michigan, the Explorers have put together quite a run to begin the season. Of their seven wins, five have come against teams with winning records. They will try for number six on Friday night when they host Strongsville. Included in those wins are two against previously undefeated teams in Brecksville and Stow.
What makes Hudson so good?.... In a word, balance. Both sides of the ball have contributed for the Explorers. Defensively, they are led by senior defensive back John Zaccaro. Zaccaro has six interceptions on the year, and fourteen for his career. He leads a unit that is giving up 11 points a game. Offensively, quarterback Mitch Guadagni is the straw that stirs the drink. Just a junior, Guadagni is quickly becoming a household name. In the biggest game of the year so far, last Friday against Solon, Guadagni put on a show. He threw for 243 yards, ran for 106, and accounted for 5 touchdowns, leading the Explorers to a surprisingly easy 42-14 win. His performance was not lost on Head Coach Ron Wright:
"Mitch is a special player and as junior, he has another year and a half to keep going," Wright said. "Mitch has matured as the year has gone on. He feels really good inside his skin right now. I think he's going to get better."
Solon had been a nemesis for Hudson over the years, holding a 12-4 record against the Explorers. In fact, Hudson had not beaten Solon since 2004.
"We have had some really good games with them and we've had some not so good games with them," he said. "You can almost tell how the season is going to be by how we do against Solon.
Solon is the standard which I set because they have been so good. The kids have gotten better and better. That was a great win."
What stands in Hudson's way of securing that coveted top seed?.... Some may consider this Friday's game against Strongsville as the ultimate "trap game". Why? Because in two weeks, Hudson plays maybe its biggest regular season game in the last 20 years, as they travel to Osborne Stadium to take on Mentor. The winner of that game will secure prime playoff points, and improve their playoff seeding.
Hudson is a team to keep an eye on come playoff time
Friday Nights in Hudson.....it's not just about the band anymore
Hudson football hopes that band will be playing long into November, deep into the high school football playoffs.