Mineral Ridge seeks higher ground
Rams rebounded last season for 6-4 finish, their best since 2012
By Brian Dzenis
Head coach Steve Wyllie’s first season at Mineral Ridge was a success last year. He helped deliver a 6-4 mark for the school’s first winning season since 2012. It’s a nice achievement, but the Rams were well outside the playoff picture.
“We keep preaching that we can’t rely on 6-4 because that’s still technically mediocre and our kids at Mineral Ridge are not mediocre,” Wyllie said. “That’s what we’re harping on.”
Exceeding last year’s mark will be tough this year. The Rams graduated 12 seniors and only added one new player in the offseason, leaving 22 players on the roster. Wyllie said he is weighing up whether or not he wants to field a JV team.
Mineral Ridge’s practices feature a lot of running — running between drills and to the water cooler — to deal with the realities of a shallow roster.
“They’re going to spent by the end of a game. In the third quarter, they’ll be spent,” Wyllie said. “That’s why we keep running them and running them.”
Junior Dakota Edwards is the only returning starter at a skill position for Ridge, rushing for 253 yards and passed for 192 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’re hoping he’s able to amplify his game with his running and that can also open up the passing game,” Wyllie said.
Senior Nathan Chiclowe has moved from tight end to fullback. Senior Jacob Lesko and sophomore Evan Erb figure to be part of the running back committee with Chiclowe.
On the offensive line, tackle Donny Tims is the lone senior with sophomore Jordan Elswick taking the other tackle spot. Junior Cameron Havner starts at center and junior Jake Teeters and sophomore Shawn Osborn start at guard.
Sophomores Randall Miller and Joe Rozzi figure to start at wide receiver. Senior Eric Basista will be the team’s tight end.
In the Rams’ 3-4 defense, Tims and Chiclowe are the starting defensive ends with Havner in the middle.
Edwards, senior Patrick Ague, Teeters, Elswick are the starting linebackers with freshman Javon Bushara figuring into the mix.
Miller and Basistas are the team’s starting cornerbacks while Rozzi and Lesko are the safeties.
Chiclowe will handle the team’s punting duties and will handle long field goal attempts. Freshman Gil Blair will kick PATs and short field goals.