Beaver Local Is Older, But Inexperienced
By TRACY WATSON
LISBON — Beaver Local ran off six wins in its first seven games of 2017, establishing itself as a local power, before injuries caught up with Coach Mike McKenzie’s Beavers, who lost two of its final three.
While that kind of season might be something to build on for some teams, it was a senior-loaded roster last year that has left plenty of holes and inexperience for the current group to deal with.
“We are not necessarily a young team this year with 16 seniors on the roster, but what we are is an older, inexperienced team,” McKenzie said. “We have a lot of kids that have no experience under the Friday night lights, especially on the offense line where we have none at all.”
There was still a battle going on in camp at the quarterback position with junior Ethan Lewis (5-foot-10, 175) and sophomore Tanner Johnston (5-10, 175) both looking for playing time.
Senior running back Garret Givens is the only returning starter on offense, having gained 400 yards and scored 10 touchdowns last year. Classmate Beau Smith (5-8, 180) racked up some playing time a season ago and will also receiving plenty of handoffs. Junior Jacob Kane was a fill-in starter a couple of times as a sophomore and will also be available.
The Beavers boast a trio of senior wide receivers in Nate Rawson (5-11, 140), Donovan Garcia (5-10, 170), who is also the team’s punter, and Hunter Saltsman (6-1, 180). Sophomore Logan Krulik (6-0, 175) is also a capable option. Senior Christian Lerussi (5-9, 190) will be the tight end with senior Dan Morgan (6-1, 225) the backup.
A total of eight players are waged in a battle to man the five offensive line spots and protect the quarterback. Vying for playing time are seniors Kobi Ream (5-8, 200), Jared Wright (5-9, 185), Andrew Solansky (5-10, 200), Eddie Pennicuff (who is battling injury) (6-4, 300), Jackson Lewis (6-3, 265) and Zach Smith (6-3, 215). Junior Nick Wukatich (5-11, 240) and sophomore Dylan Czech (5-29, 210) are also in the mix.
“We have some nice skill kids to lean on, but our No. 1 issue is inexperience, especially on that offensive line,” McKenzie added.
The defensive front will be led by Czech, Post, Lewis and Smith at tackle with Solansky and Wukatich on the ends. Linebackers will include Smith, senior Austin Ferguson (6-3, 190), Saltsman, Lerussi, Warrick, Givens, Krulik, junior Daniel Wirth (6-2, 230), sophomore Devon Salsberry (5-7, 150), Wright, Warrick and Morgan.
Available in the defensive backfield will be Rawson, senior Cody Flowers (5-10, 150), Garcia, Lewis, Johnston and Kane. Sophomore Chase Flati (5-9, 150) has been penciled in as the placekicker.
“We do have some kids back at every level on our defense which is a plus,” McKenzie added “And we need them to take control and lead us. If our defense can handle things while our offense, and the line, matures we could be fine.
“Bottom line is that we need to control what we can control and stay positive.
“This is all going to be a daily process in which it is simple to get the concept, but usually more difficult to execute, but we are getting better at it.
“We will have to go out and try to get better each and every day, even when we are not really at our best. And the kids need to continue to work hard.
“As far as our schedule goes we are playing a lot of Buckeye 8 and Ohio Valley Athletic Conference schools. It is very competitive and a good schedule for a school our size. I really like it.”
Assisting McKenzie will be Charlie Dolsonich, Aaron West, Jess Krulik, Nick Sesonsky, Tyler Givens, Steven Fletcher, Derrick Stickles, TJ Miller, Craig Vorhees, Mark Cashdollar, Doug Blaner, Dick Schilling, Zach Weyand, Justin Flowers and Tyler Kelly.
The graduation list from last year includes a pair of current Youngstown State Penguins in Michael Clendenning (leading rusher) and Zach Thomas (two-way lineman) as well as Torey Calio (leading receiver), Luke Call (quarterback), Noah West (TE/DE), Jacob Morgan (OL), Chad Mays (T/DE), Andrew Gibson (OL), Parker Summers (OL) and Chris Yanni (RB/WR).
“That was a good senior class last year that had to deal with a lot change and everything new to them with the coaching staff,” McKenzie said.
“But with new techniques and schemes I felt like they did a good job adapting.
“Overall it was just an awesome group, a fun group that did their job in practice and on the field, but always had fun doing it. They were a talented group and great leaders and will be greatly missed.
“We may not have finished the season as we would have liked, but it isn’t always about the scoreboard.
“Success can be measured in many different ways.”