coordinator since 2002, will be Nordonia’s first-year head coach in
2008. He replaces Jason Hall, who left for Massillon Washington after
one year as the Nordonia head coach. Running back John Hamilton headlines solid returning cast.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
RB John Hamilton (5-10, 185, Sr.), LB Luke Batton (6-1, 210, Sr.), DE/TE Zach Alders (6-2, 220, Sr.), OL Nick Gore (6-1, 215, Sr.), OL Adam Heiberger (6-1, 210, Sr.), QB Jess Smatana (6-1, 185, Jr.), QB Demetrius Craig (6-1, 180, Jr.).
2007 Record: 10-2, Regional Semifinalist
Al Huge, an assistant at Nordonia since 1997 and the defensive coordinator since 2002, will be Nordonia’s first-year head coach in 2008. He replaces Jason Hall, who left for Massillon Washington after one year as the Nordonia head coach.
“It is a unique situation,” said Huge (pronounced Hu-gee). “I am from here and graduated from here in 1984. I was pretty fortunate to get a job offer to come here in 1997. I took it as soon as I got it.
“I work here and I have no plans to leave. I am very excited about it. Not too many guys get this chance.”
Huge talked about making the transition from being an assistant to the head coach.
“It is a different job, but in a lot of ways it is the same kind of job,” Huge said. “You are still dealing with youths. Now, as the head coach, I know you have to organize things like our camp. There is a little more of that. But I plan on keeping the defense and doing the best we can with that.”
Huge inherits a decent nucleus from last year’s team that was third in the Region 2 playoff standings and dropped a regional semifinal match-up to North Canton Hoover (21-14).
“We have a solid group of kids coming back,” Huge said. “We have about 50 percent of our starters coming back. Our tailback is back, our fullback is back and our two offensive tackles are coming back.”
Smatana and Craig will battle to replace departed starting quarterback Aaron Pankratz, who signed with Bowling Green.
“We will have those two guys competing in camp,” Huge said. “They are very different quarterbacks. Aaron was a 6-5, 240-pound guy who was a five-step quarterback. Those two younger guys are more athletic.
“(Smatana) is coming from Walsh Jesuit. He was originally a Nordonia kid. I can remember watching his father play here when I was in junior high. He is a very athletic, physical kid.
“(Craig) is the same kind of player. He is very athletic. They have a completely different style than what we had before. We will be more of a zone read, option scheme-type team.”
Hamilton rushed for 1,600 yards as a junior.
“He is very strong,” Huge said. “He is a big-time weight lifter. He is a hard worker with good speed. He is a downhill runner. He is not much of a slasher. He initiates contact.”
Batton keys the defense.
“He is a very intelligent defensive player,” Huge said. “He’s like having a coach on the field. He could also play a lot of positions on offense. He could even play quarterback in a pinch.”
Alders is a key play maker on both sides of the ball.
“He provides a lot of pressure on the quarterback off the edge,” Huge said. “He is also a very athletic tight end. He can catch the ball and run with it a little bit. He is very valuable on offense.”
Gore and Heiberger are each in the 210-pound range, but they have been impact players at offensive tackle, Huge said.
“They started last year and we won a bunch of games with them even though they were smaller tackles,” Huge said. “They each played like they were about 240. They are coming back and we know they will provide some leadership on offense.”
Aug. 22 Tallmadge
Aug. 29 Wadsworth
Sept. 5 at Chagrin Falls Kenston
Sept. 12 at Brunswick
Sept. 19 Twinsburg
Sept. 26 at Cuyahoga Falls
Oct. 3 at Hudson
Oct. 10 Stow
Oct. 17 Mayfield
Oct. 24 at Garfield Heights