Cadiz Graduate Hayes Takes Over at Harrison
By KIM NORTH
CADIZ — Anthony Hayes, a 1996 Cadiz graduate, has taken over the Harrison Central reins after veteran head coach Justin Kropka stepped down following last season — his 13th. However, Hayes is no stranger to the Husky program as he served as an assistant coach for 11 years under Kropka.
“It’s an exciting time to be at Harrison Central,” Hayes said after being hired in the summer. “We’ve got a new school being built and we just had turf installed at our stadium prior to last season.
“There’s a lot of passion for football here. There’s also a lot more kids to choose from than when I played, and we want to keep those numbers increasing.”
Harrison Central has 39 kids out this season, with 19 being returning letterwinners.
“Our numbers are a little better than they have been. We’re right around 40 kids. Last year we ended with 27, so the numbers are OK. But don’t get me wrong, they are not where they used to be. But we’re taking steps in the right direction to fix that problem. Having an offseason to recruit our student body, I think that will help us as well.
“We have a lot of returning lettermen. It makes it a little easier on me in one sense, but I tell people we have 13 seniors on our roster. Those are very, very inexperienced seniors. Those are guys that were probably forced into playing some and a lot of them were probably not ready to play on Friday nights, but it does give all of those kids a chance to look back and understand what took place on Friday nights.
Hayes, 40, almost didn’t become the Harrison Central head coach. In fact, he was named the head coach at Toronto a couple of weeks before Kropka shocked the Husky community with his resignation. Then, after looking at the situations, he decided to resign from Toronto to become the Huskies new head coach.
Offensively, the Huskies will line up as they have in the past.
“A lot of similarities. We’ve done a lot of things here for a long period of time with Coach Krop(ka) that worked. That system was very similar to the system that I played under when I was at Cadiz High School,” Hayes said. “As the game changes and evolves you always try to add in a few wrinkles whenever you can and try to utilize the personnel that you have as proposed to trying to pound that square peg into a round hole. We want to make sure that we build our system around what we have.”
Harrison Central’s offense will be centered around speedy senior tailback Tyler West (5-foot-11, 151 pounds). West ran for 1,607 yards and 24 touchdowns last fall on 164 carries. That comes a year after picking up 1,447 and scoring 12 TDs as a sophomore. He had 479 yards and seven scores as a freshman.
“He is such a diverse player that he can play, obviously he can dot the I with the best of them,” Hayes said of West, who has 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash. “He is, in my opinion, one of the better dual-threat skilled players that we’ve had in terms of he can line up at receiver and play that position as well as anyone in the valley. On top of the fact, that in my opinion, he’s in the group of top running backs in the area.
“He can do a multitude of things. He’s picking up blocking in the passing game. He’s a Swiss army knife and that creates a lot of problems for opposing defenses. He has that tremendous second-gear speed. In track he’d be a great 200-meter dash runner. He’s got that second gear that creates seperation from everyone else.”
Joining West in the backfield are three dependable ballcarries in senior Damon Carpenter (5-10, 196) and juniors Tucker Coultrap (5-11, 179) and Cale McAfee (6-1, 170).
“We are blessed with skilled players. We have four kids that we can count on to carry the ball with effectiveness,” Hayes said. “McAfee can play back there, as can Carpenter. In my mind, Carpenter is in a position where he’d be one of the best tailbacks in the Ohio Valley. He is a very, very good running back. He’s a lot bigger after blowing out his knee as a junior in Week 3. He missed a lot of games but stepped in as a sophomore when Tyler (West) got banged up and probably rushed for 500-600 yards. He’s a thick, bruising-type runner, but he’s also extremely skilled in catching the ball out of the backfield.
“Coultrap is another good runner. He played quite a bit last year and has done an outstanding job. He’s got some speed that you won’t know it until he gets to the second or third level.
“We’ve got four guys in the backfield and I feel comfortable with any of them.”
As for the fullbacks, Hayes smiles when he said, “they are interchangeable with the tailbacks. Whomever is playing tailback will be playing fullback.”
Others ticketed for duty in the backfield are junior Lee Sponaugle (5-9, 156) and freshmen Nic Evans (5-8, 136) and Nathan Bertolino (5-8, 153).
Starting his first year at quarterback is electric sophomore Kobe Mitchell (6-1, 155). He didn’t take a snap under center last season and replaces three-year starter Wyatt Elias.
“Kobe is a three-sport athlete, and when I say that about the kid and hear a three-sport athlete, it gets me excited because that means that kid is a competitor,” Hayes said with a smile. “If he wasn’t the leading scorer on our basketball team he was really close. He also played baseball.
“He’s progressed really quickly in camp and in two-a-days. He’s starting to realize what we’re doing and he’s starting to realize how to break down the game of football in his mind, and not have us spoon-feed him information and tell him what to do with the ball every play. He’s starting to be able to make those decisions on his own, and that’s carrying over to helping other kids, as well.”
Junior Mark Smith (6-1, 162) is the backup QB.
The offensive line is a jumble right now, but Hayes likes what he’s seen.
At center is sophomore Ronald Pauley (5-10, 170).
He’s being challenged by juniors Bryce Wade (5-10, 156) and Haden Stull (5-8, 191).
A guard will be senior Cody Gamble (6-1, 231) who Hayes said “has done a really good job so far.”
Seniors Josh Croft (6-0, 212), Eric Perry (6-5, 220), Zach Marbais (5-11, 172) and Blayne Erwin (5-11, 197) are also in the mix.
Whomever isn’t playing guard is going to play tackle, according to the head coach.
Junior John Dannehl (6-1, 221) is another player working in there, as are juniors Albert Taylor (5-9, 260) and Blaine Milliken (5-9, 165); sophomore Jeremiah Unterzuber (6-7, 240); and freshmen Logan Ellis (6-0, 181), Matthew Smith (5-8, 147), John Wagner (5-8, 183), Dillon Drapp (5-8, 215) and Braxton Slone (5-7, 170).
“We’ve got about 10 guys that we are going to rotate in there. I expect all of them to get time on Friday nights,” Hayes said. “It allows us to rest some guys on either side of the ball and keep them fresh. These kids have to be ready to play whether it’s varsity or JV. We don’t want to throw them out there on a Saturday for junior varsity action if they are not prepared. We have to coach each kid equally.”
The receiving corps are deep and talented.
McAfee, Carpenter and Mark Smith will see action at tight end.
Senior Caden Dalton (5-11, 152) did a very good job last year.
Senior Payton Taylor (6-2, 187) is another player that will see playing time.
Also listed at wide receiver are seniors Joe Rogers (5-10, 148), Preston Haney (6-2, 163) and Job Positano (6-1, 143); sophomores Skyler Mazeroski (6-0, 165), Kanyon Coleman (6-0, 144) and Jesse McLeod (5-8, 139); and freshmen Trevor Carman (5-8, 143), Gabe Marbais (5-8, 123), Brian Hendershot (5-6, 132), Jonathon Vermillion (6-4, 159) and Ethan Moreland (5-7, 165).
Defensively, the Huskies will switch up alignments as needed week-to-week.
The ends will be Perry, Croft and Blayne Erwin.
The tackles will be the same guys plus Dannehl and Gamble, who will also see action at nose guard when the Huskies deploy an odd front.
Others in the mix are Vermillion, Ellis, Matthew Smith, Hull, Wagner, Drapp, Slone, Z. Marbais, Taylor and Unterzuber.
The linebackers are to Hayes’ liking.
Carpenter, a two-year letterman, is “a very good football player. Very skilled.”
Mark Smith is in his first year at linebacker.
Coultrap and Pauley will also see quality time.
Other linebacker candidates include McAfee, Carman, Gabe Marbais, Haney, Sponaugle, Milliken and Blayne Erwin.
Hayes thinks he has two of the best cover cornerbacks in the business in Mitchell and Dalton.
West will also rotate in secondary.
Taylor will man the free safety slot.
Rogers is also ticketed for duty.
Other defensive backs include Coleman, Hendershot, Evans, McLeod and Moreland.
Special teams should be special for the Huskies as Positano returns as the placekicker and will also handle the kickoff and punting chores.
That staff includes Brian Mays (OL/ILB), Willie Walker (WR/CB), Ty Kenney (QB/Safeties), A.J. Barsch (RB/OLB), Bill Bryant (DL/OL) and Mark Smith (DE/OL). Cain Noble will assist with the defensive line and also serve as the team’s equipment manager.
Aug. 24: at Garaway 7 p.m.
Aug. 31: Bell Multicultural 7 p.m.
Sept. 8: at Bellaire 7 p.m.
Sept. 14: at Union Local 7 p.m.
Sept. 21: Martins Ferry 7 p.m.
Sept. 28: St. Clairsville 7 p.m.
Oct. 5: at Lucas 7 p.m.
Oct. 12: at Oak Glen 7 p.m.
Oct. 19: Lutheran East 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 26: Buckeye Local 7 p.m.
Win 5, Lose 5
Caden Dalton, Preston Haney, Joe Rogers, Job Positano, Payton Taylor, Tyler West, Damon Carpenter, Eric Perry, Cody Gamble, Josh Croft and Blayne Erwin.
Cale McAfee, Mark Smith, Lee Sponaugle, Tucker Coultrap, John Dannehl, Blaine Milliken, Haden Stull, Bryce Wade and Albert Taylor.
Kobe Mitchell, Skyler Mazeroski, Kanyon Coleman, Jesse McLeod, Ronald Pauley and Jeremiah Unterzuber.
Trevor Carman, Gabe Marbais, Brian Hendershot, Nic Evans, Nathan Bertolino, Jonathon Vermillion, Ethan Moreland, Logan Ellis, Matthew Smith, John Wagner, Dillon Drapp and Braxton Slone.