WHEELING — It has become a ritual of the fall season – Linsly School tackling a meat-grinder of a football schedule.
The 2022 Cadet grid card is once again packed with powerhouse foes, much like a year ago. Coach B.J. Depew’s charges acquitted themselves quite nicely last season, finishing at 5-5. However, Depew, now in his 17th season as head coach of his alma mater, was not pleased with how last season concluded.
“Considering who we played last year the record is commendable. However, we lost our last three games which has bothered me all off-season. I felt the last two games were tossups that we could win.
“We were competitive in every game except for Dover. They were really strong,” Depew said. “But our kids have come to expect this type of schedule and have embraced it.
“They know they must come and play at a high-level week-in and week-out.”
This year’s schedule features Dover, Steubenville, Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, Morgantown, St. Clairsville, state champion Fairmont Senior, Fort Frye and John Marshall.
Compounding matters is that Linsly will play only one game at the friendly confines on Fawcett Field at Lockhart Stadium – that being Cardinal Mooney. The Cadets will open their rigorous campaign against Imani Christian in Pittsburgh.
Linsly graduated a strong senior class. The Cadets, however, will reload on the strength of 19 lettermen and some prime-time players.
Heading the list of returnees is electric senior Luca DiLorenzo (5-7,150). He has starred at quarterback in the past but Depew plans on moving him all over the field, spending much time at wide receiver.
“Luca is an exciting player. We will utilize him in several different positions. He has the chance to score every time he touches the ball,” Depew said.
If DiLorenzo is not taking snaps, Depew can still call upon a host of talented quarterbacks.
Junior Atley Cowan (6-2,180) and two-year letter-winning senior Collin Paull (5-11,195) will both see time as the Cadets’ field general. Additional depth is provided by promising sophomore Rocco Paolino (5-9,135), freshmen Braden Wade (5-10,165) and Spencer Hill (5-6, 250).
“I feel good about our quarterback situation. We have good talent, depth and flexibility there.”
Another big-play Cadet performer is junior running back Alex Taylor (5-11,160). The two-year letterman was the team’s leading rusher a year ago and is primed for a huge campaign as he boasts good speed to go with impressive power.
“Alex had a great sophomore season for us,” Depew said. “Not only was he our top rusher but he also sparkled on defense.”
A quartet of juniors are vying for backup duty behind Taylor. They are letterman Neri Weiner (5-11,185), Kevin Stanisi ((5-9,180, two-year vet Mikey Troullos (5-5, 140) and Lion Sarugg (5-11,180).
Two senior running back hopefuls are Roee Bennett (5-10,170) and Santiago Graneros (6-1,190). Sophomore Nathan Clifford (5-2, 135) is another aspirant.
The fullback/tight end/H-back hybrid position will be manned by tough-minded juniors Nate Berhalter (5-7,140) and two-year-letterman Jack Selmon (6-0, 160).
The wide-receiving corp is skilled and deep.
If DiLorenzo and Paull are not quarterbacking they will be starting at receiver. They will be joined by athletic senior Nathan Coleman (6-4,175), a three-year lettermen.
Senior lettermen Jy’Leik Johnson (5-7,140), Mateo Dimitrioski (6-1,180) junior lettermen Malte Feil (6-3,180), John Paul Jones (5-10,155) and Lane Kendzerski (6-0,165) will also see pass-catching duties along with classmate Nathen Smith (5-8,160). Also in the mix are sophomores Will Taylor (6-0, 150), Derr Ramello (5-7, 135) and Simon Schiebel (5-7, 145). Lucca Troullos (5-7,140) is a frosh wideout.
Depew’s one area of concern is the offensive line where four starters have graduated.
Senior Aiden Christ (6-4, 225) is a returning regular to anchor the front. He is a two-year lettermen.
Senior Landin Blakley (6-0,175) will get the call at center. He has two letters to his credit. Senior two-year lettermen Wyatt Haynes (6-2,210) will start along with letter-winning classmate Debu Yi (5-10, 210) and junior Raymond Kovalesky. The two-year lettermen is also a force as the Cadets’ starting middle linebacker.
Offensive line depth comes in the form of junior Jamie Riedel (6-2,280), junior letterman Landon Taylor (6-1,215) and sophomores Isaac Depew (5-9, 240) and Adam Kotson (6-0,290). Juniors Roi Gerson (5-7,185), Tommy Turak (6-2,200) and Toni Malkiki (6-1,190) are also in the hunt for O-line time.
Sophomores Brock Kuttie (6-3,255,) Charlie Dong (5-10,170), Vaughn. Crile (6-0,180) and Patrick Christ (5-9, 170) along with frosh Anderson Palian (6-3,235) are all building blocks for the future.
Defensively, Linsly will deploy in a 4-2-5 look.
The front will be manned by Haynes, Yi, Gerson, Landon Taylor and Riedel.
Kovalsky will be joined at linebacker by Selmon and Berhalter.
DiLorenzo, Alex Taylor, Johnson, Mikey Troullos, Dimitrioski and Coleman will compose the secondary. Also in the mix are Feil and Jones. Dimitrioski may also see duty as linebacker.
Feil will do the punting while Dimitrioski is the placekicker. Paull is the long snapper while Alex Taylor is the holder.
Depew’s quality coaching staff is composed of defensive coordinator James Wallace, offensive coordinator Chris Kiedaisch, Brian Valentine, Gee Lofstead, Mark Dodd, Tanner Russell, R.J. Zitzeslberger, Doug Tush and Trevon Tush.