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Buckeye Local High School

Hoover Looking to Build on 1st Season With Panthers

YORKVILLE – Jim Hoover enjoyed a successful maiden voyage as Buckeye Local head coach a year ago. Now the former Buckeye North All-Ohio gridder has his Panthers poised for an even better encore performance.

Hoover guided Buckeye Local into the OHSAA playoffs last fall, navigating through turbulent Covid-and cancellation-infested waters. Hoover and his charges are now primed for bigger and better things this fall.

“We accomplished a lot of firsts last year,” Hoover beamed. “We made the playoffs for starters.

“We also won the V.A.L.E.S. Trophy Game (vs. Harrison Central) for the first time in 11 years and we won our Homecoming Game for the first time in 10 years,” he added. “Hopefully, that success will carry over this year and we can build on it.”

The Panthers’ 2022 foundation is a solid one in the person of Trey Hoover, a returning All-Ohio performer and the coach’s son. The two-way star rushed for nearly 1,000 yards in just eight games. He also earned All-OVAC and All-Eastern District first-team accolades.

The young Hoover is drawing the interest of countless college recruiters.

Coach Hoover’s squad features 13 returning lettermen on his 38-player roster, which boasts a 14-player sophomore class.

Skyler Ebright (5-10,160) will handle the all-important quarterback chores for Panthers. Hoover is confident about his junior.

Skyler is a tough and hard-working young man who is very coachable,” offered the former Eastern Michigan performer.

Ebright is backed by freshman Grant Dombrowski (5-9, 180).

Joining the all-stater Hoover at running back will be bullish sophomore Koltn Roush (5-7, 225).

Buckeye Local possesses nice depth in the backfield. Senior Dylan Palmer (5-11, 180), junior Jacob Berry (6-2, 200) and sophomore Wyatt Luyster (5-7, 210) will all see ball-toting time.

Additional depth will be provided by senior Jeremy Anspach (5-5, 135), juniors Noah Kourim (5-10, 175), Craig Kinkus (5-7, 135), sophomore Landon Durbin (5-7, 155) and frosh Jeven Velez (5-9, 155) and Brody Keyoski (5-7, 265).

The tight end duties will be handled by rising sophomore Andrew Jones (6-3, 155). He will be supported by sophomore Shane Griffith (6-1, 145) and freshman Wesley Sarko (5-6, 150).

Palmer, when not utilized at running back, will start at wideout. He will be joined in the regular rotation by sophomore Alex McDiffitt (5-9, 155), and classmate Carson Basich (5-11,165).

Additional receiving depth comes in the form of junior Denvar Nelson (5-10, 165), and sophomores Maddix Richter (5-10, 155), Hayden Boyce (5-9, 130), Gavin Edgell (5-11,135) and Brennin Takach (5-9, 140).

Hoover is a coach who prides himself on a big and physical offensive line.

“We want to be able to pound the football and I have faith in our group up front. We are a little banged up right now but should be ready to go when the season starts. We have nice depth at tackle,” he noted.

Anchoring the O-front is sophomore center Kaleb Stang (5-10, 175).

The starting guards will be battled-tested senior Wyatt Kalman (5-10, 200) and promising sophomore Marek Hickman (6-0, 200).

Tackle will be a position of strength for Buckeye with four performers seeing extensive action. That quartet features senior stalwarts Isaac Chandler (6-3, 250) and Michael Kuzmicki (6-2, 275). Senior Randy Wade (5-10, 205), sophomore Chris Ebright (6-2, 260) and freshman David Edwards (6-2, 236) are also being counted on by Hoover to deliver solid play.

Other offensive line candidates include juniors Chase McFadden (5-7, 200), Aydin Lawson (5-7, 150), Felipe Vaca (5-5, 225) and Zane Cunningham (6-4, 360). Two frosh tackles are Matthew Kuzmicki (5-10, 250) and Kai Hundley (5-10, 210).

Hoover will deploy his defensive troops in a 3-3-5 alignment.

The defensive front will see Michael Kuzmicki, Kalman, Stang, Chandler and Hickman all seeing time.

Trey Hoover is a stud at linebacker. He recorded 128 tackles a year ago. He will be joined at times by Luyster, Berry, Kourim and Basich.

Palmer will anchor the secondary. Hoover will also utilize McDiffitt, Skyler Ebright, Anspach and Kinkus in the deep zones.

“I like our speed and athleticism on the defensive side,” Hoover offered. “We also have some decent size. We are really solid at linebacker.”

Buckeye’s schedule features the same foes as a year ago. The Panthers will debut Thursday against Barnesville at World War II Memorial Stadium.

Hoover’s varsity staff includes Troy Fetty, former Martins Ferry All-Ohioan gridder and grappler Dalton Hoover, Butch Keyoski, Byron Mayers, Jack Otto, Dylan Stickler, Denny Taylor and Dom Vinci. The junior high coaches are Tyler Donahue, Jimmy Morelli, Jeff Patrick and Trevor Zanes.

“We will be tested right off the bat. Barnesville has another strong team with good skilled people,” Hoover said. “We have had two good scrimmages (St. Clairsville and Martins Ferry). Hopefully we ride the momentum we generated last year. I am excited and optimistic about the upcoming season.”