Campbell Memorial plays a difficult independent schedule, but has seven home games.
By MARK W. MILLER
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
Although it lost nine defensive players to graduation, five of them Northeastern Buckeye Conference selections, the tradition-rich West Branch High football program, led by veteran coach Jim Laut, has 19 lettermen back.
Eight of them are returning starters, six on offense and two on defense. Seth Sharp, senior tackle, is an all-around athlete who is recognized as one of the area's top heavyweight wrestlers and field events performers.
Coaches emphasize that linemen get things going in any offense, and West Branch's experienced line includes seniors Gary Smith, tackle; Sam Jones, guard; and Kyle Sands, center.
Quarterback Nate Greenawalt will direct the Warriors' attack, while Robert Stull is a strong runner at fullback. Of the 19 lettermen back, 15 are seniors. Laut is actually working with 55 athletes, including 22 juniors and 18 sophomores.
Three athletes are vying for the quarterback job at Warren JFK, including senior Chase Senk, junior John DiFiore and sophomore Ed Campana.
Coach Tony Napolet, in his 14th season at Warren JFK, will try to get the Eagles into the playoffs for the second straight year.
Although he lost outstanding running back Josh Cayson to graduation, Napolet has some speed in junior tailback Anthony Ambellotis and sophomore Maurice Gore.
Co-captains and seniors, wide receiver Matt Karl and Bob Poweski, return. The Eagles have 10 defensive lettermen back.
Campbell improved from 1-9 to 4-6 in 2001 -- head coach John Ryan's second season. The Red Devils lost standout Anthony Wright, but return several good skill position players, including junior quarterback Ricky Quinn, senior running back Joe Jackson and sophomore running back Tim Davis.
Campbell plays a difficult independent schedule, but has seven home games. Staying healthy will be crucial to the Red Devils' success.