Bruins Ready to Prove Mettle
By KYLE LUTZ
WELLSBURG — For Brooke, it was the season of the injury bug in 2016. After the first two weeks on both sides of the ball, the Bruins lost 13 starters. In fact, the starting and backup quarterbacks eac suffered injuries and the third-string quarterback played six weeks.
But what gave the Bruins their most trouble was a lack of speed. However, even though Brooke ended with a 2-8 record, the fire has been lit and it is prepared to show it is ready to compete.
“Basically, the thing that hurt the most was I lost my speed,” Bruins coach Mac McLean said. “I lost a Gage Yost, a Koty Hudson, an Ethan Secrist. It was a struggle last year. We finished 2-8 and we knew it was going to be rough to recreate what we did the year before, (7-3, trip to quarterfinals). But we were hoping that we could finish somewhere around or a little above or a little below .500. It just didn’t turn out that way for us.
“The team’s reaction to that has been good. The positive off of last season is we’ve had the best offseason we’ve had in the four years I’ve been here. A lot of kids on this football team were forced into action before they were ready because of injury last year. We had some humiliating nights, without a doubt. I think that burnt into these kids’ conscience and they responded the way I wanted them to. They made an effort in the offseason.
“Nobody went away from the program because of what happened last season. I actually added more kids to the program. They went into that weight room this winter with a mission and it’s been the best offseason. I was really impressed with the way my boys responded.”
Despite being a young team, many of the key returners for McLean are the guys up front. Jonathan Gallagher (6-foot-5, 287 pounds) is a three-year starter that will see time at right tackle. Junior Scott Browning (6-0, 234), who saw playing time as a freshman, will be at the left tackle position.
McLean also has a luxury at quarterback as he has two players that have plenty of experience in Logan Williams (6-1, 165) and Gage Yost (6-2, 195). McLean doesn’t have a set starter, but whomever that may be, the other guy will be on the field at the same time, even though he is not under center.
“They are both just good athletes,” McLean said. “I have to have them on the field at some place. They are both going to play and we’ve been debating around with going with a two-quarterback system. We might play both of them.”
Senior Dalton Valero (5-10, 174) will be back at the running back position and is also the Bruins’ most experienced ballcarrier. Classmate Zeke Farmer (5-9, 150) will also see time at the position, along with Moon Township transfer Kenton Conley (5-11, 195) and sophomore Max Camilletti (5-10, 149). C.J. Helms (5-11, 161) and Conley are the leading candidates to be the fullback to replace Alex Edgell.
At wide receiver is Secrist (6-4, 180), who is coming back after being injured last season. He returned in Week 8 and scored six touchdowns in the final three weeks. And McLean thinks if he has the season he hopes, colleges will soon be knocking on the door for him.
Senior Tripp Moore (6-5, 179), a transfer from Madonna, will also see time at receiver, along with junior Aleksey Rasz (5-11, 147), senior Josh Richie (5-10, 151) and senior Kenny Taylor (5-10, 145).
Up front, according to McLean, will be the biggest and most physical line he’s had. The starting five are Gallagher, Carson Secrist, a transfer from New Philadelphia (5-10, 243), Skyler Rice (6-2, 268), Kyler Haynes (6-1, 253) and Browning.
Many of them will also be on the defensive line, too. Browning will be a defensive end, along with senior Adam Horvath (6-0, 205), who will also start at tight end, while Haynes and Gallagher will be the defensive tackles.
“I’m very happy with my big guys on the offensive line and defensive line,” McLean said. “The only place that concerns me, they’re the same people. We don’t have a lot of depth in the big kids. Now we do have a very good freshman class that came in. The best freshman class as far as numbers and talents since I’ve been there. You’re going to see ninth graders on the field for me this year. It’s not out of need. These are talented kids that are still young and undersized. But they’re down there right now trading paint with the three-year starters and are doing really well. The young kids are going to be the kids for us to be successful this year. It’s going to be the role players. Guys that are going to have to hold it down for a few snaps. That’s going to be critical for me.”
At the linebacker position is Helms and Carson Secrist, Ethan Secrist, Yost and Conley.
At free safety is Valero, while Richie is a corner and there are four to five players that can play the other corner position.
The remaining seniors are Aaron Adams, Daniel Arango, Walker Morris and Nic Provenzano. The juniors are Brett Brown, George Mackricostas, William McKinney, Austin Miller, Austin Provenzano, Austin Reitter and James Willis.
The sophomores include Camden Bates, Logan Bine, David Boardley, Dalton Ewing, Brandon Hodgkins, Noah Horvath, Gabe Hudson, Alex Lilly, Michael Shaner, Adam Pearson, Antonio Taverne and Austin Williams.
The freshmen are Brad Anderson, Cody Byers, Samuel Casto, Devon Debnar, Lance Elliott, Sophia Fields, Joseph Fuscardo, Roger Gabbert, John George, Drake Hukill, Stephen Hunter, Dakopta Isinghood, Jackson Julio, Kurtis Leoaord, Isaac Lippoli, David McCombs, Ethan Ratcliff, Jacob Raveaux, Aaron Scipio, Colton Shaffer, Josh Shorts, Jacob Smith, Drew Stewart, Carson Taylor, Matthew Treiber and Martin Wood.
“I’m happy with the effort we put forth so far,” McLean said. “The lesson I learned last year is to set short-term goals and try to let them pile up into long-term goals by the end of the year. We’re not going to put our goals too far out in front of us. We’re going to attack this little by little and sometime around Thanksgiving when this whole thing is over, we’ll kick back and see where we ended up.”
Brooke opens the season against arch-rival Wheeling Park at West Liberty University.
“The best thing about it is the atmosphere the kids are going to get to play in,” McLean said. “These kids come in here from January until June when nobody is paying attention and it’s just them. They’re going to get a big paycheck. They’re going to get to roll out on a college football field in front of a packed crowd. It’s going to be an intense atmosphere and that’s why they do this. That’s awesome for them.”
McLean is assisted by Paul Julio, C.J. Besece, Mario DiBias, Ryan Scherich, Jeremey Sadler, Chuck Taylor, Jason Williamson, Zeke Farmer, Rich Henry, George Sizemore and Brian Davis.
*Aug. 24: at Wheeling Park 7 p.m.
Sept. 8: University 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 15: at Morgantown 7 p.m.
Sept. 22: Pittsburgh Perry 7 p.m.
Sept. 29: at Indian Creek 7 p.m.
Oct. 6: Parkersburg South 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 13: at John Marshall 7 p.m.
Oct. 20: Buckhanon-Upshur 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 27: at Weir 7 p.m.
Nov. 3: Princeton 7:30 p.m.
* at West Liberty University
Win 6, Lose 4
Aaron Adams, Daniel Arango, Ezekial Farmer, Jonathan Gallagher, Kyler Haynes, Adam Horvath, Tripp Moore, Walker Morris, Nic Provenzano, Skyler Rice, Joshua Richie, Carson Secrist, Ethan Secrist, Kenneth Taylor, Dalton Valero.
Brett Brown, Scott Browning, Kenton Conley, Christopher Helms, George Mackricostas, William McKinney, Austin Miller, Austin Provenzano, Aleksey Rasz, Austin Reitter, Logan Williams, James Willis, Gage Yost.
Camden Bates, Logan Bine, David Boardley, Maxwell Camilletti, Dalton Ewing, Brandon Hodgkins, Noah Horvath, Gabe Hudson, Alex Lilly, Michael Shane, Adam Pearson, Antonio Taverne, Austin Williams.
Brad Anderson, Cody Byers, Samuel Casto, Devon Debnar, Lance Elliott, Sophia Fields, Joseph Fuscardo, Roger Gabbert, John George, Drake Hukill, Stephen Hunter, Dakota Isinghood, Jackson Julio, Kurtis Leoaord, Isaac Lippoli, David McCombs, Ethan Ratcliff, Jacob Raveaux, Aaron Scipio, Colton Shaffer, Josh Shorts, Jacob Smith, Drew Stewart, Carson Taylor, Matthew Treiber, Martin Wood.