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Toronto Focused on Opener Vs. Wellsville

August 28, 2014
By MATTHEW PEASLEE , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

TORONTO - Toronto opens the season, for the fifth year in a row, with rival Wellsville.

"We're focused on Wellsville," Red Knights coach Eric Meek said. "They've had our number the past couple of years. We need to come out of there with a victory. We feel that if we can do that and get better, we can have a really good season."

Meek has an intimate history with the Tigers since he spent eight years as their head coach in the late 1990s. Wellsville has outscored the Red Knights, 94-39, in the past four years. The past two years, though, have been close with 8-6 and 13-12 decisions in the annual season opener.

"There's been some really close games, especially recently," Meek said. "They've been a good opponent to open with."

Meek also feels he has a good team to beat them this season.

"I like our confidence," said Meek, the fifth-year coach of Toronto. "Our kids are very coachable. We knew it would be a rebuilding process.

"We said that when Year 5 arrives, that we would put out a solid product that the people in town would be proud of. We're on the right track and are excited for the season."

The team's success will start with its quarterback, Blaze Glenn. The three-sport standout is entering his third year as the starter under center. He was 74 of 132 on passes in 2013, totaling 787 yards with eight touchdowns. Glenn turned in a 199-yard passing performance in a Week 2, 35-14 victory against Bridgeport. He was the Red Knights' second-leading rusher with 446 yards on 100 carries and seven touchdowns.

Glenn stands 5-feet-9 and weighs 165 pounds.

"He's an athlete," Meek said. "Nothing can beat experience at the quarterback position. Going into Year 3 now as a starter, he knows what his strengths are. There's been a few weaknesses that we've discussed and he's working tirelessly to make those better. I'm sure he'll improve and put his best foot forward."

As a freshman, Glenn threw for 1,073 yards with nine touchdowns, while rushing for 539 yards and six more scores.

He will be backed up by junior Blaine Rawson and freshman Nolan Clegg. Rawson will also be a starting receiver and Clegg could see time at wideout, as well.

Last year's leading receiver, senior Nate Stewart, returns after making 17 catches for 157 yards and two scores. Junior Brandon Mitchell, sophomore Ty West, freshman Jake Keenan and freshman Nathan Keenan will play receiver, too.

Charles Ross III leads the backfield. The returning letterwinner started as a slot receiver in 2013 but will carry the ball this season. Sophomore Danny Zdinak, also a slot receiver a year ago, and sophomores Max Tice and Joey Carrao will also see time in the backfield.

There will be some changes along the offensive line as starting guard Drew Lowery, a junior, will shift to fullback with classmates Cody King and Hayden Saner serving as backups. There are two more returners who will stay on the line, with a little modification.

Senior Alec Haynes started at tackle in 2013 and will shift to guard, while Dylan Warren will remain the center for a second straight season.

The biggest guy on the field will be a newcomer. Jesse Beckwith, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound senior, transferred to Toronto from North Carolina. He will start at tackle after lettering at his former high school.

Freshman Luke Fogle will start at guard and sophomore Joven Householder will start at tackle.

Sophomore Griffin Allison and freshman Avery Watkins will serve as the backups at center, with senior Mitch Reese, senior James Reed, junior Justin Starkey and junior Sean Spence backing up at guard.

Sophomores Dustin Henry and Ben Davis will back up at tackle. Junior Donnie Starkey is the starting tight end, with senior RL Gray and sophomore Dan Braniff competing for time, also.

There are seven returning starters for the Toronto defense, which runs a 4-4 set. Davis starts at tackle and Saner starts at end on the line. King and Lowery return as starting inside linebackers, with Tice coming back as a starting outside linebacker.

Zdinak and Ross III are back in the secondary at safety and corner, respectively.

The unit surrendered 271 yards per game in 2013, but forced 22 fumbles.

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