McLean Impressed by Brooke’s Sophomore Class
By KYLE LUTZ
WELLSBURG — On the first official day they could practice, coach Mac McLean and his Brooke squad wasted no time, literally. At the stroke of midnight on Sunday, July 29, McLean and the Bruins got together at Brooke field to begin the 2018 season.
“We started practice at midnight and at the end of it, I told the kids I wanted to do this because I wanted to get last season over as quick as possible,” McLean said. “Thinking about things that happened in the past isn’t going to do us any good in football and it’s not going to do us any good in life. Look forward.”
It was the first time McLean had held a practice at midnight, but it sure was a hit with the community.
“The boosters got a hold of it and thought it was a neat idea and it definitely was. For as tired as the grown men were, there was an energy at practice. Fans came out to support us. I think we had 150 people in the stands. If the kids like it, I’ll be out there next year at midnight. Maybe it’ll be something we start doing.”
Brooke will kick off the season tonight when it plays host to rival Wheeling Park. The Bruins are coming off a disappointing 3-7 season. While Brooke dealt with some injuries down the stretch, McLean saw the talent in his football team. Unfortunately, a slow start to the season knocked the wind out of them.
“I think it was a combination of some things,” McLean said. “We can’t live on the injury excuse our whole lives, although we did deal with some injuries down the stretch with both our quarterbacks being out for a game and having to start a kid out of position. I think last year was an example of a football team that had talent and it got its confidence sucked out of it the first three weeks. We played two tough games against Wheeling Park and University where we were in it in the fourth quarter then watched it fade away.
“We then followed that up with an absolute trouncing at Morgantown. There’s no way to put a good face on that. We got beat up pretty bad down there. You come off a 2-8 season, you start out 0-3, it’s a hard thing to get up off the ground from. We did scrape up a win against Pittsburgh Perry. But the really disappointing thing is going down the stretch there was probably three or four games that we could have won and maybe should have won that we not only let slip away at the end, but we let it slip away and get lopsided. The scoreboard didn’t represent what took place on the field.”
With last year behind them, McLean is going to rely heavily on a sole group of underclassmen, especially in the sophomore class. Out of the 16 sophomores that are on the roster, seven of them lettered last year as freshmen. Many of them will see a lot of field time Friday night.
While they are still learning, McLean has the right group of seniors to stir them in the right direction.
“One of the things, if we are successful this year is going to be in large, not solely, but to our sophomore class,” McLean said. “I have big numbers in my sophomore class and seven of them lettered as freshman. They’re a talented group. They seem to get it. They’ve been successful as a group coming up from the lower levels. They’ve won league championships. It’s the kind of group that you want to build for in the future, but I think they’re success weighs a lot on the older kids. I have three, four potential four-year letterman. I’ve told the older kids, ‘This is a talented young group. They need leadership.’
“They need guys like Gage Yost, Scott Browning or Ethan Bradley who were out there as ninth graders to tell them, ‘It’s going to be OK. I’ve been there,’ to help them get through it because you have to be a pretty special football player to go out there and be varsity ready on Day 1. We’re going to depend on six or seven of them. We’re going to have to get them ready.
“The sophomore group has been very impressive.”
On offense, Brooke will have a couple of options at quarterback in Yost (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) or Logan Williams (6-1, 180). The two seniors have about seven starts under their belt. McLean said whichever signal caller takes the majority of the reps, the other will play a key part on the both on offense and defense.
At running back, the Bruins have a variety of options, as McLean said it’s probably their deepest position along with linebacker. Max Camilletti (5-11, 170), a junior is the most experience ball carrier. Sophomore Aaron Scipio (5-8, 170) will also see time along with seniors Kenton Conley (5-10, 225) and Anthony Pannett (5-10, 170).
Seniors Pannett, Aleksey Rasz (5-11, 155) (Brooke’s leading reciever last season) and junior Camden Bates (5-8, 145) will be the receivers. If Williams isn’t under center, he will also be an option at wide out. Sophomore Drew Stewart (5-8, 170) and senior George Makricostas (5-11, 190) are the tight ends.
The offensive line includes senior Billy McKinney (5-7, 270) (center), senior Jimmy Willis (5-8, 250) (guard), sophomore Sam Casto (6-3 ,225) (guard), junior Austin Williams (5-10, 205) (guard) and sophomore Kurtis Leonard (5-11, 190) (right tackle). Browning (5-10, 265) and Bradley (5-11, 205) could also take snaps too.
“That’s where we will see the youth moment a lot on this team even though some are seniors that don’t have a lot of experience,” McLean said.
The defensive line will consist of Browning, Bradley, Conley, sophomores Josh Shorts (5-10, 195), Ethan Ratcliff (5-11, 270), Stewart and senior Kolton Yharling (5-9, 265).
The linebacking core, like the running back position has depth in Makricostas, Yost, and Pannett along with sophomores Dougie Gabbert (5-8, 170), Joey Fuscardo (5-7, 170), Drake Hukill (5-8, 170) and David McCombs (5-7, 170). Luke Secrist (5-9, 170), a freshman also might see some time.
In the secondary, Camilletti will be at corner while Bates will be on the other side. Scipio and Rasz will both play at safety while Pannett and Logan Williams might also play in the secondary.
Scipio will also be the punter.
“My expectations is to just improve as the year goes on,” McLean said. “With the amount of youth we’re going to start, there could be some hard times in Wellsburg. But it’s keeping the fire lit. It’s keeping it lit for the whole 10 weeks because we do that last year. When you have those rough-riding Friday nights that we might have this fall, it’s being able to recover as a football team, not just physically, but being able to recover emotionally and get our feet back under us and and pick ourselves up off the ground and go.
“With that being said, I look at a schedule and I see a schedule where we can be successful. We’ll have to play at a very high end. We’ll have to play little-mistake football. We’ll have to shorten the games, but there’s a pathway to success for this football team and here we’re going to go out and try to find it for 10 weeks. We’ll kick back at Thanksgiving and look back and see if we were successful or not.”
Devun Williams, Austin Miller, Arch Newman and Landen Urban round out the senior class for the Bruins.
Maximus Oxier and Trent Rice are the remaining juniors while Seth Coburn, John George, Stephen Hunter, Jackson Julio, Jacob Raveaux, Isaac Lippoli and Jacob Smith are the sophomores.
McLean is assisted by CJ Besece, Corey Bryan, Mario DiBias, Zeke Farmer, Mike Findling, Paul Julio, Kent Kidder, Bryan Kosikowski, Jeremy Sadler, Ryan Scherich, Doug Sizemore, Charles Taylor and Jason Williamson.