The Federal League has boasted some of the area’s best football teams the past several years. That’s not about to change, though three eight-win teams in 2012 are all dealing with quarterback questions in 2013.
GlenOak (8-3, 4-2) leads the way with a three-way competition at quarterback. Senior Austin White has a slight advantage, according to coach Scott Garcia, over junior Max Hansen and sophomore Brennon Tibbs. All three are dual-threat quarterbacks who are athletic enough for the position, though White has the most experience. Garcia did note that Tibbs has been pushing the elder two quarterbacks and “could be a really good one down the road.”
The Golden Eagles, a younger team, have the potential to once again challenge Canton McKinley and North Canton Hoover but will need to develop quickly. Garcia knows he has an inexperienced roster this year and to make up for it scheduled a third scrimmage (GlenOak normally has two).
“They’re inexperienced but they’re talented and we have some speed, and we feel good about that,” Garcia said. “We’re as strong as we’ve been in the skill areas. But we’re going to have to develop real quick here in the three scrimmages we have.”
The offensive line is a major question mark as well, as only senior Mike Spohn returns. In order to get more reps, Garcia split the team in two halves and had several coaches watching in order to find the best five-man group.
At McKinley (8-3, 5-1), the explosiveness of junior quarterback Eric Glover-Williams is well known. Second-year coach Todd Filtz is looking to move Glover-Williams to an “athlete” type of role on offense that would take him out of the quarterback spot and give him other ways to get the ball in his hands in open space.
Filtz says it’s still possible Glover-Williams will play quarterback, but he’s now looking at competition between three players to grab the starting job.
“If anyone can play it, we’ll move Eric out of it and if no one steps up, Eric will be our quarterback,” he said.
Filtz won’t release the three players’ names yet.
Filtz will also be calling the plays on defense and says some tweaks have been made to that side of the ball, but nothing major. Most important, McKinley seems to be moving in a positive direction in Filtz’s second season.
“It’s easy to see it’s Year Two versus Year One,” he said. “Everyone knows what to expect from one another. We’ve got a great group working toward a common goal. When you get that, everything goes smoother.”
The Bulldogs also return talented senior wide receiver and defensive back Chris Prowell-White and senior defensive lineman Tre’Von Richardson.
Hoover, the third eight-win team in the league, has to replace a very talented starting quarterback for the second year in a row. In 2011, it was Austin Appleby, and last season it was three-sport star Dom Iero. That question mark remains, but Hoover coach Don Hertler Jr. still has his quarterback of the defense in senior safety Luke Grandjean. Grandjean, 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, has received scholarship offers from both Akron and Kent State, according to Scout.com.
At Perry (4-6, 2-4) the Panthers are going back to their roots. Returning after a decade away is former coach Keith Wakefield, who logged 21 years as Perry’s coach before leaving for St. Vincent St. Mary and Mount Union.
The Panthers have some talent on the roster, including senior offensive lineman Stefano Millin (a Kent State commit), senior quarterback Eric Leibler and junior running back Braxton Berry. But the first order of business under Wakefield is changing the culture back to what it once was (and the Wing T offense).
“We had a reputation of tough, physical play,” Wakefield said. “We didn't have a lot of D1 players but I was always blessed with tough kids who had a good demeanor. This isn’t on our past coach, but it hasn’t quite been what it was. We’re trying to change the culture again and I don’t know if we can.”
The staff certainly knows. Every member of Perry’s coaching staff played for Wakefield either at Perry or Mount Union.
“Some of these guys, I held as babies,” Wakefield said.
Perry’s turning back the clock, and all Jackson wants to do is get it moving. The Polar Bears were again hovering around .500 (5-5, 2-4), just out of reach of taking the next step. Fifth-year coach Beau Balderson hopes that a class of juniors who have been winning at quite an impressive clip can bring in a new culture.
“The confidence our kids have right now, for about 3-4 classes in a row, coming up through eighth grade, they've only lost about two games,” Balderson said. “In 2011 we had a 6-4 season, that was a shot in the arm. Last year showed we can maintain that consistency. Now we’re looking for that confidence factor, guys who want to make plays and can do it and take us to the playoffs.”
Jackson finally has a lot of experience coming back on both lines and at quarterback, a process that Balderson said felt like “forever.” In senior quarterback Tyler Langenfeld, Balderson says it's like having “a second coach out there.”
Lake is hoping longtime assistant Dan DeGeorge can turn things around after a 3-7 season. DeGeorge says depth could be an issue, particularly at the skill positions, but talent isn't. Lake will be led by senior running back Matt Blasiole, whom DeGeorge is working to get the ball to in different ways out of the backfield. At quarterback, junior Adam Dadich and senior Cody Miller are vying for the starting job.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.