Sikora returns to Campbell after four seasons away
By Greg Gulas
The Campbell High School football team was winless last season, scoring in double figures just once while posting a mere 70 total points, 37 of which came in their fourth game, a 48-37 loss to East Palestine.
The Red Devils suffered four shutouts while the offense averaged just 3.4 points per game in nine other losses.
Just as challenging was the defense, which allowed 379 points (37.9 per contest), yielding 39-or-more points in six games including a season-high 73 against LaBrae.
Gone after just one season is head coach Albert “Butch” Jennings.
Enter former Red Devils head coach Mickey Sikora who coached the Red Devils from 2010-14.
Sikora helped lead the team to their last playoff appearance (2010) and two consecutive All-American Conference Blue division titles (2010-11), theRed Devils’ first back-to-back league crowns in more than 20 years.
Sikora most recently served as a defensive assistant at Lakeview High School, saying that his initial go around at Campbell Memorial was special so the opportunity to return was a calling that he simply couldn’t pass up.
“Like the great NFL head coach Bill Parcells said, it’s a narcotic,” Sikora said. “I had a great time working with Tom Pavlansky and the Bulldogs’ defense, but I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Memorial.
“My son John played here, my father also played for the Red Devils and served as captain of the 1954 team for legendary head coach Johnny Knapick, later being inducted into the school’s athletics hall of fame.
“I happen to think that we have a hungry group of players that want to win,” Sikora said. “They’ve worked hard in the offseason and I cannot wait now for the season to get under way.”
Under Sikora, the team will have a multiple pro look with Gary Zetts, the former Struthers head coach, serving as passing coordinator, and Rick Gozur, Jr. as the run game coordinator.
“We have a lot of speed and a good blend of veterans and newcomers,” Sikora said. “Our running backs and wide receivers can run and if we can get them into space, then only good things can happen.”
Sophomore Kayvon Moore played sparingly as a freshman under center and will open the season as its starter. James Shaffer is the backup.
“I watched the film on Kayvon and it’s a no-brainer. He’s a special player,” Sikora said. “James is our Swiss army knife in that he can play quarterback, running back, safety and is a 4.0 student.”
In addition to Shaffer in the backfield, Jontae Pabellon and Dallas VanCobb are also vying for playing time.
Four wide receivers Malachi Bannarn, Christian Stores, Christian James and Nick Lopez are also tight ends, depending on the formation.
Center Adam Rusnak anchors the offensive line with Steven Mahr and DeVon Rushton the tackles, and Jarid Armeni and Eric Gonzalez the guards.
Armeni also can play center and tackle with Antoni Galouzis a guard-tackle, expected to see considerable action.
Ron DeJulio returns as defensive coordinator of Sikora’s multiple-40 scheme with linebacker their strength and the expectation that players will be moved around quite often.
Inside linebackers include Pabellon and Armeni with the outside linebackers led by Jeremiah McQueen and Shaffer.
The tackles are Erik Hernaiz, R’Trell Miller and Dashawn Bell with Armeni, Rushton and Lopez also listed at end.
The free safety is Bannarn and the safeties Daquan Bebbs, Quinn Grace and Brandon Timlin.
Sikora has always put an emphasis on special teams and if the Red Devils are to make any noise at all this season, then special team play will need to be a contributing factor.
The punter-placekicker is Joey Michaels with Armeni entrusted with both short and long snapping duties.
Sikora also feels that the speed of Moore, Stores and VanCobb, each of whom will return punts and kickoffs, can produce game-changing moments.