By Greg Gulas
Steve Arnold took over as Warren Harding head football coach in 2012.
In 2016, he had 13 seniors sign national letters of intent, the most ever under his watch.
With seven players announcing their intentions Thursday morning in the school library, his 2018 team now has eight total players — Kay’Ron Adams was a Rutgers University December signee — moving on to the college ranks to become the class with the second most signees in his seven seasons at the helm.
“It’s always a great day when our young men can pursue a college education through the vehicle of football or athletics,” Arnold said. “The success that we enjoyed this season was because of this strong senior class. They will be sorely missed. The one thing I told them was to never forget where you came from.”
Those inking national letters were cornerback Troy Jakubec, the lone Raiders’ player to commit to a Division I school, as he will attend Youngstown State University and play for head coach Bo Pelini.
Division II commits include two-way lineman Simahjay Warfield and defensive tackle Jaquahn McIntosh, who will attend Lake Erie College, wide receiver Jakari Salter, who will attend Notre Dame College, offensive lineman Maurice Moore, a Glenville State commit and wide receiver Jeremy Wilson who will play for the University of Charleston in West Virginia.
Linebacker and defensive end Bill McCready will play for the Thiel Tomcats, a Division III program.
A three-year letterwinner, Jakubec was an All-American Conference Gold Tier first-team selection, who plans on studying business management.
He was a three-year starter, registering 42 tackles (15 solos), three interceptions and eight pass break-ups last season. Offensively, he caught 14 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns.
“Coach Arnold always pushed me to stay on top of my academics and athletics,” Jakubec said. “He was a great coach to have because he prepared me to play at the next level. Also, I was very impressed with coach Pelini and his staff. I love his energy and cannot wait to get started. I’m ready to go to camp and work hard.”
A two-year starter, Warfield was an all-state third-team selection, earning first-team all-Northeast Inland and All-American Conference recognition. He registered 33 tackles (17 solos), nine assists and five tackles for loss as he graded out at 84 percent.
He expects to major in exercise science and communications.
“Lake Erie College has a new staff and they’ve recruited a lot of players that I know and am familiar with,” Warfield said. “I want to be a part of their turnaround. Also, coach Arnold has been a great mentor, not just to me but the entire team. He’s my football father, a great coach with a great staff and they’ve all helped prepare me to play at the next level.
McIntosh is also a two-year starter, registering 31 tackles (13 solos), eight assists and six tackles for loss. He recovered a fumble and graded out at 80 percent as a starter. He was an all-Trumbull County, all AAC and all Northeast Inland pick his senior season and looking to study public relations.
“This was a good chance to help turn the program around,” he said. “I felt a real connection with the entire coaching staff.”
Salter started his junior and senior seasons, helping the Raiders to an 8-3 overall mark and post-season appearance by catching 27 passes for 411 yards and eight touchdowns.
A first-team AAC pick as a senior, he likes the idea of also being used as a tight end by the Falcons’ coaching staff.
“They feel like I can also play tight end and I am excited about the opportunity of playing multiple positions,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but one that I am ready tackle head on.”
Moore, who played both guard and tackle and started the past two seasons, earned an 88 percent grade as a starter on the Raiders’ offensive line.
He is looking to major in Exercise Science.
“Coach Arnold spoke so very highly about the school, their football staff, the location and overall program so I am excited to get started,” Moore said. “Since my freshman year coach pushed me, mentored me and gave me his ear when I needed it. He was hands-on, really cared and that is why I am looking forward to the challenge. I’m a freshman starting all over once again.”
Wilson started his final two varsity seasons, caught 32 passes for 271 yards and was an AAC honorable mention selection. He hopes to major in sports management.
“I don’t know if I can start immediately, but I’ll go there, work hard and prove to the staff that I can play and that I am ready for the college game.”
McCready is a two-year letterwinner, registering 19 tackles (12 solos), nine assists and six tackles for loss last fall.
He also plans to major in sports management.
“From the minute I stepped on the Thiel campus it felt like home,” McCready said. “The coaching staff is new, they made me feel wanted and I am hoping to be a part of making them great once again.”