Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Five Shoremen to play college football

AVON LAKE — For a school like Avon Lake, having a few players move onto college football every season is almost expected. That’s why Monday’s ceremony at the school was so special.

The Shoremen announced that five players from this team will be playing on scholarships next season at colleges from the East Coast to the Midwest — a school best.

"I’ve been involved in the football program at Avon Lake for 37 years and we’ve never had five scholarship players in one year," said head coach Dave Dlugosz, who just finished his 19th year as head coach. "We’re seeing five tremendous examples of all three proponents of our football program."

Brian Mihalik, who will be playing in April’s North-South game at Ohio Stadium, will play at Boston College, his father’s alma mater.

"Through the whole process he didn’t want to steer me in either direction but it ended up being the right choice," Mihalik said. "He’s excited and I’m excited."

A terror for opposing quarterbacks, Mihalik had 11 sacks in 2010 and also played tight end. The second-team All-Ohio selection also returned an interception for a touchdown against Shaker Heights in Week 2 and was one of the team’s captains along with the other four signees, which made it more special.

"It’s really exciting, it was a lot of fun," Mihalik said. "We’ve all tried to be leaders for the team no matter what happened."

Shoremen tackle Andrew Bohan, a third team All-Ohio selection, will be playing his football at Akron next year. The top lineman in Lorain County filled in nicely for Michigan recruit Christian Pace and helped pace the two-pronged running attack of Zach Johnson and Dontez Smith. Bohan will be joining Mihalik at the North-South game in April and is on the Ohio roster for the Big 33 game between Ohio and Pennsylvania. Bohan, a 6-foot-5 lineman, is fulfilling a goal by signing on with the Zips, a choice that he found relatively easy.

"It’s a little unreal looking back to years ago wanting to play football in college," Bohan said. "I liked everything they showed me. It was just a great fit, I felt comfortable down there."

Bohan, along with defensive back Peter Lancione was also named Academic All-Ohio. On Akron’s schedule every season in the Mid-American Conference East Division is Buffalo, where Bohan will face fellow Shoreman Ronnie Willoughby.

"It’s a little friendly rivalry in the MAC," Bohan said.

One of the county’s top receivers, Willoughby’s 40-yard dash time dropped significantly in the summer of 2009, putting him on the college radar when he timed out at 4.6 seconds and then caught nine touchdown passes in each of the last two seasons. Also a standout for the Shoremen basketball team, Willoughby was selected third team All-Ohio and is part of a solid recruiting class for the Bulls.

"I’m just happy that it’s all over. The recruiting process is so long," Willoughby said. "I’m excited to play college football."

Choosing the Bulls came down to being comfortable and having a chance at success.

"It’s like a big family out there," Willoughby said. "The coaching staff is very good … They’ve won everywhere they’ve been. This is the best recruiting class Buffalo has ever had so that went into it a lot."

The Shoremen had just three signings planned for National Signing Day last Wednesday, but two other players joined the party after the ceremony was snowed out and pushed back to Monday. Lineman Micah Charlton went on his visit to Georgetown College in Kentucky on Friday and fell in love with the campus right away. The first African-American co-captain for Avon Lake football, Charlton was happy to join his teammates as they all celebrated moving on to the next level.

"When I got to Georgetown I knew it was where I was supposed to be," Charlton said. "I know I made the right decision."

Charlton’s brother, Charles Howard, was killed in August of 2009, so his signing was done with a heavy heart and with memories Charles, who played running back for Elyria, on his mind.

"I know he would be proud of me so I’m just going to go to the next level and make him proud there," Charlton said.

Charlton was glad he was able to share the moment with his teammates because of the support they showed him through the hard times.

"When my brother died, my teammates became my brothers," Charlton said. "Every Friday night I would go out there and do it for him, so this is basically for him."

Last but not least was quarterback Trent Toy, who will play at Walsh University in Canton. Toy made considerable strides in his two years at the helm for Avon Lake and helped lead the Shoremen to two Southwestern Conference championships and 16 victories in two playoff seasons along with his fellow seniors.

"It feels great to know where I’m going to school," Toy said. "It’s nice to know where I’m going and to know I’m going to play football at the next level."

Even it they came on late in the process, Walsh stood out among the colleges who were interested in Toy.

"It ended up being really easy," Toy said. "Walsh stood out among all the schools. When I went there on my visit and met with my coaches it felt comfortable. It was a place I could see myself spending my next four years."

courtesy of Colin Wilson

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