Potters to Rely on 17 Seniors
By CODY TOMER
EAST LIVERPOOL — Experience should not be an issue for the 2016 East Liverpool football team. The Potters are returning 17 seniors for the upcoming campaign and Coach Josh Ludwig, has had them their whole careers. He has been with the school for five years, serving as the defensive coordinator for two years before taking over as the head coach in 2014.
“With 17 returning seniors, we are looking to have a successful season,” Ludwig said. “Our seniors have worked hard under my system now for the entire life of their high school careers and we are poised to bring pride back to the river.
“I am expecting a lot of maturity out of them. They have been learning year in and year out so this should be an exciting year.”
Ludwig was part of the 2002 National Champion team at Mount Union so he knows what it takes to get the job done and he has the upperclassmen to do it.
The Potters went 3-7 last season, which was a step up from an 0-10 record in Ludwig’s first year as the head coach.
“Last year we only won three games but I think that we could have been better,” the coach said. “We lost some tight games but we made progress. I think that we have gotten better and this year could be a special year for us.”
They lossed two key players from graduation last year with RB-LB Austin Dozier and G-T Charles Iacobucci finishing up their stellar careers by earning first team All-OVAC and Quad County honors.
Even with losing those two leaders, the Potters return 17 more.
East Liverpool has been known for years as a running team but with senior quarterback Austin Mayfield taking the snaps, it is going to look to do some damage through the air.
“Mayfield runs well and is probably the strongest kid on the team,” Ludwig said. “We have high hopes for him this season. He has phenomenal talent, a strong arm and I think that he can have a breakout year for us.
“I think that we can control the tempo of a game, whether it is fast or slow. With our spread, high tempo on offense and swarming 4-3 defense, we look to create nightmares for teams that we play.”
Mayfield will have a plethora of receivers to choose from this year as senior wideouts running down the field include Aaron Bombich, Zach Gill, Noah Shaw, Cory Cotter and Dakota Ice.
The two seniors that could see time in the backfield next to Mayfield are Kyle Walker and Hayden Jackson, while returning letterman Michael Loy could also take his share of handoffs in his junior season.
“We should be able to get the ball to some kids on the edge,” Ludwig said. “However, our strength this year is that we are solid on both sides of the ball.”
On the defensive side of the ball, senior Freddie Plum will lead the team from his end position. Plum finished his 2015 campaign with 71 tackles — 14 tackles for loss — and five sacks.
Plum will be joined by fellow seniors on the defensive line as returning letterwinners David Locke, Ryan Tanner, Caleb McHenry and Danny Wells will try to get in the backfield early and often.
Junior returning lettermen Jake Cornell (OL-LB) and Peyton Adkins (QB-DB) could be key members to the defense as well.
Senior Dylan Kidder is a returning letterman who should handle the majority of the kicking action.
Other seniors that look to make an impact on the offensive and defensive lines are Evan Dieringer, Jason Todd and Lindsay Baker.
Rounding out the junior class are Zach Morris (OL-DL) and Davonne Bailey (OL-LB).
There is also a 17-man sophomore class, led by returning letterman P.J. Morris (OL-DL) who will play in the trenches.
The remainder of the sophomores who will be working hard to earn their first letter are Troy Croskey (WR-DB), Levi Turner (RB-DB), Peyton Reed (QB-DB), Sobaan Razi (WR-DB), Lane Kopras (RB-LB), Shaylon Brentley (WR-DB), Cory Weyand (WR-LB), Jalen Moman (RB-DL), Aiden Watkins (OL-DL), Justin Watkins (OL-DL), Eric Glendenning (OL-DL), Joaquin Johnson (OL-DL), Gary Allen (OL-DL), Tommy Thompson (OL-DL), Noah Wheaton (WR-DB) and Caleb Walker (WR-DB).
There is even a large group of incoming freshmen for the upcoming year with 11 newcomers joining ranks.
Those freshmen include Nick Woodyard (WR-DB), Derek Carter (RB-DB), Trever Wern (WR-DB), Justin Sarge (RB-LB), Jaymin Jackson (RB-LB), Caleb Learn (OL-DL), Kaz Zubay (OL-DL), Logan McKenzie (OL-DL), Skylor Wooley (OL-DL), Nathan Bryant (OL-DL) and Koby Plum (OL-DL).
With 50 players suiting up for Ludwig, he will need a hand to make sure things are clicking at every position.
Assisting him on the sidelines this year are Alvan Thompson, Jeff Wright, Andy Vulgamore, David Thompson, Eric McMahon, Bill Potts, Jim Crane and Mike Crane, while Deana Martin handles the athletic training duties.
“Our goal is to always win as many games as we can,” Ludwig said. “This year I want them to compete in every game and we want to win the Buckeye 8 North.”
The Potters will get that chance starting Friday night at Edison.