FOOTBALL FORECAST Nine area coaches give preview of year
Chaney's Ron Berdis goes after his 14th City title in 15 years.
By BOB ROTH
BOARDMAN -- Just nine coaches came Wednesday night to the 34th annual Denny Barrett Memorial Football Forecast.
Yet, tradition remained intact at the Operating Engineers Hall, as did the usual optimism and enthusiasm.
Chaney's Ron Berdis led the way for the coaches. The Cowboys were 9-2 last season and won their 13th City Series title in the last 14 years. Berdis has a turnout of 46 players, including 15 lettermen and five returning starters.
"Our schedule is a real concern and it will test us early and with our numbers we will need to stay healthy," he said. "An opener with Austintown Fitch is always a tough job and our league will be vastly improved."
Rayen School coach Brian Shaner had a turnout of 48 players with five starters included in a group of 14 lettermen.
"Our kids had a good off-season we have a great group of juniors," said Shaner. One of those underclassmen is 5-foot-10, 185-pound tailback-defensive back Dwayne Smith.
Fitch has 71 players out
Neal Kopp had 71 players turn out at Austintown Fitch, including 17 returning lettermen. The Falcons begin their first season in the Federal League.
"Our kids have done everything we have asked of them. To be successful we must remain injury free and win on the road."
A new coach this season is Struthers' Pete Pirone Jr., who succeeded Gary Zetts. With a turnout of 54 players, but only two returning starters on offense and one on defense, the Wildcats will be a young team.
"Our goal is to bring Struthers football back to where it was in the 1980s," said Pirone.
Other Metro coaches
Poland's Paul Hulea, Niles' Phil Annarella and Canfield's Mike Pavlansky were other coaches from the Metro Athletic Conference in attendance.
The veteran Annarella enters his second coaching season at Niles with a turnout of 53 players, 11 of them lettermen and eight of them starters.
Boardman's D.J. Ogilvie returns to his alma mater after coaching at United for six seasons. He inherits 69 players, including 14 lettermen, from a 1-9 squad.
"It is great to be back home," said Ogilvie. "I have a great staff working with me and with Ursuline, St. Ignatius and Chaney topping our schedule we can't look past our first three games."
Assistant coaches Larry Kempe and Don McCloud represented Ursuline and Cardinal Mooney, respectively.
Said Kempe, "In the 30 years that I have been coaching this is the first time I have coached speed."