Wednesday, September 7, 2011

LeCharles Bentley- Assistant Coach

Walking up to talk with good friend Coach Ted Ginn, before his game with Camden High School at the Herbstreit, I met another old friend. LeCharles Bentley stuck out his hand and flashed his big, old smile. As he said, I evaluated him as a freshman at St Ignatius many years ago. Not really true, but I did watch him as a sophomore.

Bentley was a highly rated OL guy coming out of St Ignatius. He eventually committed to O-State and went on to be an All-American. (By the way the OL coach under John Cooper rejected him twice, before finally offering him.) That is no joke. A first round draft choice for New Orleans. Came home to Cleveland, only to develop a staff infection that ended his career. Now he dabbles in radio and directs an OL Camp in Avon.

As a 63 years "old school guy" who loves working with kids, I am excited about what I see happening in "inner-city" high school football. Young African American former college players are coming back to coach in the city. Just a few years ago, many of the inner coaches were lay coaches who were good at yelling at high school players, but not good at communicating any football coaching points. Now things are changing. Black assistant coaches are working with young people and many have played the game. Most of all, they are teaching the game of football.

I know this sounds "silly," but LeCharles biggest accomplishment is right now. He works with the offensive linemen at Glenville. No yelling, no grabbing, and no swagger. He just works with the kids and is giving back to the community. For me, there is nothing better. A man of LeCharles Bentley's fame spending time developing young inner-city kids. With all of the coaching he did, I never saw an "attitude." Ironically, I used to see a moody attitude in high school, but not now. Thank you, LeCharles Bentley!

Pickerington Central Steps Up

Over the past two weekends, I have watched Pickerington Central play in two events. First, the Crosstown Showdown in Cincinnati and second,the Herbtreit Classic in Columbus. Head Football Coach Jay Sharrett and his staff deserve much credit for taking on two of the top Divison 1 programs in Ohio, which also happen to be private schools.

The first week Moeller wore down Pick Central. The first half was strong, but the heat and depth of Moeller took its toll. Personally, Pick Central went into that game with the attitude that they had to prove that they belonged. Big stage and big opponent. I was concerned about their mind-set.

Sunday, Pick Central played another perennial power in St Xavier. Close game, but St Xavier made some mistakes, but also had some big plays in the fourth and Pick Central played tough, but broke down at the end. In this game, Pick Central came to play. In fact Pick Central lead 21-17 at the end of the third quarter. Frustrated somewhat, but they played hard and no "out to prove something." No false swagger, just played hard.

I am not trying to analyze the games. In both games, Pick Central's offensive and defensive lines wore down. Moeller and St X both have very big and strong line play. Big plays and depth were huge for both teams.

My point of this blog is to applaude Jay Sharrett for accepting the challenge of playing top level competition on a "big stage." Central Ohio football has some very good football programs and, of course, some excellent coaches. At times, they do not get the credit that they deserve throughout the state.

This is all rumor, but I have been told by head coaches in other parts of the state that some big school programs in Central Ohio not will schedule them. No need to point fingers, but those rumors surprise me somewhat. Hats off to Pickerington Central. Coach Sharrett has shown his desire to play top level competition from any part of Ohio, even the big private schools. Congrats.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Columbus Dispatch - Ken Gordon

I read the Columbus Dispatch almost every day. There is just something good about opening a newspaper over coffee at 6AM in the morning. Also get a chance to read the Plain Dealer and the Toledo Blade at times. But the Dispatch is always right there.

Hats off to sports writer, Ken Gordon. He wrote a very interesting article about football officials sharping their skills working O-State practices. I see them at practices and appreciate the work that they do. Back in Coach Hayes time, officials really added some enjoyment at his practices. The article also mentioned the "weight factor."The "fat belly" is disgusting on an official. Saw one last year who could not bend over to spot the ball. He did it with his foot. I do feel some empathy for the old guys trying to keep up with the speed of the game. The other article Gordon did was on a cheerleader from Central Crossing. She has Down syndrome and her mother always has been concerned about "acceptance." Really positive article about her experiences with cheerleading and about how she has been accepted by fans and coaches. Both she and her work effort have been accepted big time.

For me, these articles are much more refreshing than reading about the opinions of Tim May and Bill Rabinowitz on Ohio State football. Probably not a fair comment, because I do not read their opinions on OSU football.

Massillon - Glen Oak Game

The Massillon-GlenOak game last night not only featured some future college players, but some really good high school football. Having at least 15,000 in attendance added to the atmosphere. My job is watching players and not necessarily getting caught up into the game itself.

Ohio State recruit, Bri'onte Dunn actually surprised me in the fourth quarter. Up until this game, I had never seen him close out a game. In the fourth quarter, he rushed for 134 yards and two TD's. Hopefully, this game can be a turning point for him. Strong and durable. Solid speed. When he decides to turn it up, he is a very solid running back. The problem, when I watch him, is turning the dial. Last night he did, and I hope that means really good things for him and the GlenOak football program.

I have always thought that WR/LB DaShawn Hall from GlenOak should be the top rated recruit in the Class of 212 in Stark County. Academics are the major stumbling block for him. Listed at 6'0-210, he runs well and changes direction well. But his strongest asset is that he is a powerful tackler. He does not get all the pub that some get, but he is a beast.

Finally, found out the word on Reid Worstell. He did not play last night, but should be good to go soon. Reid is the quarterback who transferred from Canton McKinley. At the O-State summer camp, he was sick and did not perform well. Looked better at a 7on7 tournament last summer. After a really sore throat, doctors realized he had mono. Hopefully, I will see him later in the year.

Also had a chance to visit with old friend Jack Rose. We go way back to his head coaching days at Massillon. Tremendous person, as well as an excellent football coach. His youngest son, Andrew, is a senior and plays OLB for GlenOak. Listed at 5'10-210, he (pound for pound) is a very good high school football player.

Enjoyable game. Funny, but even with seven officials, the "stripes" are still human and make mistakes. Last night, an "inadvertent whistle" cost Massillon a chance to get the ball at midfield with a 1:33 to go in the game.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ryan Anderson - A Real Tough Guy

Last winter I wrote a blog on Kent Roosevelt's big offensive/defensive tackle Ryan Anderson, As the story goes, I rated him a D-!A prospect, but not a "major league "guy. A "JAG." He worked really hard in the off season and blew me away at my combine. After the combine I told him that he had a bright future. His drive to work hard on conditioning over the winter really impressed me. On the following Monday, a cancer tumor was discovered in his knee.

Ryan called me this week. No need to go into details of the chemo treatments, but he had many back to back treatments. Knowing first hand what my wife went through, I can appreciate his ordeal. Chemo treatments can beat you up both physically and mentally. They shrunk the tumor and removed it. The doctors placed a rod six inches above the knee and six inches below. Now he is recuperating.

Needless to say, I really appreciated the call. So often we read the news about all the negative happenings in high school sports. I guess that is what sells. We read about the "high profile" people and their struggles, and that is wonderful and inspiring. But we do not hear enough about the "Ryan Anderson's," which should also be wonderful and inspiring. Talking with him over the phone, I almost became silly with excitement. His phone call made my day.