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Published: Tuesday, 9/11/2012

Central tops state, Blade polls; Findlay, Napoleon, PH leaders

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The first Blade poll for the 2012 high school football season is out, and playoff teams from last season sit atop each of the four divisional groups.

Central Catholic not only leads the Blade poll in Division II but is also ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press state poll which was released Monday.

In Division I, preseason Three Rivers Athletic Conference favorite Findlay (3-0) takes the top spot, ahead of defending TRAC champion Whitmer (3-0).

The Trojans of coach Mark Ritzler, with nine starters back on offense from a 9-2 playoff qualifying team, are clicking to the tune of nearly 53 points per game.

First-year Whitmer coach Jerry Bell's Panthers are getting it done on defense, yielding less than four points a contest. Whitmer has reached the D-I state semifinals the last two years.

The two teams are ranked No. 8 and No. 10 in D-I, respectively, in the AP poll released yesterday.

Their top rival for the TRAC title, Central Catholic is No 1 in Division II. Coach Greg Dempsey's Irish, who advanced to the second playoff round a year ago, are scoring 50 points per game with their potent attack.

In the combined Division III-IV Blade poll, Napoleon (2-0) of the Northern Lakes League, edges out preseason Northwest Ohio Athletic League favorite Bryan (3-0), and Northern Buckeye Conference co-favorite Genoa (3-0) to open the season.

Napoleon and Bryan (both D-III) are each averaging 53 points per game, while Genoa (D-IV) has put up 50 points per contest.

Napoleon and Bryan are ranked 11th and 13th in the first D-III state poll, and Genoa is No. 4 in D-IV.

The combined Division V-VI Blade Poll has perennial NWOAL powers Patrick Henry (3-0) and Liberty Center (3-0) ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, heading into their annual showdown Friday at PH.

Toledo Area Athletic Conference favorite Northwood (3-0) and Blanchard Valley Conference power McComb (3-0), hold down the Nos. 3 and 4 spots.

All four of those teams are ranked among the top 10 statewide. Patrick Henry, Liberty Center and Northwood are rated sixth, seventh and ninth, respectively, in D-V, and McComb is ranked No. 4 in D-VI.

Contact Steve Junga at: sjunga@theblade.com 419-724-6461, or on Twitter @JungaBlade



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