By VINCE PELUSO
The 2013 boys golf season got off to strong a start last week with the Riverside Beavers winning their sixth Karl Pearson Invitational in the last seven years, and second straight.
While it looks like Riverside is at the top of the pack in the early goings of the season, there are plenty of other talented teams in the Star Beacon Coverage area.
Several teams will sport youthful rosters that should get stronger as the season progresses.
The following is a breakdown of each team and how each coach feels about his roster going into the season.
Coach Mike Trinko returns with a roster full of returning lettermen but overall he has a relatively youthful squad.
“We are pretty young this year and will play at least two freshmen,” he said. “As always we need to be consistent and, hopefully, get good fourth man scores.”
Returning for the Spartans are seniors Joe Roux, Chandler Stitt, juniors Quinn Rudler, Jon VanNorman and sophomores Matt Church and Cole Clausen.
Trinko said he likes the way his team worked during the offseason.
“Most of our golfers played a lot over the summer, so I hope it shows in their scores,” he said.
Looking to contribute from the freshman class will be Jake Kehoe, Adam Laitinen, Conner Stitt and Ben Mittelstadt. Sophomore Cole Tattrie rounds out the roster for the Spartans.
Conneaut is still without a conference title to play for, so Trinko said he will have his team focused on its regular-season tournament competition with an eye on peaking in time for the state tournament.
“No conference, so we are playing in a few tournaments to be ready for the sectionals through to state,” he said.
The Warriors, under second-year coach Joe Foderetti, lost three lettermen and will have to be replaced by three players who have no varsity experience.
Returning to lead Edgewood is senior Devon Surbella and sophomores Jake Bleil and Zac Wilpula.
Foderetti said those three will be the key to the Warriors success this season.
“We will rely on the experience from last year’s starters,” he said. “Senior Devon Surbella, sophomores Zac Wilpula and Jake Bliel. We will play three players with no varsity experience each match.”
Looking to fill those three openings will be senior Zach Laugen, sophomores D.J. Bowers, MaCallister Westcott and Alex Laird, and freshmen Tristan Rhodes, Jacob Moore, Kyle McCoy and Jimmy Cline.
“I have one senior, three sophomores and one freshman in competition for those spots,” Foderetti said. “We will improve as the season progresses and the first-year players will gain experience.”
This will be Edgewood’s final season competing as an independent in boys golf as the Warriors will enter the All-American Conference in the spring of 2014.
The Eagles return a very young squad under the direction of sixth-year coach Brad Ellis.
Coming off a 9-5 season, in which it finished third in the Premier Athletic Conference with a record of 8-4, Geneva looks to be led by senior returning lettermen Ryan Nappi and Brandon Kovach.
Also back are juniors Shaun Doerge and Jacob Huang.
Ellis said improving on their scoring range (100 yards and in) will be the key to the Eagles success this season.
“(We) must improve from 100 yards and in,” he said. “(We also) need to be more consistent with our scoring.”
Others looking to contribute this season are seniors Jim Lucas, Justin Adams, Jacob Piotrowski, junior Nick Cararo, sophomores Tim Bowling, Eric Doerge, Eddie Hughes and freshmen Simon Casey and Matt Wagner.
As far as Geneva’s chances in the PAC are concerned, Ellis admits it’ll be tough.
“Tough conference — a lot of very good teams,” he said.
Under the direction of Jason McConnell, in his eighth season with the Mustangs, GV should be strong in spots one through four.
Back are seniors Kurt Kassay, Chandler Verhas LeeAnn Maruna and junior Jaimin McGraw.
McConnell likes what he’s seen from that group.
“The top four spots will be solid,” he said. “We need spots five and six to make a contribution to be successful, and to pick up the four returning letterman.”
Battling it out for those final spots are sophomore Joe Starcovic, freshmen Matt Callahan and Brett Whitely.
As far as the NAC is concerned, McConnell said there’s no question who the Mustangs are looking to defeat.
“PV will be the team to beat,” he said. “Us, Badger and Bristol will also have an outside shot with solid play from returning starters. An unknown will be new league members Windham as they qualified as a team in 2012 for districts in Divison III.”
The Falcons have another young squad under coach Scott Barber this season.
Only two returning upperclassmen were lettermen last season — senior Joe Paolillo and Matt Barber.
They’re joined by returning sophomores Tyler Mylish, Marshall English and Matt Licate.
For Barber, in his 21st season with the Falcons, the key for his team is to keep the ball in the fairway.
“Keeping the ball in play at all times (is key),” he said. “My players need to realize that keeping their shot in the fairway is more important than hitting the driver off the tee.”
Looking to contribute for Barber as well this season are juniors T.J. Rosipko, Todd Murray and freshmen Jenni Toms and Hayden Simmons.
As far as the AAC is concerned, Barber feels he has a strong grasp on who’s at the top of the class.
“Newton Falls and Girard are the teams to beat,” he said.
Coming off a strong 13-5 season in which the Dragons finished second in the PAC with a 13-3 record, coach Jim Hood is looking for similar success behind the strength of his top three returning players from last season.
Back are seniros Anthony DeGeorge, Colton Mukina, Ryan Applebee and junior Kramer Getce.
Hood, entering his 10th season with the Dragons, said their key to success lies on playing smart golf.
“Team success for us is to focus, play smart and make good decisions,” he said.
Also looking to contribute this season are upper classmen Calab Garcia, Zack Schosslor and Josh O’Block as well as underclassmen Anthony Acierno and Brodie Giddings.
Hood believes Riverside should be favored in the PAC while there are plenty of other contenders behind the Beavers.
“Riverside is the favorite, they have all players back from last year,” he said. “At this time it seems like the other teams seems to be close in talent. But in the PAC who knows.”
The Lakers have dominated the NAC for years, but they will look to do it with another young group.
Back as returning lettermen are seniors Tim Baker, Mitchell Dick and Chase Thurber (junior).
The rest of the roster for coach Jeff Compan, in his 12th year at PV, is underclassmen.
“The key for us this year will be consistent play from the four to six men,” Compan. “We have a solid group that can win a lot of matches, if we avoid the big numbers. As always we want to play well at home and win our share of away matches.”
Also returning as lettermen are sophomores Hunter Hayslip, Mitchell Inman, Adam Silvers, Jeremy Frederick and Brenton Dick.
While many consider PV a favorite to win the NAC until it drops the title, Compan believes the conference is anyone’s for the taking.
“The conference is wide open,” he said. “PV, GV, and Windham are strong and every team is solid on their home course. The team that does the best on the road will win the conference.”
Coming off a 10-2 season in which the Beavers won the PAC with a 10-2 record, coach Steve Siko has a team that has the majority of its lineup from last year back.
Returning are seniors Nathaniel Thomas, Jake Poyar and juniors Matt Thomas, Eric Seddy and Brian Irism.
“The key to success is patience, team work, confidence, experience and knowledge,” Siko said.
Also looking to contribute for the Beavers are seniors John Licis, Jeremy Radovanic, junior Stephen Dolan, sophomores Anthony Julius, Nate Kuhar, Aley Thomas, Jacob Banker and freshmen Matt Tagg, Brennan Griffin and Cameron Dodick.
The defending champs in the PAC, Siko believes the Beavers are part of a group that are capable of winning the conference.
“Should be a competitive PAC conference as always,” he said. “With multiple teams competing for the title, and districts.”
Coming off a first-place finish in their first season in the Lake Effect League, Heralds coach Tom Caruso believes his team could be in for a good season.
“Keeping my top three focused on playing the hole they are on and not the next one,” he said. “One through three, we are solid with Mike Zullo (junior), Zach Taylor (junior) and (sophomore) Tony Massucci.”
The key will be finding a fourth player, who looks to be freshman Matt Fowler.
“If Zullo, Taylor and Massucci play like I know they can, we should do well,” Carusso said. “Matt Fowler looks to be our fourth man. He should learn quite a bit playing with our top three.”
As far as a second conference crown is concerned, Caruso said he isn’t sure how he sees the league shaking out.
“There are only a few teams in our league (golf) so I’m not sure what to really expect,” he said.
Peluso is a sports writer for the Star Beacon. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.