The University of Akron women’s soccer team kicked off its 2018 season with a 2-1, unlucky loss to visiting Morehead State.

Forward Rachel Baughman (Louisville) put the Zips ahead 1-0 with a goal in the 35th minute. Carly Pcholinsky assisted on Baughman’s score.

In a twist, Morehead State (1-0) tied the game three minutes later as the Eagles were credited with a goal off an Akron own goal header.

Colleen Swift gave the Eagles the 2-1 lead with an unassisted run and goal in the 61st minute.

UA outshot Morehead State 11-7. Zips keeper Bella Henderson had three saves.

Volleyball

Host Findlay beat Kent State in an exhibition game 3-1 Friday night. The Flashes open their regular season next week at the North Texas Invitational.

Anja Savich scored twice as visiting Butler sent Kent State to a 3-1 defeat in the Golden Flashes’ season opener in women’s soccer.

Savich scored the first goal of the season 9:06 into the contest. Three minutes later, Kent State sophomore Isabelle Mihail tied the score at 1-1 when her shot from 16 feet out popped over the keeper.

Maddie Holmes assisted on Mihail’s goal.

Morgan Kloosterman then put the Bulldogs (1-0) up 2-1 at the half with a score in the 40th minute, and Savich finished the scoring at the 54:50 mark to give Butler its final advantage.

Kent State (0-1) hosts St. Bonaventure at 1 p.m. Sunday at Dix Stadium.

Akron football

For the third consecutive year, University of Akron senior Kyle Foster has been named a preseason candidate for the 2018 Peter Mortell Holder of the Year Award.

Foster, who has played in every game of his collegiate career as the holder, was a semifinalist for the award in 2016 and 2017. Foster has never missed or fumbled a snap. In 2015, he assisted kicker Robert Stein, who finished his career as the Zips’ all-time scoring leader.

An Academic All-Mid-American Conference honoree, Foster earned a bachelor’s degree in sport management in May. He is pursuing a master’s degree.

The University of Akron football team begins the process to cement its opening day roster with its last scrimmage of substance Saturday morning.

“I think we’ll get through Saturday and try to make some final decisions [about positions],” UA coach Terry Bowden said after Thursday morning’s practice.

He called the play of presumed starter Kato Nelson very good this week and said the sophomore quarterback is doing the things the coaching staff needs and wants him to do. Nelson will be under a microscope during this scrimmage.

Earlier in camp, it appeared as if sophomore Alex Ramart was giving Nelson a push. Given the stakes, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“I just want him to stay focused every play. I just want him to understand that position doesn’t give you a lot of time to take off a play or two,” Bowden said. “If he does his job and does it like he can do it, he’s our No. 1 quarterback.”

But Bowden added: “I want that position to understand just like everyone else. You better be able to go out there and perform every day.”

Not every key player will play because Bowden and his staff want to get a final look at some younger players before preparation begins for the season opener against Nebraska on Sept. 1. Some players will hit the scout team.

Position change

Bowden announced that senior defensive end Brian Reinke has moved to tight end in an effort to shore up a position that’s been decimated with departures and injuries.

Kobie Booker decided to hang up his cleats before spring ball. Daryl Long, who looked sensational at times during the spring, suffered a season-ending injury and senior Newman Williams is suffering from a nagging injury. Enter Reinke, who played receiver at Copley High School, to fill the void.

“We’re trying to get the best 11 on the field,” Bowden said of the change.

Depth at defensive end has allowed the Zips the luxury of making the change. The camp showing of Justin Sampson, Josh Ward, Dylan Meeks and the addition of graduate transfer Walter Brady have gifted the team with a measure of comfort with their defensive end situation.

Bowden said Reinke will be given a fair shot.

“The opportunity to be a starter is there, we’re not just going to put him in the back of the lineup,” he said. “He’s excited about it and we’re excited about it.”

Summer treat

On a humid, 80-degree day, the ice cream man showed up with his truck, providing tasty treats for the football team, coaches and staff.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips.

The University of Akron football team’s defensive coaches have said without hesitation that the strength of the unit will likely be in the back seven with the linebackers and defensive backs.

That doesn’t mean the defensive line gets to play without expectations. If anything, expectations are higher for the coming season.

They should be. As a team, the Zips had just 22 sacks last year and were not especially great at putting pressure on the passer, which, in turn, pressed the linebackers and secondary.

Zips coach Terry Bowden is expecting a change this season.

“I don’t know how many sacks [we] want, but we should see improvement,” Bowden said after Tuesday morning’s practice at InfoCision Stadium. “I’m as interested in tackles for loss as I am sacks.”

Co-defensive coordinator Todd Stroud agreed.

In short order, he named players on the defensive front for whom he holds expectations. Seniors Brock Boxen (6-foot-3, 295 pounds) is locked in at defensive tackle with DeAndre Brimage (East) behind him.

He’s comfortable at nose tackle with Brennan Williams (6-1, 295 pounds) leading the way currently with Davon’te Jest (6-1, 300 pounds) behind him. Copley’s Brian Reinke, a 6-4, 255-pound senior, and Canton native Jamal Davis II, 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, man the ends, with some help perhaps on the way.

“I think we can roll a lot of guys in there and still be effective and be fresh,” Stroud said.

Davis received third-team All-MAC honors last year. Besting that is a goal for him, but improving the team’s pass rush is job No. 1.

“That’s really been our focus,” Reinke said after practice.

Davis sounds confident they can accomplish that.

“I think our momentum coming into the season is good and our chemistry is better,” he said, “so just keep building on that and become a better team.”

Both agreed that they focused on the run last season when run and pass defense need to be given equal attention.

In the offseason, Bowden brought in former St. Vincent-St. Mary coach Marcus Wattley to coach defensive ends. Wattley, they said, brings with him experience and techniques they’d not used before.

“He’s really like a specialist in teaching you to play with your hands and how to get around offensive linemen with speed,” Reinke said.

Davis welcomes the change.

“I just feel like we’ve got to attack more, mix it up, do different moves and not just bull rush all the time, and I think we’ll get to the quarterback more,” he said.

Davis, especially, is looking to go beyond last year’s accomplishments.

“I just feel it’s way easier now,” he said. “I’m building off what I’ve known, but now with Wattley and Stroud — their minds are incredible — they’re just teaching me a lot more.”

About that help? It comes in the person of defensive end Walter Brady, who joined the team last week as a graduate transfer.

After some hesitant play in last Saturday’s scrimmage, it’s not difficult to see why the UA coaching staff pursued him. In a couple of instances during practice, he was disruptive.

“I’ve been around the block when it comes to being a college athlete,” said Brady, who played for Missouri and Middle Tennessee State. “It’s just getting comfortable within the system and Coach Stroud and my teammates — J.D., Reinke — have all done a good job of implementing me into the system.”

Bowden is starting to see his potential.

“He’s got some talent. He’s had some success,” Bowden said. “Now he just has to go out here and prove himself on our field, so we’re hoping he can add a little something extra on that defensive line.”

Tuesday he proved to be a handful for the Zips’ offensive line.

“I’ve been impressed with his intelligence and today he took a couple of steps forward, and he’ll be able to compete for playing time in there at right end,” Stroud said.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

When you’re a men’s soccer team coming off a Division I national semifinal appearance and one that was undefeated at home in 2017, everybody is going to give you their best shot.

Add to it that Akron comes in ranked fourth nationally in the United Soccer Coaches poll and it’s always going to be a donnybrook when opponents come to town against the Zips.

UA knows it and prepares for it every time it enters Cub Cadet Field.

A Cleveland State team loaded with Northeast Ohioans tried to give the Zips everything it had on Monday, but eventually ran out of power in a 2-0 exhibition win by UA.

Coming off a 1-1 tie with Denver when the Zips scored a goal in the 97th minute, UA didn’t get frustrated when the Vikings packed things in.

Cleveland State put everyone in the box except Lawrence Karpeh in the first half, giving the Zips sizable leads in shots and corner kicks.

They stayed true to the form that has made them a national powerhouse, and eventually figured out the Cleveland State puzzle.

They also found the back of the net just before halftime to go in with a ton of momentum.

The tally came on a nifty give-and-go by David Egbo to Jackson graduate Colin Biros with 4:33 remaining.

Egbo hit Biros on a pass to the left of the box and collected Biros’ pass back to beat Nicklas Rulle to the bottom right post.

Pol Hernandez centered a ball to Diogo Pacheco 10 minutes into the second half to account for UA’s other score.

Coach Jared Embick’s trademark defense held strong as Carlo Ritaccio, Marco Milanese, Daniel Strachan, Leonard Sohn and Marco Micaletto provided a blanket for goalkeeper Ben Lundt in the first half.

Nick McCausland, Daniel Oliveira, Sam Tojaga, Hernandez, Faisal Ghaffur and Ahmed Allen followed suit in the second half to help shut out the Vikings.

The performance could pay huge dividends as UA gets ready to open the season at home against No. 9 Butler on Aug. 24.

The Zips have one more exhibition before their opener against the Bulldogs.

It comes Friday against Big Ten runner-up and 2017 national runner-up Indiana in Fort Wayne, Ind. The Hoosiers come in ranked No. 2 in the United Soccer Coaches poll.

CUYAHOGA FALLS: Ron Owens said he and his Akron University teammates were “heartbroken” after losing the 1972 Division II basketball championship to Roanoke College.

But their disappointment at the end of what Little All-American Leonard Paul calls “The Season” was tempered by one of the most stunning victories in school history in the semifinals and an appreciation of what they’d achieved.

The night before, they had beaten Tennessee State 71-69 in overtime, snapping TSU’s 15-game winning streak. Tennessee State had power forwards Truck Robinson, a future two-time NBA All-Star, and Lloyd Neal, who made the NBA’s all-rookie team the following season and won a championship with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Roanoke, meanwhile, had rolled over Eastern Michigan 99-73 in an infamous semifinal. EMU’s George Gervin, known as the “Iceman” during a Hall of Fame ABA and NBA career, decked Roanoke’s Jay Piccola with his team trailing 81-56.

According to a newspaper account, police came to the arena as a precaution, Gervin was escorted out and Eastern Michigan coach Jim Dutcher resigned after the game. Gervin’s invitation to the 1972 Olympic tryouts was rescinded. Told he was academically ineligible for the next season, Gervin quit school.

“We had almost the ultimate success, losing in the national championship game,” Larry Quarles said. “However, I like to remind people, we beat Tennessee State, who was ranked No. 1, in the game prior. We felt like we kind of spent ourselves a little bit.”

Many members of the 1971-72 Zips still live in Northeast Ohio, but some fly in to join them at frequent lunches, like the one they held at Burntwood Tavern in Cuyahoga Falls in July.

“You can mention something in one game 45 years ago and everybody can experience what it felt like, the elation, the sound,” said Owens, a product of Akron South High who came from Upper Marlboro, Md. “Collective memory is a great part of this experience.”

Quarles, the former athletic director at Warrensville Heights High School, took a flight from Atlanta the night before. Randy Anderson, retired after 39 years of teaching, and his wife, Cindy, drove 250 miles from Port Huron, Mich., that morning and headed back afterward.

“This is his life,” Cindy Anderson said of her high school sweetheart and husband of 45 years.

Larry Jenkins, who attended Cleveland East High School, was touched that when his No. 12 jersey was honored at UA about 15 years ago, a group of about 100 that attended included friends and family and all his teammates.

“That’s what made it so special — all that was missing was my coach,” Jenkins said of coach Wyatt Webb. “They called him my father. They said he always favored me. I did what he wanted me to do.”

About 20 years ago, players from the Webb era and a few from that of his predecessor, Tony Laterza, began getting together every other Wednesday. Many credit Karl Schwarzinger, a former teacher and coach at his alma mater, Archbishop Hoban, who made his living in medical sales, for keeping the contact list current and the invites flowing.

On Oct. 6, they will reunite again, honored at a home football game as UA’s “Team of Distinction.” That likely won’t top their 40th anniversary, a weekend gathering in February 2012 attended by all 13 players that included an unforgettable Friday night dinner at the Sheraton Suites.

“It was indescribable — a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Paul, who lives in Cleveland. “This is a part of us. We are all a part of it. We don’t know what it is, but we know we’re all a part of it.

“I bet you could go around this country and have a difficult time finding this 45 years later. None of us are related, but we’re all brothers. That’s how you feel. When we talk to each other, we’re family.”

Webb and his assistants, Alex Adams and Joe Ungvary, are all deceased. The only player who has passed away is Brian Westover, a Massillon product who made the winning shot against Tennessee State as the Zips rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit.

When they discuss “The Season,” they lament the 84-72 loss to Roanoke in Evansville, Ind., but they have gained perspective.

“Angry? No. Disappointed? Of course. But the way we had to get there took the anger away,” Paul said. “It was three games in three nights. Beat the No. 1 team in overtime. Webb didn’t play a whole lot of players. The six or seven guys were pretty worn out.

“That’s why I wasn’t angry. I still felt we could win, but it wasn’t in us at the end. I shot bad that night. Larry [Quarles] shot bad. That overtime took a lot out of our legs, took a lot out of us.”

Webb played only seven men against Tennessee State, with Paul, Quarles and Wil Schwarzinger going all 45 minutes. Quarles led the Zips with 22 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

Against Roanoke, Anderson totaled 21 points and eight rebounds. Harvey Glover and Wil Schwarzinger had 14 points each and Paul 13. But Paul made 6-of-20 field goals and Quarles 5-of-18 and the Zips shot 30-of-76 as a team. Roanoke made 31-of-67, along with 21-of-26 free throws.

“I had an incredible game. A couple of guys will tell you they did not,” Anderson said. “I played hard. I always said to myself, ‘I had nothing to be ashamed of if I played my best.’

“I was exhausted that game. To the point that I never asked to be taken out of a game, but that game I did.”

Paul Mesko, a Hoban product, said he believes the Zips were also mentally spent.

“What happened in the semifinals was such a climactic win,” Mesko said. “I’m not saying it was a downer for us to play the next game, but it’s hard to come back when you have a signature win like that.

“I think guys were tired. Not only mentally, but physically tired. You’re talking three games in three days, a lot of pressure.”

Akron went 22-5 and made it back to Evansville in 1973, but lost to Tennessee State and Robinson 54-50 in the first game.

As they’ve reminisced, most have come to realize what it meant to play for an NCAA championship.

“How many teams got to play in a national title game? The University of Akron. We were the first in the history of the school,” said George McClain, a Cleveland John Hay product. “I can sit back and say to myself, ‘How many guys made it to the championship game in Division II basketball?’ I don’t want to take anything away from Division II, half of our schedule was Division I schools.”

Tony Werner said he was one of the few Medina High School graduates who played college basketball.

“To move into that level of a championship team was pretty exciting. Of course, you’re disappointed, everybody wants to win a championship,” Werner said in a phone interview. “But after a loss it’s not the end of life. We won more than we lost. You take those life skills into your job.”

Jenkins, an All-American as a freshman in 1970-71, missed all of “The Season” with a thigh injury after being hurt in the preseason. He found it so hard sitting out that he couldn’t listen to the championship game on the radio.

“I’ve always been a person … I took forward to tomorrow,” Jenkins said. “I did everything I could to get better. The day before they left, I was still trying to practice. I was able to practice the last two weeks, but I was still dragging my leg. I wasn’t 100 percent. The coach called me in and said, ‘Jenks, I’m not going to be able to take you with us. It wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the guys who have been here all year.’ I didn’t like it, but I understood.”

As painful as it was to stay home, Jenkins appreciates what his team accomplished.

“Most people don’t get a chance to win a championship or play in a championship game,” Jenkins said. “You look for special things in life because they’re few and far between.”

Marla Ridenour can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.

The rustiness was expected.

The University of Akron football team, which just put pads on Tuesday, held its first full scrimmage Saturday at Info­Cision Stadium.

In addition to knocking off the rust, though, the Zips coaching staff wanted to get a look at some of the younger players — especially on offense — and that, too, can produce some scattershot results.

What about those youngsters?

• The running backs didn’t gain a whole lot against the defense in the morning but, when they were able to get going, Jemarulin Suggs certainly made his presence known.

Suggs, a former East High School standout, doesn’t appear to be a burner, but he runs hard, and when he has an opening, he has a burst of acceleration that allows him to pick up more yardage. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do if he gets more reps.

Fellow freshman running back Keyondre White also had a couple of good, strong runs.

But even with the occasional flash, coach Terry Bowden said he wants to see more. He’s looking for that occasional home-run hitter who can pop for a 50-yard run.

“Can we get someone to not just run into the safety [but] run past him,” Bowden said. “… That’s what we’re still looking for. I don’t think I saw that today like I want to, but I saw some very tough runs.”

Whether veterans Van Edwards and Deltron Sands have that remains to be seen, but it’s something to keep in mind.

• Of the younger wide receivers, Malik Wooldridge connected with quarterback Alex Ramart on a 60-yard reception for a touchdown. Wooldridge, a freshman from St. Vincent-St. Mary, just flat out beat his defender down the seam for an easy score.

Bowden said he liked what he saw of 6-foot-7, 220-pound receiver Brandon Mitchell, who made a couple of catches. Given his size, if he can show consistency, he’d be useful in red zone situations.

And veteran wide receiver Kwadarrius Smith showed he can put his speed to good use. Put him in space, let him work and watch him go. He turned what appeared to be a 7-yard gain into one of more than 25 yards during the scrimmage.

“I’m seeing some of the things we want to see, but as you look at it, I think Kwad and Mitchell made a couple of good plays,” Bowden said.

Other thoughts

The defense is ahead of the offense at this point in camp. That’s not a surprise, but Justin Sampson, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound defensive end from St. Vincent-St. Mary stood out a bit.

Also, the defense forced at least five turnovers, most coming from the running backs, but quarterback Kato Nelson also tossed an ill-advised interception at one point.

“I want the offense to keep coming and challenge the defense,” Bowden said.

About quarterbacks

It’s the first week and everyone is rusty. Well, almost everyone. Right now, 6-foot-3 and 225-pound backup Alex Ramart looks like he could push Nelson for the starting job. Ramart looked crisp and confident on most throws. It could get interesting before camp is over.

Nelson didn’t help his case with a lapse in leadership by being smack dab in the middle of a post-play skirmish that turned physical. That’s something no coach ever wants to see his starting quarterback do.

New guy on the block

Defensive end Walter Brady — a 6-foot-3, 267-pound transfer — played, but not an overwhelming amount. When he and fellow end Jamal Davis II are on the field together, Brady lines up on the left side on the first unit. Any other time, he lined up at right end.

Bowden said the team is easing Brady, a Middle Tennessee State transfer, into the UA system.

“My first impressions, I thought he was pretty good,” Bowden said.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

“I want the offense to keep coming and challenge the defense.”

Terry Bowden

University of Akron coach

When Leonard Paul was cut by Cavaliers coach Bill Fitch on the eve of the 1973-74 season opener, the Little All-American from the Akron didn’t handle it well.

“You talk about anger,” Paul said.

But he coped better than former Ohio State player Allan Hornyak, also let go by Fitch that night. Fitch kept OSU’s Luke Witte, a fourth-round pick, over Hornyak, a second-rounder.

“Hornyak tore the office up, literally … [Fitch] had to call the police,” Paul said in an interview last month.

Paul, 68, never played in the NBA, and he was partially to blame.

After leading the Zips to a runner-up finish in the NCAA College Division tournament in 1972 and another Final Four appearance in 1973, Paul was drafted in the 11th round by the Detroit Pistons. But Paul, 6-foot-4, had grown up in South Euclid and gone on to excel at Akron University (now the University of Akron) after just one year of high school basketball at John Hay. He was one of 10 children. He wanted to play for his hometown team.

After sizing up the Cavs’ roster, he figured he was a lock to make the team. So Paul never reported to the Pistons’ camp.

“We played them three times in the exhibition season and Ray Scott, the coach, told me, ‘I cannot believe you did not come to us,’ ” Paul said.

Paul said he roomed with Lenny Wilkens for a time during training camp and gained the respect of the Cavs.

“In all honesty, everybody knew I had it made. I’m talking about the players — Lenny Wilkens, Austin [Carr], Campy [Russell], they all knew,” Paul said. “It was obvious what was going on. Talent wasn’t an issue at all. That was a major, major mistake.

“I knew who they had on the team and I knew I was better. It never dawned on me that they would cut the local. Not only that, [owner] Nick Mileti was local; he went to John Adams. I asked Bill Fitch, ‘What do I need to go work on?’ ‘Nuthin’ was his answer.”

Paul said the roster spot he thought was his went to shooting guard Johnny Warren, acquired in the expansion draft in 1970 from the New York Knicks. That season would be Warren’s last in the league, and he averaged just 4.3 points, 6.6 in his Cavs career.

“He was the worst guard on the team. Hornyak and I both outplayed him every day in camp,” Paul said.

George McClain, another John Hay product who became Paul’s Akron teammate and close friend after a stint in the Army during the Vietnam War, can see both sides of Fitch’s dilemma.

“They can only carry 12 people. A lot of times, it comes down to ‘How are we going to use him?’ A whole lot of things go into that decision for a coach,” McClain said.

“Leonard was drafted by Detroit, but chose to go to Cleveland, but it didn’t happen for him. I would have gone where they drafted me, but Leonard was a young man. I’m sure if he had to make that decision over, that’s where he would have probably went.”

Paul said he was “really bitter” after being cut by the Cavs, but played basketball into his 40s. Most of it was with the Cleveland Old-Timers, a semipro team that Paul said had franchises in Philadelphia, New York, Detroit, Baltimore, Atlantic City and Brooklyn and barnstormed the East Coast. He went on to coach the Old-Timers, along with one year at John Hay.

Last season, Paul coached the Akron Aviators in a new ABA League.

Paul concedes his life would have been dramatically different if Fitch had chosen him, but he keeps in touch with the ex-Cavs he met in the fall of 1973

“I talk to Austin and Campy, I still see them. We’re good friends,” Paul said. “Basketball is a heckuva fraternity.”

Marla Ridenour can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.

CUYAHOGA FALLS:

They came from Vietnam. From junior colleges. From the streets of Cleveland and Akron and the small towns of Muncie, Ind., and Port Huron, Mich.

When the 1971-72 Akron University (now the University of Akron) basketball team began forming in 1969, it was a volatile time for America. It was not that far removed from 196’6, when Texas Western became the first all-black team to win the NCAA championship, defeating all-white Kentucky. There were riots in Akron in 1968, then a student protest over the U.S. bombing of Cambodia led to the National Guard shootings at Kent State in 1970.

In the midst of it all, the seven blacks and six whites who made up the 1971-72 Zips could see past racial lines. They became brothers, their close relationships carrying them to the NCAA Division II championship game in Evansville, Ind., where their season ended with an 84-72 loss to Roanoke College.

“We had a lot of major issues going on in the country and it was no different here. But we never really experienced it for some reason,” Leonard Paul, a product of John Hay High School in Cleveland, said at a team reunion luncheon in July. “That’s why I always feel that God put us in this situation. Everybody joined together. There weren’t any incidents. Even when Kent had the shooting, there was a lot of turmoil, a lot of fear.

“I was afraid when I came here. Not of people, but of the unknown. ‘Would I be received? Would I be OK?’ Everybody I came in contact with had the same attitude that I did, that you’re a person first. ‘I’m going to check you out and see where you’re coming from.’ Open-minded, basically. We all came from different backgrounds, we had no idea what we were walking into.”

All walks of life

Their backgrounds were diverse. Wil and Karl Schwarzinger didn’t speak English when they immigrated from Salzburg, Austria, when they were 6 and 5, respectively. They initially went to St. Mary’s grade school dressed in lederhosen because they couldn’t afford other clothes.

Another John Hay product, George McClain, was 24 and back from Vietnam when he was assigned to room with Karl Schwarzinger, 18. McClain took Schwarzinger to a couple of back-room poker games in Cleveland, curing Schwarzinger of any urge to gamble in college.

When McClain pulled out a wad of cash and a deck of cards from his leather jacket and said, ‘We have an understanding,’” Schwarzinger recalled. “We’ve been friends ever since.”

The ’71-72 Zips weren’t oblivious to what was going on in the world. Neither was coach Wyatt Webb, who was open-minded in terms of whom he would accept on his team and listened to his players, but was still coming to grips with society’s changes.

“We came at the time of social upheaval,” said Harvey Glover, 67, a pastor for the past 10 years at Light of Christ Ministries in Akron. “I remember standing on the steps when the Black United Students took over Buchtel Hall. Coach Webb came by and saw me there. He didn’t like it, but we talked about it.

“As a group, we had to bring him from the military haircut; he wouldn’t have his hair longer than his ears. We had conversations. He said, ‘I think the only thing I can’t handle is if my daughter would marry a black man.’ She was 2 or 3 at the time. We were coming into this place where interracial marriages were becoming acceptable.”

Team integration

Despite those personal feelings, Paul said Webb integrated the team by changing roommate assignments so all would get to know each other. Marty Hines said Webb hired Adams, a black coach from Firestone High School, to serve as a liaison for the inner-city players.

“I remember every Monday I spent at the Phi Delt house, a white fraternity, with Tom Henry,” Paul said of a black player for the ’70-71 Zips from New York. “We played cards and watched football and drank about three kegs of beer. At that point in time, we started the transition.”

Hines said black players like him from Cleveland hadn’t interacted much with whites when they arrived on campus and found it interesting how the Zips blended.

“The opportunity to play in college was one of the biggest contributors to that cohesiveness. Once you got in there, the people were more interested in basketball than what was happening in the country,” Hines said by phone from Chicago.

“[Webb] did a good job of recruiting; we were pretty much level-headed guys who were happy as hell to get out of Cleveland. The white guys were welcoming. They wanted to learn more than anything else.”

Hines became pals with fellow second-teamer Paul Mesko, a white player from Archbishop Hoban High School.

“I taught him how to dress, how to smoke cigarettes. I bought him a leather coat,” Hines said. “I met his daughter at the [40th] reunion. She walked up to me and said, ‘You must be Marty Hines. My father has talked about you all these years. All the stuff that you taught him and how you guys were cool.’ ”

Sting of racism

Tony Werner of Medina High School recalled the night he followed Leonard Paul into a restaurant in a city on Lake Erie for a postgame meal and Paul quickly walking out.

“Lenny said, ‘We’re not going in there. They won’t serve us,’ ” Werner said. “I said, ‘Why not?’ and Lenny said, ‘Because I’m black.’ For a moment, it did not register. What I felt for the first time was rage. ‘You’re not going to serve somebody because of the color of their skin?’ For me, it became a unifying factor. ‘We’ll demonstrate who we are by what we do.’ ”

Under Webb, lauded for his knowledge of X’s and O’s, they demonstrated who they were with victories. Larry Quarles said he never lost a home game in four years in Lake City (Fla.) Junior College or at Akron. The Zips went from 8-18 in 1968-69 to 26-5 in 1971-72.

They did it by taking their responsibilities seriously. Never a starter, Ron Owens of Akron’s South High cherishes the Most Consistent Attitude award he received and put it on his resume, which includes a stint with the Department of Homeland Security in New York after 9/11.

In the locker room, Webb hung the “Club Board,” divided into categories like Floor Burners, Super Subs and Rebounders. Randy Anderson guessed there may have been 20 groups.

“If somebody got so many rebounds or so many steals or if you got so many blocked shots or took so many charges, you got your name on that board. You not only wanted your name, but you wanted to have check, check, check,” said Anderson, who still lives in Port Huron, Mich. “If you didn’t have your name up there, you weren’t doing your job. Every one of us thought that was a big deal. I know they did because I did.”

Sharing memories

Over the years, many of the former teammates have continued to meet every three months to share meals and memories.

During their frequent get-togethers, they might talk about the day Paul overslept and missed the flight to Rochester, N.Y., for a game at Brockport State. He found some students to drive him — he was one of five packed in a 1960s-model Mustang — and walked in during the pregame meal. Paul jokes that his teammates didn’t try to wake him because they wanted his playing time to get more shots.

They might retell the tale about Wil Schwarzinger and Anderson bribing a maid to let them into the hotel room shared by announcer Don Reed and sports information director Ken MacDonald. They put itching powder in the beds, a tiny explosive in a cigarette and turned an ice bucket filled with water upside down with the use of a tray. Schwarzinger still isn’t sure if the victims learned the identity of the culprits.

Glover might bring up the road game at Buffalo State, perhaps not to talk about the shootout between Paul and Randy Smith (whose 12 seasons in the NBA included two with the Cavs), but because of the blizzard that forced them to rent cars when they could get to no closer to home than Pittsburgh. Glover said it didn’t stop a core group of female fans from driving through the snow to attend.

Feeling blessed

McClain, 72, the oldest member of the team, can tell the story about being recruited after his Army stint and sitting at a restaurant with Paul and Webb. McClain lit a cigarette and Paul kept tapping him under the table with his foot. Webb didn’t like anyone smoking around him and McClain respected his wishes, but didn’t quit until last year. A heart attack left him with three stents and an implanted defibrillator pacemaker. An accompanying stroke left him blind for three days, with only his peripheral vision slightly affected, but with no loss of motor skills or speech impediment.

“That’s a blessing. Thank you, Father,” McClain said.

Many used the word blessing during the three hours they spent at lunch together at Burntwood Tavern in Cuyahoga Falls in July. But Glover said their camaraderie hasn’t grown because they’re keeping it alive.

“Yes, we have an unusual bond, but it was this strong from the beginning,” Glover said. “When we came on campus in the fall of ’69, we competed, we shared, we joined and nobody could beat us. It could be bowling, pool … we were winners. We may not have verbalized it, but our goal was to be the best team ever at the University of Akron.”

They realized what they built both on the court and off as they fell one victory short of what would have been the first of only two national team titles in school history. Instead, only the 2010 UA men’s soccer team has captured a national championship.

While all the coaches are deceased, only one player has passed away. A massive heart attack killed Brian Westover in November 2013. But Westover’s wife, Molly, told Karl Schwarzinger what their 40th anniversary gathering meant to her husband before she died in April.

“They were on the plane and he leans over and says, ‘Other than meeting you and the two children, this was the greatest day of my life. If I die today, I die a happy man,’ ” Schwarzinger said. “To me that says it all about the relationship we had.”

Marla Ridenour can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs.

■ What ever happened to the Zips from 1971-1972? Catch up on their lives. A6

■ Former Akron teammates continue to hold gatherings to recall “The Season.” C1

■ Leonard Paul’s decision to choose Cavs over Pistons derailed career in NBA. C8

The rustiness was expected.

The University of Akron football team, which just put pads on Tuesday, held its first full scrimmage Saturday at Info­Cision Stadium.

In addition to knocking off the rust, though, the Zips coaching staff wanted to get a look at some of the younger players — especially on offense — and that, too, can produce some scattershot results.
What about those youngsters?

• The running backs didn’t gain a whole lot against the defense in the morning but, when they were able to get going, Jemarulin Suggs certainly made his presence known.

Suggs, a former East High School standout, doesn’t appear to be a burner, but he runs hard, and when he has an opening, he has a burst of acceleration that allows him to pick up more yardage. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do if he gets more reps.

Fellow freshman running back Keyondre White also had a couple of good, strong runs.

But even with the occasional flash, coach Terry Bowden said he wants to see more. He’s looking for that occasional home-run hitter who can pop for a 50-yard run.

“Can we get someone to not just run into the safety [but] run past him,” Bowden said. “… That’s what we’re still looking for. I don’t think I saw that today like I want to, but I saw some very tough runs.”
Whether veterans Van Edwards and Deltron Sands have that remains to be seen, but it’s something to keep in mind.

• Of the younger wide receivers, Malik Wooldridge connected with quarterback Alex Ramart on a 60-yard reception for a touchdown. Wooldridge, a freshman from St. Vincent-St. Mary, just flat out beat his defender down the seam for an easy score.

Bowden said he liked what he saw of 6-foot-7, 220-pound receiver Brandon Mitchell, who made a couple of catches. Given his size, if he can show consistency, he’d be useful in red zone situations.
And veteran wide receiver Kwadarrius Smith showed he can put his speed to good use. Put him in space, let him work and watch him go. He turned what appeared to be a 7-yard gain into one of more than 25 yards during the scrimmage.

“I’m seeing some of the things we want to see, but as you look at it, I think Kwad and Mitchell made a couple of good plays,” Bowden said.

Other thoughts
The defense is ahead of the offense at this point in camp. That’s not a surprise, but Justin Sampson, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound defensive end from St. Vincent-St. Mary stood out a bit.

Also, the defense forced at least five turnovers, most coming from the running backs, but quarterback Kato Nelson also tossed an ill-advised interception at one point.

“I want the offense to keep coming and challenge the defense,” Bowden said.

About quarterbacks

It’s the first week and everyone is rusty. Well, almost everyone. Right now, 6-foot-3 and 225-pound backup Alex Ramart looks like he could push Nelson for the starting job. Ramart looked crisp and confident on most throws. It could get interesting before camp is over.

Nelson didn’t help his case with a lapse in leadership by being smack dab in the middle of a post-play skirmish that turned physical. That’s something no coach ever wants to see his starting quarterback do.

New guy on the block

Defensive end Walter Brady — a 6-foot-3, 267-pound transfer — played, but not an overwhelming amount. When he and fellow end Jamal Davis II are on the field together, Brady lines up on the left side on the first unit. Any other time, he lined up at right end.

Bowden said the team is easing Brady, a Middle Tennessee State transfer, into the UA system.

“My first impressions, I thought he was pretty good,” Bowden said.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

For the University of Akron football team, Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage will be more about looking down the line than preparing for the team’s Sept. 1 opener at Nebraska.

Zips coach Terry Bowden sounds comfortable in knowing where his team currently sits at a number of positions. Depth and the ability to reload are keys to its success.

Bowden said he appreciated how the first week went with the team in pads.

“But we’re still in the evaluation process,” he said. “We want to install our offense and defense so each day we’re getting better at executing [them]. But we still have 105 guys. We still have freshmen. We still have guys who have been backups.”

The question becomes how much longer will they look at those players to see if they are elevated to second or third on the depth chart.

“We’re trying to look at certain people still,” Bowden said.

One such situation and position is wide receiver. In East High School’s Daishawn Brimage (6-foot, 195 pounds) and newcomer Timothy Scippio (6-2, 195 pounds) from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., there are two freshmen with nice size competing to fill out the roster.

“We have to figure out if one of those guys is ready to play this year,” Bowden said Friday afternoon. “We need to throw a lot of balls at them.”

The coaching staff also wants to get a look at sophomore receiver M.J. McGriff, a 5-8, 190-pound pass catcher from Florida who was ineligible last season.

Younger running backs will also receive a chance to show what they can do in this scrimmage.

Bowden said the coaching staff wants to see what freshmen Jemarulin Suggs (East) and Keyondre White can produce from that position.

So it goes across the roster. Bowden said a week from now there would be more emphasis on the ones and twos, but there is a new reality in college football.

With the change of the redshirt rule, teams will be allowed to get an extended look at freshmen (up to four games anywhere in the schedule) before deciding whether to sit them for the rest of the season.

First- and second-team players at positions will play, but in the case of receivers and running backs, freshmen might get more targets and touches.

The bottom line for Bowden?

“An 11-on-11 scrimmage is the only thing we do that shows us whether a guy can play football,” he said.

The Zips have a few bumps and bruises heading into this first full scrimmage, but overall Bowden said he’s pleased the team came out of the week without a serious injury.

The Zips’ defensive staff might have found a complement to defensive end Jamal Davis II. Walter Brady, a defensive end who was a freshman All-American in 2015 at Missouri before being dismissed from the team and transferring to Middle Tennessee State, is enrolled at UA and will participate in Saturday’s scrimmage.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

University of Akron senior cornerback Kyron Brown has been productive but fairly anonymous during his five years in coach Terry Bowden’s program.

No more.

The folks at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame recognized Brown’s hard work by naming him one of 35 players on the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which recognizes the nation’s best defensive back. He’s one of two Mid-American Conference players to make the list.

Given the expectations from the coaching staff for him, it makes sense.

“He’s not just the leader of the secondary,” Zips coach Terry Bowden said of Brown after practice Wednesday morning at Stile Athletics Field House. “He’s not just the leader of our defense. He’s kind of the leader of our team.”

Brown, who was one of eight Zips to start every game last year, doesn’t necessarily come across as the individual who would take on that leadership role. And that’s not because he’s incapable, but because he possesses a humble nature.

Brown is the first one to say he prefers his play on the field — which included two interceptions last season — do his talking. But he will also interact with teammates to ensure the defense is in sync.

“I like to hold everybody accountable on my team. I like them to do the same to me as well,” he said. “I just like to get those guys fired up.”

That’s where expectations come in for the Zips’ defense, which is looking to get back to the type of play for which it once was known — snarling, swarming and aggressive — under the guidance of co-defensive coordinators Todd Stroud and Joe Tresey.

Asked about himself, Brown mentions team first — as in anything short of a MAC Championship is a failure.

“That’s what it’s about for me,” he said. “Any accolades that come to me come because of my teammates. Without them, I wouldn’t be the player I am today, so all of that goes together.”

That defensive unit — and especially a backfield that will likely include three seniors, including Brown — will be relied upon to wreak havoc.

“You can take more chances with your front knowing they can cover better, they can cover longer, they can do different things,” Bowden said of having a strong defensive backfield. “So I think you can rely on them to allow you to be more effective up front by blitzing, taking some risk up there.”

Brown said the Thorpe recognition only serves as more motivation for him on the field. His position coach, Otis Mounds, said Brown possesses the skills to do the job with his stature serving as a strength.

“You’re talking about a corner that’s over six-foot,” Mounds said of Brown, who is 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds. “He’s got long arms and he can run — he runs a sub 4.5 — and he’s smart. He’s very instinctive. He studies the game.”

Having bigger defensive backs will allow the Zips defense to better deal with taller receivers, Mounds said.

“Nowadays offenses are spreading you out and getting these guys that are 6-6, 6-7, so you have to have some guys who can body up with them,” he said. “The 5-9 thing, it works, but when you get in the red zone, it doesn’t.”

That’s where Brown comes in. He is the son of a former Arena Football League wide receiver. His father, Kerry, played nine seasons in the AFL at wide receiver and linebacker and also coached in the AFL2 before dying in a truck crash in 2007 when Brown was 11.

After joking that he wasn’t a wide receiver because he thought they were “soft,” Brown acknowledged the tragedy still affects him.

“I’m still dealing with it,” he said.

However, he thanks his father for his continuing influence.

“He introduced me to football,” Brown said. “He’s the reason I do the things I do and the reason I am the way I am.”

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

Questions abound for the University of Akron football team as they prepare for the 2018 season. Most of those questions are associated with the team’s offense.

Kato Nelson is beginning his first full season as the starting quarterback and with a couple of his favorite targets gone, others will have to continue to develop.

One of those is senior wide receiver Kwadarrius Smith, who led the team in scoring last year with seven touchdowns and was the team’s third leading receiver with 34 catches for 726 yards (long of 71) and a healthy 21.4 yards average per reception.

“I think he’s just got to show the capacity to handle different positions in different situations,” UA coach Terry Bowden said of Smith after the second practice of training camp. “He’s a great, skilled athlete.”

The Zips need more from Smith, who was named to the Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List. Smith, who also runs track for UA, came on after a sophomore season in which he had six receptions. His continued ascension can come with in improvement in several areas.

“The more he can show he can handle lining up at the right place, know your blocking assignments, know your assignments at inside receiver outside receiver,” Bowden said, “then you might be able to see him running speed sweeps, returning kickoffs — all of those things.”

All of those things include being able get Smith open in space where he can perhaps catch a pass on a shorter route and rack up yards after the reception.

Wide receivers coach Jeff Bowden sees the need to free up Smith as a playmaker.

“We need to have a few more — and I think we do — routes that are moving, maybe crossing routes and things like that, to where he’s catching things across the field as opposed to down the field, the deep ball,” he said.

Smith said he understands that he must do his part to ensure those opportunities materialize.

“I’ve just been working on my off-the-line movement, trying to get off the press with DBs,” said Smith, 5-foot-9, 170 pounds. “That was kind of the hardest thing last year, just because I wasn’t a big guy.”

“He’s worked his butt off this summer on that,” Jeff Bowden said. “It’s obvious because he’s really improved that in the two days of practice that I’ve seen and it’s helped him dramatically because once he gets even [with the defender] he’s gone.”

Smith also acknowledges his route running needs some work.

“No one is perfect at it, but once you get that down to where you can do it continuously, over and over and over, you start to become better at it,” he said. “I thought I’ve improved, but like always, there’s more stuff to improve on so I can make stuff happen on the shorter routes.”

For him to start having those shorter passes go for longer gains, he has to be able to sell the deception of making every route have the same look.

“I have to make every route look as if I’m going vertical because it scares DBs, so when I do that they back off and start to run and turn, “ he said, “so if I can burst and make it look like a vertical route that’s when my dig route opens up, that’s when my slant opens up.”

Smith will need more than his skill set given his size. His 10.2-second speed in the 100 meters can’t be taught, but thankfully for him, conditioning can.

“He’s a littler wide receiver, so hits affect him more, but he’s also faster so pulls affect him more,” Jeff Bowden said, “so you got to keep him healthy, but that’s just a cross-your-fingers deal.”

Smith said adding 8-10 pounds of muscle will benefit him and has not limited his speed.

“I think I’m faster now,” he said.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

Call the first day of fall camp for the University of Akron football team organization one of the few fun days the team will get before work begins in earnest with full gear on Tuesday.

“I can see the possibilities, but that’s all they are right now is possibilities,” coach Terry Bowden said after the team’s first session, which took place Friday morning at InfoCision Stadium amid sticky air and tropical temperatures.

The possibilities stem from returning a team that includes a senior laden defense and an offense with a few pieces — wide receiver Kwadarrius Smith and a young corps of running backs — that can grow into something depending on development of quarterback Kato Nelson.

The seniors on the team definitely see those possibilities, Bowden said.

“Regardless of people saying are we good enough, in the three seasons prior, their 20 wins is the most ever won here by any senior class since we’ve been in Division I,” he said.

The Zips will attempt to defend their Mid-American Conference East Division title.

“It’s still short of what we want,” Bowden said. “We want to be conference champions.”

What they do want is a return trip to the conference championship game in Detroit in December, a surprise accomplishment last year. They want a different outcome than the 45-28 beating they took at the hands of the Toledo Rockets.

To hear Bowden is to understand that the team might take on a more businesslike approach toward reaching that goal. It won’t be easy depending on a number of factors with health being the primary one, given the Zips face three Power 5 teams in the first four games of the season.

“We would be remiss if we didn’t say our goal [right now] is to get ready for the first game and go to Nebraska,” Bowden said.

The Cornhuskers have been no powerhouse in recent years, but they play in the Big Ten and in the first game of the season will have plenty of motivation to help new coach and Nebraska alumnus Scott Frost show their ship is back on course.

That’s still nearly a month away and Bowden said he and the coaching staff were more impressed by the level of enthusiasm on the first day than anything else.

“You don’t let little things bother you the first day and watch the gleam in their eye, the bounce in their step,” he said. “Those are the things you want to see because you’re not going to see the timing, execution that you’ll have when you’re only working your first two teams.”

The hard work will begin next week.

Injuries

Two Zips are already done for the season. Tight end Daryl Long, who had an impressive spring practice, tore a patella tendon while working out during the summer. Unless he petitions the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility due to medical hardship, his collegiate career is over. Senior linebacker Travonte Junius (St. Vincent-St. Mary) is out with a shoulder injury.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

Former soccer coach Caleb Porter and star player Sinisa Ubiparipovic head the 2018 University of Akron Varsity “A” Sports Hall of Fame class of inductees.

Jabari Arthur, Kurt Davidson, Natalie Sako Switalski, Bill Williamson and Krystin Wilson Ross round out the class that will be honored during homecoming weekend Oct. 6. The Team of Distinction — the 1971-72 men’s basketball team, the Kenneth “Red” Cochrane Meritorious Service Awardees, Mark T. and Cathy Clark, and the Mike Krino Varsity “A” Achievement Awardee, Greta Johnson, will also be honored.

The UA football game against Miami University kicks off at 3:30 p.m. at InfoCision Stadium. The inductees will also be introduced to the crowd during the game.

The inductees:

Jabari Arthur, 2007 (football): An honorable mention All-American and first-team All-MAC selection, Arthur holds school records for receptions in a game (15), season (86), and career (184); and receiving yards in a game (223) and career (2,653) Arthur resides in Calgary, Canada.

Kurt Davidson, 2008 (baseball): A two-time first-team All-MAC selection (2007, 2008), second-team All-MAC (2006) pick, and a 2007 All-Mideast Region second team honoree, Davidson started every game in his career (201). The Zips’ catcher and first baseman was the recipient of the 2006 Joe Thomas Award for the highest batting average. The three-time team MVP (2006, 2007, 2008), Davidson holds the Zips’ career records for home runs (41), RBI (180), and total bases (430). He also stands No. 2 in career at-bats (807), No. 3 in hits (253), and No. 3 in doubles (52). Davidson holds two spots on the single-season list for home runs: No. 2 with 12 and No. 8 with 10 home runs. He earned his bachelor’s degree in communications in 2009 and started his coaching career at UA (2009-11). Currently an assistant baseball coach at Walsh, Davidson resides in Canton.

Caleb Porter (soccer): The men’s soccer coach (2006-12) for seven seasons, Porter guided the Zips to two consecutive MAC titles. Named the 2007 MAC Coach of the Year, he coached UA to the 2010 national championship title. In 2011, Porter coached the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team which qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. For the past six seasons, Porter has coached the MLS Portland Timbers (2012-17), earning MLS Coach of the Year honors in 2013. He resides in Hilton Head, S.C.

Natalie Sako Switalski, 2007 (track and field): A four-time All-American in the high jump, Sako earned All-American (2005, 2006, 2007) honors three times during the indoor season and once during the outdoor season (2006). Twice she was the MAC high jump champion (2007, 2008 outdoor). A three-time All-MAC honoree, Sako owns the No. 4 indoor high jump mark and the No. 3 outdoor high jump mark in program history. In 2005, she placed sixth at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The three-time MAC outdoor champion (2005, 2006, 2007), Sako earned a bronze medal competing for Team USA at the 2006 North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Athletic Association Under-23 Championships. She was named team’s Newcomer of the Year in 2004. She resides in Strongsville.

Sinisa Ubiparipovic (soccer): A two-time All-American midfielder, Sinisa Ubiparipovic played two seasons (2004, 2005) under Ken Lolla and one for Caleb Porter (2006) after transferring from University of Illinois-Chicago. In 2004, he started in 12 games and scored his first goal in a UA uniform to give the Zips a 1-0 lead in an eventual 3-1 win over Ohio State. As UA was enjoying one of its all-time best seasons with an 18-1-4 record, the 5-9 Ubiparipovic had a team-leading and career-high 17 goals and seven assists to aid the Zips in capturing the MAC regular-season and tournament titles. UA then advanced to the quarterfinals in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Maryland by penalty kicks. Ubiparipovic’s performance earned him first-team All-MAC and All-Great Lakes and second-team All-America on the National Soccer Coaches (NSC) team. Although scoring only seven goals and seven assists, Ubiparipovic again led UA in scoring in 2006 as UA compiled a 13-5-1 record en route to MAC co-champions. Named the 2006 MAC Player of the Year and second-team All-American by the NSC and College Soccer News, Ubiparipovic was selected in the third round by the New York Bulls of Major League Soccer, where he played until 2011. Still playing professionally, he is now with the Indy Eleven. Ubiparipovic resides in Willoughby.

Bill Williamson. 1999 (golf): As a four-year letterman during the 1995-99 golf seasons, Williamson earned All-MAC honors as a player and in the classroom. As a freshman, he averaged 77.7 strokes. However, twice he fired season-low rounds of 72 at the Seascape and Kent invitationals and a round of 75 earned him a 22nd finish at the Dayton Invitational. A season later, Williamson lowered his average to 76.4, second best on the team. Three times he shot low rounds of 71, and he finished tied for third at both the Butler and Penn State Invitational for his best finishes. Better yet, Williamson managed to achieve a 3.71 grade point average as a finance major which earned him first-team Academic All-MAC. He repeated that honor in 1997-98 and as a senior would be selected nationally third-team GTE Academic All-American. He produced his best golf his junior season, compiling a career-best 73.7 stroke average that was again second best on the team. His low round of 69 came at the Yale Classic, and he helped UA finish fourth at the MAC Championships that earned him second team All-MAC accolades. He managed an average of 74.9 during his senior campaign and fired his best golf at the Dr Pepper Intercollegiate in Texas with an even par 216 for a sixth-place finish. In addition, Williamson was the recipient of the MAC Presidential Award, recognizing his academic achievement. He resides in Cincinnati.

Krystin Wilson Ross, 2008 (soccer): As a first-team All-MAC honoree and three-time All-MAC Academic selection, Wilson became the first athlete from the women’s soccer program that began in 2001 to be nominated for the Hall of Fame. Wilson earned three letters as UA’s goalkeeper from 2005-07. She was the second player in the program’s history to be named to the MAC’s first team in 2007 and was the first since 2003. Wilson closed out her three-year career as the program’s leader in saves (213), goals against average (1.15), shutouts (18) and wins (21). She also had high season marks of 10 wins in 2006, 84 saves, six ties, goals against average of 1.02 and seven shutouts in 2007. Wilson resides in Clinton.

Kenneth “Red” Cochrane Meritorious Award

Mark T. Clark, 1978, and Cathy Clark: The chairman of Canal Pointe Capital, Mark T. Clark earned an MBA in finance from UA in 1978 and was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. His undergraduate degree is from Ohio State University. Mark continued his involvement with UA since his graduation, serving on the university’s National Alumni Board. In 2006, he was awarded the Frank L. Simonetti Distinguished Business Alumni Award. He is on the board of directors of First Tee Akron and the Champions Council for the Bridgestone World Series of Golf. Mark is former president of Portage Country Club. Cathy Clark, an alumna of Ohio State, has been a community volunteer and philanthropist for nearly 40 years. Her involvement includes the Summit County Juvenile Court, the Junior League of Akron, and projects targeted at helping children. A charter member of the Akron Child Guidance Women’s Board, she spearheaded the Remember the Children program. Cathy was awarded the 2016 Friend of Children Award by Child Guidance & Family Solutions. The Clarks are major supporters of the university. In addition, Mark has been instrumental in securing gifts from FirstEnergy Corp. for the University. He was also a key champion for the Alumni and Development office move to InfoCision Stadium. The couple has generously supported Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron Art Museum, Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank and United Way.

Mike Krino Varsity “A” Achievement Award

Greta Johnson, 1999, 2001, 2004: Johnson was a four-year letter winner in volleyball (1995-98) where she helped the Zips compile a 71-56 record. The 5-11 utility player from Wellington, could play virtually anywhere on the court. She earned UA’s Most Improved Player Award as a freshman and as a team captain her senior season Johnson was presented the Coaches Award for her leadership and 3.6 GPA in the classroom. Johnson earned all her degrees at UA, a bachelor’s in secondary education in 1999, a master’s in higher education administration in 2001, and her JD in law in 2004. She has worked in the prosecutor’s office for Mahoning County, Summit County and the city of Akron since 2004. In November 2014 and 2016, Johnson was elected representative for Ohio’s 35th District which covers the eastern, southern and southwest portions of Akron. She brought a strong voice for education, women, and criminal justice to the Statehouse. She was a fierce advocate for women’s concerns over sexual assault and domestic violence. However, in 2016 she resigned to accept the position of deputy director in the Department of Law of the Summit County Executive’s Office. Johnson is married and the mother of two. The family resides in Akron.

Team of Distinction

The 1971-72 men’s basketball team, under the guidance of head coach Wyatt Webb, had a record-breaking 26 wins in 31 games, captured its fourth NCAA College Division Mideast Region crown, finished as the national runner-up in the NCAA Finals. The seemingly impossible dream was achieved by a veteran starting five and a strong bench that established six team records and nine individual records. Leading the way was 6-foot-4 junior forward Len Paul, who scored 5,643 points to become the all-time season scorer and the first UA player to score over 500 points twice in his career en route to first-team Little All-American honors. Joining him in the starting lineup were double-figure scorers: 6-3 senior guard Larry Quarles (13.6 ppg), 6-5 junior forward Harvey Glover (10.8 ppg) and 6-7 senior center Randy Anderson (10.6 ppg). Senior 6-1 point guard Wil Schwarzinger rounded out the lineup with a scoring average of 8.7 points per game. All five have already been individually inducted into the UA Sports Hall of Fame. While there were several last-second victories during the 1971-72 season, the biggest was a 71-69 overtime upset of Associated Press’ No. 1-ranked Tennessee State in the NCAA semifinals when 6-8 reserve junior forward Brian Westover drove the lane for a layup as time expired.

The banquet festivities on Oct. 6 will begin at 10:30 a.m., with a brunch buffet followed by the induction program at 11:30 a.m. The cost of the banquet is $40 per person and $20 for children (12 or younger). For more information about the Varsity “A” Hall of Fame, contact Tim Faix at 330-972-8502 or via email at [email protected].

The University of Akron men’s basketball team will play in the opening game of the second annual Cayman Islands Classic to be held Nov. 19-21.

The Zips will play Clemson at noon, followed by Georgia versus Illinois State at 2:30 p.m. Other teams in the tournament will be St. Bona­venture, Georgia State, Boise State and Creighton.

Akron also will again participate in the Northeast Ohio Coaches vs. Cancer event on Saturday, Nov. 10.

More men’s basketball

Kent State will begin its season at the same Coaches vs. Cancer event at Cleveland State’s Wolstein Center on Nov. 10.

The Flashes face 11 opponents that reached the postseason last year, highlighted by road games at Louisville on Dec. 15 and Oregon State on Dec. 20.

A huge part of the University of Akron’s defense will be missing when the Zips open fall camp this week.

The raspy — but somehow still booming — voice of Chuck Amato won’t be heard cutting through the toasty winds of InfoCision Stadium this August.

Amato, who enjoyed an illustrious coaching career, retired this past winter and left the Zips’ defense in the hands of Todd Stroud, who was named associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator in the offseason.

Joining him is Joe Tresey, who held the same title for the Zips under former coach Lee Owens during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

Tresey will also coach linebackers.

Despite the change at the top, fans shouldn’t expect a lot to change with the defense’s overall philosophy, however.

Stroud played and worked with Amato for almost 40 years, so what a defense should be is ingrained in him.

“There was nothing broken with what we did on defense. We have a solid foundation,” Stroud said. “We have a team coming back now where potentially 10 of our 11 starters on defense could be seniors with playing experience, so we have a veteran team coming off a year where at times we played pretty good defense in the [Mid-American Conference].”

Stroud mentioned the defensive backfield as likely being the strength of this year’s unit, and there’s no reason to not believe that’s the case considering Ulysees Gilbert III, a two-time All-MAC linebacker, leads that squad in his senior year.

A potential conference defensive player of the year who has played in every game of his collegiate career, Gilbert enters the season on the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Award.

“He’s one of those guys where football is so important to him and this football team and his teammates are so important to him,” Tresey said of Gilbert, who played much of last season with a nagging shoulder injury. “That just permeates throughout the whole room.

“And he doesn’t have to say much. His role-modeling and his attention to detail — it’s evident when he’s in that room and we’re watching film or talking football.”

Senior moves inside

To make up for a hole left by the graduation departure of Andrew Hauser, Stroud and Tresey made the decision to move senior Brian Bell inside.

“That’s something, I think collectively as a defensive staff and coach Tresey, we thought he might have been playing out of position the past couple of years,” Stroud said of Bell, who had been playing on the outside. “By playing [middle] linebacker, we feel it’s going to suit him.”

Leading the defensive backfield is senior corner­back Kyron Brown, who was named to the Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list. The Zips are fortunate, Stroud said, to have three players at safety — Alvin Davis, Shawn Featherstone and Jordan George — who can contribute.

The defensive line should not be slighted, though. The player to watch is defensive end Jamal Davis II (Canton McKinley), who came on toward the end of last season to earn third-team All-MAC honors.

Is it a bit brash and egotistical that Davis thought he should have been voted higher? Sure, but that could prove to be a motivating factor for this season.

Stroud and Tresey said they also expect Brock Boxen to maintain his consistent play and that fans shouldn’t be surprised to see sophomore DeAndre Brimage (East) get into the line rotation.

2015 is template

For the UA defense, matching the 2015 squad should always be the goal. That unit was top-10 against the run, and had speed and a nasty attitude to go with it.

Circumstances dictated that last year’s defense was more of the bend-but-don’t-break variety. The Zips ranked 11th in the conference in overall defense, and in both pass and run defense they ranked 10th.

But points aren’t given in football for yardage. In scoring defense, the Zips were just good enough — eighth — that, coupled with their top ranking in turnovers, they were able to win the MAC East and a shot at the conference championship.

But with an offense featuring a new starting quarterback in sophomore Kato Nelson, this veteran group on defense could have to do a lot of heavy lifting for the Zips to defend their division title.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

The University of Akron football team’s offense struggled mightily at some points during last season.

That, in fact, might be a generous assessment. The Zips ranked 10th in the Mid-American Conference in scoring offense and 11th in total offense.

Yet the Zips still claimed the MAC East Division title with some scrappy performances. In a couple of instances, some might say they got lucky.

That’s the thing about football. Sometimes it’s just a matter of the ball bouncing a team’s way.

To repeat their accomplishments from last year, the Zips will need more than the occasional lucky bounce. Marred last season by injuries to the starting running back and a backup and the suspension of its starting quarterback, the offense will need to up its game.

Quarterback is key

The preparation for the climb back begins Friday and with an offense that’s in transition, success could very well hinge on the play of 6-foot-1, 215-pound sophomore quarterback Kato Nelson.

Nelson took the reins of the team after the suspension of departed starter Thomas Woodson and played well enough to keep the job. But his play was inconsistent.

He averaged fewer than 100 yards passing per game (98.9) and 19.8 yards rushing per game. He started the last five games of the season.

But with the offseason under his belt, the knowledge that this is “his team” could play a role in his improvement.

“Now he understands from a preparation side of it,” said associate head coach and offensive coordinator A.J. Milwee. “As a backup, it was tough to prepare at times. We were able to keep him engaged because we had our packages with him we were using, but those last few games, he really understood how much extra you have to do to prepare to be a starter day in and day out.”

Milwee expressed confidence in Nelson’s ability to make all the throws, but he will be expected to be a key cog in the running game as well.

“He understands we have to use him as a runner, that he has to be able to take hits and he has to be able to survive those things,” he said. “He’s really worked hard at that.”

Nelson has added an extra 10 pounds from offseason conditioning.

Running game

UA’s running game ranked last in the conference last season, averaging 105.4 yards per game, primarily because starter Warren Ball went down with an injury and Deltron Sands, who at one point exhibited signs that he could become a more than suitable replacement, got hurt later in the season.

Van Edwards (5-foot-9, 200 pounds) returns for his senior season after a year in which he rushed for 361 yards on 94 carries.

Time will tell whether Sands returns for camp.

“He looks better than he did,” Milwee said. “I wouldn’t see him being overly held back.”

If that’s the case and Sands realizes the potential that he’s shown in limited experiences, the Zips’ offense will receive a definite boost.

But Milwee is confident that there are enough players at the position who have the necessary skills to contribute.

“I think the good thing about our running back room is there is a lot of guys who bring different things to the table,” he said. “I think our thing this year is getting guys in position to do the things they’re good at.”

In that respect, the wide receiver room has plenty of potential. Kwadarrius Smith, 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, is the veteran of the unit. Smith used his blazing speed (10.2 seconds in the 100 meters as a dual-sport athlete in track) to become a deep threat the past couple of years.

Milwee and Bowden are looking for more.

“I think what we’re looking for from Kwad is being more than a deep-ball threat,” Milwee said, conceding that is Smith’s strength.

Still, they have him working to improve his overall route running.

Receiver on mend

The other intriguing aspect of the receiving corps is Mykel Traylor-Bennett (6-foot-3, 230 pounds).

Traylor-Bennett moved to H-back a couple of years ago, but is now back at receiver. He is still recovering from an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament, but if Traylor-Bennett successfully returns with the toughness that H-back position required, Milwee said he can be a difference maker.

“If he can do that, he can play with a large amount of physicality that can bring a whole different element to the table that he didn’t quite have, maybe, two or three years ago,” Milwee said.

Bowden has expressed confidence in youngsters Nate Steward and Andre Williams, despite the relative inexperience of both sophomores.

The talents of those at skill positions won’t matter much without a solid offensive line that must replace three starters from last season. The mantra remains the same for the Zips.

“We have guys we know are going to be in spots and we have guys we’d like to be in spots, but we’ve got to find the best five guys to put on the field,” Milwee said.

Starting five

Based on the preseason depth chart, the starting five would be Trevor Brown (left tackle), Brandon Council (left guard), sophomore Bryce Petersen (center), Kyle Ritz (right guard) and Undrea Bullard (right tackle).

That leaves tight end an open question.

With the departure of Kobie Booker, who played his high school football at Barberton, the job is there for someone to take it.

St. Vincent-St. Mary alum Newman Williams is listed as the starter, but has had issues staying healthy throughout his collegiate career.

Maverick Wolfley, a redshirt freshman, opened some eyes in spring practice.

Whether that translates to the fall remains to be seen, but he appears to have the tools to succeed at the position, including good hands, toughness and blocking ability, though the latter needs work, Milwee said.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

The University of Akron football team isn’t getting much respect despite the fact that the Zips are defending champions of the Mid-American Conference’s East Division.

The media covering the MAC picked the Zips to finish fourth in the East Division in the annual preseason poll. The Zips, who compiled a 7-7 record last season, received the same ranking in 2017’s preseason vote.

Zips coach Terry Bowden said he has no problem with the vote.

“It’s a media vote. It’s a subjective vote by the media,” he said. “That’s kind of where I think people are very comfortable putting Akron. That’s where we were last year. We won the division. I don’t know that you get mad. That’s one of those things where everyone around here says we still have something to prove. Maybe it takes time to prove to people we’re not at the bottom.”

The fact wasn’t lost on senior linebacker Ulysees Gilbert, who was named to the Bronko Nagurski Watch List Tuesday before the start of MAC Media Day in Detroit.

“No real thoughts about it,” said Gilbert, a first-team All-MAC selection last season. “They did that last year. We like the position we’re in. They can say we’re four, but we know where we’re at in our minds. We’re going to attack the year the same, but with a stronger mentality. We have to finish the climb this year.”

That climb involves winning the division again and then taking the conference title in the MAC Championship Game and receiving a third bowl bid in four years and winning it, Gilbert said.

Considering the Zips’ season last year, those are lofty but reasonable goals. But it’s also not difficult to see why they aren’t preseason favorites.

More than a few football coaches have said winning a game here or there can sometimes be a matter of a lucky bounce. UA benefited from victories not many expected them to achieve a year ago. The most surprising came against perennial East Division favorite Ohio with Kato Nelson making only his second start.

The apparent lack of respect doesn’t faze senior offensive lineman Kyle Ritz.

“No one has ever won a championship through preseason ratings,” he said. “I mean it’s all settled on the field at the end of the day, so we can use this, look at this — the same as last year — and come out and settle what we have to settle on the field.”

Watch lists

Two other Zips made preseason watch lists this week. Defensive back Kyron Brown received notice that he was added to the Jim Thorpe Award Preseason Watch List by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame announced Monday. The award is given annually to the best defensive back in the nation.

Wide receiver Kwadarrius Smith was named to the Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation. The award is presented to the outstanding player at any position — wide receiver, tight end, slot back, and running back — who catches a pass.

Bowden takes such preseason accolades the same way he takes preseason polls — with a grain of salt — but recognizes they do mean something.

“They do include a lot of people, but you have to have done something very well to get on a watch list,” he said. “I’m proud of them, but I’d tell them ‘Now, it’s what you do on the field.’ ”

Kobie Booker exits team

Tight end Kobie Booker, who flashed much potential on several occasions last season, has left the team and apparently given up football. Booker played his high school ball at Barberton.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

The University of Akron has named coaches, including the first female esports coach, and managers for the five inaugural esports varsity teams this fall.

The nine individuals will lead the 44 players, selected from among the 273 who tried out last April, who make up the five teams competing in the games Overwatch, League of Legends, Hearthstone, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and Rocket League.

The four managers will organize the rosters, serve as liaisons with their league and opposing teams, coordinate team schedules and maintain facilities and equipment. The five coaches will direct the teams’ strategies.

Emily “Majikarpette” Matusz, Overwatch student coach majoring in sculpture, has been in place since April and is the first female to serve as a coach in varsity collegiate esports. Since the release of Overwatch, Matusz has reached the second-highest player tier, “Masters level,” in almost every competitive season, making her an impressive opponent and strategist.

“Competitive gaming gives my playtime value and opens additional career paths in an evolving field,” she said in a news release.

Beside Matusz, MBA candidate and team manager Alex “Chunder” Gingrich will use his strategic knowledge gained from working as an analyst for an esports team headed by Noble, an esports and media organization.

Kurtis “Flex” Glasenor, League of Legends student coach and fifth-year mechanical engineering major, will coach League of Legends. He will share leadership duties with team manager Ryan “DaCheneySpecial” Nicolai, a competitive gamer pursuing an associate degree in UA’s EMT/paramedic program.

Matt “Sunshine” Spiedel will coach CS:GO and third-year mechanical engineering technology major Thomas “Tman6005” McGrath will manage the team.

Computer networking major Nick “NickNac63” MacKay will coach the “vehicular soccer” hit, Rocket League. His team manager, Aiden “Knightmare” Bellucci, is a junior studying supply chain/operations management.

Bellucci will also manage UA’s Hearthstone team, alongside student coach Jacob “jacobsh97” Heiss. Heiss is a biomedical engineering major who has participated in five tournaments run by Tespa, a large network of college gaming clubs.