The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

June 29, 2013

A Don McCormack column: Football primer

With practice starting six weeks from Monday, we take a look at the schedules for all 10 teams in the Star Beacon coverage area

By DON McCORMACK - donmac@suite224.net
Sports Editor

— With the nonstop, 24-7 lifestyle we’ve all been pretty much forced to swallow in this day and age, this should come to the surprise of no one — six weeks from Monday, high school football practice begins across the Buckeye State.

Day 1 of practice is Monday, Aug. 1, which means scrimmages, then games can’t be far behind... and they aren’t.

Opening for the 10 teams in the Star Beacon coverage area will be Friday, Aug. 30.

With that in mind, let’s take an overview of the changes in each of the team’s schedules from the ones they played in 2012.



Lakeside

It’s definitely a new era as the Dragons begin their 13th season on the gridiron under the direction of first-year coach Frank Hall.

And the schedule the team guided by the former Harbor High School (Class of 1992) great is certainly new, too.

Youngstown East, Brush and Jefferson have replaced Howland, Perry and Edgewood as the Dragons’ opponents in Weeks 1, 2 and 3, respectively.

Hall, the sixth coach in Lakeside football history, but the fifth guy to man the headset for the Dragons in the last seven seasons, and his players will play Premier Athletic Conference opponents the final seven games of the season.

League play has not smiled on the Dragons, who have lost 20 consecutive PAC contests, the last win being in Week 10 of the 2009 season when coach Bill Lipps’ Dragons prevailed at North, 28-24, on Oct. 30 of that year.

Any type of success will be welcomed in Dragon Country in the 2013 season as the last three Lakeside teams have gone a combined 2-28.

The last time the Dragons had at least a break-even season was Lipps’ aforementioned 2009 team that went 5-5.

Lakeside’s last winning season was in 2005, when Jay Corlew led the Dragons to a 7-3 finish and a share of the Northeastern Conference championship with Jefferson in what proved to be his final season at the helm.



Conneaut

Only one change on the schedule is on tap for third-year coach Rocco Dobran and his Spartans in the 2013 season.

The Cleveland Knights, an independent club team, replaces Conneaut Area, Pa. as the Spartans’ Week 6 opponent.

Conneaut will play the Knights on Friday, Oct. 4, with the game being played at Case Western Reserve University.

The Knights had a tie to the area last fall, bowing at Edgewood in Week 6, 23-12, on a Saturday night at Corlew Stadium.

As much as Lakeside has struggled in recent seasons, it’s been even more so for Conneaut, which has posted a combined record of 13-77 in the last nine seasons, for three different head coaches, four, if you count Ken Parise’s two tenures at the helm.

The Spartans’ last .500-or-better campaign was back in 2001, when Parise led Conneaut to a 5-4 record.



Geneva

As is the case at Conneaut, the Eagles will have only one change on their 2013 schedule from the one they took on last fall.

Perry, a longtime former rival, comes back on the Geneva schedule. The Pirates will invade Spire Stadium in Week 2, taking the slot formerly occupied by John Hay, which prevailed at Geneva last season, 28-20.

In his 10th season at the helm of his alma mater, former Eagles great Tony Hassett will look to lead Geneva to a bounceback campaign after back-to-back 3-7 seasons.

The Eagles will play the PAC portion of their schedule in Weeks 4 through 10.

Getting back to the change in the schedule,  Geneva and Perry have not played since 2007, when a 45-6 triumph at Memorial Field not only marked the temporary end of the rivalry, but also the Pirates’ 10th consecutive win in the matchup, played over the course of 10 straight seasons.

The Eagles have not defeated the Pirates on the gridiron since a 25-0 win at Memorial Field in Week 1 of the 1948 season, when Hall of Fame coach Bruno Mallone (Class of 2011) was at the helm.



Edgewood

With new coach Josh Franke taking over, the 2013 Warriors will tackle a slate that doesn’t look a whole lot like the one the 2012 Warriors did in reaching the playoffs for the first time in program history.

Such is the life of having to play an independent schedule, as is the case with Conneaut.

The 2013 Warriors will take on defending Division V state runner-up Kirtland, Beaver Local and Lutheran East this season in place of Lakeside, the Cleveland Knights and Cleveland John F. Kennedy.

As was the case a year ago, however, Edgewood will play only four home games in the friendly confines of Corlew Stadium, hosting only Geneva in the opener, Ledgemont in Week 5, Gilmour Academy in Week 8 and archrival Conneaut in Week 9.

The Warriors, 7-4 last season, will conclude their 2013 regular season with a Saturday afternoon matchup at Lutheran East in Week 10.



Jefferson

The Falcons will see only one difference from their 2012 schedule this season, though the new opponent is certainly a familiar one, at least in terms of locale.

In stead of playing Lisbon Beaver in Week 3, coach Jimmy Henson’s Falcons will head north to play Lakeside in Week 3.

The Falcons, who posted their best season in terms of record since 2003 with their 8-2 mark a year ago in Henson’s eighth season at the helm, have not squared off with the Dragons on the gridiron since the 2008 season, when coach Van McWreath’s Lakeside squad prevailed at Falcon Pride Stadium, 36-0.

Jefferson and Lakeside was, at one point for a few seasons, the best football rivalry in Ashtabula County. However, it was a one-sided deal as while their have been several dogfights and one infamous matchup, Lakeside has won all eight games in the series.

Henson will lead his Falcons into the 2013 campaign with the knowledge his program’s 15 victories in the last two seasons combined are the most by any squad in the Star Beacon coverage area in that span.



Grand Valley

Like Lakeside and Edgewood, the Mustangs will see a 30-percent rate of turnover on its 2013 schedule from the version it played in 2012.

Gone from schedule for second-year coach John Glavickas’ crew are Fairport, Jackson-Milton and Lutheran East.

Those three teams will be replaced by Division V state powerhouse Kirtland, former East Suburban Conference and Chagrin Valley Conference rival Berkshire and the Northeastern Athletic Conference’s newest member school, Windham.

GV, coming off a 7-3 season in which it won the Northeastern Athletic Conference championship, is quite familiar with two of the newcomers to its schedule.

The Mustangs last played Kirtland in Week 10 of the 2007 season, dropping a 39-0 verdict in Orwell.

Grand Valley last played Berkshire in Week 9 of the 2008 season at Grand Valley, the Badgers claiming a 40-0 triumph.

With 2013 marking the 53rd year of football at Grand Valley, the Week 7 game at Windham will be the first time the Mustangs and Bombers have ever squared off on the gridiron.

GV’s four consecutive winning seasons — the first three under Tom Henson and last season under Glavickas — mark the longest such active streak in the Star Beacon coverage area.



Pymatuning Valley

While not quite as much as Lakeside, Edgewood and Grand Valley, coach Neal Croston’s Lakers will see a fair amount of variance on its 2013 schedule from the 2012 version.

Gone from the Lakers’ schedule are Youngstown East and Lutheran East. They will be replaced by LaBrae in a non-conference contest in Week 3 and by new NAC member Windham in Week 6. Both games will be played away from Laker Stadium.

Coming off a 4-6 season in Croston’s third season at the helm — the first non-winning finish in his tenure — the games against the Vikings and the Bombers will mark the first time the Lakers have played them.

The 2013 season will be the 51st in PV program history.



Madison

The Blue Streaks, like the Lakers, will see a 20-percent turnover rate on their 2013 schedule from the one it played in 2012.

Departed from the ledger for coach Tim Willis’ crew, which went 6-4 last fall for a third winning season in a row, are the first two opponents — Lakeview and Brush.

The Bulldogs and the Arcs will be replaced by the Chagrin Falls Tigers in the opener and the Collinwood Railroaders in Week 2, both contests being staged at Blue Stream Memorial Stadium.

Madison will play at border rival Perry in Week 3, then go into PAC play starting in Week 4.

The matchup with Chagrin Falls to kick off the 2013 season will mark the first time the Blue Streaks and Tigers have gone at it on the gridiron since 1944.

On Friday, Oct. 13 of that year, coach William Newby Jr.’s Blue Streaks came out on the short end of a 27-0 verdict at Chagrin Falls.

My scores for Madison football go back through the 1939 season and I cannot find a matchup against Collinwood.



Perry

There is but one change on the Pirates’ 2013 schedule from a year ago, that being the aforementioned end of the two-year series with Lakeside and the reigniting of the matchup with Geneva.

The Eagles have replaced the Dragons as the Week 2 opponent for the Pirates, the game being played at Spire Stadium.

Coach Matt Rosati, about to delve into his seventh season at the helm at Perry and coming off a 4-6 finish in 2012, will lead the Pirates into the season once again versus Riverside in Week 1 and against archrival Madison in Week 3 before they begin Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division competition at Orange in Week 4.

In regards to restarting the series with Geneva, Perry will take a 12-8-2 edge in the matchup into the Week 2 game, the Pirates having won the last 10 contests in the series.



Riverside

Coach Dave Bors’ bunch has the distinction of being the only team in the Star Beacon coverage area to play the same 10 opponents in 2013 that they lined up against last fall.

The Beavers will begin their 2013 season at Perry, having posted a 7-3 mark in Bors’ fourth season manning the headset. It marked Riverside’s best mark since coach Matt Jordan’s 2007 squad went 7-3 in the regular season, shared the PAC championship with Chardon and reached the playoffs in his final season as head coach at Riverside.

Riverside will host West Geauga in Week 2 and archrival Harvey in Week 3 before getting into PAC play in Week 4 at Lakeside.

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at donmac@suite224.net.