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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
Before RivalsHigh 100 No. 4-ranked Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville sinks into the abyss of abysmal football teams that comprise the Cleveland City league, it faces another top-tier test this weekend as one of the best in Florida - and possibly the nation - will head to Columbus to square off in a Labor Day showcase of RivalsHigh 100 Top 15 teams.
The Panthers of West Palm Beach (Fla.) William T. Dwyer, which checks in at No. 11 nationally, will be making the school's first-ever trip out of state and colliding with the Tarblooders at Ohio Stadium on the Ohio State campus.
"The farthest we have been has been Daytona Beach," Dwyer coach Jack Daniels said. "A lot of our kids have never been on a plane before, so it is an exciting experience for that, let alone taking on a very good Glenville team."
This is not a sight-seeing tour for either team, though, as both have plenty to prove.
"We like to think we carry the flag for Ohio," Glenville offensive coordinator Tony Overton said. "We can go out there and pound it if we need to, but we are fast. We want to be that spokesperson for speed in Ohio."
Daniels, who has seen Glenville on film, knows that this is not the stereotypical three-yards-in-a-cloud-of-dust team.
"Not many of their players are slow," he said. "I think people paint with a broad brush too many times. There are slow teams in Florida and there are fast teams in Ohio. Glenville is as fast a team as we will see this season."
They will also be one of the most talented, with at least six senior players who will be committing to Division I schools.
While there are higher rated players on the field, the key to the Glenville attack is its quarterback Cardale Jones.
"It all starts with Cardale for us," Overton said. "He has always been able to rise up in big games. Whether it was his performance in the state finals last year or this past week against [Indianapolis (Ind.)] Warren Central, his leadership is big for us. We want to have the ball in his hands when it is time to pull a game out."
Jones earned the praise this past week as Glenville was trailing 21-20 with time winding down in its first measuring stick game of the year. On a fourth down play, he completed a pass to convert for 15 yards, keeping the game-winning drive alive. The team went on to win, 28-21, with him being the hero.
The experience, according to Overton, was a great growing experience for the entire team.
"We have some guys with a lot of game time," he said. "Some kids have a season, some two, under their belts. And we had kids getting in that game that had never been on the varsity field before. It was big for everyone."
For Daniels, this will be his team's first official game after a lackluster performance in its kickoff classic game against Carol City.
"You know, we looked good for a half," he said. "That second half we fumbled a bit, had some penalties, and it didn't look as good. We will need to play better if we expect to win this week."
One major advantage that seems to be in favor of Glenville will be the distance traveled.
Glenville will make the short drive from Cleveland to Columbus while Dwyer is flying in on Sunday afternoon to prepare for the game.
"We have to be ready to go," Daniels said. "It will start with our first teamers being able to keep up with theirs. We will have to limit the time they are on the field, because they are going to hit their plays. So we really want to control the clock."
Conversely, Glenville is treating the contest like a home game with a twist.
"We have sent a bunch of guys to Ohio State," Overton said. "For our kids, it is a little like going to hang out at their big brother's house after he moves out and gets married. You are excited to show up and show him that you are doing well too. There isn't any pressure or anything like that. It is going to be fun and show some of the people who came through our program what we are able to accomplish."
But it isn't only the program Overton and Glenville want to show, it is the nation.
"We have a great opportunity to put Ohio football on display," he said. "We aren't just doing this for us. We are representing [Cleveland (Ohio)] St. Ignatius, Huber Heights [(Ohio) Wayne], [Cincinnati (Ohio)] St. X, and the rest of the schools here."
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