My final Ohio rankings (my top three are more like 1a,b, and c).
1. Pick Central - I said previously that I wanted to see how they performed against Elder, a team that Ed's handled rather easily in the regular season. And while they did not look nearly as good as Ed's did, I do have to give some credence to the fact that this was the state championship game, and both teams were playing very well coming into it. Wouldn't be entirely fair to compare a week 4 matchup with the big game. Additionally, the play of QB Demetric Crenshaw throughout their playoff run was something to behold. The Tigers avenged their only loss of the regular season to a talented and underrated Groveport-Madison team, got by a great Mentor team that seemed destined to take the D1 title, and fought off a very game Elder team in the state final. Not as dominant in the regular season as they seemed they should be on paper, but the talent came through when it mattered most.
2. St. Edward - I think the Eagles were playing like the best team in the state when the postseason started. Offense had its full compliment of weaponry, O'Malley was running the read option with extreme efficiency, and the defense looked locked in. And after one half of football against Mentor, it appeared a repeat was imminent. Low and behold, it was not meant to be. Without rehashing the controversies in their entirety, a series of events found the Eagles asking, "What the hell just happened?," as Mentor stormed the field after converting a 2-point attempt in OT. Even the Mentor faithful seemed to acknowledge the better overall team did not win that day. Would have loved to see an Ed's/PC semi-final. Had they gotten by Mentor, I think they once again finish the job.
3. Mentor - a magical season that saw the Cardinals knock off the Cleveland Catholics in back-to-back weeks to open the season, and then run the table in an otherwise competitive GCC. The dominance continued leading right up the regional final. Refusing to let Triv's last game come down to another loss at the hands of St. Edward, they found a way to pull off a stunner, thanks largely to the other-worldly play of WR Luke Floriea and his timely big plays that kept the game within striking distance and delivered the final blow. Unfortunately, destiny met its match the next week in the form of Demetric Crenshaw and Pick C Tigers. This time, it was the Cardinals on the wrong end of the controversial calls. And injury was added to insult when Kipp went down with a bad ankle injury late in the game. Despite out-gaining the Tigers and putting up close to 450 yards of offense, the dream season came to an end.
4. LaSalle - this spot was tough to decide, but I gave the nod to the Lancers over the Panthers. In addition to edging Elder in their week 10 game, LaSalle was able to finish the job in convincing fashion against a very good Massillon team that many thought would finally deliver a playoff title.
5. Elder - offense as good as any in the state, and a defense that was actually playing solidly by year's end. Crenshaw's heroics and a big-play Pick C offense ultimately proved to be too much. I felt they relied a little too heavily on the legs of Leubbe, and did not open up the passing game enough. Royer with one catch for 21 yards is not the stat line you want from him. Yes, it enabled them to eat clock and keep Pick C's offense off the field, but it was not a winning recipe.
6. Colerain - without the injury to Thomas I think they could have come out of R4 and probably on to the final. Springfield would have been a great matchup, but I believe the Cards defense would prove to be the difference.
7. Springfield - defense as good as any, but their offense could just not muster the points against the top teams.
8. St. Xavier - again, lacking that quintessential X defense. Offense very good at times, but inconsistent QB prevented it from really taking off.
9. Fairfield - would a healthy Jutahn McClain have made the difference in the rematch with Colerain? We'll never know. This was a very good team though.
10. Massillon - I'll keep the Tigers in my top ten as this was a very good football team, but what we saw in the D2 final was an example of what it takes to compete week in and week out with the D1 big boys. LaSalle does that in the regular season and it obviously paid dividends in the playoffs.
Others: Groveport-Madison, Hoban, Coffman, TCC, WW, O-Lib, Trotwood-Madison