A running back stiff-arms a defender
Shelby running back Skyler Winters runs for a big game in a playoff-opening win over Cleveland Central Catholic. Credit: Curt Conrad, staff reporter

SHELBY — The Whippets will have their hands full Friday in Elyria.

Third-seeded Shelby (10-2) will take on No. 2 seed Cleveland Glenville (9-3) in a Division IV, Region 14 semifinal at Ely Stadium.

The Tarblooders are the defending state champs and, by all accounts, every bit as good as they were last fall when they delivered legendary coach Ted Ginn his first state title in football. 

The 2022 Tarblooders were a perfect 15-0. The 2023 edition has three losses, but those setbacks came against undefeated Division II Avon, national powerhouse IMG Academy and Division II heavyweight Akron Hoban (10-1).

What’s more, Glenville’s roster is loaded with major Division I college prospects. That list includes Ohio State recruits Bryce West (four-star cornerback) and tight end Damarion Witten (three-star tight end). Other Glenville luminaries include three-star interior offensive lineman and Louisville recruit Fred Johnson, three-star edge rusher Kareem Jennings and two-star safety and Army recruit Jermaine Agee.

That list doesn’t include running back D’Shawntae Jones, the nephew of former Glenville and Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones and the Northeast Inlands Offensive Player of the Year in Division III. Jones rushed for 1,509 yards and 22 touchdowns on 131 carries during the regular season.

“They’ve got four-stars and three-stars everywhere you look,” Shelby quarterback Brayden DeVito said. “They fly around the field.”

A sophomore, DeVito accounted for five touchdown and 545 yards in last week’s jaw-dropping 71-41 win over Van Wert. He ran for 119 yards and a pair of first-half TDs and threw for 426 yards and three TDs.

Senior wideout Issaiah Ramsey had 11 catches for 249 yards, including an 87-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown in the third quarter. Miles Swisher had six catches for 131 yards and a score, while running back Skyler Winters rushed for 102 yards and four touchdowns.

“Defensively, they’re going to challenge us in man and we’ve got to be able to make plays,” Shelby coach Rob Mahaney said. “Offensively, they’ve got one of the best backs we’re going to see. “

The 5-foot-10, 225-pound Jones is a combination of speed and power. He opened the scoring with a 27-yard TD run in last week’s 40-7 win over Napoleon. Quarterback Ruel Tomlinson, a Walsh Jesuit transfer, tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Witten. And West, who moonlights as a part-time running back, ran 45 yards for a score.

“They do a lot of things well. They’re athletic all over the field,” Mahaney said. “We’ve got to be able to execute at a high level. There’s some things we think we can take advantage of, but to do that we’ve got to execute.”

Shelby comes in averaging 42.5 points a game. Glenville allows 10.8 points per contest and has given up seven or fewer points in the past four games.

“We have at times beaten ourselves and we have to make sure we don’t do that Friday,” Mahaney said. “We have to make sure we play as clean as possible and make plays when we can.”