Prep Tracker: A look at Sonny Styles and Luke Montgomery’s season opener, Cormani McClain lands three interceptions

As the high school football season begins across the country, Prep Tracker will serve as our weekly look at the performance of some of Ohio State’s engagements and key field recruiting goals.

For the Friday night opening of the Ohio high school football season, we went to see two of Ohio State’s top targets in the recruiting class of 2023: Sonny Styles and Luke Montgomery. Meanwhile, many other Ohio State targets in the 2022 and 2023 classes performed exceptionally well in their first games of the season, and we’ve rounded up some of the best highlights below.

Styles starts the junior year with a big win

MASSILLON – Sonny Styles had a relatively quiet night on Friday.

This is perhaps one of the best compliments a defensive back can receive.

Styles, roaming free safety in defense for most of the evening, was only thrown twice in Pickerington Central’s 26-7 route victory over Ohio Central Massillon. Both passes were incomplete.

“I thought I had pretty good coverage today,” Styles said after the game. “I want to do a little better in (the) open field because I feel like I’m a little stuck on my heels.”

In fairness, one of those two incompleteness was a completely reverse pass that looked like this.

Styles and the Pickerington Central defense didn’t stay on the field for long in the first half, as the offense dominated the possession time from 17:32 to 6:28.

But Massillon’s lone goalscorer will stand out for Styles as he continues to look to improve his craft for the remainder of the season. Junior running back Willtrell Hartson, who finished with 59 rushing yards on Friday, challenged Ohio’s No.1-ranked prospect in 2023 on three straight runs. On an outside run, Styles chased Hartson from midfield but was overly aggressive and received a personal foul penalty after a late hit from the sideline.

“He’s a good running back,” Styles said. “And again, he took me on my heels a bit. He was just running towards me and I was a little on my heels playing free safety, but I’ll get better at that. This is the first game. The nervousness of the first game.

This is the only engine that Styles has been caught off guard. He was in a much better position to make one play, one of his three tackles of the night, on a key third play in the second half.

Pickerington Central beat Massillon 343-135 in the evening, mainly due to vigorous play from the Tigers’ defensive line which shone the most as it forced a safety when the game was tied at seven in the second quarter. Styles didn’t hesitate to let his teammates have the spotlight for a night.

“I love to see my guys eat,” he said with a smile.

After Friday’s contest, Styles told a group of reporters he would be visiting many schools this fall, including Ohio State, Notre Dame and Clemson. He hasn’t signed up on a specific date, but Styles has said his visit to OSU could be the home opener against Oregon on September 11.

– Garrick Hodge

Montgomery shines on left tackle

FINDLAY – As Garrick watched Ohio State’s top prospect in the 2023 class on Friday night, I watched the state’s third best prospect, Luke Montgomery, make his first start for Findlay High School on the offensive line – the position he is in the process of being recruited to play by Ohio State and many other top college football programs, although he has primarily played defensive line prior to this year.

If I hadn’t known, I wouldn’t have guessed that Montgomery was playing his first game in left tackle. He looked natural to the position in Findlay’s 24-14 victory over Anthony Wayne, starting from the start with the very first play of the game, when Montgomery led a defender about 10 yards into the field and brought it down. sunk into the ground. And that was just one example of Montgomery taking his opponent to the ground on Friday night.

Montgomery was both impactful as a run blocker and effective as a pass protector on Friday, and he is only expected to improve in both areas as he gains more experience playing the position. His fast feet, natural power and high motor all stood out on Friday as he played on both sides of the ball. Anthony Wayne rarely ran the ball in his direction when he was in the game at the defensive end, but he made a solid run stoppage on the line of scrimmage and also showed he could apply pressure as a third baseman – although he’s unlikely to play defense in college, at least if he makes it to Ohio state.

His energy and love for his team was also evident on Friday. It wasn’t long before he went out and celebrating with his teammates every time they made a big play, and he was also a hype man for the college section, running after Findlay scored a touchdown to take a 21-minute lead. -14 in the third quarter. and set them on fire with a shout of “Let’s fucking go!” ”

I wrote more about Montgomery and the recruiting process, with which he takes his time, in a full article on the Four-Star Junior published Sunday morning. Ohio State remains at the forefront of its recruiting, but so do other top programs like Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Clemson, Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma – and Game 1 of his junior season has confirmed he should be a top target for Greg Studrawa and the Buckeyes in the 2023 class.

– Dan Hope

McClain has a 3-INT game

While Styles wasn’t much contested on Friday, someone apparently missed the note that Cormani McClain is the No.1-ranked cornerback in the class of 2023.

Some defensive backs are lucky enough to get three interceptions in a season. McClain tied that total in one game en route to lead Lake Gibson (Lakeland, Fla.) To a 56-24 victory over Plant City.

McClain posted a top five earlier this month that included the state of Ohio, Florida, Alabama, Miami and the state of Florida. The 6-foot-1, 165-pound five-star playmaker is Rookie No.10 in the 2023 cycle.

The best of the rest

  • One of OSU’s top running back targets in 2023, Judge Haynes, did quite well in Blessed Trinity Catholic’s 34-6 win.

  • Caden Curry, the defensive line’s top target in 2022, chased the runners in the fourth quarter of Center Grove’s 38-14 season opener over Warren Central.

  • Troy Bowles didn’t make many friends on the opposing team on Friday. But what the four-star linebacker did was make some remarkable, crispy plays in the Jesuits’ 35-0 win over Largo.


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