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OHSAA state football championships: Meet the 4 Northeast Ohio teams who will be competing in Canton

All games will take place at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton between Thursday and Saturday.

CANTON, Ohio — Kids across Ohio have been dreaming of this moment for their entire lives. Now, for a select few of them, it's finally here.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association will hold its state football championships this weekend at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. It's become a time-honored tradition in Stark County, and as is always the case, 14 teams across seven divisions will compete to be the best in the Buckeye State.

This year, four of those teams are from the Cleveland-Akron area, with all but one having been in this exact situation a season ago. The other is certainly an established juggernaut and has been here before, but is seeking its first state championship in school history.

Let's meet the local schools who are looking to bring home some golden hardware!

Division I - St. Edward (14-1)

  • Opponent: Springfield (13-1)

  • Game time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

There can be no doubt as to who the dominant Division I team in Northeast Ohio is, as only a last-minute Week 5 loss to Massillon Washington has prevented the Eagles from being in the national championship discussion. Tom Lombardo's crew got past powerhouses like Elder and Archbishop Moeller during the regular season before steamrolling through this postseason, including a 28-7 win over archrival Saint Ignatius in Chuck Kyle's last game as Wildcats coach.

This team is absolutely loaded up front, with the junior trio of Ben Roebuck along with twin brothers Deontae and Devontae Armstrong anchoring what has consistently been one of the country's best offensive lines. On defense, Northwestern commit Michael Kilbane has 16 1/2 sacks while future Coastal Carolina product Wyatt Gedeon adds 16, with six players in all racking up at least 100 tackles on a unit that has held opposing teams to just over 10 points per game all year.

St. Ed is seeking its sixth state championship, all since 2010. This a rematch of last year's D-I championship game, when the Eagles handled the Wildcats 23-13.

Division II - Archbishop Hoban (14-1)

  • Opponent: Toledo Central Catholic (14-1)

  • Game time: Thursday, 7 p.m.

St. Edward actually handed the Knights their only loss, a 41-20 drubbing in the regular-season finale. That doesn't matter much now, though, with Tim Tyrell looking to build upon what has become a dynasty in Akron.

Simply put, Hoban has been the gold standard, winning five of six championships combined in Divisions II and III before falling to Winton Woods in last year's finals. JacQai Long is one of the best quarterbacks in the state, and junior offensive lineman William Satterwhite's pedigree continues to grow, but the real star of this show is senior running back Lamar Sperling. In 15 games, the Buffalo commit and Mr. Football finalist has rushed for an eye-popping 3,348 yards (9.9 yards per carry) and an unfathomable 51 touchdowns.

Facing the Fighting Irish will be no easy task as that prominent program seeks its first title since 2014. The two schools previously met for the D-III championship in 2015, with the Knights prevailing 33-20.

Division IV - Cleveland Glenville (14-0)

  • Opponent: Wyoming (15-0)

  • Game time: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Ted Ginn Sr. has made the Cleveland community proud in his two-plus decades as head coach of the Tarblooders, winning countless games while preparing countless more young men not just for great college and professional football careers, but also for life after they are done with the sport. The only thing missing from his resume is that elusive state championship.

Declining enrollment has brought Glenville down from its days as a D-I power, but Ginn still sports his greatest roster in years. Linebacker Arvell Reese has already committed to Ohio State, and could soon be joined by five-star cornerback Bryce West as well as tight end Damarion Witten. Senior Jermaine Foster leads a talented receiving core, and Malik Davis is certainly no slouch in the defensive backfield.

Glenville remains the only Cleveland public school to play in a state title game in the playoff era, and is seeking to become the first CMSD squad to win a championship of any kind since East Tech way back in 1920.

Division VI - Kirtland (15-0)

  • Opponent: Marion Local (15-0)

  • Game time: Saturday, 10:30 a.m.

Was there really any doubt the Hornets would be back in this position? After all, Tiger LaVerde's team has at least played for a state championship in 10 of the past 11 seasons and won six, and they even got to drop a division this year. It's almost unfair, if you think about it.

Regardless, in typical program fashion, Kirtland has laid waste to its first 15 opponents by a combined score of 587-75, never winning by less than 20 and tallying six shutouts along the way. The rushing attack remains their bread and butter, with junior Rocco Alfieri scoring 24 touchdowns and senior Tommy Gogolin running for 1,643 yards, including a whopping 363 in the semifinals against Fort Frye. LaVerde's son Jake also serves as the starting quarterback despite only being a freshman, throwing for 11 TDs while rushing for six more.

The Hornets are looking to forget the memory of last year's D-V championship game, when a 20-16 loss to Versailles ended what was then the nation's longest winning streak at 55. This will also be their fourth state final matchup with the Flyers, having taken two of the first three such meetings.

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