Armed with Twitter skills, lady tactics, profanity-laden smack talk, and velvet-smooth shooting forms, the student-athletes comprising The Diocese of Cleveland’s Catholic Youth Organization are out for blood this holiday season. With players drawing looks from D1 organizations, ire from disgruntled parents, and technical fouls from straight-faced refs, there’s no doubt that the 2015-16 CYO season will be one to remember. Big men such as Mike “the Punisher” Bodnar and Nik “Big Daddy” Lancaster will look to push their weight around the paint, dishing it out to three-ballers in traffic like Tommy Lauer, Max “Drain-O” Danch, and Dan “White Mamba” Sullivan. Ryan “OSU” Karle is always a force to be reckoned with, and his scare tactics have knocked many a grin off the face of an unaccustomed opponent. Karle is competing for wild man on the floor with such monsters as Alex Ray and Ben Delhees, who bring such an energy to the floor that even Delly himself had to come to a 216ers practice to take some notes. Lone Ignatius man on the Thunderbolts from St. Mary of the Falls, Jared Yant, at a self-reported 6’9” – 245, will look to scrap in the paint and drop some rainbow 3’s from half-court. In fact, there are several moonballers in the league this year, not the least of which include Andrew Zawie and Jake “Canadian Bacon” Gawlik, the latter of which won’t hesitate to draw a charge or two and won’t shy away from a hard foul that needs to be committed. This season’s got it all, folks. Here’s how we’re stacking it up:
#1 GESU Bulldogs
The top spot in the Eye’s 2015-2016 CYO Power Ranking deservedly goes to the Gesu Bulldogs. This is basically the same squad that won the eighth grade city championship, and rival programs looking to unseat the ‘Dogs will have their work cut out for them. Led by Coaches Lauer and Lauer, the goal for the Gesu team is simply “to win states.” Here’s the lineup that’s looking to go all the way:
When he’s not sliding into the other team’s girls’ DM’s, Joe Evans ’16 is channeling his inner Jimmer Fredette and knocking down shots from all around the court. He’s also known around the league for the 4-point play he converted while lending his skills to the JV Wildcats sophomore year.
Mike Vallee ’16 is your trademark all-around athlete, and a legitimate contender for MVP of the whole league. His silky smooth golf swing translates into master ball-handling on the basketball court, where he’s sending home opponents in ankle braces on the daily.
Danny Volpe ’16 leads the team in hustle, and he’s known for bodying just about anybody up on the glass, grabbing key boards, and occasionally knocking down the critical 3-bomb. He trades offensive duties with Tommy Lauer ’16, who is liable to catch fire from beyond the arc at any given moment.
The key players for the ‘Dogs, though, are Mark “Ewwie” McHugh ’16 and Seamus Hawkins ’16, both known for their skills at finishing and refusal to give in when the going gets tough. Hawkins has a nice jumper and is always a threat to steal, and McHugh, like teammate Volpe, can be counted on to crash the glass and deny opponents the rebounds on both ends of the court.
Team X-factor is Cal “Grab Cheeks” Grbac ’16, who can basically fit into any position you give him at any point in time and make it work. He specializes in the quick shot and is known for his Magic Johnson-like pass game.
#2 St. Gregory the Great
The Saint Greg’s team will certainly be a force to be reckoned with. With several varsity football players trying to make the transition from gridiron to hardwood, this team is looking to impress.
A defensive back on the football field, small forward Quinn “Flawless” Lawless will be the do-it-all forward Saint Greg’s is looking for. Point guard Max “I drain threes” Danch will be feeding Danny “Big Body” Yanosko, who made cameo appearances as tight end this year and is liable to toss his 6’5” frame around the paint when the going turns scrappy. #MackPack member Nick Berlin will come off the bench to support the squad. Colin “Crouton” Kruchan and Austin “The Houdini” Dipaolo will certainly be making contributions as well.
#3 The 216ers
Leading the juniors are a coalition of some of the Class of 2017’s best athletes. Standout linebacker James “Fish Lips” Leyden will add a powerful presence in the paint as he will look to dominate his opponents with physical play. He played on the JV basketball team last year, but he gave it up to become a meathead like John Spellacy.
Leyden will be joined by Adam Shibley, a fellow linebacker, who was able to put this squad together. “I’ve been as good of a recruiter as Urban Meyer. I’ve waited my entire life for this season.”
The center for the sixers is Michael “Big Bird” Czaja who stands in at 6’4″ 215 lbs. He is similar to the seven foot Lithuanian who makes an occasional appearance in Sullivan Gym.
The guards consist of varsity rejects Tommy Aris and Brendan Hudec. Some conspiracies say Hudec’s talent comes from private lessons with his neighbor, Kyrie Irving.
Others on this stacked team are Ben “Panda” Delhees, Tommy “Two-Time-State-Champ” Patacca, Michael “SweaterSZN” Lehto, and Sean “The Silent Assassin” Coyne.
#4 St. Albert the Great Mustangs
The Mustangs from St. Albert the Great are looking to take on Gesu and beat out the rest of the league in the process in the upcoming CYO season. Headed by master strategist Coach Jordan Smigel and sporting two offensive linemen from the Padua football team (not pictured), these players are planning on crashing the boards, tossing bodies, and posting up on the defensive end as often as physically possible.
Liam “Man Bun” Jenkins ’16 is the only obvious weakness on an otherwise beast-like squad, and while Matt Szubski ’16 has been deemed “the slowest kid to play CYO ever” and “better suited to a 60+ league” by his own teammate Andrew Zawie, Alex Ray ’16 more than makes up for the apparent loss in speed, setting up needlessly-complex plays as the 2-guard and running around the court like Wild Mike out of his crate.
Will Cotton ’16 has stated his intent to take a gap year upcoming to play ball overseas, his athletic ability apparent simply by his ability to “touch rim” and his status as a “full-time eater.” The team is rounded out by 5-star small forward NCAA recruit Andrew Zawie ’16, who’s every bit as likely to dish it behind-the-back a la Steve Nash as he is to drain an 80-footer off an inbound pass from the defensive zone.
Self-styled prediction: St. Al’s 54 – Gesu 18 in the city championship.
#5 Sts. Joseph and John Vikings
A team can be summarized by its strengths. The Viking’s greatest strength? Their good looks. When you have guys like David Pavlik, Jake “Canadian Bacon” Gawlik, and Nick Freund, you know that this team will be intimidating by their objective beauty.
Their ability is certainly there. Pavlik is like Shaq in the paint and the combo of Gawlik and Freund simply doesn’t miss from behind the arc. Also on the team is Robert Lisi, who according to Pavlik, is really really good at warming the bench.
#6 St. Mark Lions
Coming from wonderful West Park, the Saint Mark’s Lions will look to compete at a high level this season.
The Lions picked up a few players that did not play last year who are from St. Mark such as: Owen North, Andrew “Balldaddy” Baldado and Anthony Corte (The Big Three).
Also representing the pride of West Park, is Billy “shot blockin’” Buczek, Ben Tennant (who is described as “VERY old school”), George “the nose” Martin, Brendan “Cougar” Boland, and Omar “I don’t know how to pass” Bahur.
#7 GESU Jazz
There’s no stopping the lake-effect storm coming from downtown with all-star shooters like GP DiGiannantonio and Danny Murphy. And good luck trying to get dirty in the paint with these guys. Players like JP Purcell and Jack Straniero are not afraid to toss hands.
The Gesu Jazz expect nothing but W’s this season. Also be sure to pay attention to Robby “Robizness” Soeder, Trey “Truffle” Burke, and Nick “Papi” Neroni to name a few.
#8 St. Bernadette
The Bulldogs are a bit underrated, and will look to make some noise on the west side of Cleveland. The big man in the middle is Mike “The Punisher” Bodnar, who stands at an imposing 6’3”, 245 pounds. Bodnar is almost unstoppable in the post even for his shy demeanor.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Elf, I want you to think of Miles Finch, the “angry elf.” That character pretty much sums up SG Kyle “hard foul” McCafferty.
Canisius lacrosse commit Alex “Hype Man” Hornung is a rebounding machine, but he can’t shoot to save his life. What Hornung lacks in shooting, Danny “White Mamba” Sullivan makes up for it.
Rounding out the starting five is Anthony “BB” Bshara. Bshara thinks he plays for Real Madrid, and will often be found sporting soccer jerseys in pregame.
#9 Holy Family
Holy Family is a little-known parish, but they are trying to put themselves on the map with a big year.
Gary “Crazy Horse” Montgomery is an AAU All-star. It isn’t certain whether Saunders plays Point Guard or Power Forward, but he’ll make moves so smooth that you’ll know that for sure that he’s a baller.
Will Csiszar turned into a man at the age of 12, and it’s only been uphill from there. Chris “Golfer” Deucher is the most gentleman-like player on the court and the moms in the stands constantly check him out.
Allen “Curry” Varghese is known as such not because his performance imitates that of Stephen Curry, but because he enjoys a nice plate of chicken curry. He’s a big-time baller that shouldn’t be overlooked.
You can’t forget about Brian “Cheeks” Harrigal, who was last seen in “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and has extended his talent from the theater to the court. BH gains his power through the inflation of his cheeks.
Ryan “OSU” Karle has never seen a shot he doesn’t like and his tongue has never seen the inside of his mouth. “You know what, dude? You’re garbage.” is his favorite quote when sinking in a 3 in the face of an adversary.
Kaveer “Tupac” Shekar, the Major League Gamer, is extending his talents from his computer to the court. “Big Daddy” Lancaster joined in the last minute as an attempt to revitalize his career. From football to Basketball, his use of hands it tremendous.
Finally, Austin “Green Monster” Gilner is a Varsity B Rugby Superstar. He is known for having the best kicks on the team and believes that better shoes make a better player.
#10 OLA Cougars
No CYO Power Rankings could be complete without at least two teams of West Park boys. It is also no surprise that these guys had so many wins last year, they couldn’t even count them.
Johnny “Deuce” Lenehan’s great jumper and ungodly ball handling skills along with Caleb Geiger’s good mid-range game makes the Cougars a team a tough team to beat.
Jimmy Andrews will bring in his football prowess and jump shot, only bolstering this teams roster. With the addition of some St. Ed’s “athletes,” you can expect some questionable and risky gameplans. The Cougars apparently “have no weaknesses” according to “Cal” Geiger.
#11 Saint Joseph Vikings
With all players returning from last season, the Saint Joseph Vikings already know each other’s’ playing styles. The Vikings have decided not to reveal last year record, but went on to note that they “will probably lose every game” this season.
Chris “Yaco” Yacobucci is the planned team MVP by the end of the year at 4’11, 240 pounds.
Adam Kaye, Sebby Deban, David Scheatzle, and Eddie Thompson make this team possess the talent of ‘96 Bulls, but with a planned record of the 2015 76ers.
The wild factor, Ryan Schumacher, has so little known about him that he may be turn out like Chef Curry or just be a bust.
#12 St. Paschal Baylon Knights
Coming off a 22-0 season, the St. Paschal Baylon Knights plan to take it all again this year. This team of juniors aims “to be in the top three in [their] division” and head down to Cincinnati for states.
The Getty boys, Tom, Mike, and Sean, seem to have an uncanny connection, almost as if they were all related, allowing them to pass down the court like no other.
Add in guys like Mike Hyland, Nick Ferritto, and Michael Abate and you have a monster of a team.
The Knights see their biggest strength as their middle, which is great at rebounding and scoring inside the paint, mainly from the effort of forward Michael Abate.
A state victory may be possible if the Knights can break the tension between all the Gettys claiming to be the best and improve Justin Cooney to the point to which he is no longer described as a weakness.