First-year coach aims to get Elyria Catholic back to the postseason


Elyria Catholic Panthers
After three seasons at the helm of Elyria Catholic, Dave McFarland stepped aside in the offseason to make way for Ben Malbasa to man the Panther sideline.  EC is 15-6 over the last two seasons and Malbasa is aiming to get the Panthers back into the playoffs.

QB/SS Cody Schuster (6-1, 190), RB/LB/S Jayson Graham (6-0, 195), WR/DB Richie Baker (6-0, 175), DE/LB/TE Joe Fitch (6-2, 205), RB/WR/OLB Jacob Schuster (6-0,   185), WR/DB Patrick Flanagan (5-11, 165), RB/LB Brian Hart (5-11, 190), LB/RB Nick Betka (6-0, 215), LB/DL/RB Dane Szente (5-10, 195), DB/WR (6-0, 175)

2006 Record: 7-3

Elyria Catholic just missed the playoffs last season finishing 7-3 and No. 10 in Region 14. With 21-14 loss to Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas in Week 5 and a one-point overtime loss to Garfield Heights Trinity in Week 6, the Panthers had to endure a small, midseason slide that ultimately decided their playoff fate.

It has been an eventful off-season for EC. Ben Malbasa was named head coach in March following Dave McFarland’s three year tenure. Malbasa, 28, had previously been an assistant at University School, Case Western Reserve University and Collinwood.

I have benefited tremendously from the efforts of my predecessor, Dave McFarland, as well as from the efforts of our highly committed senior class,” Malbasa said. “Our success will be due to his and their efforts over the past several years to revive the wonderful tradition of EC football.”

EC will benefit this season from the experience of Schuster under center.

Our quarterback is experienced and very effective as a passer and a runner so we will be able to utilize this speed effectively,” said Malbasa.

In addition to Schuster’s speed, Baker, Graham and Flanagan bring a lot of speed to the field. Each were regional finalists in the 4×100 meter event last spring.

Protecting Schuster and opening up the holes for the ground game could be a concern early on, according to Malbasa.

“We have an inexperience offensive line that will improve as the season progresses,” he said.

Like last season and in year’s past, EC faces both a tough non-league and North Coast League schedule.

“Our schedule includes a local rival, Southview, and very strong smaller programs such as Norwalk St. Paul, St. Thomas Aquinas, and JFK, and a highly competitive North Coast League Schedule,” Malbasa said.

“Each team in our division has a reason to be excited about the season. (Canton Central Catholic has improved dramatically, (Villa Angela-St. Joseph) has an excellent new coach (Matt Melle), and Trinity and Chanel are coming off of playoff seasons. We look forward to competing with them for the division crown,” he said.

Malbasa likes his team’s shot at the postseason this year with the personnel he has on the field against a tough schedule. EC last made the playoff in 2005.

“We hope to grow as a team and make the playoffs and establish a high standard to which upcoming teams will aspire,” Malbasa said.

Elyria Catholic
2007 Schedule

Date Opponent Division
8/24/2007 Cleveland East 3
8/31/2007 Lorain Southview 1
9/7/2007 Norwalk St. Paul 6
9/14/2007 @ Warren JFK 6
9/21/2007 @ Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas 5
9/28/2007 Garfield Heights Trinity 5
10/5/2007 @ Cleveland VA-SJ 4
10/12/2007 Bedford St. Peter Chanel 5
10/19/2007 Mentor Lake Catholic 3
10/26/2007 @ Cleveland Central Catholic 5

* North Coast League games in bold


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