High School Team of the Day: Warrensville Heights

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Day 12

Team Name: Warrensville Heights Tigers 

Head Coach: Romie Graham

2019 Record: 1-9

2020 Outlook: The Warrensville Heights Tigers graduated six seniors last year. This year's returning core is experienced with most being two-year starters. Up front, they have Kahli Cochran (Second team All-District in 2019), Sharodd Laney, Jacob Ivory and William Watkins. At the skill positions, the Tigers have DeAngelo Bell (first team All-State in 2018 and second team All-District in 2019), Anthony Bryant, Troy Byers, Rayshawn Tarver, Will Smith, Will Smith Jr., and Nellion Wilson. The Tigers will have a senior-led team so expectations are high.

Why they chose to take the Build the Bridge Challenge?

Warrensville is paired with Cardinal, led by Coach George Gresko, to discuss how the two programs could build the bridge of racial equality. 

"It is an honor being part of the Build the Bridge program for both me and my team. Whenever you get the chance to bring people together as one while having meaningful conversations about life you do so. We all know the power sports have so let's use it to change the world." – Coach Graham 

BuildtheBridge | #BeTheSolution

Day 11

Team Name: Painesville Riverside Beavers

Head Coach: Dave Bors

2019 Record: 4-6

2020 Outlook

The Beavers are looking forward to a positive year as they return multiple starters on both sides of the ball. The team has multiple players with at least one DII offer and one with a couple of DI-FCS offers. The Beavers pride themselves as a program of playing with a relentless passion and effort on every play of every game. The 2020 team should be fun to watch.  

Why they chose to take the Build the Bridge Challenge?

Riverside is paired with Rhodes, led by Coach Robert Andrews, to discuss how the two programs could build the bridge of racial equality.  

The Beavers understand that it is imperative for their athletes to not only have relentless passion on the field but also in their communities. Build the Bridge helps their student athletes close the gap on racial injustices and racism in the world. 

BuildtheBridge | #BeTheSolution

Day 10

Team Name: Avon Lake Shoreman

Head Coach: Matt Kostelnik

2019 Record: 11-2

2020 Outlook:

Avon Lake is looking forward to another great year building upon the tradition of excellence that is Shoremen football. They return all five starting offensive linemen, QB, both tailbacks, fullback, 12 personnel TE and three WRs. On defense, the Shoreman are returning two LBs, DEs and DTs and one Safety. Four out of the five returning starters were the top-four production leaders last season. It should be another fun and successful season for the Shoreman of Avon Lake. 

Why they chose to take the Build the Bridge Challenge?

Avon Lake is paired with Elyria, led by Coach Devlin Culliver, to discuss how the two programs could build the bridge of racial equality.

"We chose to be a part of the Build a Bridge campaign because it is an incredible and simple way to gain perspective on how people of different communities live. Perspective generates knowledge and empathy that allows for people to come together in a productive atmosphere. This is key in the path to stamping out racism. The Build the Bridge program opens the pathway for this knowledge and allows us to work towards a better future for our young men." – Coach Kostelnik 

BuildtheBridge | #BeTheSolution

Day 9

Team Name: Elyria Pioneers

Head Coach: Devlin Culliver

2019 Record: 1-9

2020 Outlook:

Coach Culliver is in Year 2 of rebuilding the program at Elyria High School. Last year, the Pioneers were able to put their opponents on notice that Elyria High School was no longer the doormat of the league or the area. This year can be a great one for the Pioneers program. Elyria returns a great group of seniors, led by QB Daylon Sharlow.

*Why they chose to take the Build the Bridge Challenge? *

Elyria is paired with Avon Lake, led by Coach Matt Kostelnik, to discuss how the two programs could build the bridge of racial equality.

"Elyria High School is the epitome of diversity. The team has a good cultural mix that we can share with another team or community that may not have that same dynamic. We feel that sharing our stories can bridge many unknowns and fears on both sides." – Coach Culliver

BuildtheBridge | #BeTheSolution

Day 8

Team Name: Eastlake North Rangers

Head Coach: Shawn Dodd

2019 Record: 3-7

2020 Outlook:

Coach Dodd and staff are very excited about the 2020 season. The Rangers return several key starters, including several players with college scholarship offers. Starting QB Chris Molica (offered by Lake Erie), G Ethan Spoth (committed to Toledo), and junior T Ryan Baer (has more than 12 Power 5 offers and is a top recruit in the state). 

*Why they chose to take the Build the Bridge Challenge? *

Eastlake North is paired with Bedford, led by Coach Charles Saulter, to discuss how the two programs could build the bridge of racial equality.

"We are excited to be a part of Build the Bridge. I have been fortunate to be friends with the coaches involved for a long time. Mac Stephens and I started off coaching together over 20 years ago at Euclid. I taught and coached Mac's boys and he trains my daughter. This is a much needed program for players and parents. I am excited to see where it goes." – Coach Dodd

BuildtheBridge | #BeTheSolution

Day 7

Team Name: Bedford Bearcats

Head Coach: Charles Saulter

2019 Record: 5 -5

2020 Outlook:

Bedford is looking forward to an exciting season. The Bearcats return five starters on offense and five starters on defense. Bedford has some up and coming young stars such as Jaylen Clark (WR/DB), Raymell Hester (QB/DB), Leonard Sharpe (OL/DL), Chazz Hunter (LB), and Malik Simmons (TE/DE). Bedford football will be explosive this season and exciting to watch.

*Why they chose to take the Build the Bridge Challenge? *

Bedford is paired with North High School, led by Coach Shawn Dodd, to discuss how the two programs could build the bridge of racial equality.

"We are not only focused on making an impact on the field, but also have chosen to be a part of the Build the Bridge challenge to make an impact in society!" – Coach Saulter 

BuildtheBridge | #BeTheSolution

Day 6

Team Name: Walsh Jesuit Warriors 

Head Coach: Nick Alexander

2019 Record: 1-9

2020 Outlook:

Walsh Jesuit football will include 14 returning starters from their 2019 team. Contributions will also be made by rising sophomores who led their freshmen team to an 8-2 record. The Warriors will be led by seniors Dom Grguric (WR, DB), David Wohlabaugh (OL/DL) and Bobby Perebzak (DL).

Why they chose to take the Build the Bridge Challenge?

Walsh Jesuit is paired with Akron East, led by Coach Marques Hayes, to discuss how the two programs could build the bridge of racial equality. 

"Walsh Jesuit football is focused on continuing to restore the culture. We strive to develop a culture where every player becomes the best athlete, student and person they can be. By partaking in the Build a Bridge Challenge, we hope to build a culture of respect through high school athletics." – Coach Alexander 

BuildtheBridge | #BeTheSolution

Day 5

Team Name: Akron East Dragons 

Head Coach: Marques Hayes 

2019 Record: 7-3; City Series Champions 

2020 Outlook:

Akron East is looking forward to the upcoming season, even after having numerous seniors advance to collegiate football. The Dragons bring back a very experienced line, both on offense and defense. They have a great mixture of young and veteran talent on the team that gives them a very promising and exciting outlook for the 2020 season. Notable players include DB Shawn Gates (Boston College commit), DB Deanthony Becton (Central Michigan commit) and RB Richtell McCallister (Eastern Kentucky commit).

Why they chose to take the Build the Bridge Challenge?

Akron East is paired with Walsh Jesuit, led by Coach Nick Alexander, to discuss how the two programs could build the bridge of racial equality.

Akron East chose to be a part of the Build the Bridge Challenge because the staff felt it was imperative to teach their student athletes to be positive young men and men of great character. Coach Hayes and the team wanted to be part of the solution to break down stereotypes, show individuals how awesome their kids were and to join other student-athletes from other schools and have productive conversations about respect for one another, even though they may come from different backgrounds. 

BuildtheBridge | #BeTheSolution

Day 4

Team Name: Columbia Raiders 

Head Coach: Jason Ward

2019 Record: 4-6

2020 Outlook:

The Columbia Raiders only graduated two seniors from a 2019 Team that went 4-1 over their last five games. The team returns 20 of 22 starters. Junior QB Andrew Champaigne is back after breaking his collarbone and missing seven games, senior TB Joe Governale ran for 1,500 yards last season and sophomore LB Hayden Garrow had 115 tackles as a freshman.

Why they chose to take the Build the Bridge Challenge?

Columbia is paired with Beachwood, led by Coach Damion Creel, to discuss how the two programs could build the bridge of racial equality.

Columbia is one of the most respected small school programs in the state after winning six conference titles and making seven playoff appearances in the past 10 years. The program prioritizes family and stepping up in the face of adversity. Build the Bridge is a perfect fit for Columbia because there is not a lot of diversity in their school.  Coach Ward believes that one of the most special aspects of the game of football is the memories that athletes and coaches take from the game. Columbia feels Build the Bridge provide them a positive memory with an urban school (Beachwood) that they can take with them and draw from later in life.

BuildtheBridge | #BeTheSolution

Day 3

Team Name: Beachwood Bisons

Head Coach: Damion Creel

2019 Record: 8-3

2020 Outlook:

In 2020, Coach Creel and the Bisons look to continue to grow Beachwood Football into the type of program they hope to establish. The Bisons want to contend for the CVC Championship along with making the playoffs again in the 2020 season. 

Why they chose to take the Build the Bridge Challenge?

Beachwood is paired with Columbia, led by Coach Jason Ward, to discuss how the two programs could build the bridge of racial equality.

Beachwood chose to take part in the Build the Bridge Challenge because Coach Creel wants the Bison student-athletes to be in the forefront of changing the world.  He has mostly black athletes on his team, but the makeup of his community is predominantly white. Coach Creel wants his athletes to be able to understand each other as teammates, which hopefully changes the perspective of the adults around them. 

BuildtheBridge | #BeTheSolution

Day 2

Team Name: Olmsted Falls Bulldogs

Head Coach: Tom DeLuca

2019 Record: 7-4

2020 Outlook:

The Olmsted Falls Bulldogs graduated 15 starters, six on offense and nine on defense. On offense, they return their starting QB, three linemen and their B back. On defense, they return two key inside linebackers. The Bulldogs will have great competition throughout camp in preparation for the upcoming season. The program is continuing to grow as they have outstanding numbers this year with a good amount of non-starters who had significant playing time last year.

Why they chose to take the Build the Build Challenge?

Olmsted Falls is paired with Cleveland Heights, led by Coach Mac Stephens, to discuss how the two programs could build the bridge of racial equality.

In 2017, Coach DeLuca and staff developed a very strong relationship with the staff at Cleveland Heights. The programs came together in the summer prior to the start of the 2018 season to work on the field. It was a great experience for both teams. As social injustice continues to plague our society Coach Stephens and Coach Kahari Hicks of Cleveland Heights developed the "Build the Bridge" Challenge. Olmsted Falls jumped at the opportunity to help Build the Bridge between our communities and hopefully eliminate social injustices in our society. The Olmsted Falls Bulldog football program will be part of the solution!  

BuildtheBridge | #BeTheSolution

Day 1

Team Name: Cleveland Heights Tigers

Head Coach: Mac Stephens

2019 Record: 9-1

2020 Outlook:

On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers have seven returning starters and are led by Navy commit strong safety Adonis Williams (6-2, 190). Their linebacker core will be solid with the return of three-year starter Keshaun Madlock (5'10, 228) and newcomer Jacob Biggom (6-0, 238). Up front, the Tigers have three returning starters in Jaylen Davis, Delroy Richards, and Javon Edwards. On the offensive side, they average 302 pounds tackle to tackle and will be led by junior guard Maurice Hamilton (6-4, 340) and tackle Daonte Dancy (6-1, 255). The skill position standouts include junior tailback Elijah Fowlkes (5-11, 180) and sophomore Owen Bisker (6-0, 210) while Chris Wilson and Sincere Davis shore up the receiver position.

The Cleveland Heights football program has helped produce close to 60 college football players in the last five years at schools such as Ohio State, Toledo, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Ohio University, Georgetown, Air Force, Boston College, Youngstown State and many others, and the strong talent and development is also evident in 2020.

*Why they chose to create the Build the Bridge Challenge? *

Cleveland Heights paired with Olmsted Falls, led by Coach Tom DeLuca, to discuss how the two programs could build the bridge of racial equality.

The purpose of the "Challenge" is to pair football teams that normally would not cross paths to have athletic activities, positive interactions, and a meal. Predominantly black communities are being paired with predominately white ones, public schools with private to have healthy discussions on race relations.

BuildtheBridge | #BeTheSolution

Build the Bridge Challenge Overview

Established by Cleveland Heights coaches Mac Stephens and Kahari Hicks and Beachwood Head Coach Damion Creel, Build the Bridge strives to create a coalition of coaches, players, parents, administration and community members to foster the success of student-athletes through social-emotional, educational, and athletic advancement. The program creates opportunities for all team members to build relationships and mutual respect between diverse communities, regardless of their race, class or creed.

Once two schools are matched through "Build the Bridge," they plan an event focused on personal connections by conducting a collaborative discussion on social justice and race relations, competing with one another on the field or in the weight room and a shared meal to complete the day. Following the meetings, coaches and athletes are encouraged to remain in regular contact throughout the year to spark additional dialogue and strengthen team bonds.

BuildtheBridge | #BeTheSolution

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