Warren JFK looks to continue strong postseason tradition
By BOB ETTINGER
The John F. Kennedy football team is coming off three consecutive appearances in the Division VII state playoffs, including a win in the 2016 state championship game. The current Eagles understand that recent history and the long history of success in the program. But they also know their own legacy is tied not to the past, but to the present.
“The important thing is most of the kids we’ve got are JFK kids,” Kennedy coach Jeff Bayuk said. “They’ve grown up in our junior high program. They’ve had expectations all the way through. There are enough reminders in the building that we’ve made 22 state playoff appearances and we’ve won it five times.
“They understand the history. They just have to understand what it takes (to be part of tat history). Those are just part of the expectations here.”
The Eagles will have to be in shape to compete with the teams on the schedule.
“Our numbers are not comparable to some of the schools on our schedule,” Bayuk said. That will have some affects on you. When I was at Hubbard, our goal was to never have one of our offensive linemen play defense. It’s a blessing to do that. In the third and fourth quarter, that starts to pay off.
“We’re not in that situation this year. We have to be creative with our position groups to get guys in the game so some can come out and get some water,” he added. “We yell that they’ve got to play 48 minutes. They’re not going to be off the field. That motivates them t be in the best shape they can be. That’s certainly important.”
The Eagles open with a tough slate of games. They host Champion on Saturday night then travel to play LaBrae, Girard and Crestview over the next three weeks.
“I know it sounds like coach speak,” Bayuk said. “The most important thing is to get through those first four games healthy. The second thing, regardless of what happens in those first four games, we have to maintain our spirit and willingness to learn and not get discouraged.
“Teams that lose those first four tend to pack it in and start getting ready for the winter sports. We have to guard against injuries physically and not get discouraged,” he added. “We never talk about the importance of winning a game. We talk about the importance of getting better in our individual positions. If we get better each week, even if we don’t come out on top on the scoreboard, it’s OK.”
The success of the offense will hinge upon the offensive line where four starters return.
Alex Hernandez and Abe Hindi will be the tackles and Peyton Comer and Earl Hill return on the interior. The lone newcomer up front will be Scott Mintus.
Following behind that group will be tailback Jordan Edmondson and fullback Isaac Hadley with Christian Marantis under center.
Cameron Hollobaugh will serve as a tight end, receiver or running back depending upon the formation.
On the outside will be a combination of Jarrett Likens, Jesse Likens, Savone Williamson and Nick Fordeley.
The men tasked with controlling the line of scrimmage on defene will include ends Jason Turner and Hernandez and Comer, a tackle. Nathan Barto and Eddie Kiernan will provide depth.
Hollobaugh and Hadley, a defensive end until this season, will lead the defense from their inside linebacker positions. Louis Kondolios will be an outside backer with some younger players rotating through. The secondary will include safeties Jarrett Likens, Jesse Likens and Fordeley and corners Edmondson and Williamson.
Armand Nannicola will be the kicker with Marantis or Fordeley doing the punting. Williamson and Jesse Likens will return kicks.