During the offseason, we’ll check out one team per week that looks like a sure bet to be among the best in the nation for next fall.
This week’s team: St. Ignatius (Cleveland)
Projected 2012 Preseason Ranking: Top 20. The Wildcats have won a record 11 Division I state crowns, all since 1988, under coach Chuck Kyle. And they should once again be the team to beat in the Buckeye State this fall. Last season, the Wildcats lost regular season games to rival Mentor (Ohio) and St. Xavier but later avenged the Mentor loss in the playoffs. St. Ignatius also ousted Cleveland-area rival and 2010 Division I state champ St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) in the postseason for its second win over the Eagles on the season.
Team Strengths: St. Ignatius has most of the puzzle pieces in place for another title run with the main concern being at quarterback, where junior Mike LaManna (6-1, 175) is expected to take over for senior Eric Williams. All-Ohio third team running back Tim McVey (5-10, 180), also a defensive back/kick returner, will key the offense behind a veteran line anchored by four returning starters, including touted sophomore Jimmy Byrne (6-4, 275), who has already been offered by new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. Returning at wide receiver is Conor Hennessey (5-9, 175). Junior Kevin Kavalec, an All-Ohio first team selection, and junior defensive back Tom Fanning will lead the defense.
Another Ohio team to watch: Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati) tackled a challenging schedule last season and went 9-4 with losses to FAB 50 No. 3 Trinity (Louisville, Ky.), Indiana Class 3A champion Cathedral (Indianapolis), 2010 Ohio Division I state champ St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) and a split with rival St. Xavier (Cincinnati). Moeller also handed D-I runner-up Pickerington Central (Pickerington, Ohio) a regular season loss. Moeller had a talented junior class this season, which could give the seven-time D-I state champion a good shot at an eighth crown. Two college D-I prospects will lead the returnees — quarterback Spencer Iacovone (6-1, 205) and offensive tackle Alex Gall (6-5, 300). Iacovone passed for 1,976 yards and 22 TDs and rushed for 579 yards and 11 scores in 2011.