The calendar says Michigan will travel to Ohio State on Nov. 24, but a small scale version will play out Friday in Hudson, Ohio. That’s where Elyria (6-2) will take on the Explorers (7-1) in an important Division I, Region 2 meeting.
Hudson controls its postseason destiny, while a win by the Pioneers would push the squad higher in the playoff picture. Ohio State commit and defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle calls it the biggest game of his career with Elyria. Michigan commit and inside linebacker Ben Gedeon says a win will catapult Hudson toward an even bigger showdown with North Royalton (8-0) in Week 10.
“I’ve wanted to lead this team to the playoffs since I started playing here,” Sprinkle said. “That’s my main goal. Every year, we want to go to the playoffs.
“We have to play our game with hunger and attitude. Some guys doubt us and think it’s an easy win, but we need to come out and play our game. Our coaches will do what they have to do, as long as we play with heart we should come out with the win.”
That’s the same attitude Gedeon and Hudson are taking as they face an offense that is averaging 44 points a game.
“We want to go 1-0 this week and put ourselves in great position next week,” Gedeon said. “They’re a high-powered offense with some great backs. We have to do what we know how to do to succeed.”
Gedeon said a victory would give him something to crow about for a year. Sprinkle agreed, but took it a little further.
“It’s a great thing for bragging rights, especially since the Ohio State-Michigan game is coming up,” Sprinkle said. “If we can pull out the victory, we can show him what Ohio State is all about.”
ANOTHER BIGGIE: There’s a dandy of a game Friday in Massillon, Ohio, as well, with playoff implications that go through the roof. St. Vincent-St. Mary, which controls its own destiny in the Division III, Region 9 race will travel to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium to take on Massillon, which controls its own fate in Division I, Region 2.
St. Vincent-St. Mary is led by Dante Booker and Parris Campbell Jr. among others. Booker has Ohio State interest as well as most of the Big Ten, while Campbell is being studied by Penn State, Indiana and Northwestern.
CARMEN OHIO IN THE COLD: As has been the growing trend, the more players can get enrolled at Ohio State early the better and that continues to be the case with the Class of 2013 recruits.
J.T. Barrett (Wichita Falls, Texas/Rider), Cam Burrows (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison), Tyquan Lewis (Tarboro, N.C./Tarboro) and Sprinkle have all indicated they plan on enrolling at Ohio State in January to get a jump on their studies both on and off the field.
JUCO JAMS: It turns out Corey Smith (Akron, Ohio/East Mississippi CC) isn’t the only junior college athlete the Buckeyes are taking a look at. While Smith has an offer, there is growing interest in linebacker Auston Johnson (Torrance, Calif./El Camino CC). Johnson doesn’t hold an offer from the Buckeyes, but is interested in Ohio State and might visit Columbus Nov. 24 for the Michigan game.
MORE ON MITCHELL: One of the biggest targets in the 2013 class for the Buckeyes remains Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) as the outside linebacker continues to put up insane numbers.
According to his father Ken, the 6-foot-4, 216-pound senior has made 118 tackles in essentially five games as Prestonwood Christian pulls its starters once the contests get out of hand.
SPRINKLE IN SOME MORE ACCOLADES: The incredible season of Sprinkle hasn’t gone unnoticed. He enters Week 9 with 71 tackles and 14 sacks.
Those numbers didn’t get lost as the 2013 Ohio State commit will represent Team USA in the International Bowl.
QB CAROUSEL: By now, everyone knows the names of the 2014 quarterbacks Ohio State is targeting early.
While DeShaun Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville) remains the only quarterback offered by the Buckeyes, others with Ohio State interest include DeShone Kizer (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic), Kyle Allen (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain), Joey Duckworth (Louisville, Ohio/Louisville), Drew Barker (Hebron, Ky./Conner) and Caleb Henderson (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock).
Add another name to the list as Jalan McClendon (Charlotte, N.C./West Mecklenburg) has garnered attention as well. It is interest the 6-foot-4, 185-pound junior returns to Ohio State.
McClendon is a natural for the spread offense and is considering visits to several schools. Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Ohio State are all on the itinerary.