Iarussi, Stefanski anchor Struthers’ lines
By ALEXIS BARTOLOMUCCI
Looking to get to Week 11 in back-to-back seasons is top goal for Struthers under sixth-year head coach Curt Kuntz.
The Wildcats went 9-2 in 2016 and went 11 games without a fumble. While it is unrealistic to expect that again, Kuntz is counting on the team to limit turnovers and play every game to their fullest ability.
Kuntz said Struthers is motivated to compete for another All-American Conference White Tier title and playoff berth.
He expects the Wildcats to benefit from a good mix of veteran players and up-and-coming sophomores.
“I’m ready to see the young kids step up and play a big role on our team this year,” linebacker Nathan Richards said.
“We have a lot of talent back, plus we have four or five sophomores that are going to be in the mix from day one. If we stay healthy, we’ll be able to start where we left off last year,” Kuntz said.
Kuntz is running a multiple-I offense behind a solid offensive line.
Junior J.D. Hall will be taking over the position as starting quarterback that AJ Musolino left open when he graduated. Musolino is a now a linebacker at Kent State.
Two senior All-Ohio linemen will be big factors for the Wildcats.
“I’m looking forward to having a new quarterback and having new players in the o-line, working them in and getting the experience,” said Jimmy Stefanski.
Working alongside Hall on the offensive line will be seniors Stefanski and A.J. Iarussi. Both players carry a 4.0 grade-point averages and are getting offers from Ivy League schools.
“Winning the league title again, that’s the most important thing for us,” Iarussi said.
Struthers looks to run a 4-2-5 defense with a strong defensive front.
Richards is a starting linebacker who is looking to return to the field after he says what felt like a long offseason. He is ready to work with the younger players and help them develop their talents.
“We’ve been conditioning a lot,” Richards said. “We are just going to lay it all on the line and get the wins.”
Two-year starter Conner Calabrette will work with Ben Santana and Brandon Kistler on the defensive line. Nick Adams is a returning starter in the secondary.
“We’re still going to play really good defense like we did last year. Defense is probably the most important part to our team,” Iarussi said.
The Wildcats will have the option of using Hunter Stellato or Alyssa Ferguson as the kicker.
Repeating as AAC White Tier champions is the goal for the Wildcats.
“It’d be nice to have that plaque on the wall one more time,” Stefanski said.
Senior leadership will be critical.
“We have a good group of core guys that really picked up where the other guys left off and hopefully are teaching our young guys to do it when they leave,” Kuntz said.
The Wildcats open their season at Liberty.
“This is coach [Chet] Allen’s third year in the program and his guys are going to play hard,” Kuntz said. “They have 18 starters back so it’s going to be a heck of a game.”