By Tom Williams
When the Ohio High School Athletic Association added a seventh division for its football playoffs, it didn’t make much of an impact on Lisbon High football coach Jim Tsilimos
“It didn’t matter for me,” said Tsilimos who coached Lisbon to the 1995 state title. “My concern right now is to get us to start winning again.”
After a four-year break, Tsilimos returned to the Blue Devils staff in 2011. With a solid crop of underclassmen, he’s hoping the team is about to turn a corner.
“We’re hoping to change the culture of losing the last six years,” Tsilimos said. “We must be more physical on defense and not give up as many points.
“Wins will take care of all that playoff stuff.”
The Blue Devils have 17 lettermen. Seven starters are back on both sides.
“When you’re not very good, you end up playing a lot of kids,” Tsilimos said. “We do have some experience. We have some kids who have been playing a lot of Friday nights.”
The Blue Devils’ offense will be a mixture of the Stack I and the Pistol. Running the ball will be sophomore quarterback Josh Liberati.
“He’s good at football, at basketball,” senior tight end Shawn McKinnon said. “He brings his ‘A’ game in every sport that he plays. He wants to win. He pushes us seniors to step up and lead and guide them to where we want to go.”
Senior Brandon Barnes, Lisbon’s leading rusher last fall, also returns.
The defense will run a 4-4 scheme.
“The big question for us on defense is how physical we’re going to be,” said Tsilimos who laughed and admitted, “That’s a question every coach says every year.”
Returning linemen are McKinnon, Jacob Jarome, Jordan Everett and Anthony Rhodes. Barnes and Jagr Groubert are defensive backs while Tyler Heverly, Brandon Haldiman and Anthony Nguyen are the linebackers.
Despite the changes surrounding the Inter Tri-County League, Tsilimos says one thing is constant.
“Crestview is the champ until someone beats them,” Tsilimos said.
He expects Springfield and United to be among the league’s top teams.
“And South Range is always good.”
McKinnon said he’s looking forward to Homecoming.
“Our biggest rival is still United,” McKinnon said. “Our sophomore year, [the score] was 17-7. Last year was probably the best one and we just couldn’t win it.
“This year, we have them at home for Homecoming Game. We’re looking forward to it.”