DB/WR Zach Brown (5’10, 180, ’16) – Brown is very versatile and he’s a two-time All-Metro player as both a wide receiver and defensive back. With his quickness, football instincts and toughness, he’s one of the more underrated two-way players in the state. Brown has plenty of Ivy League programs looking at him and even some Mountain West and Pac 12 schools have been giving him a long look.
QB/DB Malik Abdul-Haqq (6-4, 170, ’16) – Abdul-Haqq really catches your eye when you see him on the field. He looks like a basketball player with his long, lean frame, however, he’s very tough and he’ll be a leader on the both sides of the ball due to his abilities, but also because of his high Football I.Q.
LB/RB Danny Matapula (5’11, 230, ’16) – The senior captain is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s physical and the coaches really rely on him to get things set for the defense.
OL/DL Therron Ebanks (6-4, 245, ’16) – Ebanks returns for his senior season after earning All-Metro honors as an offensive lineman last fall. Ebanks is big and physical and he’ll be counted on to be a presence on both sides of the ball.
WR/DB Jahleel Breland (6-3, 170, ’18) – One of the top underclassmen who has already made his presence felt during fall camp, Breland is talented enough to have already earned a starting corner spot and he’ll likely be a starter at receiver as well. The sophomore is an outstanding athlete with very good ball skills and the Cleveland coaches think he can be a special player over the next three years.
In just two seasons at the helm, Jeff Schmidt has done a great job of galvanizing a talented group of players into a solid team that plays tough defense and is explosive offensively.
The Eagles return 15 starters this season (seven on offense and eight on defense), likely the most returning starters in the state, and with the playmakers and general size on the roster, they could be a force in the Metro this season.
Leading the Eagles’ offensive attack is senior QB Malik Abdul-Haqq (6’4, 170). Abdul-Haqq is already known as a solid defensive player, but this spring and summer he looked solid throwing the ball and could be the playmaker at the position that the Cleveland coaches need.
At tailback, senior Latrez Darden (6’1, 175) will likely get the bulk of the carries, but fellow seniors Danny Matapula (5’11, 230) and Rob Williams (5’10, 190), both All-Metro linebackers, will also see some carries as well.
A name to keep an eye on is sophomore Reality Jordan (5’7. 139), a speedster who the coaches think will be a standout sooner-rather-than-later.
The receiving corps has some serious playmakers including senior Zach Brown (5’10, 180) who the coaches will use in different ways to get the ball into his hands as much as possible.
Also in the mix for reps at receiver are junior Tyson Billingsley (6’1, 165) and sophomores Jahleel Breland (6’3, 170) and Rashard Herbert (5’10, 160).
The H-Back spot will be manned by Shacore Wilkins (6’2, 275) who will be asked to block most of the time, but he also has surprisingly soft hands for a young man his size.
Along the offensive line, the leader is left tackle Therron Ebanks (6’4, 245) whose quick feet and explosive lower-body strength give him an edge as both a run and pass-blocker.
Joining him will be senior Reiner Tuiolemotu (5’7, 285) and juniors Dedrick Jackson (6’4, 305) and Derrick Winston (5’11, 245).
Defensively, things shape up nicely for the Eagles with an experienced and talented secondary.
Breland and Billingsley are both solid corners while Brown and Abdul-Haqq will man the safety spots.
At linebacker, Matapula is the leader in the middle of the defense and he will be flanked by the likes of Darden, Williams and fellow senior Gabe Wright (5’10, 205).
The defensive front features Ebanks, Tuiolemotu and Wilkins forming one of the biggest defensive lines in the region.
The Bottom Line: This is the season for Cleveland to make their mark in the Metro league. They have plenty of experience, size and talent to dominate the South Division, but with O’Dea and Eastside Catholic still hanging around, it will still be a struggle to win the league.
@ Garfield (9/25)
@ Rainier Beach (10/2)
Vs. Roosevelt (10/16)