Eleven Warriors hit the road again on Friday night following a brief one-week hiatus.
Zack Carpenter went to see newly committed Buckeye Zen Michalski, Dan Hope traveled back to Marysville for Round 2 of Gabe Powers, and Colin Hass-Hill trekked over to see the Blake Miller-Brenan Vernon showdown between Strongsville and Mentor. (Vernon, however, was declared out for the game with an injury.)
After seeing Michalski in person on Friday night, it's easy to see what Ohio State's staff likes about Michalski, who announced his commitment to the Buckeyes on Saturday night, and what he needs to improve.
Heading into the game, he said his two biggest strengths were his athleticism and his run blocking. Those were both clear throughout the night, as he racked up multiple pancakes and did a nice job of sealing defensive ends on run plays. His blocking helped lead to three touchdown runs for Floyd Central (Indiana) in a 55-13 drubbing of Jennings County.
And another one. Michalski does a great job setting the edge and pushing his man inside. Floyd Central cruising. 48-0 before halftime. pic.twitter.com/FnJcWODJgt— Zack Carpenter (@Zack_Carp) October 2, 2020
But while Michalski does move well for a 6-foot-6, 280-pounder, his foot speed will have to improve. The learning curve he will have to maneuver around was also evident, as there seemed to be some hesitancy at points throughout the game and in warmups. He was called for encroachment on offense, as he lined up offsides from his left tackle spot, and there was at least one other time where he could have been called for a false start.
That's to be expected, of course, as he has only been playing football since eighth grade, and this is just his second year playing offensive line. He will obviously need to add more weight, with Studrawa and the Buckeyes wanting him to get to around 315-320 pounds. That doesn't seem to be too bothersome for the senior.
“I feel like, right now, I don’t feel undersized out there, but in my body I feel like I’m underweight for what I should actually be,” Michalski told Eleven Warriors. “I’m 280 right now, and I still feel really good about it. I think another 35-40 pounds will be really easy, honestly.”
Michalski out in the open field blocking on a screen pass. Still some room for improving his speed as he develops into a full-time OL. pic.twitter.com/RjDSi3xq0N— Zack Carpenter (@Zack_Carp) October 2, 2020
Michalski is ranked outside the top 600 overall, but I would be shocked if his ranking doesn't jump into the top 500, especially after he was moved into four-star territory and billed as the No. 33 offensive tackle and No. 3 player in Indiana by 247Sports' metrics (as opposed to the No. 48 OT and No. 10 in Indiana rankings in the composite as mentioned above.)
Despite the misses in the 2021 class, Buckeye fans should still be happy to have Michalski in the class. He will definitely be a player who takes a redshirt, but he could become a contributor by Year 3 or Year 4.
– Zack Carpenter
Gabe Powers, Toby Wilson
MARYSVILLE – It was a celebratory night for Powers and his Marysville Monarchs on Friday as they defeated Olentangy in convincing fashion, 28-7, to win the Ohio Capital Conference Cardinal Division title on Saturday night.
“It means a ton,” Powers said of winning the division championship. “Coming out here to get it done with your brothers and for your hometown, it means a lot.”
Much like the first time I went to see Powers play this fall, it wasn't a particularly exciting game to watch him individually, as Olentangy ran just about all of its offensive plays away from him. While his younger brother Colton had multiple sacks, Powers didn't make any highlight-reel defensive plays.
He played just about every snap of the game in all three phases of the game, as a wingback on offense and even lining up at punt returner on special teams, but he spent most of his offensive plays blocking – his teammate Ryan Kern ran for 170 yards and three touchdowns – while he didn't get to actually return any punts.
“It's really frustrating, not being able to have plays come your way,” Powers said. “Because that's what you play the game for. You want tackles, you want them to run to your side. But it's not (about) me. I do everything for the team, so whatever the team needs, I'm going to do what they need.”
The Monarchs finished the regular season with a 5-1 record, and will now begin the playoffs next Friday, when they host divisional foe Dublin Jerome, who they beat 31-12 during the regular season. And as long as the Monarchs keep playing, Powers will have more film to break down with Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington, who he said he's been getting feedback from as he goes through his junior season.
“To hear from the best linebackers coach in the nation, it's very beneficial,” Powers said.
Despite the ongoing recruiting dead period, one Ohio State assistant coach was actually at Marysville on Friday night, but not because of him. Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson was allowed to be in attendance because his son, Toby, is the starting center at Olentangy.
Toby Wilson is a Division I prospect in his own right, and while he isn't being pursued by the Buckeyes, he told Eleven Warriors after Saturday's game that he has received interest from several Power 5 schools this fall – including Penn State, Duke, Wake Forest and Northwestern – in addition to the offers he holds from Group of 5 and FCS schools.
Kevin Wilson could be heard voicing his support for his son in the stands for Friday; at one point, he even got on a megaphone to encourage his son to “Get it going, Toby.” Even though Ohio State is now preparing for a season of its own, and coaches have to be extra careful due to COVID-19 protocols, Kevin has attended all of Olentangy's games this season, and Toby has appreciated the support.
“It's awesome,” Toby Wilson said. “I know that he's there for me. My family, they're all there for me. It's just been great to share these moments with him, with everyone that I'm with right now.”
– Dan Hope
MENTOR – Halftime was just two minutes away when a rogue Mentor fan – an adult man – made his way across the stadium. He decided, for whatever reason, he had to make some sort of scene. So, standing alone on the path between Strongsville stands and the road team’s bench, he started yelling.
“They’re playing dirty,” he shouted. “Seventy-six is playing dirty!”
Met with jeers and a chorus of boos from the Strongsville faithful sitting in the bleachers, the man lasted about 30 seconds before turning around and heading alone back to the other side of the stadium. Sitting on the bench with his back to the Mentor fan, Blake Miller – Strongsville’s four-star offensive tackle who wears a No. 76 jersey – couldn’t help but hear him.
“I try not to pay attention to it,” Miller said. “I just try to play my game of football and if someone has a problem with it, it is what it is.”
Why the fan felt he had to go shout at a high school football team and its junior left tackle, we might never know. Objectively, Miller wasn’t a dirty player out there cheap-shotting or talking loads of trash on Friday night. He just happend to stand out as a 6-foot-6, 315-pounder at left tackle.
Miller showcased exactly what you’d expect out of a lineman who’s attracted offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Clemson, LSU and Florida. He fires off the ball with explosiveness and, as the largest human being on the field, got plenty of drive on his blocks.. He’s a high-effort blocker who doesn’t ever take any plays off and moved well at his height and weight.
The disappointment of the night was that Brenan Vernon, Mentor’s star 2023 defensive end, didn’t play. He was on the sidelines with crutches and a boot on his right foot. A Miller-Vernon matchup would have been delightful.
Either way, Mentor didn't need Vernon's help to come out on top. It defeated Strongsville, 41-7.
– Colin Hass-Hill
|Player (Class)||Team||Opponent||Result (Record)|
|OG DONOVAN JACKSON (2021)||EPISCOPAL (TEXAS)||@ ANGLETON||L, 21-10 (1-2)|
|WR JAYDEN BALLARD (2021)||MASSILLON WASHINGTON||CANTON MCKINLEY||W, 35-7 (5-1)|
|DT MIKE HALL (2021)||STREETSBORO||@ NORTON||W, 42-0 (6-0)|
|LB REID CARRICO (2021)||IRONTON||CINCINNATI SYCAMORE||W, 33-11 (6-0)|
|S JAYLEN JOHNSON (2021)||LA SALLE||ARCHBISHOP MOELLER||W, 27-25 (4-2)|
|OG BEN CHRISTMAN (2021)||REVERE||@ MAPLE HEIGHTS||L, 20-0 (3-2)|
|S/CB ANDRE TURRENTINE (2021)||ENSWORTH (TENN.)||@ FATHER RYAN||L, 14-9 (0-4)|
|OT ZEN MICHALSKI (2021)||FLOYD CENTRAL (IND.)||JENNINGS COUNTY||W, 55-13 (5-2)|
|LB C.J. HICKS (2022)||ARCHBISHOP ALTER||CHAMINADE JULIENNE||W, 49-21 (4-2)|
|LB GABE POWERS (2022)||MARYSVILLE||OLENTANGY (LEWIS CENTER)||W, 28-7 (5-1)|
|CB JYAIRE BROWN (2022)||LAKOTA WEST||MASON||W, 21-0 (5-0)|
|OT TEGRA TSHABOLA (2022)||LAKOTA WEST||MASON||W, 21-0 (5-0)|