YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – WKBN Sports Team 27 is proud to once again shine the spotlight on the top high school football players in the Valley, with 2017 marking the 12th season of the Big 22 contest.
The following are just a few of the preseason contenders to keep an eye on this fall.
Half of the Big 22 was made up of quarterbacks last year and there’s no shortage of preseason contenders this season.
Liberty’s dual threat quarterback Dra Rushton made the team last year, as well as two juniors that racked up over 3,000 total yards in Girard’s Mark Waid and East Palestine’s Parker Sherry.
But they aren’t the only juniors in contention, with Boardman’s Michael O’Horo and Poland’s Cole Kosco ready for breakout years.
Salem senior Mitch Davidson is coming off a career season and so is West Branch senior T.J. DeShields.
Jared Fabry is a three-year starter at Ursuline. Luke Brennan will look to bounce back from injury at Hickory and Aniello Buzzacco will lead a loaded squad at South Range.
So how about the backs?
Ausintown Fitch has a pair. They call them thunder and lightning — Randy Smith the speedster, and power back Jakari Lumsden.
Ohio State recruit Jack Cappabianca will represent Western Reserve and thousand-yard rusher Jordan Wilson returns for Sharon.
The wideouts may steal the show this season.
Warren Harding’s Jalen Hooks has the college scouts clamoring. Hickory’s Will Gruber has next level talent as well.
Both Dominic Posey from East Palestine and Michael Belcik from Girard will headline high-powered offenses this year.
And it’s one more run for Sharon’s Ziyon Strickland, who’s already shattered every Mercer County career receiving record.
We’ve got a couple to keep an eye on at the tight position this year.
Poland’s Dante Ruozzo is ready to impress and Farrell’s Kyi Wright can play anywhere — as long as it leads to another deep playoff run for the Steelers.
We finish with the boys up front.
Struthers has two of the best lineman to watch in seniors A.J. Iarussi and Jimmy Stefanski.
Cardinal Mooney will lean on senior Vinny Gentile and Sharpsville has a Division One prospect in junior Ja’Quay Hubbard.
There will be many more contenders featured on WKBN.com throughout the season. Fans can nominate players online right now.