Meadville Tribune

August 28, 2013

High school football: Rebuilding makes Region 2 anybody’s race

Meadville Tribune
Meadville Tribune

MEADVILLE — Eisenhower

Head coach: Jim Penley (10th season)

2012 record: 8-3 overall, 7-0 Region 2

Opening week opponent: At Mercer, Friday at 7 p.m.

Eisenhower had some talented kids last season. Quarterback Aaron Lundmark went on to Grove City College. The school’s all-time leading rusher, John Pascuzzi, went to Clarion. And leading receiver Nate O’Brien (who was also a first-team all-region kicker and punter) is now at Lock Haven. Those players took a lot of yardage and points with them.

The Knights will now look to restock. Senior Rob Wilston will take over a quarterback. He was among the team’s top ball-carriers last year with 28 takes for 242 yards and five TDs. Senior Alex Johnson will resume duties at fullback, where he had 69 carries, 576 yards and nine TDs last year. And seniors Carter Farrell and Bryce Garris will take over at tailback after some scattered carries in 2012.

The bottom line is, Eisenhower had 22 returning letterwinners last year and went on to win the Region 2 championship. This year, they have 10 letterwinners coming back. The Knights can still be trouble for some. But they won’t quite have the impact of the 2012 edition.



Mercyhurst Prep

Head coach: Matt Morgan (9th season)

2012 record: 8-3 overall, 6-1 Region 2

Opening week opponent: At St. Joseph, Saturday at 3 p.m.

Mercyhurst Prep boasted quite the trio in the backfield in 2012, with Cornelius Barlay, Thomas Higgins and Ryan Connor compiling 3,001 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns all on the ground. However, all three rushers have since graduated and the Lakers are looking for another group of backs to carry the ball. And they’ll also need some new big guys to block for them with the graduation of first-team all-region picks Joe DeSanti, Alex Parson and Kyle Drabic. And the team’s top three receivers — Barclay, Brandon Peebles and Higgins — all graduated

Apart from the couple remaining linemen the team has, the only player that saw a lot of snaps last year was quarterback Nick Evanoff, who is now a junior. He was 35 for 67 for 426 yards, seven TDs and six INTs. Now he just needs a couple new guys to whom he can to deliver the ball.



Cochranton

Head coach: Nathan Liberty (2nd season)

2012 record: 6-4 overall, 5-2 Region 2

Opening week opponent: At Seneca, Friday at 7 p.m.

There were some key losses for Cochranton last season, including leading rusher Austin Andrews, top receiver A.J. Nageotte and all-region linemen Cam Cyphert and Brandon Hostetler. However, Cochranton could still contend for the Region 2 title this season. And a big reason why is quarterback Chad Eisenhooth. As a junior last season, Eisenhooth completed 84 of 163 passes for 1,355 yards, 16 touchdowns and three INTs, and also carried the ball 120 times for 628 yards and nine TDs.

Eisenhooth employed numerous receivers last season. And many of them return, like tight end Garrett Adams (19 catches, 250 yards, five TDs) and wideout Jesse Staudt (17 catches, 310 yards, five TDs). He’ll also have plenty of options to hand the ball too as the Cardinals rotate a committee of backs that includes seniors Jamar Moody and Tyler Buchan and juniors Jake Yarnell and James Groover.



Iroquois

Head coach: Gerry Drozdowski (5th season)

2012 record: 3-8 overall, 3-4 Region 2

Opening week opponent: Home vs. Harbor Creek, Friday at 7 p.m.

Iroquois has a few skill guys back. The Braves used a lot of players at QB, but Dylan Carpin emerged as the team’s most prolific of those passers (although not by much). He was just 13-for-44 for 155 yards, two TDs and seven INTs. And for what it’s worth, the team’s top receivers are back in juniors Matt McLean (nine catches, 155 yards, two TDs) and Brandon Roda (six catches, 66 yards, one TD). And Roda was also one of the team’s three main running backs, picking up 738 yards and seven TDs on 85 carries.

However, the team’s other two backs leading running backs (Justyn Roda and Alex Williams) have graduated. And the line lost four starters in Jaydon Cagnoli, Joey Robinson, Anthony Vasalle and Brandon Oswalt. So, the Braves are not without some holes to fill.



Union City

Head coach: Randy Gunther (2nd season at Union City, 17th overall)

2012 record: 3-7 overall, 3-4 Region 2

Opening week opponent: Home vs. Lakeview, Friday at 7 p.m.

Union City had to forfeit one game last year due to lack of players. This season, the roster has bulked up to 34 members. So, the Bears will have some depth. And with it, they’re instituting a new triple-option offense. The new scheme will be led by returning quarterback Brody Mangel. As a sophomore, Mangel completed 28 of 69 passes for 538 yards, eight TDs and seven INTs. He was also the team’s second-leading rusher with 489 yards and five TDs on 142 carries.

The team will have to replace do-it-all back Josh Reinke, who led the team in rushing and receiving a year ago. But seniors Shane Russell (55 carries, 345 yards) and Brett Reynolds (who was limited by injury last year) will look to pick up the slack.  



Cambridge Springs

Head coach: Clint Rauscher (3rd season)

2012 record: 3-7 overall, 2-5 Region 2

Opening week opponent: At Saegertown, Friday at 7 p.m.

The Cambridge Springs football team has got to be feeling optimistic this season. No, last season wasn’t great. But the Blue Devils did have plenty of promising young talent in uniform in guys like quarterback Devin Walker and running backs/receivers Colton Noble and  Zach Stafford.

And all those guys are back. Walker, a senior, is back after passing for 925 yards and seven TDs while adding 295 yards and six TDs rushing. Fellow senior Noble returns, having rushed for a team-high 924 yards and six TDs while grabbing 17 passes for 139 yards and a score. And the sophomore Stafford returns after gaining 332 yards and three TDs on the ground and leading the team in receiving with 23 catches for 312 yards and two TDs. The Spa also brings back guys like senior Gavin Hohn and sophomore Kristofer Silbaugh, who were also valuable weapons last year.



Maplewood

Head coach: Bryan Borkovich (2nd season)

2012 record: 2-8 overall, 1-6 Region 2

Opening week opponent: At Reynolds, Friday at 7 p.m.

Maplewood graduated 10 seniors last year, many of which started and played key roles for the team, like quarterback Nate Klingler; 1,000-yard rusher Ethan Moody; leading receivers Logan Battin and Josh Kohnen; and kicker/punter Justin Dahl. And in total, the Tigers are down to just five seniors this year. They possesses an athletic junior class coming up behind them. However, the Tigers’ depth is hurting.

Junior Dane Barker will take over at quarterback after attempting just eight passes in varsity ball last year. Former wide receiver Miller Peters will prove to be a wily senior running back. And he’ll be joined in the rushing attack by junior Tyshaun Johnson, sophomore Kyle Nuhfer and freshman Brandon Bishop, who are all relatively new to the varsity game.

On the bright side, the Tigers line does have some experience back. Seniors Austin Binkert, Lance Smith and Marcus Hays and junior Dustin Delo were all starters last season.



Youngsville

Head coach: John Victor (1st season)

2012 record: 1-9 overall, 1-6 Region 2

Opening week opponent: Home vs. Fairview, Friday at 7 p.m.

Long time Warren area football coach John Victor takes over the Youngsville program for former head coach Luke Alex, who was with the team for two seasons and earned the team its only region championship in 2011.

The Eagles return quarterback Jacob Lauffenburger, who won last year’s starting role when former starter Jake Marino was injured. Lauffenburger ended up throwing for 695 yards and six TDs last season.

Youngsville does have to replace Rocco Gatta, who was the team’s leading rusher and receiver last year. Candidates include fullback Kris Wilcox and tailbacks Matt Fox and Josh Taydus.