Rogers quarterback Keandre Gilmer passes as Start's Arthur Phillips gives chase. Both return this season.
The Blade/Lori King
Rogers reigns as the defending City League championship.
The Rams became the first Toledo Public School to win the title since they won it in 2000.
It had been tough for TPS schools in recent years to contend for the title, but they are they only schools left in the league with the departure before last season of Whitmer, Clay, and the parochial schools.
Whether the Rams can repeat as the league's best remains to be seen.
Rogers first-year coach Keith Dawson likes to think the Rams, who finished 5-0 in City League last season, will be among those teams in contention. He replaces Randy Bartz — who returned to the sidelines as the Rams coach only for one season last year — and inherits an experienced group that includes 23 letter winners.
"I think we've got some talented skill players," Dawson said.
Joshua Taliaferro, a 6-foot-1, 165-pounder, returns as one of the league's top offensive and defensive threats. An All-City League performer, Taliaferro was the team's top receiver a year ago. He hauled in 19 passes for 422 yards, which ranked third in the CL. He was also a top defender.
Taliaferro's presence on the field, as well as the likes of quarterback Dominic Jones (6-2, 170) and tight end/linebacker Jalon Phelps (6-0, 182), puts the Rams in good position to experience success again.
Dawson said the Rams have the makeup of a team that should come ready to play every time out.
"They're a good group of young men," Dawson said. "They're very coachable and they're focused."
But don't expect the Rams to be handed a second straight CL championship. It's a league in which parity is quite apparent.
With a month remaining in the season last year, the league championship remained uncertain with four of the six teams still in contention for the title. Rogers, Bowsher, Start, and Waite were still playing a game of tug-of-war in pursuit of league bragging rights.
It's impractical to think this season will not play out in a similar way with at least half the schools in the league still contending for first place during the final month of the regular season schedule.
Waite, Start and Bowsher, which finished in a three-way tie for second place last year, appear as the biggest challengers.
Waite poses a threat as long as quarterback Johnny Douanglee is running the offense. The senior led the league in passing a year ago with 1,270 yards, completing 109 of 196 passes.
Douanglee is one of 12 seniors to lead an Indians team that has talent at the skill positions.
Start's Arthur Phillips, an All-City League first team defensive performer, returns for Start, which has a 60-man roster including 18 letter winners.
With a number of teams as contenders, deciding the title may come down to the final week of the season.
Contact Donald Emmons at: email@example.com, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade,