ESPN RISE takes a look at the teams to watch this month in northeast Ohio:
Girls' Golf -- Walsh Jesuit
Bill Reilly found an effective motivational tool for
his team in 2006. The girls would be allowed to listen
to their choice of music on the bus ride to matches.
But if they played poorly, they would be forced to listen
to Reilly's music on the ride back. "I got more
than my share of hip-hop and rap," Reilly says. Over
the past two seasons, the only time Reilly subjected
his team to his choice of music (country) came after
the 2006 Division I district tournament when the
team failed to qualify for state. "The only thing I can
think of is that the major-event stage was new to
most of them," Reilly says. "But they learned from it
and came out with a vengeance in 2007." It helped
that Reilly scheduled tougher matches to force the
team to play in pressure situations. He kicked off
2007 with an invitational at Lakota West, then the
defending state champ, but the girls played well and
delivered a third-place finish. "After that," he says,
"they knew they could compete."Walsh Jesuit went
on to finish 21-0 in team matches last season and
won the Division I crown. This year's team appears
poised to repeat, as seniors Kelly Krusoe, Amanda
Costanzo, Lex Omilion, Holly James and Katie Kohut
return alongside junior Ariel McNair. Unfortunately
for Reilly, it looks like the hip-hop won't stop blaring
from the bus any time soon.
Football -- Mentor
The back-to-back Region 1 champs returned about 10 starters, mostly on defense. Defensive end Ben
Pike, linebacker Nick Koshiol and defensive backs Tim Moore and Nick Krantz are among the top players
back. Running back Tom Worden also returns as one of the top backs in the area, and with former quarterback
Bart Tanski graduated, most offensive responsibilities will fall to Worden. As usual, Mentor plays
a tough schedule, so if this team wants to three-peat in the region, it'll be up to the defense.
Girls' Cross Country -- North Canton Hoover
Hoover captured fourth place at last year's Division I state meet. And the team is in prime position to
again contend for a state title. Four of the team's top finishers from that meet return this season. Junior
Erin Garfield will lead the way after a sixth-place finish last year among team competitors. Junior Sarah
Tirrell, sophomore Megan Monte and junior Allison Peare also helped pace Hoover last year. The team will
need to find a strong fifth runner if it hopes to improve its standing this fall.
Boys' Soccer -- Massillon Jackson
Massillon Jackson finished 18-2-3 and reached the Division I title game last year before falling to Hilliard
Davidson, 2-1. On the way, the team won a series of one-goal games -- including a 1-0 overtime win
in the semis over Sylvania Northwest -- that helped build the type of experience championship teams
need. Senior Evan McCreary returns after scoring the team's lone goal in the state title game. Senior Dusty
Kiaski, who assisted on that goal, also returns for Jackson.
FOOTBALL -- PERRY
All-Ohio quarterback Vinnie Hokavar passed for 1,388 yards and 18 touchdowns last year.
GIRLS'VOLLEYBALL -- PADUA FRANCISCAN
All-State pick Kaitlyn Leary hopes to improve upon Padua's regional final finish in 2007.
BOYS' GOLF -- MENTOR
Seniors Steve Petite and Mike Guarino lead an experienced club.
GIRLS' GOLF -- COPLEY
Molly Leonard, Claire Meneer and Camille Smith look to improve upon last year's 10th-place state finish.