Is 2011 the best area high school football season ever?
The top three rushers in the area that year were St. Joseph's Desmond Howard, Euclid's Robert Smith and Hawken's O.J. McDuffie. Howard and quarterback/fellow Michigan recruit Elvis Grbac led the Vikings to one of the most impressive regular seasons in state history, defeating 10 opponents that had a combined record of 65-33-1. Even though St. Joe lost to Boardman, 20-19, in a triple overtime in a Division I regional final, that team is considered to be the one of the best in area history. Also, the Chagrin Valley Conference had a five-way tie for first place.
It appears '87 is going to have some company.
Even with only a week's perspective, 2011 is looking pretty good as one of, if not the best seasons in area history. The case for '11:
- Kirtland became the first area team to go 15-0 (other teams have had perfect seasons, but before the playoff expansion of 1999).
- The Hornets were one of area-record 11 teams (out of 30) to make the postseason.
- Chagrin Falls became the second area team to advance to a state semifinal for the third straight season (Chardon 1993-95). The Tigers are 40-4 the past three seasons.
- South's Kareem Hunt (2,289) and Ledgemont's Dan LaRosa (2,031) each rushed for more than 2,000 yards in the regular season. Only three others in area history had reached that mark until this year.
- Hunt, a junior, rushed for 485 yards against North on Oct. 27. That bested the area record of 415 yards he gained against Chardon on Sept. 30. Hawken's Jeremy Simmons just missed 400, rushing for 399 against Fairport on Sept. 23.
- Four other area single-game records were set this year: Hunt had seven rushing touchdowns against Chardon. Mentor's Mitch Trubisky passed for 469 yards against St. Ignatius on Sept. 10. Also in that game, Cardinals receiver Cameron Kavan had 283 receiving yards. On Sept. 2, Chagrin Falls' Anthony DeCamillo had four interceptions against NDCL on Sept. 2.
- Three area teams had 10-0 regular seasons - Kirtland, Chagrin and Ledgemont.
- The area already has eight Division I commitments: Mentor's Tom Strobel (Michigan), Brush's Pharaoh Brown (Michigan), Brush's Kevin Houchins (Louisville), Brush's Carlutorbantu Zaramo (Ball State), Madison's Jason O'Bryan (Kent State), Kirtland's Christian Hauber (Air Force), Chagrin Falls' Jack Hanley (Army or Air Force) and Mentor's Kurt Laseak (Ohio). Add in any more commitments this year and from subsequent classes who took the prep field this year, and it looks to be an impressive group.
Perhaps it wasn't a good year for defenses besides Kirtland, which yielded an average of 6.5 points per game. But it was a good year for football in the area all-round, a great year even. Is it the best ever? Only time will tell.
- Howard Primer