Boardman returns strong senior class, Division I prospects
By Brian Dzenis
Boardman showed signs it can hang with the state’s elite last year and with a strong senior class returning this fall, the Spartans may be able to do a bit more than that.
It took eventual state champ Steubenville until the fourth quarter to put away Boardman (6-5). The Spartans also led state semifinalist Massillon Washington until the fourth quarter in the playoffs.
Expectations are high for the Spartans.
“Everyone expects us to be good, but all of our potential is on paper right now,” head coach Joe Ignazio said.
Mike O’Horo needs a big year. The senior quarterback has schools from the Division II through D-I schools in the Mid-American Conference looking at him, but he’s seeking that coveted offer to be a D-I quarterback.
“He needs to show another year of growth, which I think he has. The thing I think he has above the kids in this area is he is as tough as he can be,” Ignazio said. “He’s going to play defense. He’s a state freestyle wrestling champ. He’s [No. 5] in the state currently. You can’t teach that kind of toughness.”
In the backfield, senior Joe Ieraci returns at running back after suffering a season-ending injury against Steubenville. Nate Thompson and Josh Rodriguez will get reps behind him.
On the offensive line, senior left tackle Tino Arcuri is a D-I prospect receiving interest from Bowling Green, Army, Navy and Eastern Kentucky. Junior Issac Land is playing center to replace three-year starter Bob Toth and returning at the guard spots are juniors Nikitas Missos and David Murdich. Senior Jimmy Hoffman will have his first year as a full-time starter at right tackle.
“Like any new group, we’ve had some bumps in the beginning, but now I think we’re doing great,” Arcuri said. “I’m friends with all of these kids. It’s easy to communicate with them and we hang out outside of football, so we can always talk about what we have going on.”
The Spartan basketball team is bolstering the receiving corps in seniors Che Trevena and Cam Kreps — who return to football for the first time since their freshman seasons. Sophomore basketball player Aiden Slocum is also going to help out.
The 6-foot-2 senior Alex Huzicka will contribute to the passing game at tight end.
Huzicka and Arcuri are back on the defensive line. The former put up 17 tackles for loss last season. The remaining two starters on the line are to be determined.
The Spartans return all of their starting linebackers in senior Kareem Hamdan, Ieraci and juniors Connor Miller and Zac Hilliard.
“It’s awesome. We’ve got so much experience. I’ve been playing with a lot of these guys for three years,” Hamdan said. “It’s awesome to just have that instinct together since you’ve been playing together for so long.”
In the secondary, senior Michael Fetsko is the lone safety in Ignazio’s base 4-4 defense. O’Horo, Trevana and Slocum will see time at cornerback.
Junior Tommy Fryda returns at kicker. Huzicka and O’Horo are in the mix for punting duties.