With 23 lettermen and 14 starters returning, Warren Harding looks like the team to beat in the SVC.
By MARK W. MILLER
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- Ursuline High assistant football coach Mike Cappuzzello summed up what City Series, Steel Valley Conference and Metro Athletic Conference coaches talked about Thursday at the 33rd Denny Barrett Memorial Football Forecast.
Cappuzzello told the crowd at Operating Engineers Hall that Ursuline, last year's Division IV state champion, had 48 players working out, including 14 lettermen and 12 seniors, with four starters back on offense and five on defense.
"We hope to be competitive and make the playoffs again," said Cappuzzello. "Warren Harding should be the team to beat in the Steel Valley Conference; they have just about everybody back."
Last year, Boardman shared SVC honors with Ursuline and finished with a 5-5 record.
"Our entire offense, with the exception of two players, is back," said Boardman coach Garry Smith. "We only have one starter back on defense, and how quickly we develop there could be a key to our season."
Warren: Warren Harding has 73 prospects in the upper three grades, which includes 23 lettermen and 14 starters, with seven on each side of the football.
"We have a lot of the right parts on our squad and expectations are high for the coming season," said Harding coach Thom McDaniels.
"If we can get our kids embraced on fundamentals and do all the little things that make a team successful, then we can win."
Fitch has 74 athletes out as Carl Pelini starts his second season as the Falcons' coach.
"We had a lot of commitment from our kids this summer and that has made them better athletes," said Pelini.
"We've gone back to fundamentals [blocking and tackling] and our kids are starting to show some character. We know we have a long way to go from now until November."
Chaney: Chaney, which recorded a 10-0 regular season in 2000, lost most of its skilled players.
"We have 45 guys out. In the 15 years I've coached, that's been the average at Chaney," said coach Ron Berdis.
"We are going to be a different look than we have been the past two years because we lost a lot of skilled kids," he said.
"We are going to rely on the guys up front. Our kids are focused and we aren't looking back at last year's record."
Assistant football coach Chester Nelms of Woodrow Wilson said, "There are 50 kids in our program. Our kids are working hard; there is a lot of optimism and we are excited about the coming season.
"Our line will be young, but we have turned the corner and the kids want to win."
Campbell: John Ryan begins his second season at Campbell. The Red Devils won only one of 10 games in 2000.
"Our quarterback was a freshman last year and we also used four other freshmen and now we have experience," said Ryan. "Now all we need is the will to win."
A couple of new coaches make their debuts this season in the Metro Athletic Conference.
Doug Phillips, who led Springfield to the playoffs a year ago, moved on to Salem and Mike Pavlansky takes over at Canfield.
The Cardinals return only two starters on defense and three on offense.
"We are real young and we'll have a lot of sophomores and juniors up front," Pavlansky said. "We have more numbers and we hope that helps us in the future."
Salem: Phillips said, "I got to bring my whole staff with me to Salem and that's helping make the transition here a little easier.
"We have 45 kids out and have to find quality kids that can play 48 minutes," he said. "We are going to focus on things we can control, things that can win a game."
Poland coach Paul Hulea said, "Every coach, every year is excited about their teams. Our numbers are up, with 70 kids out, and we've been working hard all summer. Our expectations are high."
Niles is coming off a playoff season in which it lost 19 starters.
"We have four players back that we think will be good players," said veteran coach Bill Bohren. "We have 70 out and think as the season goes along, we'll get better."
When Dick Angle took the job at Howland High a couple of years ago, 36 candidates came out for football. The Tigers have 73 out this season, 17 of them seniors.
"We have come a long way," said Angle. "I am proud of our work ethic and what we have done. We have a good bunch of kids and a good opportunity to win some games."