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High school football preview 2011: Northeast Ohio Conference breakdown



Cuyahoga Falls Black Tigers

COACH: Mike Miller, fourth year

2010 RECORD: 1-9 overall, 0-5

STRENGTHS: Big, experienced offensive line.

WEAKNESSES: Lack of team speed.

SCOUTING REPORT: Cuyahoga Falls' last winning season was 2002 and it's had two 0-10 and two 1-9 seasons since. The only victory last year came against winless Akron North, but Falls played a lot of underclassmen last year and should show improvement.

Elyria Pioneers

COACH: Kevin Fell, first year (33rd overall)

2010 RECORD: 4-6, 3-2

STRENGTHS: A wealth of talented skill players that could prove explosive on the offensive side of the ball.

WEAKNESSES: Lack of overall size on the front line and the need to shore up a defense that allowed a number of big plays a year ago.

SCOUTING REPORT: Fell has won everywhere he's been and expects to continue that tradition at Elyria. He brought his longtime defensive coordinator, Jim Slagle, with him from Amherst to improve the Pioneers on defense. Offensively, Elyria should be able to move the ball if its untested line comes along.

Hudson Explorers

COACH: Ron Wright, first year

2010 RECORD: 4-6, 4-1

STRENGTHS: 20 lettermen including six offensive and six defensive starters.

WEAKNESSES: Defensive line is inexperienced.

SCOUTING REPORT: Longtime head coach Tom Narducci has moved on to Fairview, leaving Hudson with a first-year coach in Wright. How quickly the team responds to a new voice will probably be the key to success, although the Explorers won four of their last five games last year to tie Twinsburg for the River Division crown.

Mayfield Wildcats

COACH: Larry Pinto, 14th year

2010 RECORD: 6-4, 2-3 Valley Division

STRENGTHS: The Wildcats have a number of returning starters on offense, including quarterback Caden Loew and tailback Carlos Cruzado.

WEAKNESSES: Finding replacements for 26 players lost to graduation.

SCOUTING REPORT: Mayfield moves into the River Division this year to replace Twinsburg, which moved up to the Valley Division. Lakewood is spending its final NOC year in the Lake Division before joining the West Shore Conference next year. Mayfield should be considered one of the favorites to win the division. Last year was the first time the Wildcats didn't qualify for the playoffs since 2005.

North Royalton Bears

2010 RECORD: 9-1, 5-0 Lake Division

COACH: Nick Ciulli, 7th year

STRENGTHS: Nine returning starters on offense and six on defense.

WEAKNESSES: Nothing that jumps out at you, though the Bears do face a challenging schedule with a number of new opponents.

SCOUTING REPORT: The Bears won the Lake Division three of the past four years and narrowly missed the playoffs a year ago. Ciulli will have his Bears ready for a run at the River Division title this year.

Stow-Munroe Falls Bulldogs

2010 RECORD: 4-6, 3-2

COACH: Mark Nori, 2nd year

STRENGTHS: Returning wide receiver Aaron Gobble.

WEAKNESSES: 21 lettermen graduated, leaving some big holes to fill.

SCOUTING REPORT: Stow has a reputation for playing hard-nosed football. Nori expects his team to battle for the division title.


Travis Tarnowski, North Royalton

The junior quarterback threw for 1,400 yards and 18 TDs a year ago.

Ben Gedeon, Hudson

Tough as nails junior running back and linebacker comes from good stock. His two older brothers are playing at the Naval Academy and Harvard. He is being recruited by Penn State, Tennessee and Michigan.

Demetrius Walton, Dustin Stolarski (above) and Jumarr Lewis (left), Elyria

Walton is a senior wide receiver/defensive back, Stolarski is the senior quarterback and Lewis is a sophomore running back. Count on them providing an exciting, explosive offense for Pioneers fans.


Sept. 9, Elyria at Elyria Catholic

The Pioneers put up 35 points last year against the playoff-bound Panthers at Ely Stadium in the first meeting between the teams. The only problem? They allowed 56. Their offense should still be a force in the rematch at EC.

Sept. 23, Elyria at North Royalton

The Bears move to the River Division after rolling through the Lake undefeated last season. This looks like a big game if the Pioneers hope to win the division title.

Oct. 21, Hudson at Elyria

The Pioneers beat the Explorers 27-17 on the road last year to open the league season 2-0. Elyria finished 1-2, however, while Hudson went 3-0, including a 14-11 win at Twinsburg.

The skinny

On paper and based on the great season it had last year, North Royalton (9-1 overall a year ago) appears to be the favorite for this year's River Division, though Hudson (4-6) and Elyria (4-6) return a lot of talent.

The Bears went 9-1 overall a year ago and 5-0 in the Lake Division. Hudson and Elyria were 4-6 in the River.

Hudson, after losing its first five games, won four of five to close the year in a tie with Twinsburg for the River Division championship.

Its lone loss came against Elyria.

Mayfield should also be in the thick of the race. The Wildcats competed in the Valley Division last year and finished with a 6-4 overall mark.



Years that Larry Pinto has been associated with Mayfield football, including the past 13 as head coach.


Kevin Fell's years as a head coach, including stops at Delphos Jefferson, Sidney, Lakewood, Wapakoneta, Amherst and now Elyria.


River Division appearances in the state playoffs. Mayfield has been there seven times, Hudson four, Stow and North Royalton two each and Elyria and Cuyahoga Falls one apiece.


River Division

Team      Conf.      Total

Twinsburg             4-1          9-1

Hudson  4-1          4-6

Elyria      3-2          4-6

Stow       3-2          4-6

Lakewood              1-4          3-7

Cuyahoga Falls     0-5          1-9

Playoff results

Division I, Region 2

Twinsburg 24, Sylvania Southview 21 (OT)

Toledo Whitmer 35, Twinsburg 14

Valley Division

Team      Conf.      Total

Solon      5-0          10-0

Strongsville            6-4          3-2

Medina   3-2          8-2

Mayfield 2-3          6-4

Brunswick             2-3          5-5

Nordonia               0-5          2-8

Playoff results

Division I, Region 1

Solon 31, Brecksville 7

Solon 41, Austintown 0

St. Edward 42, Solon 14

Division I, Region 2

Medina 31, Canton McKinley 28

Toledo St. John's 24, Medina 16

Lake Division

Team      Conf.      Total

North Royalton    5-0          9-1

Parma    4-1          8-2

Garfield Hts.         3-2          5-5

Brush     2-3          4-6

Normandy             1-4          1-9

Valley Forge          0-5          0-1

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