note: Although this is the second year with the playoffs expanded to 16 per region, for consistency with years past and not to make projections a “standard” exercise, the forecast number remains as well over half of each region qualifies, at 12
(in alphabetical order, with 2021 regular season record; News-Herald coverage teams are in CAPS)
candidate: Berea-Midpark (6-4), Brunswick (6-4), Canton McKinley (6-4), Cleveland Heights (8-2), Elyria (6-4), Massillon Jackson (8-2), Medina ( 10-0), MENTOR (5-5), St Edward (8-1), St Ignatius (6-4), Stow-Munroe Falls (8-2), Strongsville (5-5)
where to look: Starting with The News-Herald’s coverage area, which comes first as usual, would be the hope of rebound campaigns from Mentor and Euclid. … The Cardinals’ problem in 2021 was twofold — they needed another non-conference win, and fighting in the early game of the Greater Cleveland Conference was a backbreaker, too. Looking at the 2022 standings, it feels like the Week 2 trip to First Energy Stadium to face St. Ignatius is a must to build confidence from the start. The mentor must work in a largely new skill group and determine the turnover of a high-level defense. The Cardinals might climb a little outside of that .500 mid-of-the-pack range in the region, but how high will be interesting to watch. … Obviously, after an atypical 0-10 season, the Panthers can only move up. With a new coach in Robert Andrews and building blocks on defense in Chase Smith and Ryan Merrill, getting Euclid back into the winning column more consistently is doable and a welcome sight. … As for the class of the region, we lean towards the safer path and side with St. Edward. The Eagles will be strong in the defensive trenches led by returning All-Ohio artists Michael Kilbane and Wyatt Gedeon. … Medina will undoubtedly miss 2021 Ohio Mr. Football Quarterback Drew Allar, but having the prolific WR Brennen Schramm (82 catches, 1,333 yards, 14 TDs) back on the roster is a start. … Don’t be surprised if Elyria improves after a 6-4 season led by RB Lance Glover (665 rushing yards, nine TDs in 2021). … Last fall, 12 of the teams in that region had six wins or fewer. If it ends like this again, and of course especially with only 17 teams in the region, the week 11 home fight won’t be quite as daunting as it can normally be.