The Cleveland area during high school football season always seems to be loaded with great teams. Some may even be nationally ranked as the season goes on. These teams usually meet each other in the state playoffs, and produce games that are still being talked about today.
The 2014 high school football season should be no different, as perennial powers Mentor, St. Ignatius and Glenville rule the Cleveland area gridirons. The team missing from the "usual suspects" is a team that some say could have their best team yet in 2014, and, as far as the pre-season goes, has created a gap between itself and those other outstanding teams.
The St. Edward Eagles
The Eagles are no strangers to success, winning a state title in 2010 (defeating Huber Heights Wayne, led by Braxton Miller), and being annual state playoff qualifiers. Some may say that St. Edward was the best team in the state the last two years, but they were knocked out of the playoffs each year by Mentor in two of the best high school games seen in the Cleveland area in a long time. In 2012, it was the "Bedlam at Byers" game that ended in a 63-56 Mentor win, and last year Mentor was able to come away with a 41-38 win in the state semi-final.
St. Edward was a young team last year. This year, they are loaded with talent.
On both sides of the ball, coach Rick Finotti has Division I college signees that hope to lead the Eagles back to a state title. Quarterback Brett Kean is a South Florida commit that broke numerous school records last season, has a strong arm, quick release, and is equally dangerous running the ball. Wide Receiver Shaun Crawford is a Notre Dame commit with speed to burn, that is a terror on kick and punt returns. Linebackers Troy DiPre, off to Kent State, and Troy Henderson, who will be playing at Syracuse, anchor the Eagles defense. Kean will be joined in the explosive Eagle offense by wide receiver Alex Stump, who is headed to Kentucky, and David and Andrew Dowell. The brothers Dowell just decommitted from Northwestern, but will land at another Division I college.
That is eight Division I commitments.
It is no wonder that the Eagles find themselves ranked nationally in almost every pre-season poll. MaxPreps has St. Edward as the seventh best team in the country, while USA Today has them ranked as number twelve.
The team that has been a play or two away from maybe winning the state championship the last two years will surely get tested and prepped for the playoffs with their regular season schedule. Littered with football powers both in and out of state, the Eagles will find themselves in a battle every week, starting August 31st, when they host Gilman Academy of Maryland, one of the better programs in the country.
The schools in Ohio they play are among the best programs in the state. Week 2 they take on Glenville. Follow that up with games against Cincinnati Elder, Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, 2-time defending state champions Cincinnati Moeller, and they end their season with the annual "Holy War" game against St. Ignatius.
They all say "That's why we play the game", but at least on paper, St. Edward looks like the team in beat not only in the Cleveland area, but in the state