The first Blade high school football poll of the 2013 season is out, and unbeatens Bowsher, Central Catholic and Liberty-Benton sit atop the three new divisional groupings.
With the Ohio High School Athletic Association expanding its playoff format from six to seven divisions, the Blade poll has adjusted by ranking together divisions I and II, divisions III and IV, and divisions V, VI, and VII.
Bowsher, the defending City League champion and a D-II team, is the only squad in the I-II group with a 3-0 record.
Coach Craig Lubinski’s Rebels have so far beaten three Northern Lakes League schools — Maumee, Springfield and Northview — and have nonleague games remaining at Marion Harding and at Warren Howland before starting CL play.
Bowsher is seeking the school’s first playoff berth.
Trailing Bowsher in the I-II poll are four 2-1 teams — St. Francis, Fremont Ross, Springfield and Clay.
Some of the area’s more successful I-II teams in recent seasons, like 2012 D-I state runner-up Whitmer, Findlay, Southview, and Perrysburg, have each begun 1-2 and do not yet qualify to be ranked. The Blade Poll only ranks teams with .500 or better records.
Central Catholic, the 2012 D-II state champion with a 14-1 record a year ago, has dropped to D-III this year, and coach Greg Dempsey’s Fighting Irish (3-0) head up a group of five unbeaten teams in the III-IV poll.
The Irish have opened with impressive wins over Warren (Mich.) De La Salle (21-14), Southview (35-17), and Perrysburg (35-6) in nonleague play.
Division IV teams Genoa, Bryan, Wauseon and Lake follow Central.
Genoa’s high-powered wing-T offense had the Comets outscoring its three nonleague opponents 212-33 (71-11 per game).
The best of the smaller schools (V-VI-VII) has been perennial Blanchard Valley Conference power Liberty-Benton (3-0), which has outscored its first three foes 121-9. Coach Tim Nichols’ Eagles, who reached the D-V state semifinals last season, have already defeated Bucyrus Wynford (17-3), and 2012 D-VI state semifinalist McComb (41-6).
Unbeatens Liberty Center and Woodmore are ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.