Ursuline junior Jamel Turner already has more than 20 Division I offers, including Ohio State, Penn State, LSU and Notre Dame.
He’s 6-foot-3, 215 pounds; finished second in the state in the 110-meter hurdles; and has 40 sacks over the past two seasons.
He’s the best defensive player on the top-ranked team in Division V.
And yet, somehow, a panel of reporters decided there were three defensive players better than him in Div. V.
This, dear readers, is an absolute joke. You’d be hard-pressed to find three defensive players in Ohio better than Turner.
And this, dear readers, is the biggest reason why college recruiters ignore postseason awards.
I represent Mahoning County on the Northeast Inland district board, so I have a say in the all-district awards, but the All-Ohio awards are voted on later by a representative from each of Ohio’s seven districts.
I nominated Turner for defensive player of the year to our district representative, figuring he was a no-brainer.
The panel decided otherwise, awarding Kirtland senior Ben Madden (whose team lost to Ursuline), Liberty-Benton senior Jacob Miller and Hamler Patrick Henry senior Cody Pettit.
Obviously, the panel wanted to reward seniors, which is why they picked North Canton’s Erick Howard for Mr. Football.
Oh wait. He’s a junior. He’s also a terrible choice for Mr. Football, even worse than last year’s winner, Mentor quarterback Bart Tanski.
Only one other junior has ever won Mr. Football — Robert Smith. Howard is no Smith. When I saw Howard against Boardman earlier this year, I considered him a borderline first-team All-Ohioan.
Now. I am not a Mahoning Valley cheerleader. I went to Uniontown Lake, a public school that touches North Canton Hoover’s school district. My sister used to live in Mentor. I have a lot of respect for both programs. I just disagree with both choices. But, I could be wrong.
I’m not wrong about Turner’s snub, though. And if I’m Turner, I’m using it as motivation on Saturday.
Best of the best from the fall season
Enough complaining. On to some good stuff, like my fall highlights.
Ten favorite athletes to watch: Liberty senior RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (you hold your breath every time he touches the ball), Turner (unblockable one-on-one), Mooney junior Braylon Heard (a shutdown corner who is electrifying at running back), Leetonia senior QB Josh Selway (an absolute warrior), Mooney senior DT John Simon (an absolute beast), Girard senior RB/LB Kyle Stadelmyer (a warrior and a beast), South Range senior Jack Dawson (a terrific competitor on both sides of the ball), Boardman senior RB Damien Jarrett (gets the most out of his ability), Fitch junior QB Jon Ballard (has a chance to be really special next season) and Boardman junior DL J.T. Moore (guys like him are why I stopped playing football).
Five players I wish I had seen: Salem volleyball player Amy Scullion, Mooney soccer player Ashley Cuba, Howland linebacker Tyler Scott, Mathews running back Brent Jackson and Poland running back Luke Wollet.
Ten favorite athletes to interview: Poland senior linebacker Tanner Schultheis, Boardman senior lineman Corey Linsley, Lakeview senior RB Ben Moody, Hubbard senior LB Bobby Thompson, Struthers senior RB Joe Balog, Jackson-Milton senior runner Samantha Hamilton, Boardman junior runner Sam Deskin, South Range senior golfer Ariel Witmer (even if she didn’t return my calls the day she won a state title), Ursuline senior CB Dale Peterman (always smiling) and Ursuline senior OL Dan Baco.
Five favorite coaches to interview: Boardman cross country coach Dave Pavlansky, Lakeview football coach Tom Pavlansky, Poland football assistant Paul Hulea (I could listen to that man tell stories for hours), Girard football coach Bud McSuley and Ursuline football coach Dan Reardon (whose friendliness and professionalism make up for the blandness of his interviews). I didn’t interview Columbiana football coach Bob Spaite, which saddens me.
Best band: Boardman. As always.
Best game: Ursuline’s 18-17 win over Kirtland. Runners-up: Girard’s win over Liberty and Liberty’s win over Lakeview.
I covered 18 high school football games this fall. Of those, three were decided by 7 points or less. The rest were double-digit margins, including nine by 26 points or more. Watching the good games makes up for the turkey burgers.
Five quotes I loved the most
UMogadore coach Matt Adorni, on what he told Selway after his team won a first-round playoff game:
“I told him I wanted to kidnap him and put him in green and white next week,” Adorni said, “but I don’t think the state will let me.”
Selway’s response? “I don’t know if that’s possible, but if they have a No. 1 jersey, I’ll be available.”
UPoland coach Mark Brungard, on Wollet’s contribution in a 14-7 win over Canfield:
“It was like he got the [defibrillator] paddles and put them on and boom, revived us.”
UDave Pavlansky, on the culture of running Ted and Chris Rupe have created at Maplewood and McDonald:
“They’re drinking the Kool-Aid out there.”
UMcSuley, to his team after a 35-27 win over Warren JFK:
“When guys are doing the things they should do, here’s what happens — you overcome adversity, you overcome Mother Nature, you overcome the Pope. ...”
USpaite, on losing to Leetonia after a win over Steubenville Catholic Central:
“[Steubenville coach] Reno Saccoccia down at Big Red told me the same thing — ‘more games are lost at the dinner table and on the street corner than anywhere else.’ And I believe that. You get people telling you how great you are, and all this other stuff, boy you guys are awesome and you kicked [Steubenville CC’s] rear end, yada yada yada. Well you know what? Leetonia [didn’t] care what we did against Steubenville, I can promise you. And Struthers doesn’t give two hoots in Hades what we did against Steubenville. And Crestview doesn’t care what we did against Steubenville. That’s just the facts of life.”
Since this is Thanksgiving, I’d like to pass along my gratitude to all our readers and advertisers. Without you guys, I’d probably have to do something terrible, like get a real job and work for a living.
XJoe Scalzo covers high school football for The Vindicator. Write him at email@example.com.