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Hoban’s Lamar Sperling is Ohio Mr. Football

December 1, 2022
News Release – Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association
For Immediate Release – Dec. 1, 2022
Hoban’s Lamar Sperling is Ohio Mr. Football
Akron Archbishop Hoban running back is the 36th winner of the prestigious award
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Akron Archbishop Hoban senior running back Lamar Sperling has been named Ohio Mr. Football by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association. He is the 36th winner of the award and will lead his team into the OHSAA Division II state championship game Thursday night against Toledo Central Catholic.
Sperling, 5-foot-10-inches and 190 pounds, totaled 141 points in the statewide voting by OPSWA members. Cincinnati Wyoming senior running back/defensive back CJ Hester was the runner-up with 101 points. He will play in the Division IV state championship game Saturday night.
Other Mr. Football finalists included Darreon Fair, Cleveland Heights; Diore Hubbard, Gahanna Lincoln; Jordan Marshall, Moeller; Connor Walendzak, Perrysburg; and Mason Wolfe, Millersburg West Holmes.
Sperling enters Thursday with 3,511 rushing yards and 55 rushing touchdowns, both school records, on 377 carries in 15 games this season. Sperling, a University at Buffalo recruit, also has one receiving TD. 
The Ohio Mr. Football Award was given by the Associated Press from 1987-2016. It has been given by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association since 2017.
The All-Ohio teams will be announced beginning Monday.
The OPSWA was created in 1972 to support, promote and recognize coverage of high school sports across Ohio and is endorsed by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. More about the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association is posted at: https://www.ohsaa.org/news/OPSWA.
Photo Credit: OHSAA
Archbishop Hoban senior Lamar Sperling wins Ohio Mr. Football
'An unbelievable football player': Lamar Sperling of Archbishop Hoban wins Ohio Mr. Football
By Michael Beaven, The Beacon Journal
AKRON, Ohio – When Lamar Sperling enrolled at Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron in 2019 he was a “pretty confident” 14-year-old who loved playing football.
“I wanted to be the best player on the field on every play,” Sperling said Tuesday in an interview with the Akron Beacon Journal.
“Freshman year, I played whatever the coaches asked me to play. I played special teams and a little bit of running back on the varsity team. On the freshmen team, I played running back, cornerback, safety and wide receiver. My expectations were to come in here and be the best I can be and then progress as the years go on.”
Sperling, now 17, has progressed into a dynamic senior running back who has won the Ohio's top individual high school football award – Mr. Football.
The Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association announced Sperling as the winner Thursday afternoon, hours before he plays for a state championship with his Hoban teammates. The OPSWA presents Mr. Football to the state's top player each season. It was voted on over the past week by the more than 200 members of the OPSWA.
Sperling enters Thursday with 3,511 rushing yards and 55 rushing touchdowns, both school records, on 377 carries in 15 games this season. Sperling, a University at Buffalo recruit, also has one receiving TD.
“It is a good feeling,” Sperling said of winning Mr. Football. “People see my true talent and they know what I am capable of, and that is what I have been trying to do my whole high school career.”
Sperling's high school career concludes Thursday night in Canton when Hoban (14-1) meets Toledo Central Catholic (14-1) in the Division II state final at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, at 7 p.m.
“This is a tribute to Lamar and a tribute to everything he has done up until this point,” Hoban coach Tim Tyrrell said. “He is one of the hardest working kids around and he is one of the more humble kids I have ever met, which is even better when you get an award like this and you are so humble.”
Hoban offensive linemen love blocking for humble Lamar Sperling
Sperling is in his third year as a major contributor to Hoban’s varsity team, and is the latest in a long line of talented running backs to suit up for the Knights.
Ryan DeGeorge, Tony Sutton and Tyrell Sutton were standout running backs in the late 1990s and early 2000s at Hoban. The Knights have featured running backs Todd Sibley, Tyris Dickerson, DeaMonte Trayanum and Victor Dawson during a run of five state championships since 2015.
Sperling helped Hoban win a Division II state championship as a sophomore in 2020 and finish as the Division II state runner-up as a junior in 2021. He surpassed Tyrell Sutton, the 2004 Ohio Mr. Football, atop the Hoban single-season rushing record this season. Sutton went on to star at Northwestern and play in the NFL and CFL.
“Lamar has earned everything he gets,” Tyrrell said. “The other huge part of this is I feel really good for his mom [Tameca Lee]. She has done so much for him and he knows that. She is a tough mom and she has made him who he is. He has a great family behind him. His mom is a unique woman. I will tell her when he gets it. It is as much her award as it is his. She is the one who has been taking him to practices since he was little.
“This is also a team award. His offensive line the last couple of years has always loved blocking for him. That is how great of a kid he is. When you talk to the linemen, they say ‘We do all of this for Lamar.’ They really love him.”
Sperling said his offensive linemen have played a large role in his success this season: seniors Drew Holt, Zardakar Zaramo, Keon Johnson, Sal Brugnano and Grant Thompson, junior William Satterwhite and sophomore Nate Cross.
Four different fullbacks – juniors Dominic Bush and Deon Rodgers, sophomore Nick Crawford and freshman Ace Brown – have helped block this season.
“Playing with my teammates is fun,” Sperling said. “Getting all of these yards and racking up touchdowns and winning as a team is fun.”
Sperling ran for 278 yards and four touchdowns on 38 carries on Friday in a 41-20 state semifinal win over Massillon.
“You know you’re not gonna shut him down,” Toledo Central Catholic coach Greg Dempsey said of Sperling earlier this week. “I think you have to get people to the ball, but they’re so capable of hitting you on play action. It’s not like he’s the only weapon they have.
“But in terms of weaponry, he’s definitely a nuclear bomb. He’s dynamic. He’s explosive. He’s powerful. He’s got great balance. He has all the things that defensive coaches hate seeing in a running back.”
Hoban's Lamar Sperling resembles Nick Chubb to an opposing coach
Sperling has 1,425 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns on 152 carries in five playoff wins over Willoughby South, Barberton, St. Vincent-St. Mary, Hudson and Massillon.
“He reminds me very much of what I watch on Sundays with the Bowns and Nick Chubb,” Hudson coach Jeff Gough said of Sperling. “He is very, very tough to bring down. He hands the ball back to the official, goes back to the huddle for the next play and away he goes. … He is a complete player.”
Sperling ran for 308 yards and five touchdowns on 22 carries in a 57-14 first-round win over Willoughby South and 261 yards and four TDs on 28 carries in a 41-13 regional quarterfinal victory over Barberton.
“I have always heard really good things about him,” Barberton coach Tony Gotto said of Sperling. “He is a high character kid and he is pretty quiet from what I have understood, and obviously a beast on the football field. He just takes care of business. He is prototypical of what I tell my boys, if you are good enough, you don’t have to flaunt it. Everybody will tell you how great you are and he is obviously that.
“He is a tough kid. He is not the biggest kid in the world, but if you watch him on film and see him on the field, you know how good he is. He has great balance and great field vision, and he is patient.
“… His endurance is what is most impressive. He is a kid that no matter how many guys hit him, he just keeps going. I mean 38 carries, come on? He will go 32 carries, 28 carries week in and week out. When Hoban needs something to get going, they know who to hand the ball to.”
Sperling ran for 285 yards and five TDs on 28 carries to lead Hoban to a 47-7 regional semifinal win over St. Vincent-St. Mary. He ran for 222 yards and three TDs on 34 carries to lead the Knights to a 28-14 win in the regular season over the Irish.
“He is a great back,” STVM coach Terry Cistone said of Sperling. “If you want to even have an attempt to beat Hoban, you gotta stop him. If you can’t stop him, it is going to be a long night. He is explosive. He has got a burst of speed once he hits the hole. He is fun to watch, unless you’re playing against him.
“... He is a physical running back. He takes hits and you think you have got him down and he gets back up and goes to the huddle and he comes back out and he is back at it.”
Lamar Sperling brings durability, speed, strength to Hoban backfield
Sperling ran for 293 yards and five TDs on 36 carries in Hoban’s 41-7 regional final win over Hudson. Two years ago, he ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in a 31-14 win over the Explorers in a regional final.
“Both years, watching him and his incredible durability and his ability to make guys miss and his ability to break tackles was impressive,” Gough said. “Even when we had a guy unblocked or a plus one defender where we had more guys that they could block, he consistently makes that guy miss or at least if you are going to bring him down, he is going to drag you three or four more yards, which is incredible.
"This year, especially, he had a burst that when he hits his hole – and he has a fantastic offensive line and they do a great job making sure he gets touches – the acceleration is unbelievable. You tip your hat to him. There is no flaw in his game. Against us this year, the first play of the game he caught a 44-yard pass down middle of the field.”
Sperling grew up in Akron and Tallmadge. He played on three youth football teams in Akron – the East Dragons, Ellet Raiders and Northwest Hawks. He also suited up for the Tallmadge Blue Devils pee-wee team.
Walsh Jesuit coach Nick Alexander watched Sperling play the past four years as he helped Hoban top WJ in four regular-season games and one playoff game.
“Lamar is an unbelievable football player that gets a ton of carries and he gets better as the game goes on,” Alexander said. “In my opinion, he is Mr. Football in Ohio. He would have my vote if I had one. He is also an underrated pass catcher.”
Sperling ran for 158 yards and four touchdowns on 27 carries in a 32-20 win over Walsh in the regular season this year.
Hoban beat Walsh twice last year with Sperling running for 272 yards and three touchdowns on 42 carries in 35-34 regular-season win in two overtimes, and running for 357 yards and five TDs on 31 carries in a 49-30 regional final victory.
“He ran against us on the freshmen level the night before the varsity game [in 2019],” Alexander said. “They had a couple of injuries at running back at the varsity level and he ended up playing. That is where we were like, ‘We gotta deal with this guy for the next four years.’
“... The thing about Sperling that is so amazing is he has got all of those carries and you couldn’t tell. I watched last week’s game and he looks like it is Week 1. That is a testament to him and how he takes care of his body.”
Hoban senior Lamar Sperling continues to run towards success
Sperling is a captain this season along with seniors Jason Martin III, Harrison Blay and Holt and juniors Tysen Campbell and Devin Bell.
Tyrrell added that Sperling sits in on coaching meetings to get a better understanding of game-planning, and is always supportive of his teammates.
“Lamar is the first one yelling and screaming ‘Go, Go, Go’ when [juniors] Caleb [Jones] or Xavier [Williams] are scoring a touchdown,” Tyrrell said. “He was so proud of Jay [senior Jayvian Crable] last week when he had a big game against Massillon.”
Sperling thanked his mother, Tameca Lee, step father, Julius Lee, father, Lamar Sperling, and siblings, Tamari, Tamiah, Breya, Julius Jr. and Ayona for their support.
He also cherishes his friends and appreciates the efforts of his coaches, especially Tyrrell, current Hoban assistant Matty Rich and former Hoban assistant Trent Boykin.
“Lamar has put in the work and the extra hours,” Tyrrell said. “He has done everything he is supposed to do with his talent and that is why we are proud of him.”
Michael Beaven can be reached by email at [email protected] and is on Twitter at @MBeavenABJ.
Ohio Mr. Football Winners (including college choice):
1987: Buster Howe, RB-DB-K-P, Zanesville, Ohio State
1988: Robert Smith, RB, Euclid, Ohio State
1989: Robert Smith, RB, Euclid, Ohio State
1990: Bobby Hoying, QB, St. Henry, Ohio State
1991: Derek Kidwell, QB-DE, Fostoria, Bowling Green
1992: Marc Edwards, RB-LB, Norwood, Notre Dame
1993: Curtis Enis, RB-LB, Mississinawa Valley, Penn State
1994: Charles Woodson, DB-RB, Fremont Ross, Michigan
1995: Andy Katzenmoyer, LB, Westerville South, Ohio State
1996: Derek Combs, RB-DB-KR, Grove City, Ohio State
1997: Tony Fisher, RB, Euclid, Notre Dame
1998: Ryan Brewer, RB, Troy, South Carolina
1999: Bam Childress, DB-WR-KR, Bedford St. Peter Chanel, Ohio State
2000: Jeff Backes, RB-DB, Upper Arlington, Northwestern
2001: Maurice Clarett, RB, Warren G. Harding, Ohio State
2002: Ben Mauk, QB, Kenton, Wake Forest/Cincinnati
2003: Ray Williams, RB, Cleveland Benedictine, West Virginia
2004: Tyrell Sutton, RB, Archbishop Hoban, Northwestern
2005: Delone Carter, RB, Copley, Syracuse
2006: Brandon Saine, RB, Piqua, Ohio State
2007: Bart Tanski, QB, Mentor, Bowling Green
2008: Erick Howard, RB, North Canton Hoover, Akron
2009: Erick Howard, RB, North Canton Hoover, Akron
2010: Akise Teague, RB-DB-KR, Youngstown Ursuline, Cincinnati
2011: Maty Mauk, QB, Kenton, Missouri/Eastern Kentucky
2012: Mitch Trubisky, QB, Mentor, North Carolina
2013: Dante Booker Jr., LB, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Ohio State
2014: Joe Burrow, QB, Athens, Ohio State, Louisiana State
2015: Keishaun Sims, RB-DB, Massillon Perry, Ashland University
2016: Michael Warren, RB, Toledo Central Catholic, University of Cincinnati
2017: Joey Baughman, QB, Wadsworth, Elon University
2018: Cade Stover, SS-RB, Lexington, Ohio State University
2019: Evan Prater, QB, Cincinnati Wyoming, University of Cincinnati
2020: Corey Kiner, RB, Cincinnati Roger Bacon, Louisiana State
2021: Drew Allar, QB, Medina Penn State
2022: Lamar Sperling, RB, Akron Archbishop Hoban
### OHSAA ###

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