Undefeated and state-ranked Genoa may be getting all the publicity as it continues on a playoff journey, but locally the top offensive individual numbers go to Clay and Northwood.
Of course, the Comets and Eastwood Eagles have high numbers, too, especially when counting the numbers of athletes that can make plays and get on the gridiron stat board.
But Clay and Northwood’s 2008 football teams have to be considered among their schools’ all-time best, too.
The Rangers have gone 17-3 overall and 12-0 in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference over the last two seasons and missed the playoffs both years. Northwood has won six conference titles (five outright) since joining the TAAC in 2001, and this year's team scored a school-record 442 points and gave up just 129.
Clay coach Mike Donnelly may be setting his Eagles up to win a City League championship in the near future. His experience as an assistant at Central, his desire to see Clay, his alma mater, succeed, and the fact the City League seemed slightly down this year makes Clay’s football future seem bright.
After defeating Northview and Springfield in non-league action, the Eagles only losses in the City League were to Central Catholic (42-7) and St. John’s Jesuit (7-0). Clay ended the season with four consecutive wins to finish the season 7-3.
“The biggest challenge for us is mentally having the confidence and the belief that we can play with anybody,” Donnelly said. “Especially when you're playing the Catholic schools. I coached at a Catholic school (Central) for nine years. They put on their uniforms the same way and have the same confidence issues that we do sometimes. Just because it’s St. John’s or Central, they’re just a team wearing a different color on a Friday night.”
Even St. John’s coach Doug Pearson told The Press that if the Titans were to defeat Clay, they had to stop the Eagle’s offense, which they did.
“You have to play great team defense against Clay,” Pearson said. “You can’t just focus on taking away the run, or the pass will kill you. I said in preseason that they were flying under the radar, and certainly they have.”
Two of Clay’s senior playmakers, first team All-City quarterback Drew Kuns and running back Mike Toth, are at the top of the list in comparison to athletes from nine other local schools in rushing, passing, and scoring.
Donnelly expected that Toth, who had to replace Notre Dame-bound track star Nick Tammerine, would be a good fit for Clay this season. Toth finished the season scoring 25 touchdowns on 227 yards receiving and 1,155 yards rushing, 19 more yards than Northwood senior quarterback Kyle Gunn.
“He’s a very patient runner,” Donnelly told The Press. “Once he sees the hole, he explodes through it…He’s the type of back who just carries people.”
Last year as a junior, Kuns completed 65 percent of his passes and had only one interception. In 2008 as a senior, Kuns completed 140 of 211 passes (66 percent) for 1,776 yards and 12 touchdowns.
But when it comes to total yardage, Gunn has the edge with 2,139 yards — having completed 55-of-107 passes for 1,003 yards and nine touchdowns and carried the football 138 times for 1,136 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Gunn is a two-year starter and without question the player who pulled the trigger in the Rangers’ offense.
“Number 1, he’s really fast and he’s quick,” Coach Ken James said of his 5-10, 160-pound senior quarterback. “We run the wishbone, but a variety of formations go with that. We run wishbone plays out of the shotgun and from under center.
“Kyle does a really good job of reading the option and he’s gotten really proficient this year of getting the ball to the right guy. He’s done a good job of making decisions.”
While both Kuns and Gunn displayed efficient passing this season, Eastwood senior quarterback Jason Faykosh was even more efficient — completing 84 of 124 passes (67.7 percent) and 14 touchdowns.
Plus Faykosh’s all-around athleticism showed, converting on 53-of-54 conversion kicks and rushing for 271 yards after the 10-game regular season ended.
“He’s a good athlete,” Eastwood coach Jerry Rutherford said. “He’s the point guard on our basketball team and a hurdler on the track team. He could have been a backup (QB) last year, but we moved him to receiver.”