WINTERSVILLE – Time flies when you are winning football games.
Andrew Connor embarks on his 20th season as head coach of the Indian Creek football team.
In those previous 19, Connor has established a highly regarded and successful grid program. His teams have earned seven OHSAA playoff berths, captured OVAC 5A championships in 2018 and 2019 while pocketing more than 100 victories.
With that glowing success as a backdrop, it is suffice to say all quality programs encounter an occasional speed bump.
Such was the case a year ago for Indian Creek. The ultra-youthful Redskins finished with a 1-8 mark. The major factor in that aberration of a record was a 44-player roster which was composed of 20 freshmen.
Coach Andrew Connor discusses the upcoming campaign
Last season’s growing pains should yield more positive results this fall. The Creek numbers are up markedly and with a slightly more seasoned flavor. The Redskins, however, are still a team of youth, featuring 18 sophomores and a whopping 24 freshmen comprising the roster.
“I am really excited about this coming season. There has been great energy,” Connor said. “I see small little things that shows me this group has a common purpose.
“Our numbers are increasing, but we are still a very young team,” added the Steubenville Catholic product. “With youth comes positives and negatives, but I love this team’s competitive nature.”
Connor has two quarterbacks that he is big on. Junior Paul Mazar (5-10,160,) is the returning regular. He is being pushed by sophomore Salvatore Barcalow (6-0,175).
“I have faith in both Paul and Salvatore. If Paul is not playing quarterback he will be starting at wide receiver,” Connor offered.
Creek has impressive depth under center. Zach Byard (6-0,160) is a junior lettermen who can also play wideout. Other quarterbacks include sophomore Mason Lester (5-10,145), and frosh Luke Belisle (6-1,170) and Ian Starkey (5-6, 125).
Creek has a pair of dandies at running back. Senior Isaac Robinson (6-0, 175) is a two-year letterman and a co-captain. Sophomore Zion McGee (5-9, 180) lettered as a frosh and is primed for big things this fall.
“We really like what Isaac and Zion bring to the table. They are both quality runners,” Connor said.
Depth at running back comes in the form of junior Timmy Christian (6-0,180), sophomores Austin Vergona (5-8, 165), Justin Vergona (5-8, 190), Kaden Madden-Little (5-8,185), all three are lettermen, and freshmen Gavin Pownall (5-10, 150) and George Zadanski (5-11,180). Pownall has been especially impressive in camp.
Senior Bryson Bodo (6-0,190), a two-year letterman, senior two-year letterman Lucca Morelli (5-11,185) and sophomore Jomar Johnson (6-2,200) are a three-headed talented monster at tight end. Junior letterman Josh Grimshaw (6-0,215) is also in the picture.
More tight end support is provided by junior Wyatt Scheel (6-0,190), sophomore Hunter Allison (5-9,145), and freshmen Marek Speece (5-9,160), Corey Garlitz (5-10,160) and Wyatt Doan (5-10,160).
Connor can call upon a deep receiving corp, especially if Mazar, Byard and Lester are situated there.
Other pass-catchers are senior letterman Gavin Gross (5-11,180), Caleb Bodo, a battle-tested sophomore, (6-2,195) as is classmate Cameron McAfee (5-9,165).
Additional receivers are sophomores Kyle Shultz (6-0,145), Colton Giusto (5-9,140) and freshmen Zander Stabile (5-6,145), Andrew Graves (5-10,130), Joel Lopez (5-8,150), Gabriel Andreozzi (5-10, 130), Xavier Vines (5-10,145), Jackson Pitts (5-9, 155), Caiden Canestraro (5-9,140) and Gage Harris (5-4, 135).
The offensive line boasts four returning lettermen.
Nathan Allen (6-0, 200) is a good one. He is a two-year letterman and a co-captain. Other veterans back in the trenches are junior Paul Gross (6-1,220) and sophomores Brennan Monroe (6-0,200) and Lorenzo Alloggia (5-9, 190). Sophomore Chase Moodie (5-9, 250) has also enjoyed a fine pre-season of work.
It won’t be long before Nishon White (6-6, 370) makes his presence felt on the O-line. He is an ultra-promising frosh. Senior Mason Hardwick (6-1,190) is also vying for blocking time.
Youngsters comprise the balance of the depth in sophomores Joey Hewitt (6-1,240), Dalton Hague (5-9,190), and Max Constantine (5-8,190), and freshmen Peyton Delguzzi (6-2, 230), Luke McMillion (6-3, 205), Cole Pearce (5-7, 160), Bradyn White (5-10, 230), Adam Ray (5-8, 190), Xzay’von Young (6-0, 235), Noah Fowler (5-9, 175) and Semaj White (6-2, 360).
Creek’s defensive line will feature the Bodo boys and Johnson seeing time at end while the tackles will consist of a rotation of Allen, Gross Monroe Moodie and Nishon White.
The linebacking corp is young but promising in Pownall, Justin Vergona and Madden-Little along with Morelli and McGee.
The secondary, at various times, will see Byard, Robinson, Lester, Austin Vergona, Mazar, Barcalow protecting the third level.
Gross will handle the placekicking.
Creek staged pre-season scrimmages against Columbiana and Carrollton. The Redskins’ schedule features one new foe – Utica.
“The last two years have been tough for a number of reasons. The pandemic being a major one,” Connor said. “But I like the makeup and chemistry of this team and I believe we are once again trending upward.”
Connor’s staff is superb and has been together for countless campaigns.
The varsity staff is comprised of Joe Hammack, David Kemp, Doug Karas, Andy Waggoner, Mike Wilson Jr., Justin Wilson, Sam Robinson and Zach Crawford.
The junior high coach are Denny Cowser, Mike Conrad, Nick Dondzila and Greg Burrows.