As the high school football season really gets underway tonight (with a few appetizers last night), here are a few quotes and tidbits that didn’t make it into the Federal and Portage Trail Conference season previews that appeared in Thursday’s paper.
Federal League –
Whoever climbs under center tonight for Lake (at Green at 7 p.m.) to start the season may not necessarily be “the guy” for too long. Coach Jeff Durbin says it’s been a four-man race, and the staff has gone back and forth on who stands as the front-runner throughout the summer.
Senior Guy Nolan has done everything he can off the field to prepare him for the starting nod, according to Durbin.
“He’s worked extremely hard, never misses a workout and is always in the weight room,” Durbin said. “In that sense, he’s done all he can do to be the guy. Now there are things that quarterbacks do that he has to get better at [on the field].”
Nolan is joined by two juniors, Matt Chriswell and Cody Miller and sophomore Adam Dadach.
New Canton McKinley coach Todd Filtz knows Massillon football rules the area. He wants to bring an intensity that hasn’t been seen in quite a time to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“We’re at one of the best programs in not only the state but the entire country,” Filtz said. “We’ve got a very intense coaching staff that’s passionate about this sport. When you mix those two things, we’re looking to get better every day. And with the expectations of this program,. We’re getting after it pretty good on the practice field.”
McKinley opens the season against Walsh Jesuit Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Jackson coach Beau Balderson, aside from transitioning from a run-dominated offense to a more balanced attack in 2012, is hoping to “reload” instead of “rebuild” after losing nine of 11 offensive starters from a year ago.
“We lost a lot of seniors, especially on the offensive side of the ball,” Balderson said. “We’re reloading them. The kids are on the same page, so you hope to get the opportunity to reload. But we’re going to have to win games from the defensive side of the ball, where we’ve got a lot of kids returning.”
Portage Trail Conference –
New Norton coach John Tanksley hasn’t held the reigns of the Panthers for long, but he’s already seen some key differences in the attitude of his football team compared to last year’s version.
“We’re stronger and faster from watching film, from what I can see,” Tanksley said. “We’ve worked harder than last year, I know that. We’re much more dedicated to the program, much more disciplined.”
“Coach Tank,” as he’s known, is looking for a new mentality team-wide to show itself starting tonight against Chippewa.
“We need to work on our aggressiveness,” he said. “We need to work on being a little tougher. Right now, these kids are great. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do. They just gotta do some things on a regular basis consistently.”
New (and former) FIeld coach Matt Furino is looking at two sophomores to lead the way at quarterback, the strong-armed Caleb Wohlwend and dual-threat Preston Semler.
“This is a tough decision,” Furino said. “One day I think it’s one, one day it’s the other. Caleb is tall and he delivers some real nice passes. Preston is probably one of the fastest kids we have on the team as far as speed and running and doing things like that.”
Coventry coach Jerami Hodgkinson has a quarterback dilemma of his own with junior Devin Elekes and senior J.J. Morrison vying for the starting job.
Kent Roosevelt has its quarterback situation under control with Pittsburgh commit Tra Chapman. It’s the wide receivers that need to sort themselves out.
Roosevelt has Trei Thomas (who holds scholarship offers from Kent State and Akron) and Zak Janus returning. In John Nemec’s wide-open offense, two spots are up for grabs and “a lot of kids are trying for those two positions and they are wide open.”
One front runner is junior Kardell Jackson, who played defensive back for two years and is moving to the other side of the ball.