Linsly Will Maneuver OVAC-Heavy Schedule
By BUBBA KAPRAL
WHEELING — B.J. Depew enters the 2017 season a happy man.
The classy Linsly coach is upbeat for two good reasons.
One, his roster numbers are up dramatically. Two, the Cadets will be tackling an OVAC-laden schedule for the first time in many seasons.
Depew will have the services of 46 players this fall, including 14 freshmen. Of that number, 17 are cast in the role of returning lettermen.
Gone from the schedule are Columbus Bishop Ready, Eastern Local and Kiski. They have been replaced by Warren Local, Shadyside and River, giving the Cadets seven OVAC opponents on this year’s slate.
“I really like our schedule. We want to play OVAC schools,” he said. “Playing seven conference schools is something we look forward to. We also host Wheeling Central here for the first time.”
The spike in players is comforting news to Depew. His Cadets encountered an onslaught of injuries last fall, resulting in a 3-7 finish.
“We were a lot better than a 3-7 team last year. Injuries played a big part in that. It really hampered us offensively,” Depew said. “Fortunately, it was a positive experience for our kids. So I consider that a successful season.”
Those physical issues have yielded a positive situation at quarterback. Luke Mueller was the starter at the inception of the 2016 campaign, only to be felled the balance of the season by injury. Wyatt Hirt stepped in and acquitted himself nicely.
Mueller (6-foot,, 196 pounds) is a two-year letter-winning senior. Hirt (6-3, 158) is a junior letterman.
“We have a nice situation at quarterback. I have confidence in both Luke and Wyatt,” Depew said. “Luke may get the first shot since he is the senior but both will compete for the spot.”
Depew is also high on Hunter Kelley (6-3, 154). The talented freshman is the Cadets’ quarterback of the future but will likely be utilized on defense this season while learning the signal-calling ropes.
Junior Jesper Korkalainen (6-3, 164) is another signal-caller candidate.
Running back is another area of strength.
Senior Nick Falbo (6-0, 158) returns as a starter. He has the ability to run strong between the tackles or bounce it outside.
Vic Giovengo (5-11, 184) will also get his share of totes. He is a versatile three-year lettermen.
Senior Raoul Lockhart (5-9, 170) can supply more quality depth. However, at press time, it was uncertain if he was returning to school this year.
Junior Eli Petho (6-2, 172) will handle the fullback duties. The talented two-year letterman was a regular on defense last fall.
Additional running backs are sophomore Carl Nyh (5-10, 160) and promising freshman Steven Felton (6-0, 172).
Offensive coordinator Chris Kiedaisch’s scheme doesn’t often make use of a true tight end. But when they do two-year letter-winning junior Cyrus Hill (5-10, 167) is a quality one while freshman Zach Taylor (5-8, 138) is his understudy.
The Cadets are deep, however, in wide receiver aspirants.
A trio of glue-fingered gridders will see regular duty at wideout. Two-year senior letterman Tavion Minor (5-8, 125), sophomore letterman Joe Zaccirey (6-2, 187) and junior letter-winner Mikal Warfield-Payne (6-2, 149) compose a dynamic corp.
Depew has a sweet situation with the slot position. Jules Giovengo (5-6, 138) and Trevin Tush (5-8, 143) are both gifted pass-catchers. Giovengo is a two-year letter-winning junior while Tush lettered last season as a freshman.
Depth is not a concern as a host of terminal candidates are in the fold, including juniors Will Harris (5-8, 123) and Brad Bin (5-9, 135) sophomores Lee Paull (5-9, 129) and Logan Gill (5-4, 130) and freshmen Kobe Hill (5-9, 140), Zachai Simmons (5-6, 124), Jake Stern (5-8, 144), Jack Weir (5-6, 113) and Spencer Knight (5-3, 115).
Depew feels real good about his offensive line, and with good reason. Three starters are back in the fold along with a battle-tested center.
Stephen Snyder (5-10, 205), Dawson Mellinger (5-10, 270) and Max Morrison (6-2, 251) will again be starters up front, boasting size and tenacity. Snyder is a two-year letter-winning junior, Mellinger is a senior with two letters under his belt while Morrison is a senior letterman.
Letterman Lee Cartwright (6-1, 179) is a rising sophomore center. He saw extensive time last fall.
Chance Knight (6-2, 191) is making a good case for a starting berth. He lettered as a freshman. The Cadets also boast two promising and massive tackle candidates in junior Mads Hansen (6-3, 250) and sophomore Nils Braun (6-6, 294).
Depth on the O-line comes in the form of seniors Giovanni Murgola (5-9, 162) and Sam Park (5-8, 181), juniors Divo Cerjan (6-5, 248), Neville Krueger (6-4, 232) and Thomas Aronokhale (6-3, 260) and sophomores Parker Blue (6-0, 267) and Eli Vetanze (6-0, 246).
Freshmen linemen include Phillip Redford (5-5, 173), Anthony Andy (5-10, 176), Justin Weiser-Jokovich (5-11, 168), Cole Grimm (6-0, 138), Cole Bonacci (5-9, 220) and Marco Aprea (5-8, 139).
The Linsly defense is under the skillful watch of coordinator James Wallace. The Cadets employ a 3-3-5 look.
The first level defensive will be anchored by Dawson, a starter in that role a year ago. Morrison and Knight will likely be the other two starters on the line.
Linebacking be an area of strength for the Cadets.
Snyder returns as the starter in the middle and should be one of the premier linebackers in the OVAC.
Vic Giovengo provides a big-play defender on one of the outside posts. Cyrus Hill is leading the way to land the other outside slot.
Wallace will deploy two of his finest defenders on the edge — Falbo and Petho. They displayed the ability to apply quarterback pressure a year ago.
Jules Giovengo, Tush and Minor all are quality safeties.
Kelley, Warfield-Payne and Paull will all see time at cornerback.
Kelley will also handle the punting duties while the Cadets are still in the market for someone to handle placement duties.
“It is important that we improve our ability to run the ball. We were not a very good offensive team last year. We had a defensive-minded mentality,” Depew offered. “We will still have that defensive mindset this year but running the ball effectively is vital for our success. We are making some schematic changes to try and make that happen. I believe we will be a good passing team.”
Depew does face the challenge of replacing some exceptional talent. Gage Giovengo was one of the finest two-way players in the Ohio Valley last year before becoming OVAC heavyweight wrestling champion. Graduation also claimed Floid Giddings, Jacob Murray and Tommy Curtin.
“Gage was our emotional leader last year. We need someone to step up and fill that role this year,” Depew said.
Linsly took part in two pre-season scrimmages — Tuscarawas Catholic and Weir.
In addition to Wallace and Kiedaisch, the Linsly staff includes Brian Valentine (line), Mark Dodd (running backs and linebackers), Andrew Swierkos (defensive backs and wide receivers) and Demetrius Baldwin-Youngblood (defensive line, tight ends).
The junior high staff includes Doug Tush, Jay Cartwright, Ron Gill and Joe Giovengo.
Linsly will receive an acid test in its regular-season opener, traveling to Mogadore, a constant in the OHSAA playoffs. Week two takes the Cadets to Martins Ferry.
Linsly will play its “home” opener in Week 3 at West Liberty University, hosting Beaver Local.
Vic Giovengo, Luke Mueller, Tavion Minor, Nick Falbo, Raoul Lockhart, Dawson Mellinger, Sam Park, Max Morrison, Giovanni Murgola.
Jules Giovengo, Wyatt Hirt, Jesper Korkalainen, Mikal Warfield-Payne, Eli Petho, Will Harris, Stephen Snyder, Thomas Aronokhale, Neville Kruger, Divo Cerjan, Mads Hansen, Brad Bin, Cyrus Hill.
Lee Paull, Tavion Minor, Trevin Tush, Carl Nyh, Logan Gill, Joe Zaccirey, Lee Cartwright, Chance Knight, Parker Blue, Eli Vetanze, Nils Braun.
Kobe Hill, Hunter Kelley, Zachai Simmons, Marco Aprea, Zac Taylor, Jake Stern, Steven Felton, Phillip Redford, Anthony Andy, Justin Weiser-Jokovich, Cole Grimm, Cole Bonacci, Jack Weir, Spencer Knight.
Aug. 25 : at Mogadore 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 1: at Martins Ferry 7 p.m.
Sept. 8: Beaver Local * 7 p.m.
Sept. 16: Carrick 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 23: Beallsville 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 30: Wheeling Central 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 7: at Western Reserve 2 p.m.
Oct. 13: at River 7 p.m.
Oct. 21: Warren 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 27: at Shadyside 7 p.m.
Win 6, Lose 4