Last night I made my third trip to Central Ohio to watch high school football. All three games on the past three Thursday nights have really good games. Good weather, well coached teams, and good players. Add some good college prospects and all of this makes the trips fun and my work easier. Although I am not familiar with the television package, I appreciate the work that they have done.
The game between Hilliard Davidson and host Olentangy Liberty was no exception. Well played, good coaches, good players, and some college prospects. Davidson won the game, but really the score was indicative of how tough the game. Davidson had the ball for roughly thirty four minutes compared to fourteen minutes for Liberty.
Last year when I went to watch Davidson in the playoffs, EJ Jennings was injured and did not play. I watched just a little as a sophomore. Coach Brian White had been telling me that he hard a workhorse coming in EJ Jennings. Last night, EJ simply tookover the game. Last week against Upper Arlington, he ran for 310 yards. Last night, early in the game, on a 91 play drive, he ran the ball 11 straight times and finished the drive scoring a TD on a 2 yard run. Solid line play, but EJ just gets north/south and is better after first contact. Listed 5'11-214, just bounced off defenders. Hard to get a good shot at him.
One of the nice parts of what I do is that I get to watch prospects develop as early as freshman. Some come to my camps and combines. Some I see at summer football camps. Some I meet during the football season. Last night, Liberty had two senior players whom I met as sophomores. QB/DB Ryan Seibert just keeps getting bigger and stronger. Listed at 6'4-195, really believe he can grow into a strong safety or a will backer. Ryan has committed to Kent State. Bad news - he broke his ankle in a preseason scrimmage and will miss the season. LB Grant Cartwright, listed 6'4-225, has been around forever. Plays mike backer now. Runs well. Plays pad under pad. Honestly, I could see Grant putting his hand down and come off the edge. Strong and good burst. Wished each one "good luck."
Coaches allow me to be on the sidelines to do my watching and evaluating players. Actually for me, it is the best seat in the house. Attitudes of players are really important to college coaches. Sometimes I catch myself watching how head coaches react to certain situations. Last night, Brian White who I perceive as a no nonsense guy surprised me. His punter shanked his first punt. As the punter came off of the field, Coach White looked at him and said, "We gotta have better than that." No screaming, no profanity, and no face mask grabbing. Impressive.
Off to Warren soon. Cleveland Heights travels to Warren Harding. Then on to Warren Howland - Niles McKinley game. Have never seen a Niles McKinley team play. Also get to see the best senior running back in Ohio - Deveon Smith. Another player I that I watched since his freshman year.