The once proud Zanesville football program hasn’t had a winning season during the 2000’s, but if last season’s improvements are any indication, that streak should end in 2007.
Zanesville graduate Chad Grandstaff takes over a football team that returns 18 starters including 10 on defense that looks to win its first Southeastern Ohio Athletic League title and perhaps qualify for the Division II state playoffs if they can hold their own during their rugged non-league schedule.
The Blue Devils started last season 3-2 and 2-0 in the SEOAL last season, but in the week 5 win over Warren TB Bryan Gaiters was lost with a broken leg. That injury was compounded by the loss of Gaiters back-up, Anthony “Antman” Chandler in the Blue Devils week 2 loss at Newark.
Without their top two TBs, the Blue Devils slumped to a 1-4 finish including ugly losses at Logan, against Ironton and a heartbreaking defeat against Marietta. FB Anthony Scott moved from FB to TB and rushed for over 1,000 yards for the season. But without the speed that Gaiters and Chandler brought to the field the Blue Devils lacked the punch to get over the hump.
That is where the excitement for the 2007 comes in at Zanesville. Gaiters (5-9, 170) and Chandler (5-6, 140) made up half of the Blue Devils state-track meet qualifying 4×100 meter relay team and their lightning quick feet should pose a dangerous threat to opponents of the Blue and White.
Gaiters ran for 718 yards and seven TDs on 90 carries in the five games he played in 2006.
Look for Zanesville to stick to the ground game. Grandstaff comes home to Zanesville after leading Danville to the playoffs in his only season as coach there. Danville’s wishbone offense relied on unbalanced lines and quick backs to move the football and can expect to see similar things from the Blue Devils this fall.
James Reid (6-1, 170) is likely going to be the man under center for Zanesville this fall after making one start in 2006. Reid was ineligible until the last two weeks of the season and is a talented runner and could lead to some option running. Scott (5-9, 230) returns at FB to complete one of the league’s best and most experienced backfields.
Nate Kaufman (5-10, 170) a third member of Zanesville’s 4×100 meter relay team and Lucas Graham (6-1, 170) both are returning starters at WR and Josh Weatherspoon (5-11, 195) returns at tight end. Graham led the Blue Devils with 13 catches (117 yards) in 2007 while Kaufman caught 10 for 106 and Weatherspoon caught eight for 82 yards.
The Blue Devils lost three starters from tackle to tackle up front on offense, but returning starters Jess Huey (6-2, 250) and Adam Douglas (6-0, 225) will serve as solid anchors. Seniors Josh Newton (6-1, 255), Adam Cronin (5-10, 245), David Stewart (6-3, 275), and Greg Clayton (6-0, 225) will all compete to round out the offensive front.
Defensively, the Blue Devils are excited about the return of Gaiters and Chandler as big plays hurt the Zanesville defense in 2006. The added experience of the two speedsters should help prevent or at least contain opponent’s big plays.
Clayton will lead the Blue Devils defensive line from his DE spot where he led the blue and white in tackles for loss last season. Newton and Beau Bradley (6-3, 315) will rotate at noseguard while Douglas, Huey, and Cronin will all see time at defensive tackle. Weatherspoon will be the bookend with round out the front four at end.
Many in Zanesville expect big things from senior linebacker Shane Centers (6-2, 225). Centers was all over the field last year at OLB but may move to middle linebacker and serve as the leader on defense. Scott and senior Brandon Rollins (5-10, 205) will also see time at linebacker.
The defensive backfield is a crowded place where the loss of Gaiters and Chandler last season ensured that a multitude of experienced players return. Chandler and Graham are the leaders to start at cornerback while FS Gaiters and Brendan Reid (6-0, 175) will play the safety spots. Jarod Kilpatrick (5-9, 165) returns after missing all of 2006 because of injury and will provide depth along with senior Austin Mayle (6-0, 160) and juniors J.T. Bunting (5-7, 160) and Seth Garrison (5-9, 170).
The Blue Devils will face perennial Division III power Licking Valley in week 1 and arch-rival Newark in week 2 before facing off against Wheeling Park (W.Va) in week 3 giving Zanesville one of Southeast Ohio’s toughest non-league slates. The Blue Devils will make league trips to Marietta and Ironton but host Chillicothe and Logan. Match-ups in week 6 and week 9 against Logan and Ironton respectively could both go a long way toward deciding the SEOAL championship and the playoff chances for Zanesville.
Zanesville 2007 Schedule
|8/24/2007||Newark Licking Valley||III|
|9/7/2007||Wheeling Park (W.Va.)||–|
|9/21/2007||@ Vincent Warren||III|