Derrius Guice Jersey

Derrius Guice heard the whispers about his absence while recovering from knee surgery last season. He hadn’t been around the Washington Redskins facility much, because he needed to be close to Dr. James Andrews’s institute in Florida after an infection necessitated an additional surgery. Outsiders wondered why he wasn’t rehabbing with the team, unaware of the infection.

Guice now provides not-so-subtle updates in the form of Instagram videos, with the latest showing the running back on a practice field in Ashburn, cutting around five obstacles, ducking under a hurdle, motoring around a wide circle of cones and finishing with a 15-yard sprint.


That progress, plus the re-signing of last year’s leading rusher Adrian Peterson, leaves Jay Gruden with some decisions to make. The Redskins will be in a timeshare situation in the backfield between Guice, Peterson and Chris Thompson, but there’s only one ball to go around.

“That’s an interesting dilemma right there,” Gruden said. “Number one, Guice has got to get healthy. . . . He’s young, I’m sure it’ll be effortless for him to get back in shape, but still, we’re talking about a major knee injury for a running back. So, it’s something we have to really look at and make sure he’s 100 percent. And make sure he still runs with the same type of energy and charisma and effort he played with before the injury, because sometimes those injuries have an effect on you mentally. I don’t think it will with Derrius . . . but still, you never know.”
The plan was to have Guice as the clear-cut No. 1 back as a rookie last season, after he shined during summer and preseason workouts. He was everything the organization hoped for from the second-round pick out of LSU, and he quickly became a fan favorite at training camp, regularly signing autographs well after teammates had left the field. The feel-good story of camp came to an abrupt end when Guice suffered a torn ACL in the first preseason game.

Injuries piled up in the running back room, and Peterson was signed off the street Aug. 20. No one truly knew how much the 33-year-old future Hall of Famer had left in the tank before Peterson ran for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns, becoming the Redskins’ top offensive weapon. The team re-signed him to a two-year deal and now have to figure out how best to use him and Guice together.

“Having AP back is nice,” Gruden said. “He rushed for over 1,000 yards. He’s a little bit older, but he doesn’t look it. He’s in great shape. Saw him the other day. It’s a great dilemma to have those two guys.”

Guice is the future of the position and brings a blend of speed, strength and agility after rushing for more than 2,600 yards and 26 touchdowns in his final two years at LSU.

Peterson, however, is one of the best running backs ever to put on an NFL uniform, and he proved durable in 2018 and capable of still handling a full workload. He became the focal point of a run-first Redskins team that looked to win games by limiting turnovers and relying on a staunch defense. That seems to be the likely blueprint for 2019 as well, with quarterback Alex Smith likely to miss the entire season and Colt McCoy and Case Keenum competing to replace him.

[Landon Collins will wear jersey No. 20 for Redskins, not Sean Taylor’s No. 21]

Peterson, though, is a physical runner who wears down a defense and is often most dangerous in the fourth quarter after having already accumulated 15-plus carries. Gruden will have to figure out a way to best utilize the strengths of Peterson and Guice, while Thompson works in on third downs and passing situations. The coach also said he wants to get former fourth-round pick Samaje Perine more chances after he earned just eight carries last season.

“The guy who I really want to see is, who everybody thinks he’s in my doghouse, is Samaje,” Gruden said. “Samaje has not gotten the opportunities, I’m upset about that. That’s my fault. But I have not given up on Samaje. He’s young, he’s strong, he’s physical and I need to see him take that next step.

Gruden doesn’t expect Guice to be full-go until training camp, so there will be summer opportunities for Perine. The plan is for Guice to go through individual drills during organized team activities and see how he feels for mandatory workouts.

Peterson and Guice developed a relationship last season, and the youngster plans to train with the veteran in Texas this summer. Both are competitors, but there’s been no animosity as they enter 2019 with an eye on the same snaps.

Now it’s on Gruden to figure out how best to divvy those up.

Da’Ron Payne Jersey

When the Washington Redskins selected Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne with the 13th choice in the NFL Draft on April 26, they had Oct. 21 in mind.

Washington squares off against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday in one of the NFL’s premier rivalries. But the Redskins haven’t beaten the Cowboys in the past two seasons.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott is a big reason for Dallas’ success. Second in NFL this season with 586 rushing yards, Elliott has run for 330 yards and five touchdowns on 74 carries in three games against Washington — all victories for the Cowboys.

Washington Redskins nose tackle Da'Ron Payne (95) tackles Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey during an NFL game on Oct. 14, 2018, at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

“Defensively, we’ve got to stop the run.” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said during his Monday press conference. “I think that’s the Achilles heel. That’s part of the reason we drafted Da’Ron Payne was for games like this — for Zeke Elliott and the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, Saquon. I think stopping the run, we have had marginal success, but not good enough against the Cowboys.”

Washington had the worst rushing defense in the NFL last season, and with the Giants bringing Penn State running back Saquon Barkley into the NFC East with the second pick in the draft, the Redskins knew stopping the run would become only more important in 2018.

“When you have a weakness, you’ve got to address it,” Gruden said. “Da’Ron Payne was, we thought, the best run-stopper — him and Vita Vea — in the draft, and we were lucky to get him. Obviously, we paid it huge consideration for adding a player of that caliber.”
Payne won’t be the only former Alabama defensive lineman getting his first taste of the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry on Sunday. End Jonathan Allen missed both Dallas-Washington games last season, when a foot injury ended his rookie campaign after five games.

The Redskins used the 17th selection in the 2017 NFL Draft to obtain Allen, and he and Payne rank first and second, respectively, among Washington’s defensive linemen in snaps played this season.

Allen has 16 tackles and two sacks and Payne has 17 tackles and two sacks in 2018.

With a sack against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 23 and another against the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 8, Payne became the first Redskins’ rookie interior lineman to register sacks in consecutive games since sacks became an official stat in 1981 and the first Washington player to do so since outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan in 2011.
“If it was just an ordinary guy, we wouldn’t have taken him in the first round,” Gruden said. “But we felt like he could be a dynamic not only run player, but also help us in the pass rush.”

Ryan Kerrigan Jersey

Washington Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has had a fantastic career. What else does he need to do to find himself in the Hall of Fame?

For some reason, Washington Redskins pass-rusher Ryan Kerrigan has always been overlooked and under-appreciated in his career. Maybe it’s his quiet demeanor in the national media. He seems like a fun guy and solid leader, but you won’t see him in many national ad campaigns or making the news for anything crazy. It could also be the simple fact that he’s on the Redskins. They haven’t exactly been elite in the 2000s, so some might not pay attention to their players as much.

Of course, it could be his draft class as well. Looking back, the 2011 NFL Draft was absolutely stacked with star power. Cam Newton was the first overall pick, and the first round alone featured a ridiculous amount of fantastic players.

Before the Redskins took Kerrigan at No. 16, a lot of future stars were taken. After Newton, Von Miller, Marcell Dareus, A.J. Green and Patrick Peterson rounded out the top five. Julio Jones was taken with the sixth pick and Tyron Smith was No. 9. Then there was J.J. Watt at No. 11, with Nick Fairley at No. 13. Finally, Robert Quinn went with the 14th pick and Mike Pouncey at the 15th were the last two selections before the Redskins were on the clock.
Technically, Washington had the 10th overall pick, but traded back with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who took Blaine Gabbert in that spot (a rare miss in this first round).

Whatever the reason truly is, the fact of the matter is Kerrigan tends not to get the recognition he deserves. Currently, the Purdue product has 84.5 sacks in his career. That puts him just 6.5 away from Dexter Manley for the Washington Redskins franchise record. It also puts him three away from entering the top 50 in NFL history.

That may not seem like much, but Kerrigan’s only 30 years old. Not only that, but he’s been more consistently dominant in recent years as compared to his first few seasons. There’s every reason to believe he could at least flirt with entering the top 20 before the end of his career. For reference, Simeon Rice is currently in 20th place with 122 sacks, meaning Kerrigan’s just 37.5 sacks away from tying him.
While that may seem like a lot, that shouldn’t take too long for the Redskins star. His worst sack total came in his rookie season with 7.5. He followed that up with two straight 8.5-sack campaigns, then jumped to a career-best 13.5. After that, he posted 9.5 sacks in 2015. Kerrigan has posted double-digit sacks in each of the three seasons since then, coming in with 11 in 2016, and 13 each in 2017 and 2018.

On top of all that, he’s got 25 forced fumbles in his career. That already puts him in 37th place on the all-time list. This is another list he could climb fast in, as the leader is Robert Mathis with 54.

To be fair, forced fumbles aren’t a stat that have been tracked for all that long. However, it’s still an impressive feat and one that exemplifies Kerrigan’s greatness. The linebacker averages just over three forced fumbles a season. Therefore, if he keeps up that pace he could be in the top 10 in less that five years.

Fun fact, he also has three career interceptions. All three have gone for touchdowns.

In keeping with his character, Kerrigan is underrated when it comes to his run defense as well. This makes him a player that the Redskins don’t need to take off the field for certain sets – meaning he’ll get plenty of playing time in the future. Of course, that’s never been a problem before as he’s never missed a game.

So what exactly does Ryan Kerrigan need to do to get into the Hall of Fame one day? Continue to stay healthy. As long as he can do that, he’ll produce. In eight seasons, he’s recorded 84.5 sacks and 25 forced fumbles. That means he’s averaging over 10.5 sacks per season.

If he can keep with his averages, Kerrigan will be in the top 10 in NFL history in forced fumbles within the next five years. Meanwhile, he’ll be in the top 20 in NFL history in career sacks in less than four seasons. He’d reach the top 10 (137.5 by Richard Dent and John Randle) in just over five seasons.

It’s hard to imagine someone in the top 10 in forced fumbles and somewhere near the top 10 in sacks not finding his way to Canton.

He’s only gotten better in recent years too, producing more than his career-average in sacks in each of the last three years (and four of the last five). So while that 137.5 sacks may seem far away (53 sacks), it’s not out of reach for Kerrigan. Yes, players tend to decline at some point in their careers and it’s unfair to act like Kerrigan won’t. However, as shown by players like DeMarcus Ware, Jason Taylor, Michael Strahan, Julius Peppers and Bruce Smith, you can still be an extremely effective pass rusher at an older age.
There’s plenty of reason to believe Kerrigan could still be putting up decent numbers in seven or eight years.

Ryan Kerrigan is the superstar no one talks about. Fans of other teams rarely mention him, and some fans of the Washington Redskins don’t appreciate him enough. By the end of his career though, he’ll be closer to the top of a lot of all-time lists than you’d probably imagine. If Kerrigan wants to make it into the Hall of Fame, all he has to do is keep playing.

Jordan Reed Jersey

The Washington Redskins made their big splash this offseason when they signed free agent safety Landon Collins to a six-year deal. While this filled a position of need, there are still some glaring holes on the roster.

One of those holes is at wide receiver, and getting a veteran like Jordy Nelson should be a top priority now.

alex smith

Last season, the Washington Redskins passing attack was almost non-existent. They finished with just over 3,000 passing yards (this does include sacks).

Sure, you could chalk it up to the injuries they had at quarterback – but that’s simply not a great excuse. In the 10 games Alex Smith played, he had 2,180 yards in the air. The Redskins weren’t exactly on-pace for record-breaking numbers.
Besides, at the moment – Washington’s still not carrying much weight at the quarterback position. Maybe some extra help at receiver could make a difference though.

Last season – the Redskins had just one player with over 50 receptions (only two others topped 30). They also had just two players with over 500 receiving yards (they were also the only two with over 400 yards.

For the record, Jordan Reed was the one player with over 50 receptions (54). Josh Doctson had 44 and Chris Thompson (a running back) had 41. The next two men on that list were Jamison Crowder (29 receptions) and Maurice Harris (28), both aren’t on the team anymore.
Yards wise, Reed had 558 and Doctson had 532. The next highest was Crowder (again not on the team anymore) with 388.

This is clearly a problem and something the Washington Redskins need to address as soon as possible. They’re not in a great position when it comes to cap space, but they have enough to make something work.

That’s where Jordy Nelson comes in. He’ll be 34 before the start of next season and isn’t the same player he was a few years ago. That means the Redskins won’t have to break the bank to get him.

Now, I know that sounds unappealing. An aging receiver who isn’t his former Pro Bowl self.
Look at the stats though. Nelson appeared in 15 games for the Oakland Raiders last season. He did so with weird sporadic playing time as well. There was also an unusual culture surrounding the team, and while the QB situation was better than Washington’s, let’s not pretend like there wasn’t controversy at the position.

Despite all that, Nelson trumped any receiver of Washington’s when it comes to stats in 2018. His 63 receptions were nine better than Redskins’ leader Jordan Reed. Meanwhile, his 739 yards were 181 yards more than the leader (Reed again).

Custom Jordan Reed JerseyThe saddest part though? Nelson’s three touchdown receptions were one more than anyone on the Redskins. If you need anything non-stat related, at 6-3, Nelson would be the tallest wide receiver on the Redskins not named Cam Sims (who has no NFL stats).
Jordy Nelson isn’t the superstar wide receiver he was from 2011 through 2016. He’s still an exceptionally talented player though. He gives the Redskins something they don’t have in multiple categories.Custom Jordan Reed JerseyThe saddest part though? Nelson’s three touchdown receptions were one more than anyone on the Redskins. If you need anything non-stat related, at 6-3, Nelson would be the tallest wide receiver on the Redskins not named Cam Sims (who has no NFL stats).
Jordy Nelson isn’t the superstar wide receiver he was from 2011 through 2016. He’s still an exceptionally talented player though. He gives the Redskins something they don’t have in multiple categories.

Nelson would be a veteran leader at the position. One who has seen it all and done it all. He also gives them size and range as someone who can be an at least semi-legitimate deep threat. His hand present an upgrade as well.

Nelson’s 71.6% catch rate last season (percentage of targets thrown his way he caught) was higher than any non-running back on Washington with more than 10 targets.

To be fair, Trey Quinn had a bonkers 90% catch rate, but only had 10 targets.
Jordy Nelson would immediately become the Washington Redskins top receiver. He would fit nicely with Doctson on the outside, and could probably teach him a thing-or-two as well.

They’d also be nice compliments to Quinn and Paul Richardson who would give the Skins more quickness.

In the end, Nelson would help everyone involved. He’d make life easier for the quarterback (whoever that ends up being) as they’d have a true veteran and reliable target at receiver.

He’d also take a ton of pressure off Doctson to perform and free up Reed from less double-team coverage.

Although many may believe his best years are behind him, Jordy Nelson is still in the NFL for a reason. The 33-year-old can still produce – and he’d be an extremely welcome addition to the Washington Redskins.

If they were smart, they’d scoop him up before someone else inevitably does.

Josh Norman Jersey

On Wednesday, the Redskins made a few obvious roster moves – releasing Zach Brown and Stacy McGee – that cleared up a nice chunk of cap space.

Moving forward in free agency, the team still can make a couple of other similar transactions – names like Vernon Davis and Mason Foster come to mind – that would free up additional cash.

halsellonnorman.jpg

However, some fans are wondering if a surprise cut is coming, one that would involve a major player on the roster and really impact Washington’s budget for bringing in new talent. And the player mentioned most often for this type of decision is Josh Norman.

But is getting rid of Norman to save $8.5 million the most logical option for the Redskins? Perhaps not.

Here are three reasons why dropping the corner isn’t the best idea.
1) His contract can work this year

Between Norman and Landon Collins, the ‘Skins have an unusually high amount of cash allocated to the secondary. Still, that situation can function for 2019.

On the Redskins Talk podcast Wednesday, NFL financial expert J.I. Halsell explained that Collins’ $4 million cap hit means the Burgundy and Gold can handle both he and No. 24 together.

According to Halsell, the franchise doesn’t really have to make a call on Norman until 2020, when he’ll still be expensive, and Collins’ price jumps more than $10 million. In 2019, though, the arrangement is tenable, thanks largely to how cheap the defense’s front seven is.
2) He’s a playmaker and they don’t have many

Norman hasn’t fully thrived in D.C. in his three years since popping as a Panther, but he’s been pretty effective in two of his three seasons and is coming off what looks like his best campaign in Washington.

In 2018, the DB picked off three passes, forced three fumbles, and scooped up a loose ball, too. Those are valuable, game-altering plays for a unit that doesn’t contain many guys beyond him, and hopefully now Collins, producing those kinds of highlights.

While he’s being paid to be a top-level corner and hasn’t matched that compensation as of yet, he’s been a positive influence on the defense. Plus, who knows? Maybe new secondary coach Ray Horton can unlock more from the veteran.
3) Who would fill his spot?

The Redskins are already inexperienced on the outside with Norman. Without him? They’d be insanely young.

Quinton Dunbar is the second-most proven player on the depth chart, and he’s a once-converted wideout coming off a mysterious shin injury. After him is third-year pro Fabian Moreau and then three CBs who will all be entering their second go-round in the NFL.

Would it be nice to have $8.5 million more to use to address left guard or receiver? Absolutely. But is that money worth draining an already thin spot? Not really.

The best path for the Redskins is to keep Norman for 2019, see how he fits alongside his new All-Pro safety and then reevaluate next March. Cutting Norman now would likely do much more harm to the organization than good.

Now, trading him is another story, because at least they could justify getting rid of his skills to bring in another useful commodity. Yet an outright release would be a questionable end to his tenure here.

Alex Smith Jersey

Former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury that knocked him out for the remainder of the 2018 season and possibly all of 2019.

Now comes speculation he may never play again. Regardless of whether he does, the Kansas City Chiefs organization and its fans should all be appreciative of his time in Kansas City.

On Thursday, CBS’ Jason La Canfora wrote a column about Alex Smith‘s current team, the Washington Redskins, perhaps trading up in the draft to land Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Smith’s name only pops up once in the entire column when La Canfora writes that Smith is “unlikely to ever play again, but (is) due $54M in guarantees.”

Now, it should be noted that neither Washington nor Smith have come out and said that Smith is unlikely to ever play again. For that matter, no public comments have been made regarding 2019, though it is believed Smith will miss all of it.
Yet, the Redskins actions speak volumes.

Just over two weeks ago, the team announced it was trading for Broncos quarterback Case Keenum with the deal becoming official on March 13th. Plus, the team is being linked to several different quarterbacks in next month’s draft, from Haskins to Missouri’s Drew Lock.

If this is truly the end of Alex Smith’s career, that’s a shame. Alongside head coach Andy Reid, Smith was incredibly instrumental in getting the Chiefs back to relativity post-Pioli. Acquired by the Chiefs on March 12th, 2013, for two second-round draft picks, Smith immediately took over the starting quarterback gig from Matt Cassel.
In the four years preceding Smith’s Kansas City arrival, the Chiefs went 23-41, finishing last in the AFC West three times while making the postseason once. In the five years with Smith under center, the Chiefs went 50-26 (he missed a couple of games), winning the AFC West twice, reaching the postseason four times, and never suffering a losing season. In 2015, he led the Chiefs to their first playoff victory in 22 years.

Simply, he put the Chiefs back on the map. Sure, he didn’t do this alone. With Reid and, at first, John Dorsey, the Chiefs built a solid foundation that thrives today. But the franchise was missing an important, vital piece: a capable, winning quarterback, something the team hadn’t employed since the last days of Trent Green.

By acquiring Smith, a quarterback who had endured a roller-coaster seven-year tenure with the San Francisco 49ers, the team that drafted him number one overall way back in 2005, the Chiefs changed all of that. And while he didn’t lead the Chiefs to the Super Bowl (or even the AFC Championship game), he helped guide the team back into relativity.

In 2017, his last with the Chiefs, in addition to throwing over 4,000 yards and 26 touchdown passes versus only five interceptions, he mentored his eventual successor, the kid whose ascent enabled the Chiefs to deal Smith to the Redskins last offseason.

So, here’s to Alex Smith, the franchise’s third all-time leading passer. Chiefs fans are forever in your debt for leading them back into the daylight after the dark days of Scott Pioli’s reign.

Under Smith, an entirely new generation of Chiefs fans got to enjoy playoff football, even if it always ended in heartache. (But isn’t that the most important of fandom, suffering that?) From 2013-2017, the Chiefs reached the playoffs four out of five years. The franchise hadn’t done that since 1990-1995 when the team made six straight appearances.
It didn’t only happen because of Smith, but he was the most important piece to that puzzle. Regardless of whether his NFL days are done, it’s important to remember that he turned around this once proud, then a mess of a franchise.

If not for Alex Smith, the Kansas City Chiefs would not be where they are today.

Trent Williams Jersey

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio — Solon has not lost a boys basketball game since it last faced Mentor.

Trent Williams watched, as he did for more than a month while the Comets went 5-4 during the senior guard’s absence. He returned to the lineup Feb. 8 against Medina — the same team in which he injured his wrist against on Jan. 4 — and invigorated Solon.

“Our energy wasn’t where it usually is,” Williams said Saturday night after a 78-57 sectional final win at Willoughby South, “so I just tried to pick it back up when I got back.

The Comets (16-8) have won seven straight games and get another shot at Mentor, the top-seeded squad in the Division I Euclid District. They meet Wednesday in the tournament semifinals.

An upset win for the fourth-seeded Comets, and they can continue their bid for a return to Columbus.

During the streak, they own wins against St. Edward, Shaker Heights, Medina and now Willoughby South — all ranked teams in the final cleveland.com Top 25 — with Saturday’s win against the Rebels.

“It’s been an easier adjustment than I thought,” coach Tony DeCesare said. “One of the things we talked to the guys about was when he returns, he’s going to take a lot of minutes, he’s going to take up a lot of shots, guys’ roles are going to change and everyone’s going to have to be OK with that.”

They were.

Williams is one of four starters back from last season’s run to the state finals. The new starter among that bunch had to adjust the most, both when Williams got hurt and when he returned.

Both DeCesare and sophomore guard Marcus Steele think he is better for it. Steele shouldered more of a burden when Williams watched with his arm in a sling, starting with a loss to Lake Catholic at the Scholastic Play By Play Classic in early January.

That nine-game stretch only helped Steele improve for now.

“When Trent came back, that’s a lot of pressure off me,” Steele said. “I just started to open up and create for my open teammates.”

He also is providing more pressure on the defensive end, something DeCesare said his Comets missed from Williams just as much as his 3-point shooting.

See the video above for more on Williams’ return, plus more below as the sectional rounds transition to the district semifinals and finals.

Catch up with updated brackets, takeaways and a daily schedule of the week’s games through the semifinals.

ABOUT THAT MENTOR MATCHUP

Mentor and Solon have played for the last three district championships in Euclid.

Solon has a 2-1 edge in those postseason matchups, but the Cardinals (21-2) won both meetings this season. They also got a head start on familiarizing themselves with Euclid’s gym, beating Mayfield in their sectional final Saturday at Euclid because a Division I wrestling district championship was held in their own gym.

DeCesare said he does not plan to ask for an opportunity to practice in Euclid’s gym ahead of Wednesday’s semifinal. Such a special practice is customary for teams in the postseason when their opponent previously played on a neutral site floor.

His seniors had that opportunity as freshmen, when they played St. Ignatius in a regional semifinal at Cleveland State after the Wildcats beat St. Edward in a district final at the Wolstein Center.

DeCesare said he did not think the 20-mile drive north was worth the time for his players, who can practice in their own gym, rest and focus.

Mentor junior guard Luke Floriea scored 26 points and sophomore Luke Chicone had 21 to lead the Cardinals on Feb. 1 in an 83-68 win at Solon. Junior forward Chad Rogers had 27 points in the first matchup, an 81-61 Mentor win, on Dec. 21, 2018.

TURNING OUT THE LIGHTS AT SOUTH

Win or lose, Willoughby South coach Doug Barber knew Saturday marked his program’s last game in its gym. It’s the same gym he played in through 2004, winning Plain Dealer Player of the Year for Lake and Geauga counties.

“You really don’t think about it,” Barber said. “It may hit me because I went here, I played here, it may hit me in a couple weeks. I grew up in this gym. It’s special, but hopefully we have a new gym that we can make more memories moving forward.”

UPSET OF THE NIGHT

For the second straight night, a high seed fell.

Walsh Jesuit handed third-seeded Archbishop Hoban a 57-52 upset in the Division I Barberton District as Tommy Cummings led the Warriors with 22 points. Donovan Morris added 11 for the sixth seed.

Walsh Jesuit will face No. 2 Copley on Thursday. The Indians dispatched Wadsworth, 62-55, behind Sam Emich’s 19 points, VannAuburey Thomas’ 17 and D.J. Jones’ 15.

Walsh Jesuit’s win at Hoban follows Aurora’s upset of second-seeded Gilmour on Friday in the Division II Stow District.

Meanwhile Tallmadge beat No. 2 Louisville in the Division II Canton District. The Blue Devils advance to reach the Fieldhouse in Canton.

STATEMENTS OF THE NIGHT

Cleveland Heights closed the regular season with a tough loss at Garfield Heights. Earlier last month, the Tigers fell to East Tech on a buzzer-beater by D.J. Harrell.

They didn’t let it get nearly that close.

Nigel Martin scored 22 points, Jae’Lyn Withers had 18 and Cleveland Heights blew past the Scarabs, 84-46.

Heights outscored the Senate League champs 49-19 in the second half. The third seed in the Euclid District, Heights will face No. 2 Brush on Thursday.

Ronnier Barrett-Reed scored 27 points and Avon ran away in the Elyria Catholic District’s four-vs.-five matchup. Coach Kevin Sapara’s Eagles dispatched Elyria, 75-47.

Avon (16-7) took control with a 23-4 run in the second quarter.

The reward is a district semifinal with top-seeded Lorain, which beat Berea-Midpark behind Devon Grant’s 23 points. The Titans just beat Avon two weeks ago in the last week of the regular season.

Landon Collins Jersey

The Giants signaled they were open for business and making moves for the future by trading Damon Harrison and Eli Apple in October.

Trading defensive co-captain Landon Collins would have raised a white flag.

“It was a touchy situation,” general manager Dave Gettleman told WFAN’s Mike Francesa, recalling the 1-7 record at the NFL trade deadline.

“That was when we were at our nadir. We were just so low. I know that every decision that comes out of the GM and head coach’s office sends a message downstairs. I just felt the message that would be sent by trading Landon would be a bad message. That was my feeling at the time. I’m still glad we did what we did.”

Gettleman has been under fire for not getting a return on Collins, who signed a record-setting six-year, $84 million contract with the Redskins last week.

The best offer the Giants received for Collins was a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, as previously reported by NJ Advance Media. Bleacher Report said the Giants turned down a first-rounder, which Gettleman said “It isn’t even remotely close to being accurate.”

Gettleman spends a lot of energy trying to find the right locker-room chemistry, and he read this situation correctly.

Neither Apple nor Harrison carried the same locker-room presence as Collins, whose respect went beyond any position group cliques.

After the locker room crumbled and led to firings during the 2017 season, Gettleman determined keeping leaders in place for the second half was worth more than a fourth-round pick. Keeping Collins around made coach Pat Shurmur’s job easier by helping root out the me-first thinking and lost confidence in management that led to the 2017 implosion.

“I didn’t think the value was there,” Gettleman said, “and it’s about value, so that’s why we didn’t do it.”

Will Giants keep Eli Manning beyond 2019? GM Dave Gettleman: Saying ’Eli is overpaid and can’t play is a crock’

Think this is the New York Giants’ farewell tour for Eli Manning? Don’t be so sure, says general manager Dave Gettleman.

The Giants won four of their next five games but closed 0-3 with Collins sidelined by shoulder surgery. Collins became an unrestricted free agent when the Giants decided not to franchise tag him.

“I hurt for him,” special teams co-captain Michael Thomas said after Collins was injured. “I respect the hell out of him. I’m proud of the way he has handled this situation and carried himself. He has been the greatest teammate you could ask for.”

On the other hand, not rewarding Collins — a captain, Pro Bowler and good citizen — by even making a serious contract extension offer is something Gettleman might have to explain to his locker room this season. Especially to Sterling Shepard, who will be in a similar spot next offseason.

Look no further than Gettleman’s mistakes handling the Panthers stars to see it could be a real problem if allowed to boil.

“What it was going to cost to sign him, it was the big picture,” Gettleman said. “We thought our best play was to let him go and see what the market would bring and give us a call. And the market went crazy.”

Because of the size of Collins’ contract and his projected role, the Giants likely will get back a compensation pick at the end of the third round in the 2020 NFL Draft. It could be anywhere from 1-32 picks better than the fourth-rounder offered in 2019, though with a year’s delay.

“We are very mindful of that,” Gettleman said. “We’ll get a third-round comp.”

Of course, those words are a Gettleman admission the Giants do not plan to hand out a mega contract in free agency that would offset the loss of Collins in the compensation formula, but the first week of free agency already revealed the Giants’ plan is to look for short-term bargain deals, load up on draft picks and save cap space for 2020.