Talked to a few Suburban League football coaches today for our upcoming preview section. Here is what is going on at Copley, Medina Highland and Tallmadge...
Copley head coach Ron Viscounte is excited as he looks at his offensive line. Five kids return with starting experience including senior Jamie Schoenewald, junior Karl Hiss, junior Joe Connolly, and senior Cody Goodman.
The depth and experience across the front should allow the Indians skill players to thrive, Viscounte said.
``Offensively I feel pretty good about it,’’ Viscounte said. ``Defensively we have some great athletes, but they are untested so far. They are inexperienced.’’
Junior receiver Shawn Taylor is one player that Viscounte expects to make a difference this season. The 6-foot, 180-pounder is fast, with `` great hands and great concentration on the football.’’
Seniors: reciever Martel Durant, running back Dom Dixon and wide receiver Aaron Patterson will also help add punch to the offense, but who will get them the ball?
A quarterback competition between Sophomore Louie Gigliotti and Junior David Borchik is still undecided.
Borch is physically stronger, but Louie has the stronger arm of the two,’’ Viscounte said.
Viscounte also had high praise and expectations for junior linebacker-running back Sam Wheeler.
He is a ``Kid to watch out for on both sides for the ball,’’ Viscounte said.
Wheeler put on about 25 pounds since last year and won the state in Greco-Roman wrestling over the summer.
Viscounte called him a ``tough, physical player.’’
MEDINA HIGHLAND HORNETS
The question mark for this years Highland team is quite obvious: How will the Hornets offset the losses of West Virginia-bound Chris Snook and Ashland-bound Tyler Houska?
"There are players who have to step up from supporting cast roles to leadership roles,’’ coach Tom Lombardo said. "They have the athletic ability and talent to do it.’’
This year’s offense all starts with senior tailback Aaron Maslowski, who was an integral part of last year’s offense as well. The Hornets will find ways to get the ball into his hands, as he will play some slot receiver as well.
Senior Andrew Kronenberger, who was a backup receiver last year, is playing well throughout the first few weeks of practice, Lombardo said.
Perhaps just as important as the losses of Snook and Houska was the loss to graduation of quarterback Nick Knerem.
The three-year starter was an undervalued steady hand to their offense. Senior Anthony Petrilla and sophomore Jerry Scholle are both vieing to replace him, although both will probably see time, Lombardo said.
TALLMADGE BLUE DEVILS
It’s hard telling what type of football team Tallmadge football coach Joe Vassalotti will have this season. At this point he isn’t even sure.
``We are just inexperienced overall,’’ Vassalotti said Thursday in a phone interview. ``We have over half of our positions up for grabs.’’
Such is the life when 20 starters graduated off last year’s team. Tallmadge graduated 24 football players in all.
The Blue Devils return just two starters off last year’s team in the form of linebacker-fullback Steven Reedy and wide receiver-defensive back Phil Emling. Even they have been absent though from practice though.
Reedy is battling a hamstring injury that his held him out of practice thus far. Emling just recently returned from a national baseball tournament and is in his first week of practice.
With so many question marks, Vassalotti is not sure which way to go on offense this season. The Blue Devils are traditionally an I-formation team. If they offensive line can block consistently than they will stay that way. If not, expect the Blue Devils to spread the field a bit more, he said.
Defensively, Tallmadge will have an advantage in the trenches where seniors Kevin Barger and Eddy Simmons are expected to be playmakers.
One thing that Vassalotti does have in his favor though, is the winning tradition that has been instilled in the Tallmadge community over the past few seasons.
``Our kids kind are hungry to carry on (that) tradition, because we made the playoffs the last five years in a row,’’ Vassalotti said.