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August 18, 2011

Rival regions: Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland

MORE: Midwest mailbag

In this two-week series, Rivals.com is taking a look at the high school football talent in rival regions - breaking down the best prospects, best teams and giving our vote for which area is superior.

TODAY'S MATCHUP: Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh


The Case for Cleveland

When talking about college football talent in the Cleveland area over the last decade, one school has dominated the conversation - Glenville Academy.

The Tarblooders have had 68 players sign Division I letters of intent in the last decade, including 40 who signed with BCS programs.

While Glenville has another decent crop of talent in 2012, it does not dominate the top of the Cleveland rankings as in previous classes. The top players in the city for 2012 are more spread out over area schools.

The strength of Cleveland's talent in 2012 is on the offensive and defensive lines. Lakewood St. Edward offensive tackle Kyle Kalis, ranked No. 18 overall in the country, tops area rankings, followed by Cleveland Heights offensive tackle Kyle Dodson. Defensive ends Tom Strobel of Mentor and Pharaoh Brown of Brush High in Lyndhurst also get four-star nods.

Defensive back De'van Bogard rounds out the four-star ranked prospects in Cleveland and is the highest-ranked prospect from Glenville in 2012. Other Tarblooders sporting Division I offers include cornerback Sean Draper, defensive tackle Willie Henry and defensive end Alex Pace.

The most talent-rich program in Cleveland for 2012 is St. Edward. Besides Kalis, the Eagles also feature three-stars Sam Grant, Greg Kuhar, Tyler Orlosky and Darryl Render. Grant is committed to Boston College and Orlosky to West Virginia, while Kuhar and Render are considering multiple BCS offers.

The top quarterback in the area is Walsh Jesuit's Nick Wargo. The top running back is Rhodes' Lakeith Walls. Ohio State commitment Blake Thomas of St. Ignatius is the top tight end and Jeremy Graves gets the nod as the top wide receiver. The defensive back class is deep with Bogard, Draper, Bedford's Tyvis Powell and Brush's Kevin Houchins. The area also has one of the nation's top kickers in Walsh Jesuit's Ross Martin.


The Case for Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh and the surrounding area has been known for producing top talent for years from Terrelle Pryor to Corey Brown, Dorian Bell, Justin King and Jonathan Baldwin.

This year the talent is deep as usual although there is no five-star just yet. Offensively quarterback Perry Hills from Central Catholic, a Maryland commitment, leads the way at his position while running back Rushel Shell from Hopewell, the state's No. 2 player, is joined by running back Julian Durden from Montour in the backfield.

Wide receiver Corey Jones from Penn Hills is a waterbug on the field and a great slot option. Fellow receiver Trenton Coles from Clairton, a Pittsburgh commitment, and his 2013 teammate Tyler Boyd, provide depth at the position and there are two very good tight ends in Jesse James from South Allegheny (Penn State commitment) and Jack Schwaba from Upper St. Clair (Northwestern commitment).

The offensive line is deep as well led by Adam Bisnowaty from Fox Chapel Area, Treyvon Hester from Penn Hills, Ian Park from Upper St. Clair (Northwestern commitment), Jake Witucki from Highlands (Kent State commitment) and 2013 rising standout Patrick Kugler from North Allegheny.

On defense, there is strength at linebacker but very little depth or talent along the defensive line. Linebackers Deaysean Rippy from Sto Rox, Tyrone Neal from McKeesport, Jaylen Coleman from Gateway and Dakota Conwell (Pitt commitment) from Upper St. Clair lead a deep and talented group but there isn't a defensive lineman ranked above two stars nor any 2013 prospects with early offers. At defensive back Demetrious Cox from Jeannette has a ton of talent and Anthony Nixon from Central Catholic, a Pitt commitment, also has talent.


Bottom line

Even though it's not the best year in the Pittsburgh area, it appears to be a deeper year for talent overall than Cleveland. Cleveland has some talent, especially when it comes to big men and tight ends, but lacks the depth at each position that Pittsburgh boasts. The combination of Shell and a strong group of linebackers makes up for a dearth of talent along the defensive line. The slight nod goes to Pittsburgh.


Team matchup

This is a rivalry that is nearly as old as Capulets and Montagues and it touches every aspect of life with the two cities. The areas' two best teams are not separated by much as Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward and Pittsburgh Central Catholic are ranked at Nos. 24 and No. 26, respectively, in the RivalsHigh 100 so leaving it to those teams to decide would continue to debate. Where the best versus best would be decided is on the next level as the best 10 teams in Pittsburgh are likely a slight edge better than those of Cleveland. McKees Rocks (Pa.) Montour, Hopewell (Pa.) High, Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny, Pittsburgh Woodland Hills, and others would stack up well with Solon (Ohio) High, Cleveland Glennville and Cleveland St. Ignatius giving the slight edge to the Steel City this year.

- Dallas Jackson


Series Schedule
AUG. 19: Orlando vs. Jacksonville/North Florida | Oklahoma City vs. Tulsa
AUG. 22: Memphis vs. Nashville | Kansas City vs. St. Louis
AUG. 23: North Alabama vs. South Alabama | Arizona/New Mexico vs. Colorado/Utah
AUG. 24: Atlanta vs. New Orleans
AUG. 25: Indianapolis vs. Cincinnati | Chicago vs. Detroit
AUG. 26: Southern California vs. Northern California



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