High School Spotlight - Week 9
This week the ninth edition of our High School Spotlight series takes an in-depth look at some of the local football programs in the Western Reserve Conference.
Western Reserve Conference
Head Coach – Eddie Hall (1st season)
2017 Record – 9-3
Key Returners: RB Mitchell Kellogg, WR/DB Andre Franks, WR/DB Zack Dixon, WR Kris Cecil, OL/DL Nick Loya, OL Justin Grigsby, OL Cam Townsend, DL/OL Kareem King, DL Ruel Greenwood, LB Kyle Bunnaman, DB/WR Johntez Strozier
Key Losses: QB Godwin Joe, WR Markel Toney, WR/DB Donovan Johnson, OL Raysean Stewart, OL Keenan Harden, DL Tyler Williams, DL Kavon Clayton, WR/DB Lloyd McFarquhar, DB Quentin Woodall
It’s a big year of transition for the Brush Arcs football program after coming off a 9-3 season in 2017, including a Western Reserve Conference championship and a playoff win over Hudson before falling in the second round to Akron Hoban.
First-year Head Coach Eddie Hall takes over and must replace All-Ohio quarterback Godwin Joe. The return of running back Mitchell Kellogg, as well as talented skill players like Andre Franks and Zack Dixon, give the Arcs some firepower that they’ll surely need after losing their star signal-caller.
Head Coach – Mitch Hewitt (8th season)
2017 Record – 6-4
Key Returners: QB Andrew Kobuszewski, RB/DB Jon McKnight, DL Wade Novak
Key Losses: RB/DB Mason Ziegenfuss, FB/LB Chase Kline, WR Joey McGuinness, OL Jared Barker, DB Connor Morris, DB Devon Moses, LB Ian Semler, OL Vinnie Carlozzi, DL Louie Monaco, DL Sam Eldridge
The Hilltoppers missed out on a playoff spot in 2017 but finished with another winning season at 6-4. This year, Chardon returns quarterback Andrew Kobuszewski as well as running back Jon McKnight, giving Head Coach Mitch Hewitt a nice 1-2 punch and the Hilltoppers program a great chance at returning the OHSAA playoffs in 2018.
Eastlake North Rangers
Head Coach – Shawn Dodd (4th season)
2017 Record – 6-5
Key Returners: OL/DL Shawn Turschon, OL Gabe Siupinys, OL Spencer Sedivy, LB Brett Payne, DL Johnny Dotson
Key Losses: QB Jake Tanski, RB/LB Chase Valletto, WR Nate Rummel, WR Kenny Streb, WR/DB Ty Dodd, WR/DB Louie Severino, OL/DL Joe Ginter, DL Bryan Carrigan, LB Brad Burrows, LB David Kleinhenz, DB Cory Cantrell
After a 1-4 start to the season in 2017, The Eastlake North Rangers won five in a row, including wins over eventual conference champion Brush, Mayfield, and Chardon, to sneak into the playoffs at 6-4. The Rangers would fall in the first round to Bedford, 30-22, but it was an incredible turnaround for the Ranger program in the middle of the season.
This year, Head Coach Shawn Dodd loses quite a bit from that team but does return some veteran leadership on both the offensive line and defensive front seven.
Head Coach – Jeff Grubich (7th season)
2017 Record – 8-2
Key Returners: QB Johnny Tomcufcik, RB Jack Porter, WR/DB Bransen Stanley, WR Tyler Mintz, OL Brandon Schroeder, OL Alex Robarge, OL George Sell, DL Mitch Sotera, LB Matt Iklodi, LB Sam Leygraaf, LB Joe Staudenbaur, LB Logan Vargo, DB Tyler Kestranek, DB Nick Franklin
Key Losses: QB Jimmy Burg, WR Kee-Shaun Merrill, WR Austin Safko, OL Patrick Vanderbilt, OL Zach Czech, DL Conner Kure, DL Jacob Deuley, DB Nick Dombrowski, K/P Ryan Toft
Despite an 8-2 finish where the team’s only losses came to Western Reserve champion Brush Arcs and Mayfield Wildcats, the Kenston Bombers missed out on a playoff spot in 2017.
This season, the Bombers want to remove all doubt as the team returns most of their key contributors from last year’s campaign, including quarterback Johnny Tomcufcik, running back Jack Porter, and wide receiver/defensive back Bransen Stanley.
Madison Blue Streaks
Head Coach – Tim Willis (19th season)
2017 Record – 2-8
Key Returners: QB Alex Dragas, RB/LB Dom Conforte, OL Aidan Thompson, DL Jacob Glass, LB Max Starke, DB Jonas Pinto
Key Losses: RB Ken Cline, TE Sam Luster, WR/DB Cam Caito, WR Matt Myers, OL/DL Mark Primer, OL Noah Sample, OL Colin Byers, DL Chris Kosek, LB Seth Schrock, LB Caleb Fiorello, DB Owen Myers, DB Matt Gianfagna
The Blue Streaks finished with a 2-8 mark in 2017 but Head Coach Tim Willis brings back a host of veterans on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Alex Dragas and running back/linebacker Dom Conforte.
Madison is looking to take a step forward in 2018 as long as the team can remain focused on the field and limit their turnovers.
Head Coach – Ross Bandiera (3rd season)
2017 Record – 6-5
Key Returners: RB Jamir Nunley, DL/OL Marco Tramontano, LB Joey Suchy, LB Mike Marshall, LB Tyler Tiggs
Key Losses: QB Jake Dostal, WR Bobby Casey, WR/P Sam Guerrini, WR Joe LoPiccolo, WR Maurice Monroe, OL John Gall, OL Alan Shapiro, OL Dylan Keiter, DL Kyle Silbernagel, DB Anthony Favazzo, Db Michael Harden
It was another successful season on the football field for the Mayfield Wildcats, including a 6-4 regular-season record and another OHSAA playoff appearance. Although the Wildcats would be handed a first-round exit from Akron Hoban, Head Coach Ross Bandiera must be excited about future.
In 2018, Mayfield returns running back Jamir Nunley and despite the losses of their quarterback and top three wide receivers, the Wildcats are confident they can win the Western Reserve Conference and make some noise in the playoffs.
Head Coach – Dave Bors (9th season)
2017 Record – 3-7
Key Returners: RB Bilal Abdussatar, WR/DL Nick Mlakar, WR Danny Smith, OL Chase Cantrell, OL/DL Frank Soukup, LB Joe Robinson, LB Bobby Sotock, DB Danny Smith, DB Jaxson Reutter, DB Mack Simpson
Key Losses: QB Nate Sleek, RB Johnny Mitchel, WR/DB Rogelio Claudio, OL Matt Lamos, DL John Jusko, LB Kyle Rebenock
It was a 3-7 finish for the Painesville Riverside Beavers in 2017 and heading into 2018 the team loses their starting quarterback Nate Sleek as well as running back Johnny Mitchel.
The good news is the Beavers return a ton of talent at every other position on both sides of the ball. Head Coach Dave Bors is looking to move the program into the next step in its climb towards the top of the conference, and that is by posting a winning season in 2018.
Willoughby South Rebels
Head Coach – Lou Cirino (2nd season)
2017 Record – 6-4
Key Returners: WR/DB Drew Schoeppler, WR Danny Gallagher, WR/DB Rico Small, OL Xavier McCreary, DB Cameron VonSeggern, DB Tony DiAlfredi
Key Losses: QB Steven D’Eusanio, RB Tyler Henderson, WR/LB Jared Newsome, OL/DL Jared Sturgill, OL/DL Connor Ashurst, OL Sam Valletto
Head Coach Matt Duffy and the Willoughby South Rebels finished with a 1-9 record in 2017 and the team loses their quarterback, running back as well as a good number of key pieces along the offensive and defensive line.
The good news is that it is a new day for the Rebels football program and the senior class in 2018 is hungry to improve and make sure what happened last season does not happen again.
The Rebels do return plenty of talent at the skills positions, including the likes of Drew Schoeppler, Danny Gallagher, and Rico Small.